When will we be able to go on a cruise holiday again?

·24 min read
View from a cruise ship balcony - Getty
View from a cruise ship balcony - Getty

The cruise industry has been hit – and hard – by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global quarantine.

But as lockdowns lift and countries ease – or plan to ease – coronavirus travel restrictions, here’s a summary of when each cruise line expects to resume sailings, as well as the compensation being offered to guests for cancelled cruises.

Andy Harmer, UK and Ireland director of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said: “As we face the prospect of new restrictions impacting our daily lives, we are all being tested, and I’m proud that our cruising community has been stepping up to the challenge. I know that everyone is working around the clock to adapt to the new landscape we find ourselves in, and are making every effort to keep customers informed with updated information, even as developments are seeming to occur so rapidly. Our customers should feel assured that our industry remains focused on their safety, health and well-being.”

Viking was the first cruise operator to announce it was suspending its river and ocean cruises for a temporary period on March 11, closely followed by Princess Cruises. Practically all other major cruise lines then made similar announcements. On June 1, river cruising returned to Europe as NickoVision set sail in Germany; ocean cruises returned on June 16 as Hurtigruten's Finnmarken set sail along the Norwegian coast.

Amadeus River Cruises – proposed restart date July 1

All sailings up to June 30 can be postponed/changed without penalty to a 2020/21 sailing. If a customer cancels they will receive a 115 per cent future cruise credit equal to the paid amount valid for 24 months. For sailings after April 30 standard payment and cancellation terms apply.

AmaWaterways' AmaMagna
AmaWaterways' AmaMagna

AmaWaterways – proposed restart date August 16

All river cruises sailing in Europe, Asia and Africa have been suspended until August 15. Guests who were booked on a river cruise that is being cancelled have the option of receiving a future cruise credit equal to 115 per cent of the value of all services purchased through AmaWaterways or receiving a full monetary refund. The future cruise credit is applicable on all European or Mekong River cruise sailings any time before December 31, 2022. There is further information at amawaterways.co.uk.

American Cruise Lines – proposed restart date July 12

The North American small-ship cruise specialist is planning to resume sailings along the Columbia and Snake rivers on-board the 90-cabin American Song from July 12; ships that carry less than 250 passengers and crew are exempt from the CDC's no-sail order. New England cruises are expected to resume on July 22, with and Alaska cruises on July 23. If customers want to cancel, they will receive a 100 per cent future cruise credit. If they choose to move their sailing to another date, they will receive 125 per cent.

American Queen Steamboat Company – proposed restart date July 19

American Empress, which sails the Columbia and Snake rivers, will resume service on July 19 while American Duchess will recommence sailing on July 20. The American Countess and American Queen are now scheduled to start sailing on the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers on August 8. Those affected are being offered a future cruise credit for 125 per cent of the cruise fare or they can seek a full refund.

APT – proposed restart date October 1

The APT Travel Group (ATG) has suspended all international touring and cruising up to and including September 30. For those affected, APT and sister brand Travelmarvel are offering a future holiday credit equal to the full value of the booking, which will be valid up until the end of 2021. Anyone booked to travel in 2020, APT has introduced a new ‘COVID Flexible Booking Cover’ which gives customers the option to change their booking up to 100 days before departure free of charge. See more information here.

Chris Hall, managing director, said: "As a business, we have a 90-year-history and a strong position in the travel and tourism industry, and we will do all we can accommodate our guests and provide them with the flexibility required for them to be confident to travel with us again, in the future."

American Queen Steamboat Company
American Queen Steamboat Company

A-Rosa – began sailing June 17

A-Rosa's Alva began sailing along the Douro on June 17. Trips on the Rhine and Danube will follow from June 19 and 20, with the restart of trips in France also planned for the beginning of July. However due to official regulations or changing local conditions, adjustments may still be necessary and the cruise line will inform passengers accordingly.

Aurora Expeditions – suspended until 2021

Aurora Expeditions will commence exploration voyages in spring 2021 with a Patagonia and Chilean Fjords voyage (March 31, 2021) and a Costa Rica and the Panama Canal voyage (April 23, 2021). In May 2021 the Greg Mortimer will then sail to the Arctic to commence the summer season with a voyage to West Greenland.

However there is a chance there could be some sailing this year as the company has said it continues to review the upcoming Antarctic season commencing November 2020, closely following travel restrictions around the globe.

Avalon Waterways – proposed restart date September 1

Avalon Waterways, along with sister companies Globus and Cosmos, has suspended travel, across all destinations, through to August 31, 2020. Travellers affected by the suspension have the freedom to reschedule their holiday in 2020, 2021 or 2022, to any destination, on any brand, without incurring cancellation fees. Avalon river cruise customers will also be offered a credit of up to £150pp when they reschedule their plans. Further information is available at avalonwaterways.co.uk/support/travel-updates

Carnival ship - Getty
Carnival ship - Getty

Carnival Cruise Line – proposed restart date October 1

Carnival Cruise Line has paused all operations in North America until the end of September, cancelling all cruises during this period time. Affected cruises include:

  • All San Francisco sailings during 2020

  • All Carnival  Sunrise sailings until October 20

  • All Carnival Legend sailings until October 31

  • All Carnival Radiance sailings until November 2

  • All Carnival Spirit Alaska, Hawaii, & Trans-Pacific sailings until October 7

More information, including rebooking and refunds, is available at carnival.com.

The operator had laid out plans to embark on a phased return service from August 1, with eight ships sailing from three US ports – Miami, Galveston and Port Canaveral. However, in an interview with The Telegraph in June, the CEO of Carnival said the restart is "obviously dependent on what’s in the best interest of public health".

Celestyal – proposed restart date July 30

The Greek and Med specialist plan to recommence sailings from July 30. Guests booked on affected cruises will be offered the choice of either a future cruise credit valued at 120 per cent of the original booking value or a refund of the original amount paid.  Guests will have until the end of December 2021 to use their future cruise credit against any of Celestyal’s itineraries in 2020, 2021 or 2022. If they do not use their credit within the specified period, they will automatically receive a refund equal to the original amount paid to Celestyal. See celestyalcruises.uk for further details.

CroisiEurope's Amalia Rodrigues
CroisiEurope's Amalia Rodrigues

CroisiEurope – proposed restart date July 15

Customers affected by cancellations can rebook their cruise or receive a refund credit note valid for 18 months from the date of issue, which can be redeemed against bookings made before December 15, 2021, on any cruise subject to availability. See croisieurope.co.uk for more information.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages – proposed restart date August 25

CMV had been due to sail agin from July 1 but has extended its pause on worldwide voyages until August 25. All existing booked passengers affected by these latest cancelled sailings will be offered a future cruise credit of 125 per cent of the value of their cruise. This credit can be used against the best deal of the day including the current 2021 Buy One Get One Free Offers. The future cruise credit can be used to purchase any published cruises featured in CMV’s 2020 & 2021 cruise programmes and also for 2022, when the programme is released later this year and must be booked by March 31, 2021. For passengers not wishing to transfer their booking at this stage to a future cruise and requiring more time or for those passengers who prefer a refund, their request will be processed in accordance with updated Abta guidance.

Crystal Cruises – proposed restart date September 7 (river), November 1 (yacht) and September 2 (ocean)

The Canadian government has banned cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers from sailing in Canadian waters until October 31, 2020, forcing Crystal to cancel its planned 2020 New England and Canada itineraries aboard Crystal Serenity. Covid-19 has also caused Crystal to postpone the introduction of Crystal Endeavor, the cruise line’s newest ship, and cancel the remainder of Endeavor’s 2020 itineraries.

All August departures for Crystal Symphony have been cancelled, as have river cruises before September 6 aboard Crystal Bach, Crystal Debussy, Crystal Mahler and Crystal Ravel.  It’s also bad news for Crystal Yacht Cruises: the company has had to cancel Crystal Esprit departures through October 2020. Affected guests are being offered a full refund or future cruise credit equal to 125 per cent of their cruise fare, valid on any Crystal experience (ocean, river, yacht or expedition) before December 31, 2023. See crystalcruises.co.uk for more details.

Seabourn Ovation - Seabourn
Seabourn Ovation - Seabourn

Cunard – proposed restart date November 1

For Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, Cunard is cancelling all sailings that were due to depart up to and including November 1. For Queen Elizabeth, the cruise line has taken the decision to cancel the entire Alaska season and all departures up to and including November 23. Guests who are booked on cancelled voyages will automatically be given a 125 per cent future cruise credit. This may be used against any new booking made by the end of December 2021 on any voyage that’s on sale at the time of booking.

Simon Palethorpe, the president of Cunard, said: “With many differing restrictions across countries, people’s ability to move freely and safely across borders remains seemingly someway in the distance. For Cunard, where we celebrate having a truly international mix of guests and sail all over the world, this becomes particularly impactful."

Discover Egypt  – proposed restart date August 1

The company will not be operating any Nile river cruises until August 1. See the Discover Egypt website for up-to-date travel information.

Disney Cruise Line – proposed restart date September 14

Disney Cruise Line is suspending all Disney Wonder sailings through September 14, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy departures through September 15, and Disney Magic sailings through October 2. Guests booked on affected sailings are being offered the choice of a cruise credit to be used for a future sailing or a full refund. Find more information on the Disney Cruise Line website.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines – proposed restart date August 27

On the company’s website, a statement says: "The situation is obviously very changeable. We will let you know as soon as we can, and at least 30 days before you are due to travel, if anything is changing on your ocean cruise."

For guests who may be concerned about their upcoming cruise, Fred Olsen has introduced a Plain Sailing Guarantee. If your cruise is cancelled and you would like to transfer to a new one, you’ll receive a future cruise voucher to spend on top of any money you have paid, valid for 24 months. If customers don't feel comfortable travelling in 2020, the cruise can be moved with no admin fees or loss of deposit, to any other on sale – as long as the cruise line is given two weeks’ notice.

Fred Olsen's Balmoral in Olden, Norway
Fred Olsen's Balmoral in Olden, Norway

G Adventures – proposed restart date August 1

G Adventures has suspended all tours departing up to and including July 31. Any traveller booked and fully paid on a cancelled tour will receive a 110 per cent travel credit on all booked tour services, including pre- and post-night accommodation and transfers, to be used on any tour departing up to two years from the end of the month of their tour’s suspension. Travellers who haven’t yet made their final payment will have their life time deposit kept on file to put towards a future tour. There's an FAQ section on the tour operator's website with more details. 

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises – proposed restart date middle of July

All the fleet's voyages are currently suspended. The German cruise line has two international (English-speaking) ships – Europa 2 and expedition ship Hanseatic Inspiration which will be paused until at least mid-July; all cruises calling at a US port are likley to be cancelled until at least the middle of September following the latest announcement from CLIA. Guests affected by cruise cancellations are being offered credit to use for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises bookings made by 31 December 2021 (the booked cruise can start after this period). See current information here.

Holland America Line – proposed restart date mid-November

All Alaska, Europe and Canada/New England cruises for 2020 have been cancelled, as has the 79-day Grand Africa Voyage. Furthermore the cruise line has scrapped select Hawaii itineraries for early 2021as a result of “travel and port restrictions continuing for the near future due to global health concerns". Passengers booked on cancelled cruises will receive a future cruise credit, valid for 12 months from the date of issue, which may be used to book sailings departing up to December 31, 2022. Guests who prefer a full refund must fill in a cancellation preferences form by July 15.

Hurtigruten – began sailing on June 16

Hurtigruten began cruising again on June 16 with a journey journey from Bergen along the Norwegian coast to Kirkenes for Norwegian and Danish passengers. Further itineraries will sail in the next month, including one from Germany (for German nationals). Britons will need to wait until FCO advice – and quarantine restrictions – are relaxed.

Hurtigurten's Alaska cruise season will see a further delay due to travel restrictions from the Canadian authorities. Guests who are affected by the temporary suspension are being offered a future cruise voucher worth 125 per cent. They will also receive a 10 per cent discount on any future Hurtigruten cruise – Expedition or Norwegian Coast – from July 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021.

While operations were paused, the 125-year-old cruise line has offered two of its ships to the Norwegian government, to operate an amended domestic schedule, bringing critical supplies and goods to local communities on the Norwegian coast at a time of crisis.

Marella Cruises – proposed restart date August 27

Should it be safe to set sail, Marella Cruises will resume service from the end of August. One of the longest standing and most loved ships in the Marella Cruises fleet, Marella Celebration is to retire earlier than planned due to the impact of Covid-19. The ship was due to homeport in Dubrovnik in summer 2020 and summer 2021, and Cyprus and Dubai for the winter season. Customers with impacted bookings will be able to amend their holiday to any other Tui package holiday on sale for free via manage my booking on Tui's website. Customers who booked in retail should wait for the company to contact them to discuss their options. See the coronavirus update section on tui.co.uk for more information.

Hurtigruten's Finnmarken, which set sail in the middle of June after the global pause
Hurtigruten's Finnmarken, which set sail in the middle of June after the global pause

MSC Cruises – proposed restart August 1

The line has halted all ship operations. Guests are being offered a future cruise credit for 125 per cent of the original fare paid. The credit can be used on any sailing departing on or before December 31, 2021. Guests who are unable to reschedule will receive a full refund. More information is available on msc.co.uk/coronavirus

Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises – proposed restart date October 1

Voyages across the three sister brands have been cancelled until the end of September. The only exception are Seattle-based Alaska voyages in September; some journeys, including Canada and New England sailings, has been cancelled until the end of October. Customers booked on affected cruises will receive a 125 per cent refund of the fare paid in the form of a future cruise credit, which can be applied toward any future cruise through December 31, 2022. For guests who wish to not avail themselves of the 125 per cent future cruise credit, a 100 per cent refund of the fare paid will be reimbursed to the original form of payment within 90 days of guests’ request. There's more information on Norwegian's suspended sailings and flexible booking policy here; Oceania Cruises here; and Regent Seven Seas here.

P&O's new ship Iona
P&O's new ship Iona

P&O Cruises  – proposed restart date October 15

On June 2, P&O Cruises extended their pause until the middle of October. Their pause in operations has already affected new ship Iona's maiden voyage, which was due to depart for the Norwegian fjords on May 15, and also the IonaFest festival cruise experience taking place following the ship's christening on July 4. For all guests impacted by the temporary suspension, P&O Cruises will provide a 125 per cent future cruise credit. This credit may be used for any sailing up to the end of March 2022. For more information, see pocruises.com/travel-health-advisories

Pandaw – proposed restart date late June

Pandaw has cancelled all sailings up late June 2020 – the exact date is yet to be announced – while the India 2020-21 season has been scrapped entirely. Affected customers are being offered credit for a future voyage to the value of 125 per cent of your existing cruise, which can be redeemed on any new booking made within 12 months of your departure. For the latest on the coronavirus situation, visit pandaw.com.

Ponant – proposed restart date July 4

The French cruise line has suspended sailings across its fleet of nine ships but expects to be back with a number of voyages along the French coast. For more information about cancellations and flexible booking policies, see uk.ponant.com. A full list of affected cruises appears on the website.

Sky Princess in lights
Sky Princess in lights

Princess Cruises – proposed restart in autumn

Princess had planned to restart sailing in June but the cruise line has now made the decision to scrap the summer season. All cruises in and out of Vancouver and Seattle, as well as Pacific and California coast cruises from San Francisco, have been put on hold until the end of October. Australia sailings are canceled until mid-September, as are cruises departing in August from Keelung, Taiwan.

Additionally, the naming ceremony of Emerald Princess in Southampton on June 30 has been postponed. A new christening date will not be announced while Fincantieri yard in Monfalcone, Italy, remains closed. Guests booked on cancelled voyages who have paid are eligible for a credit worth 125 per cent of the price they paid. For passengers who have not paid in full, Princess will double the deposit. However, all customers can also apply for a full refund. For more information, see princess.com.

Riviera Travel – proposed restart date July 31

Riviera Travel has suspended all sailings and international travel through to July 31. All customers who have booked onto river or yacht cruises during this time frame have the option to postpone their trip to later in 2020 or 2021 at no extra cost. For customers wanting to take a bit more time to decide their travel plans, Riviera is offering refund credit notes, which can be used to book a new holiday up until March 31, 2021 (although the date you actually travel can be any time beyond that). If you choose not to use your refund credit note, Riviera will issue customers a cash refund when the voucher automatically expires on March 31, 2021. See rivieratravel.co.uk for latest travel advice.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd – proposed restart date September 15

Royal Caribbean's brands – Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara – have now put their restart back until August, as well as cancelling all of this year’s sailings to Canada, New England, Alaska and Hawaii after the Canadian government extended its restriction on cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers until October 31.

For those customers affected by the suspension, the cruise lines are offering a 125 per cent future cruise credit to be used by December 31, 2021, or a full refund instead. Pre-purchased packages such as internet, drinks and any shore excursions will be automatically refunded. The three brands have also extended their Cruise with Confidence policy, allowing cancellations up to 48 hours before sailing, on cruises through to September 1, 2020 for a future cruise credit valid until the end of 2021.

Saga has introduced Covid-19 cover as standard in its insurance policies
Saga has introduced Covid-19 cover as standard in its insurance policies

Saga – proposed restart date September 1

Passengers who were due to sail before August will be contacted by Saga's guest services team to discuss options. The crisis has also affected the line's plans for Saga Sapphire's farewell season. Saga says it hopes to negotiate a delay in the delivery of the ship to the new owners so her farewell voyage can take place later this year.

Saga has introduced a new coronavirus-inclusive travel insurance policy which will cover both treatment abroad for Covid-19 and repatriation to the UK should a guest contract the virus. Guests, including those who have underlying medical conditions, will also be compensated should they fall ill with coronavirus while travelling outside of the UK.

Seabourn – proposed restart dates October 13 - November 20

Seabourn is pausing global operations for its five ships for all voyages until autumn. Guests on impacted voyages will receive a 125 per cent future cruise credit, which can be applied to any cruise through December 31, 2021, or a refund of 100 per cent of the original fare. "In this unprecedented situation, we feel a pause is necessary," said Rick Meadows, president of Seabourn. "Our pause should also reassure the hundreds of destinations we visit each year that we want to be responsible in our operations as we bring travellers into their communities each time we visit." See seabourn.com for more details.

SeaDream Yacht Club – began sailing on June 20

SeaDream resumed sailing in June on a series of Norway voyages that include a call at Skagen, Denmark.

Scenic Group – proposed restart date September 1

The Scenic Group (Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Cruises) has suspended all land tours, river and ocean operations until September 1. Guests whose cruise departures are within this period of suspended operations are being offered the choice of either a future travel credit valued at 125 per cent of the booking, or the option of a refund to the value of the amount paid. Guests choosing a future travel credit have until June 30, 2023, to travel. Full details of the cancellation policies are outlined here for Scenic and here for Emerald.

Silversea – proposed restart date from August 22

Silversea is implementing a staggered start date across its fleet, with the first cruise – a Galapagos Islands voyage – due to depart from Baltra on Silver Origin on August 22. Silver Spirit, Silver Shadow, Silver Muse and Silver Whisper will resume sailing in September. Silver Cloud, Silver Explorer and Silver Moon will welcome guests in October, and Silver Wind will set sail on November 11. See details of all voyages here.

Star Clippers – proposed restart date from August 1

Star Flyer, Star Clipper and Royal Clipper sail dates are cancelled until the end of July 2020 and the line has said further sail dates, from August 2020 onwards, will be reviewed soon. See starclippers.co.uk for more details.

Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady
Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady

Tauck River Cruises – proposed restart date August 1

Tauck has cancelled all tours and cruises with departure dates through to July 31. Affected customers will be contacted by email about their options. More information is available here.

Tui River Cruises – proposed restart date November 26

Tui has postponed the launch of its new river cruises from March to November in time for the Christmas markets season in Europe. In a statement the company said: "We have been working hard for the last year to get our three ships river-worthy and to welcome our first guests on-board, so of course this is disappointing. But in the current unprecedented situation we know our customers will understand and support this decision."

Uniworld – proposed restart date August 1

All Uniworld voyages have been suspended through July 31, 2020. If you have a booking on one of these suspended voyages, a Uniworld representative will be contacting you or your travel advisor (if applicable) to discuss your options. For all other 2020 departures, guests can cancel up to 14 days prior to their departure and rebook with price protection for 2020 or 2021 departures (like for like, excluding September). Alternatively receive a future cruise credit to be used in 2020, 2021 or 2022 departures. See uniworld.com for more details.

Victory Cruise Lines – suspended until 2021

Victory Cruise Lines, operated by American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), a Hornblower Company, announced that it is cancelling all sailings for the remainder of 2020. Those affected are being offered a future cruise credit worth 125 per cent of the cruise fare or a full refund. For more information, see victorycruiselines.com/alerts/

Windstar Cruises
Windstar Cruises

Viking – proposed restart date September 1

On March 11, 2020, Viking was the first cruise line to temporarily suspend operations, for both its river and ocean cruises, through to an original date of April 30. It subsequently extended this suspension through June 30 but this has been extended again through August 31.

However, as The Telegraph reported on June 3, Viking is looking into whether it can operate round-Britain cruises this summer.

For those guests whose cruise falls within this window of suspended operations, Viking is offering the choice of a future cruise voucher valued at 125 per cent of all monies paid to Viking or a refund equal to the amount paid. Guests will have 24 months to use their future cruise voucher to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise. If they are unable to use their voucher, Viking will automatically issue a refund equal to the original amount paid to Viking after the voucher expires. These vouchers will also be fully transferable.

Chairman Torstein Hagen said: "Many of you have expressed concern for our crew, and I want to reassure you that we are taking good care of them. We are using this period of non-operation as a time for additional training and initiatives to ensure we have the safest and healthiest fleet in the industry." For further information, see Viking's website for updates.

Virgin Voyages – proposed restart date October 16

This brand new cruise line, dreamt up by Sir Richard Branson, postponed a showcase tour planned for its first ship, Scarlet Lady. The official naming ceremony and maiden voyage for for the vessel will now take place in early 2021. Affected guests will receive a 200 per cent future voyage credit, and will also receive up to $500 in on-board credit if they rebook before June 30. It will also be possible to get a 100 per cent refund of the voyage fare for an impacted sailing, plus a 25 per cent future voyage credit. The line plans to launch another three ships after Scarlet Lady.

Wendy Wu – proposed restart date August 1

Asia specialist Wendy Wu has cancelled all tours and tailormade holidays, which includes Yangtze river cruises, until August 1. Bookings between August 1-31 can be amended free of charge up to one month before departure to a different tour in 2020 or in 2021. See latest travel advice here

Windstar Cruises – proposed restart date September 3

Windstar's six small yachts carrying 148-342 passengers will suspend operations until September. Due to the impact the pandemic has had on Italy where Star Breeze is currently under renovation, all West Coast and Alaska cruises scheduled in 2020 are also cancelled. Guests on cancelled cruises will receive the choice of a future cruise credit valued at 125 per cent of all monies paid to Windstar Cruises or a refund equal to the amount paid on the booking. Guests have two years to book and embark on a cruise using their credits, or have until December 31, 2021 to request a refund. See windstarcruises.com/travel-health-advisory/ for more information.