Variety Cruises

Last Update 2nd march 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.

Holidays Scheduled to Re-Start In May

In line with UK Government advice, all UK departures have been suspended up to the middle of May and we have no sailings operating anywhere at this time. 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.

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 small 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 cross any international borders.

Long Haul Travel

With the exception of the Seychelles from June, all other long haul departures are currently suspended and it is now certain that remaining long haul destinations will not resume until 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.

The Mega Yacht island-hopping voyages in Greece of Variety Cruises have been running successfully in summer 2020 with weekly departures as were the island-hopping trips in Croatia, whilst Variety cruises will re-start their first departure in the Seychelles in June 2021. The Tall Ships of Star Clippers are still suspended in all destinations till June. Thereafter, programmes are expected to return to normal and operate weekly. This includes the other long-haul destinations from the autumn.

Mediterranean Departures

Departures from May 2021 in Greece, Turkey and Croatia are scheduled to operate normally. Given the internationally co-ordinated plans for pre-departure testing and comprehensive protective measures already in place as regards hygiene and social distancing arrangements on these vessels, it is anticipated that there will be no travel restrictions or quarantine arrangements required. Obviously, we will continue to monitor official advice both in the UK and in our host countries and will ensure that this information is updated regularly, whilst we will also contact you regarding your booking should any changes subsequently prove necessary

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.

Flexibility Guaranteed

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.

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.

Commencing in May 2021, programs are expected to start as normal with regular weekly departures and at this point, with internationally co-ordinated plans for pre-departure testing and well-proven protective measures in place abroad, it is anticipated that there will be no travel restrictions to our European destinations or quarantine requirements on return. The same applies to selected long-haul destinations such as the Seychelles which is scheduled to re-start in June, whilst by the Autumn it is anticipated that any remaining restrictions to our long-haul destinations will have been lifted.

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 this year, 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. 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.

Flight Cancellations

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.uk/ATOL-protection/Consumers/About-ATOL/

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

In 2020, we saw the situation return to normal across most of Europe from July, albeit with sensible protective measures in place, with Greece in particularly having been almost COVID free up to that point.  Most airlines operated their full flight schedules to our main destinations of Greece and Croatia and full summer 2021flights schedules have been on sale for a while to all key destinations. The UK Government’s roadmap for the resumption of leisure travel from may 17th has been announced with consultations progressing. Plans are well advanced for pre-departure testing in 2021, whilst enhanced hygiene routines and other protective measures have been well proven in all our destinations during the 2020 season. These measures will be continued for as long as proves necessary, whilst always operating in line with UK and host country advice and guidelines.

On the positive side, cruise yachts and hotels are ready and prepared with comprehensive hygiene and other precautionary measures in place in line with local and WHO recommendations to ensure you are safe.

What Additional Precautions Are In Place For Holidays In 2021

Once we restart operations, whilst the virus is still active a negative PCR test will be required within 72 hours of departure 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

  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. We established at the time that infection rates in our specific cruising areas in Croatia and Greece, remained very low. Furthermore, these same destinations were unrestricted for travelers originating from some other countries,  hence our decision to stay open for those who still wished to travel. We note also that specific Foreign office advice against cruises, does not apply to the yachting holidays we feature here.  Currently, departures from the UK  have been suspended up to the middle of May in line with current official advice and we will continue to monitor advice in the coming weeks and update this information accordingly.

What Is The Situation With Travel Insurance

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.

See the links below for two examples or speak to one of our advisors for more info: 

Staysure Travel Insurance.
Post Office Travel Insurance

We Look Forward To Welcoming You On Board Soon.