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.
Cruises Re-Start on 28th May
In line with UK Government advice, Departures will resume from the UK after the17th May with our first 2021 departure scheduled for 28th May in Greece. In summer 2020 in line with official advice on travel to selected countries within the EU as well as that of the authorities in our host countries, 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 measure in place were effective, whilst our guest and some prominent journalists who joined our cruises reported their satisfaction with these measures which they report had no real impact on the enjoyment of their holiday. With the majority of guests and crew being vaccinated and with the tried and tested protocols in place, we look forward to a successful return to weekly cruises from the end of the month.
Foreign Office Advice
It is clarified that the specific 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, Croatia and the Seychelles) and did not generally cross international borders.
Long Haul Travel
With the exception of the Seychelles from August, 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 August 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 Far East in November. Thereafter, programmes are expected to return to normal and operate weekly.
Departures from late May 2021 in Greece with Variety Cruises are scheduled to operate normally with weekly departures from may 28th.
Since the announcement of the UK Government’s road map and new Traffic Light System for international travel, leisure travel is now possible for residents of England from the 17th May. Our main destinations of Greece, Croatia, France and Italy have been designated amber initially requiring 10 days in quarantine at home on return and a PCR test on days 2 and 8, with the possibility of reducing quarantine with a ‘test to release’ on day 5.
This we understand will be reviewed in three weeks and we remain optimistic that key destinations such as Greece will subsequently be designated Green and quarantine requirements lifted in time for the main season, thanks to the progress being made with inoculation programmes.
We await a further Government announcement at the end of May on updates to the Green list of countries with no quarantine requirement on return and a single PCR test on day 2. We acknowledge that restrictions on leisure travel remain in place for Scotland, Wales 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 full refund.
Pre Departure Testing Required In 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. For Green designated countries this will be only on the outbound leg, with the requirement for one more PCR test after return on day 2. Those that have already had the vaccine having completed both jabs at least 14 days before travel, will either need to obtain a certificate (which we understand will be via the NHS app – further info awaited on this) or take evidence of receiving both vaccinations such as your vaccination card with you, as this will allow you to avoid the pre-departure PCR test if travelling to Greece or Croatia and is likely to further facilitate travel.
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, no quarantine on return with 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, 10 days quarantine at home on return, with PCR tests on days 2 and 8, 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 staying in place or 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 for 2021, the aim is that the 2021 summer season will operate normally with UK departures starting from 28th May onwards. 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.
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 disruption.
Deferring Booked Holidays
If your holiday in 2020 had to be canceled or deferred due to COVID 19 related disruption, we recommend that you rebook early 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 may incur penalties if there are no official restrictions in place. Where restrictions are in place, deferring your holiday will usually be penalty-free (they 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 ABTA guidelines recognising that payment of large numbers of refunds immediately would have been unsustainable for the industry.
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
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. On-board, the cruise operators have implemented an enhanced and comprehensive cleaning and sanitization regime on all vessels, ensure regular testing of crew members as well as daily temperature checks for crew and guests. All this has proved to be effective in 2020 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
Should We Travel To Specific Destinations Against Foreign Office Advice
In 2020, the introduction of quarantine requirements on return to the UK from certain countries and destinations was accompanied by a change in foreign office guidance, advising against all but essential travel to those destinations. This was however advice and was not compulsory at that time, leaving it to the individual to decide what was essential travel for them and whether they would travel anyway and quarantine on return. Subsequently, over the winter, travel for leisure purposes became illegal, though it is now clear that this will not apply after 17th May when the UK’s Traffic Light System is introduced and the previously required declaration of your reason for travel being abolished. Last year, we established that infection rates in our key cruising areas in Croatia and Greece remained very low. Furthermore, these same destinations were unrestricted for travellers originating from some other countries, hence our decision to stay open for those who still wished to travel, even in those places where the requirement for quarantine on return was introduced. This year our policy is that we will stay open where EU and local regulations permit, for those destinations on either the Green or Amber country list. We will continue to monitor regulations advice in the coming weeks and update this information accordingly. We will also contact you in good time, should your holiday be affected in any way.
Where there is 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.
We hope you found the above information helpful, however. if you have any additional questions, concerns or wish to discuss your arrangements with us further, please give us a call during office hours (09:00-18:00 hrs daily and 09:30-17:00 hrs on Saturday) and one of our experienced consultants will be happy to help.
We Look Forward To Welcoming You On Board Soon.