Variety Cruises

Last update 3rd November 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, all UK departures have been suspended up to December 2nd 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 have been operating normally with weekly sailings since July 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 guests reported their satisfaction with these measures which had no real impact on the enjoyment of their holiday.

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 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 all stay within a single country (mainly Greece, Croatia and soon also the Seychelles) and did 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.

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 (though these are were 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 spring. For those affected in some way, who are unable to travel due to official restrictions, regardless of your 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.

Departures from April 2021 are currently 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 arrangments on these vessels, it is anticipated that there will be no travel restrictions or quarantine arrangments 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

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 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 April 2021, programs are expected to start as normal with regular weekly departures and at this point, with internationally co-ordinated plans fro 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.

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 occurs whilst you are abroad, we have proved from our track record this year, that we have 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 with us has to be canceled due to COVID 19 related disruption, we hope you will choose to defer your holiday to a future date rather than cancel completely. If your holiday is scheduled to go ahead but you 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 this is the case.

What Is The Situation With Refunds

Given the very large number of holidays that have already been curtailed in 2020 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 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 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

This was 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 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, 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. Plans are well advanced for pre-departure testing in 2021 if the Pandemic has not subsided by then, 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 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 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, as well as those few restricted islands in 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. We note also that specific Foreign office advice against cruises, does not apply to the yachting holidays we feature here.  Currently, further departures from the UK  have been suspended up to December 2nd in line with 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
With the negative foreign office advice currently applicable, 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. For indicative policies and terms of cover please see this link: Staysure Travel Insurance.

  If you require any specific advice or want to discuss andy of the above further, feel free to call us on 0208 324 3118. You can also email us on [email protected]

We Look Forward To Welcoming You On Board Soon.