Variety Cruises

Last update 10 Sep 2020

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.

In line with UK Government 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 have been operating normally with weekly sailings since July. The specific foreign office advice against cruises does 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, 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 all stay within a single country (Currently Greece, Croatia and soon also the Seychelles) and do not cross any international borders.

With the exception of the Seychelles from January, all other long haul departures are currently suspended and it is now looking likely that this will be extended to the entire the winter season. We are contacting all those guests whos 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 usually in 2021, all with no cancellation penalties or change fees.

At present, the Mega Yacht island-hopping voyages in Greece of Variety Cruises are running weekly, as are island-hopping trips in Croatia (though these are now subject to quarantine requirements on return to the UK) , whilst Variety cruises will re-start their first departure in the Seychelles in January 2021. The Tall Ships of Star Clippers are still suspended in all destinations till the Autumn. For those affected in some way, who are unable to travel due to official restrictions, regardless of your 2020 departure date, we are allowing changes to travel dates at no cancellation penalty (subject to the airline policy where applicable) and this can include dates in 2021, or the date can be left open if required, to allow more time to decide. In such instances, we would provide you with an official credit note that will still have full ATOL/ABTA protection.

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 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.

In the meantime, we wish all of you the best and look forward to better times soon.

The Seafarer Team

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Holidays Booked For Summer 2020

Currently, travel restrictions published by the FCO against all but essential travel do not apply to the list of countries identified as exempt which include our main Mediterranean destinations of Greece (except Mykonos, Santorini & Crete) Turkey and Italy. UK quarantine requirements are not required for these countries so unrestricted travel is possible in both directions. Croatia on the other hand remains open, but with a recently introduced 14-day quarantine requirement on return to the UK. This is now also the case for the specific Greek islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Crete for those flying into these places directly. Our jewels of the Cyclades cruise embarks in Athens which is unrestricted, however, Mykonos and Santorini remain on the itinerary. UK guests have the option of not going ashore in these islands, with alternative arrangments of a complimentary swimming excursion by tender to neighbouring offshore islets being available during that time. The cruises planned for Spain & Portugal as well as most long haul destinations have been cancelled for the summer season with a decision still pending for some winter departures.

What If My Holiday Is Affected?

Our commitment to a personal service doesn’t end with your booking – 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.

Deferring Booked Holidays

We work with many suppliers, hotels, airlines and agencies – talk to us about your booking and we will give you the latest information on what deferment is possible in your case.

Flight Cancellations

If your flight is booked through us and is cancelled or changed, we will contact you. 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 this is the case.

What Is The Situation With Refunds

Given the very large number of holidays that have already been curtailed up to July in this unprecedented crisis, we are encouraging guests to re-book for a later date or if this cannot be decided yet, to accept a credit note which can be applied to a later booking. The credit note will still benefit from financial protection under the ATOL and ABTA schemes and does not disqualify you from receiving a refund later if you change your mind. This is in line with ABTA guidelines recognising that payment of large numbers of refunds now would be unsustainable for any company.

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/

We are also proud to be members of ABTA which provides financial protection for holidays and charters without flights. We have been following ABTA guidelines in this uncertain time and you can see additional information and advice for travellers from  ABTA on this link: https://www.abta.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak

How Is Seafarer Coping In These Circumstances

This is our 25th year and whilst it will certainly be a year to remember, 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 can be 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

Most airlines are now running a full schedule to Greece,as well as Italy, Turkey and even Croatia. Our Island hopping yacht trips are already running with weekly sailings in Greece, Croatia cruises continue as normal despite the new restrictions by the UK and the Seychelles planned to re-start for September. Departures in all other destinations remain suspended for now and most probably this will include the Autumn and in some cases with long haul destinations, also winter programmes.

On the positive side, cruise yachts and hotels are ready and prepared 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 That Do Go Ahead

Once we restart operations, whilst the virus is still active, guests and crew will need to complete a health questionnaire prior to travel. Additionally,, we have implemented an enhanced cleaning and sanitisation regime on all vessels and this had already commenced prior to the lockdown on our 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 recent introduction of quarantine requirements on return to the UK from Croatia and France has been accompanied by a change in foreign office advice, now advising against all but essential travel to these destinations. This is however advice and is not compulsory, leaving it to the individual to decide what is essential travel for them. We have established that infection rates in our specific cruising areas in Croatia remain very low, or have zero recorded cases, hence our decision to continue with these cruises for those who still wish to travel.  

What Is The Situation With Travel Insurance
With the negative foreign office advice currently applicable to Croatia and France, most travel insurance policies will not cover you if you travel, whilst some policies also exclude cruise holidays from cover. We have identified policies that will cover you to travel and also cover you if you contract the virus before you travel, whilst also offering reasonable premiums. See this link: Staysure Travel Insurance

We look forward to welcoming you on board soon.