Last Update 8th May 2021
Dear Fellow Seafarers
We are providing regular updates on this page for those of you concerned about the Coronavirus situation and the possible impact on your holiday.
Quarantine Restrictions Relaxed from July 19th
The latest UK Government specifies that quarantine requirements are abolished for double vaccinated travellers as well as all under 18’s returning from amber destinations. Actually, our first cruise sailed on 28th May in Greece and there have been weekly departures operating since that date, since restrictions in continental Europe had already been lifted.
Looking back to last summer, Meditteranean Island hopping yacht holidays operated normally with weekly sailings since July 2020 and we are pleased to advise that all sailings operated without a single case of Covid 19 arising, demonstrating in practice that the precautions and protective measures in place were effective, whilst our guest and some prominent journalists who joined our cruises reported their satisfaction with these measures and that they had no real impact on the enjoyment of their holiday. With the majority of guests and all crew being vaccinated for 2021and with the tried and tested protocols in place, we invite you to join us once again this summer on one of our unique yacht cruises.
Foreign Office Advice
It is clarified that the specific previous foreign office advice against cruises did not apply to yachting holidays and it should be noted that these holidays are very different to cruise ship holidays, not only due to the size of the vessel and the smaller number of guests and crew on board, the largely ‘al fresco’ onboard experience and very different facilities and service compared to cruise ships, but also because the island hopping trips we promote generally stay within a single country (mainly Greece and Croatia over Summer 2021) and do not generally cross international borders. From July 19th we note that there is no longer any advice against cruising from the |UK Government.
Long Haul Travel
With the exception of the Seychelles from October, all other long-haul departures are currently suspended, though we can now confirm that our cruises in the other long-haul destinations we feature will resume in November 2021. We are contacting all those guests whose holiday has been affected individually to discuss the various alternatives on offer. In most cases, we are encouraging our guests to re-book at a later date in 2021 or 2022, all with no cancellation penalties or change fees, though it is noted that your flights or cruise may be more expensive according to the new date chosen.
The Mega Yacht island-hopping voyages Variety Cruises will re-start their first departure in the Seychelles in October 2021, with destinations such as the Caribbean, Costa Rica/ Panama, The Red Sea, Rivers of West Africa and Cape Verde, starting from November onwards. The Tall Ships of Star Clippers will restart in the Caribbean and the Far East in November. Thereafter, programmes are expected to return to normal and operate weekly.
Departures f in Greece with Variety Cruises are operating normally with weekly departures running since the 28th May
Since the announcement of the UK Government’s road map and Traffic Light System for international travel, leisure travel for residents of England has been possible since the 17th May. Our main destinations of Greece, Croatia, France and Italy have been designated amber and since the latest announcement from the UK Government on July 8th, double vaccinated passengers as well as under 18’s are no longer required to quarantine at home on return, though a pre-booked PCR test will be required on day 2 after returning.
We await a further Government announcement on the 15th of July with an update to the Green list of countries. We acknowledge that some restrictions on leisure travel remain in place for Scotland and Northern Ireland and our flexible booking policies do make allowances for this. We note that all departures to Turkey have been suspended till further notice, while any scheduled cruise calls to Turkish ports will also be changed to a suitable alternative. We continue to monitor the situation closely, liaising regularly with our trade associations and where possible, also the authorities both in the UK and in our main destinations.
Where travel is not possible, we will contact you individually in good time to discuss your options which can include deferring the holiday to a later date, or if travel subsequently proves impossible, then we acknowledge your right to a request a full refund.
Pre Departure Testing & Conditions summary for 2021
One thing that is certain to remain a requirement this summer is a negative PCR Covid 19 test within 72 hours of travel for those passengers who have not been fully vaccinated. Those that have already had the vaccine having completed both jabs at least 14 days before travel, will either need to obtain a vaccination certificate from the NHS, or prove their vaccination status through the NHS app, which you will need to show at the airport on either a phone or tablet, as this will allow you to avoid the pre-departure PCR test if travelling to Greece. It is noted that all passengers must have a rapid flow test within 48 hours of their return flight to the UK, regardless of vaccination status.
For those wishing to book or who are already booked, we summarise here the main elements of our flexible booking policy applicable during this time.
Green list destinations
PCR test or proof of vaccine required pre-departure from the UK. A rapid flow test is required within 48 hours of your homebound flight, no quarantine on return with a pre-booked PCR test on day 2 – standard booking terms apply with regards to deferment or cancellation.
Amber list destinations
PCR test or proof of vaccine required pre-departure, whilst for vaccinated travellers and under 18’s, a rapid flow test is required within 48 hours of your homebound flight, no quarantine on return with a pre-booked PCR test on day 2 – standard booking terms apply with regards to deferment or cancellation. For those that have not been vaccinated, the10 days quarantine requirement at home on return remains, with PCR tests on days 2 and 8, with the option for ‘test to release’ on day 5.- Travel is possible, or you can postpone or defer your holiday with no admin fees charged by Seafarer.
Red List destinations
We will not operate departures from the UK to red-list destinations. You can postpone or defer your holiday with no admin fees. If travel subsequently proves impossible, we acknowledge your right to claim a full refund.
We have always been flexible at Seafarer, but should you be unable to travel due to official restrictions being unexpectedly re-introduced, we will allow you to defer or re-schedule your booking at no cost. This will apply where either the UK authorities or those at the overseas destination restrict or advise against travel, or where they introduce a quarantine requirement for more than 24 hours upon arrival overseas.
The same applies if quarantine is required on return, where this is combined with negative foreign office advice for travel to the specific destination.
If you are unable to travel due to a positive PCR test within 72 hours of travel or being required to self-isolate, this is a risk for which you should be covered under your travel insurance. It is important to make sure you obtain travel insurance at the time of booking and it is noted that not all policies will cover you in such instances, though we have identified several reasonably-priced policies that do. See the Q & section below on this and should you need further advice, we can assist by pointing you in the right direction.
Full Responsibility Whilst You Are Overseas
As is always the case, as your tour operator we will provide assistance should there be any disruption whilst you are on holiday with us. We recommend you book the full package with us, since those booking a full package including flights will benefit from financial protection with ATOL cover for the entire package, whilst as a tour operator, we will take full responsibility for your accommodation and repatriation travel arrangements in the event of any disruption whilst abroad.
We also note that should a PCR test be required before the return flight to the UK, we will provide assistance and facilitate this to ensure you can board your flight without problems. It is clarified that any required tests will be at your expense, though costs in places like Greece and Croatia are considerably lower than those in the UK
The Seafarer office is open as usual, though with some of our staff working from home and still able to answer calls thanks to our IT and telephone system set up.
We will update this page as more information becomes available.
If you wish to discuss your arrangements, please contact us, and we will happy to advise on the current situation and what we can do to help.
The Seafarer Team
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Holidays Booked For Summer 2021
We operated island-hopping voyages in Greece and Croatia successfully in 2020 and are pleased to report that the season was completed with zero cases of Coronavirus, demonstrating the effectiveness of the enhanced hygiene and other protective measures in place. Furthermore, guests reported that they felt reassured by the measures in place and that these did not adversely affect the enjoyment of their holiday.
Given the pre-departure testing and other protective measures that have been introduced by the airline and travel industry we are confident that the season will operate normally with UK departures as has been demonstrated by our departures running successfully since starting on 28th May. However, in the event that exceptionally some disruption to departures occurs, we have proved from our track record this year, that we have the experience and appropriate policies in place to deal with such situations quickly and effectively.
What if my Holiday is Affected?
Our commitment to a personal service doesn’t end with your booking – If there is any disruption to your arrangements pre-departure, we will do our best to offer you the maximum flexibility possible – this will vary from booking to booking, and our team will work to offer you the best option for your holiday and circumstances.
In the event that exceptionally some disruption to your holiday occurs whilst you are abroad, we have proved from our track record, that we have the experience and appropriate policies in place to deal with such situations. Those booking a full package with us including flights will benefit from ATOL cover for the entire package, whilst as a tour operator, we will take full responsibility to provide suitable accommodation and organise appropriate repatriation travel in the event of any flight cancellations or other disruption.
Deferring Booked Holidays
If your holiday in 2020 had to be canceled or deferred due to COVID 19 related disruption and you have yet to rebook your trip, we recommend that you rebook as soon as possible to ensure you are not disappointed, since availability for late summer and Autumn sailings is already tight. If your holiday is scheduled to go ahead but you subsequently wish to defer, please note that you are likely to incur penalties if there are no official restrictions in place. Where restrictions are in place, deferring your holiday will usually be penalty-free (though there may be price differences on the new travel date chosen). We work with many suppliers, vessel owners, hotels, airlines, and agencies – talk to us about your booking and we will give you the latest information on what is possible in your case.
If your flight is booked through us and is canceled or changed, we will contact you and will do our utmost to secure suitable alternative arrangements. If you have booked your own flight and this is cancelled or changed, please get in touch and we will do our utmost to assist and work out alternative arrangements for you.
You Are Ill Or Self Isolating And Can’t Travel
If you can’t travel due to illness or restrictions, please get in touch and we’ll look at possible amendments to your holiday. Alternatively, if the holiday is still scheduled to go ahead, you may be able to claim on your travel insurance if the cancellation is for medical reasons.
What Is The Situation With Refunds
Given the very large number of holidays that had to be curtailed in 2020 and over the winter due to official restrictions during this unprecedented crisis, we have been encouraging guests to re-book for a later date or if this could not be decided yet, to accept a credit note which can be applied to a later booking. The credit note still benefits from financial protection under the ATOL and ABTA schemes and does not disqualify you from receiving a refund later if you change your mind or are subsequently unable to travel. This is in line with ATOL ABTA (where applicable) guidelines recognising that payment of large numbers of refunds immediately would have been unsustainable for the industry. We thank the large number of guests who chose to re-book or defer for their cooperation and for staying with us.
For those whose circumstances meant that they were no longer able to travel, refunds have been made and we continue to commit to doing so where this proves necessary. This may take some time given the large numbers involved and we will advise you of this at the time.
How We Are Keeping Your Money Safe
We would like to remind you our flight inclusive package holidays are ATOL protected. More information can be found on that ATOL website: https://www.caa.co.
How is Seafarer Coping in These Circumstances
2020 was our 25th year and whilst it will certainly be a year to remember, the way we successfully weathered the crisis it is indicative of our long experience and our strength and resilience, given the many international crises we have had to deal with over the years.
We have a very experienced and dedicated team who have been working hard to keep our guests up to date and change holiday arrangements where required liaising with airlines and our various overseas suppliers and partners. This was often very difficult with long waits on the telephone often being required when calling suppliers as well as fast-changing official restrictions and advice. We have been coping with all of this well and our guests generally find it easy to contact us either by telephone or email.
How Soon Are Holidays Expected To Return To Normal
We saw the situation return to normal across most of Europe from July 2020, albeit with sensible protective measures in place, with Greece in particular, having been almost COVID free up to that point. The UK Government’s road map to re-opening has been confirmed with quarantine free leisure travel having already re-started. The requirements for pre-departure testing and exemptions if vaccinated as well as required testing on return are well established, whilst enhanced hygiene routines and other protective measures have been well proven in all our destinations during the 2020 season and so far this year. These measures such as wearing masks on airlines and in airports enhanced hygiene arrangments overseas and so on, will be continued for as long as proves necessary, whilst always operating in line with UK and host country advice and guidelines.
What Additional Precautions Are In Place For Holidays In 2021
With the restart of operations, whilst the virus is still active a negative PCR test will be required within 72 hours of departure (unless you have proof of being vaccinated) for each passenger and this will be at your expense. Additionally, guests and crew will need to complete a health questionnaire prior to travel and the cruise operator will provide a rapid flow test before embarkation. On-board, the cruise operators have implemented an enhanced and comprehensive cleaning and sanitization regime on all vessels, ensure regular testing of all crew members as well as daily temperature checks for crew and guests. It is also the case that this season, crew members have all been vaccinated. All this has proved to be effective in 2020 and so far in 2021, having been implemented successfully on all our affiliated vessels. The safety of guests and crew is a top priority for us and any holidays and cruises that do operate will be in line with the advice of the WHO, FCO, and the authorities in our host countries. For info on the type of precautions and protective measures in place on our sailings click here
Updated Foreign Office Travel Advice
With the latest normalisation announcements from the UK government and the abolition of quarantine for vaccinated travellers and under 18’s returning from amber designated countries, any foreign office advice against advice to such destinations has been lifted as of 19th July. For those travelling before that date, negative travel advice for Europe was advisory rather than compulsory, given that leisure travel was once again legal as of May 17th.
What Is The Situation With Travel Insurance
Where there remains negative foreign office advice on travel to certain destinations, many travel insurance policies will not cover you if you travel there. Some will not cover you if you contract the virus or fail a PCR test before departure. However, we have identified several policies that will cover you to travel and also cover you if you contract the virus or fail a PCR test before you travel, with cover if you are unable to travel due to having to self-isolate in certain circumstances also. Notably, cover will be normalised with nearly all insurers for amber destinations if departing after July 19th since any negative Foreign Office advice to European destinations has been lifted.
We hope the above information was useful, but If you require any specific advice or want to discuss any of the above further, feel free to call us on 020 8324 3118. You can also email us at [email protected].