It's Been a Bad Week For Around-the-World Cruises

Three more cruise lines have preemptively packed it in on future sailings

Cruise ships at tender in Kotor Bay
DrewRawcliffe / Getty Images

Cruise cancellation announcements are beginning to feel like a bad echo that we can't escape. It seems the reality that COVID-19 is not a passing pandemic is finally starting to sink in. By Wednesday this week, three more cruise lines preemptively packed it in on future sailings—this time zeroing-in on their around-the-world voyages. 

On Monday, Aug. 24, an announcement from Cunard Line started the domino effect when the line shared it was canceling all sailings until at least March 2021, including its early 2021 world cruise voyages aboard the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.

On Tuesday, Princess Cruises announced the cancellation of its early 2021 around-the-world cruise aboard the Island Princess as well as its Circle South America voyage on the Pacific Princess. The affected cruises include "associated segments and remaining voyages sailings immediately prior" for Island Princess world cruises originating in North America, and "associated positioning sailings" for Pacific Princess Circle South America sailings out of Australia.

On Wednesday, TripSavvy was informed by a rep from Oceania Cruises that the line had canceled its world cruise sailings that morning. (However, as of this writing, Oceania's 196-day Epic World Quest voyage scheduled to sail from Miami to New York on Dec. 21, 2020, and the Around the World in 180 Days voyage expected to sail in early January—both on the Insignia—remain listed on their website sans cancellation notice.)

Princess Cruises world cruises disembark from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or Los Angeles and have a wide range of itineraries ranging from a 14-day itinerary through the Panama Canal to a whopping 111-day around-the-world cruise visiting every continent but Antarctica. The cancellations come as a blow to cruisers and the company.

"We share in the disappointment of this cancellation for guests of our world cruises," said Jan Swartz, the president of Princess Cruises, "because it's a pinnacle cruise vacation experience, booked by some of our most loyal guests."

There is some good-ish news, however. Princess Cruises is offering an automatic 125 percent refund to all passengers who were booked on the now-canceled sailings. The catch? It's in the form of a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) that is equal to the full-fare paid, plus a 25 percent "bonus" credit. Alternatively, passengers who want actual money back can fill out this form to receive a full refund of the paid fare. 

These new cancellations all come just two weeks after the mid-month announcement from P&O Cruises that it had suspended global sailings until Nov. 12, 2020—and nearly three weeks after the Aug. 5 announcement from the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) that its members, which consist of over 50 cruise lines worldwide, had all agreed to halt U.S. sailings through Oct. 31, 2020.

P&O Cruises, Cunard Line, and Princess Cruises are all a part of the global cruise line portfolio of industry-giant Carnival Corporation, which also owns Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourne, Costa Cruises, Holland America, and AIDA Cruises.

"Each of our brands works independently according to their source market, and the relevant guidance and regulation in their country and areas of operation," Carnival Corporation & Plc chief communications officer Roger Frizzell told TripSavvy. "But all are looking at how, with a new framework of approved and enhanced protocols, they phase their ships back into service."

Earlier this summer, Holland America postponed its 2021 Grand World Voyage sailing and rescheduled it aboard the Zaandam. (The ship switch came about because Holland America sold the original host ship to another line.)

Additional world cruise casualties include the Seabourn Sojourn's 140-day Extraordinary Oceans (canceled) and the Regent Seven Seas Mariner's 117-night Navigate the World (waitlisted). So far, luxury liners Crystal Cruises, Viking, and Silversea Cruises have yet to announce any changes to their scheduled 2021 world cruises.

World cruises are an obvious target for cancellation: filling a ship with hundreds of international passengers and shuttling them to several ports across the globe could be a superspreader waiting to happen—which is in no one's best interest.

The ongoing pandemic has struck the cruise industry particularly hard. Amidst continued cancellations and prolonged sailing pauses, the entire industry has suffered huge losses. Cruise lines have also faced mass scrutiny over health safety, and ships have been subjected to travel restrictions that can turn on a dime. Yet, despite it all, cruisers are eager to return to the high seas.

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