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New thread for articles/concerns about cruise operator viability


Chris_Texas
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I'm new here, so if this is out of bounds, please forgive me, chastise me, and moderate my post as needed ūüėČ

My first post yesterday dealt with paying for my cruise well in advance (1 year) in order to get a discount.  Several folks expressed reservations about that.  I was appreciative of that perspective/advice and I'm currently thinking (I have until early April) about whether I want to pay early and get that early-pay discount or not.  In addition, I saw a post in another thread that speculated upon whether a certain cruise operator would remain a going concern over the next year or so.

I'm hoping we can walk a responsible tightrope here.  I would personally find it interesting to hear people's concerns about various cruise operators (I don't think that's out of bounds, since people have posted these opinions in other threads) - but would find it MORE helpful if people posted why the feel that way and, even better, point us to articles if they exist about what gives them pause about certain cruise providers.  Is there an article you've read that gives concern?  Something you've heard?  In the case of my previous thread, a comment from a TA?

 

I'm not trying to start a trash-talking thread here by any means.  But I also thought it might be useful to have a thread that provides some information (even if that blends a bit too readily into gossip) about why people might be concerned about certain cruise providers.

 

 

Edited by Chris_Texas
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Interesting topic, but difficult. Even the big players in the river cruising industry are family held companies - unlike ocean cruises. Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Carribean are publically traded with all the obligations as far as transparency is concerned. So it is next to impossible to get informations on the finance status of river cruise companies. And, sure, all companies do all effort in presenting themselves in the best of lights to their customers, their creditors (which does mingle) and, of course, competitors. This was valid before covid and is even more now, as all companies in the industry are,  must be in trouble. So all these "read here", "heard" sound like difficult sources to verify.

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Yeah, I was worried about that.  I tried looking for information on Scenic (the owner of Emerald, with whom I've booked a trip) and all I could find is some nonrated debt they issued in 2018 - but no details that would say anything about creditworthiness.

Edited by Chris_Texas
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@Chris_Texas, based on your posts, you seem to have a lot of anxiety about booking a river cruise and seem unsure of what you're doing and if it's a good idea.  Maybe wait until things settle out?  As I recall you were interested in booking something for 2023, so you have plenty of time.

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I don't think this is off topic.

 

Just think - how many companies can go 2 years with out getting a dime and have operating expenses (docking ships, etc...)? This industry has been hit the hardest due to COVID.

 

There were some issues with Scenic before COVID which made me not want to book with them. I don't remember what they were. Hopefully someone will chime in.

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Agree with @Coral.  With both ocean and river cruises, I expect when we come out of this Covid crisis, we will see some cruise lines no longer in business, and a lot of consolidations.  Where cruise lines are going after the same market demographic, maybe only one or two will survive.  Cruising and the travel industry in general will be leaner than what we had at the beginning of 2020.

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My concern about this topic is that as @AnhaltER1960says, most companies are privately owned, so the only way you can tell if they are in any sort of trouble is when they declare it (bankruptcy).  All else is rumour or speculation, which can be harmful for 1) the companies involved and 2) those researching for cruises as they will avoid the ones mentioned even if there is no problem with them.

 

Also, what would the legal ramifications for Cruise Critic be?  Hosting a board where people speculate on the financial wellness of a business?  Could they be held somehow liable?

 

Sorry, but I know some mention that they think lines are in trouble, but to me, I'd be very cautious.  We all see how false or speculated information goes viral online.  Rumours can be nasty, whether or not a business will be there next year or not even if they are financially stable is something that only a business or it's creditors know.  

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Chris_Texas don’t forget the law as it applies to companies can be vastly different between countries. Also although Scenic to some Americans seems a small company they have been going for some time starting off as a land tour company. I must admit to only having traveled with Scenic and I also know the now retired owner of a large travel agents who worked with the owners of Scenic in their early days. I also have not had any challenges with Scenic that have not been resolved amicably. As long as you and your TA are working together in these challenging times all I’m sure will be well. CA

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4 hours ago, Roz said:

@Chris_Texas, based on your posts, you seem to have a lot of anxiety about booking a river cruise and seem unsure of what you're doing and if it's a good idea.  Maybe wait until things settle out?  As I recall you were interested in booking something for 2023, so you have plenty of time.

Not at all - you're projecting that onto me.  I think it would be more accurate to say that I hadn't given supplier default any thought but, based on concerns voiced on this forum, I've decided to explore it a bit.  I'm still booked (for April 2022) but I want to consider whether I make full payment in April 2021 and avail myself of the discount, or wait until January 2022 and pay the normal fare.

Edited by Chris_Texas
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21 minutes ago, Chris_Texas said:

Not at all - you're projecting that onto me.  I think it would be more accurate to say that I hadn't given supplier default any thought but, based on concerns voiced on this forum, I've decided to explore it a bit.  I'm still booked (for April 2022) but I want to consider whether I make full payment in April 2021 and avail myself of the discount, or wait until January 2022 and pay the normal fare.

Exactly my point....no one knows except the individual cruise lines just how they are doing, however because of speculation & rumours in various posts, you are having concerns.  

 

Yes, I'm sure that none of them are having a great time now with having to cancel cruises, and also reimbursing clients, which is why most are probably providing credit offers instead of saying "OK, you get a full cash back if we cancel".   Give a bonus on the credit, and it could hopefully go more towards the increase cost of the next years sailing.  I booked in 2020 for my 2021 cruise, gave the minimal down payment, and have moved my cruise to 2022 now.  From my initial booking (not counting the quick re-book I did for the free cabin upgrade that I figured I wouldn't get to use, but thought I would try just in case), the early bird discount more than makes up for the price increase.  Let's face it, the lines now have a *lot* of extra expenses they now have to cover, so yeah, I did expect an increase in costs.  

 

It's a risk you take, and make sure you have insurance that will cover any problems...that's what insurance is for.  Taking a chance that your credit card will reimburse you for a charge made over a year is something you would have to get in writing from them, as that is the only way I would trust that.  Most will cover a 6 month period, but for over a year...that's a different story.

 

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I am literally currently listening the radio here in Australia and they have travel "experts" discussing the future of overseas travel in light of the vaccine rollout.

 

This gentleman said he fully expected that it would be early 2024 before overseas air travel is back to the 2019 levels!!  I have heard that from other sources too.  He means that we can simply decide where to go and book a ticket, without being concerned about quarantine and so on.

 

If this is actually the case, I would wonder how many river cruise companies could survive another three years, particularly Scenic as it is an Australian company, and Aussies are by far their largest customer base. 

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5 hours ago, djh1959 said:

I am literally currently listening the radio here in Australia and they have travel "experts" discussing the future of overseas travel in light of the vaccine rollout.

 

This gentleman said he fully expected that it would be early 2024 before overseas air travel is back to the 2019 levels!!  I have heard that from other sources too.  He means that we can simply decide where to go and book a ticket, without being concerned about quarantine and so on.

 

If this is actually the case, I would wonder how many river cruise companies could survive another three years, particularly Scenic as it is an Australian company, and Aussies are by far their largest customer base. 

 

I guess the real question is: what does it look like between now and 2024.  Is he (or others) thinking that quarantine will be required for the next 3 years? Or just that we might be required to wear masks?  Or just that people are slow to adopt a mindset that it's safe to travel and so it takes time for travel to return to pre-pandemic levels?

 

It seems to me that we face a fork in the road here in 2021 and nobody can really know which direction things go.  The good path is that vaccines become more widely available and used, cases and deaths go down, and life starts to get closer to normal - although I think it will be a new normal.  The bad path is that vaccines aren't as effective as we hoped, vaccine-resistant strains begin to develop and grow, and safe/healthy travel simply isn't possible.  Under that scenario, I could see that 2024 forecast being realistic.  Boy, I sure hope not though.

 

Edited by Chris_Texas
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There are good signs coming out with the countries like Israel showing that the vaccines are reducing hospitalisation, and dropping numbers.  We won't know until at least mid-summer as to how that will work with the rest of the world.  Don't forget, while the US may be getting vaccines out in full force in several areas, other countries haven't even started, or are just starting.  Europe won't open up until they are ready, no matter how ready other countries are.  Same with Australia, I believe they are just starting vaccines, so their path may be slower, but if they get a lot vaccinated by mid summer, than that 2024 figure could change.

 

Then again...by 2024, there could be another health crisis going around....you can't predict the future, and if you can...will you please buy me a lottery ticket? ūüôā

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As someone mentioned, most of the river cruise companies are family owned. However I am booked on the Avalon Waterways June 8 cruise from Paris to Normandy and then onward to the Saone and Rhone later in June. Avalon happens to be a subsidiary of Globus brands which is one of the larger vacation companies, so I'm not overly concerned. I don't think anyone else has commented, but because of the virus most or all of the companies are very liberal about rebooking your cruise without penalty if it becomes necessary. Another option you should consider is trip insurance. Be careful though, many of the insurance companies have a reputation of stalling and finding technicalities to refuse payment.

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3 hours ago, bfamily9 said:

 Another option you should consider is trip insurance. Be careful though, many of the insurance companies have a reputation of stalling and finding technicalities to refuse payment.

I don't believe trip insurance was that helpful for people this past year.

 

A family member struggled with Globus to get a refund last year. She ended up with part refund, part future trip credit which she doesn't think she will use.

Edited by Coral
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On 2/24/2021 at 5:32 PM, Coral said:

I don't believe trip insurance was that helpful for people this past year.

 

A family member struggled with Globus to get a refund last year. She ended up with part refund, part future trip credit which she doesn't think she will use.

I don't doubt it. However I was booked on an Avalon Waterways Danube cruise with Oberammergau in 2020. It took quite a long time, but eventually I was reimbursed for the full cost of that cancelled cruise. I didn't take the option for an additional discount using a cruise credit, I went with full reimbursement.

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  • 1 month later...

I have a similar cruise scheduled for July, 2022 on Scenic Waterways. Because it includes an Oberrammergau Passion Play land extension, they are requiring full payment by April 7, 2021. I recently took out trip insurance with AXA insurance. That is the company that I dealt with for my 2020 trip cancellation. As best that I can determine this company has a good reputation.

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I was booked with Scenic for the cruise and Oberammergau play last summer.  I had to fight hard, but I did get a full refund.  I am rebooked for next July, but I chose Crystal this time.  I am holding off on further plans and bookings (we are touring Belgium and Munich) until it gets closer.  I did not have travel insurance and I had booked all my plans independently so It took alot of effort to get everything refunded.

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Thanks for posting this topic.  We are also supposed to pay a year in advance to save 10% for a July 2022 Southern France 11 day river cruise on Scenic.  I think after reading this we will forgo the discount.  I did sign up for their online seminar on April 6 just to see what they say about this topic.

 

On our 2019 Scenic river cruise, our first ever, the boat was over 80% Australian passengers.  I have a number of good friends in Australia who don’t believe they will be allowed to travel overseas until 2023 at the earliest.

 

But I did notice a July 2022 France 8 day voyage marketed specifically to Canadians with 2 Canadian celebrity guests for that specific voyage.  So their marketing is changing.

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As of March 31, 2021 Scenic just announced that they are suspending the required final payments on cruises that have not already been suspended. So, in my case, I have until March 31, 2022 to make that payment.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I thought people might be interested in where I came out on this.

 

I ended up passing on the 10% discount.  As a result, we have "only" our $500 (for two people) deposit at-risk.  I bought trip insurance, including 75% CAFR.  We're just about exactly one year out from our trip at this point, so I'll probably go ahead and book our flights on that assumption that they're more likely to go up in price in the coming months than come down in price.

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On 4/19/2021 at 10:41 AM, Canal archive said:

Chris_Texas sounds like a good compromise, which cruise are you going to do? CA

We're doing the Danube Explorer with Emerald.  Very excited - my wife and I have been talking about a Danube river cruise for quite a few years.  Hopefully Covid doesn't delay our plans.

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Normally, I would suggest waiting to book flights, as they tend to drop in price about 6 months in.....however, with all that's gone on in the past 2 years, you never know.  Could they offer great deals to get people flying again? Or will you get better deals if they have to add on more flights to cover the demand.  

 

Either way, it's a gamble.  I wish you luck and really hope you manage to make the cruise.  They are well worth it.

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On 4/20/2021 at 1:02 PM, Daisi said:

Normally, I would suggest waiting to book flights, as they tend to drop in price about 6 months in.....however, with all that's gone on in the past 2 years, you never know.  Could they offer great deals to get people flying again? Or will you get better deals if they have to add on more flights to cover the demand.  

 

Either way, it's a gamble.  I wish you luck and really hope you manage to make the cruise.  They are well worth it.

 

Thank you.  

 

My working premise is that there's a LOT of pent-up travel demand from people not being able to travel over the last year - and that once the vaccines take root that people are going to start booking/spending at a brisk pace.  I presume that would push prices up, but you're right that it could instead play out with airlines adding more flights.  

 

I rarely see flights get cheaper as we get closer, although I've never booked a flight this far in advance - so this is new ground for me.

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