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Royal Clipper October 2021 - What are you hearing?


FWFrog
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We are considering one of the Royal Clipper itineraries for October 2021.  Is anyone booked on one of these?  It sounds like the ships are very full.

 

We specifically asked about independent shore excursions.  We are currently booked on a Windstar Cruise and they are restricting disembarkation to Windstar arranged shore excursions, except in Greece.  We are thinking that we may "jump ship."  Star Clipper indicated that they are not restricting.

 

 Relative to the other cruise lines, Star Clipper has very little information on their website about COVID protocols and how they are adapting the experience.   I was surprised to learn that "COVID insurance" is mandatory.

 

What are you hearing about shore excursions, masks on board, etc.? 

 

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1 hour ago, FWFrog said:

We are considering one of the Royal Clipper itineraries for October 2021.  Is anyone booked on one of these?  It sounds like the ships are very full.

 

We specifically asked about independent shore excursions.  We are currently booked on a Windstar Cruise and they are restricting disembarkation to Windstar arranged shore excursions, except in Greece.  We are thinking that we may "jump ship."  Star Clipper indicated that they are not restricting.

 

 Relative to the other cruise lines, Star Clipper has very little information on their website about COVID protocols and how they are adapting the experience.   I was surprised to learn that "COVID insurance" is mandatory.

 

What are you hearing about shore excursions, masks on board, etc.? 

 

 

I think you will find all ships will be doing much the same as each other regards shore excursions once the ships sail.  What really matters is the requirements of CLIA, the Government of the country which a ship sails from, as well as requirements of the port of call itself and the country it is in.  There are hopes it will be possible to go ashore independently in some ports, but it will not really be known what will be the case until nearer to the saiing date and even then, there could always be a last minute changes regards that. 

 

There have been so many twists and turns over travel over covid times and I very doubt that will change for a while to come, especially over the winter when all infections spread more easily.  We are going ahead with travel plans, hoping for the best, but prepared to take whatever the situation is at the time.

 

I do not know of a cruise when covid insurance is not mandatory now.

Edited by tring
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Because of my profession, I follow country COVID protocols very closely, especially in Europe.. I agree that protocols differ by country and change often.  If I could rely on country protocols, I would be able to better plan and choose the right option for our trip,  Of course, keeping in mind that things change often in this environment.  However, it seems that the few cruise lines that I prefer are setting their own agenda.

 

We have looked into several cruise lines.  While CLIA is not recommending independent shore excursions, this recommendation is not being administered consistently across cruise lines..  This is true even with Windstar.  While they are not permitting independent excursions, you can arrange for a private driver through Windstar for a half day/full day tour of the area.  When you do so, you are free to roam.  This seems inconsistent with their own policy of not permitting excursions outside of the Windstar bubble.

 

The same is true for travel insurance.  Star Clipper is the only company among the four that I have contacted that are requiring insurance.  While this may sound prudent, I asked if there were any requirements or minimum coverage and the answer was "no" and you just need "COVID travel insurance" and "there are many kinds".  If you have ever looked into travel insurance, you find that most have so many exclusions that the provide very little real coverage unless you experience something catastrophic (need to be airlifted  somewhere or evacuated).   Given that all passengers are vaccinated, and that we will likely be close to good medical care, this seems unlikely.

 

As you have said, this is COVID and anything can change.  I am a fan of Star Clipper  (and Windstar).  My hope is that they provide information in time to make good decisions.  I would sincerely like to cruise this October if I can wrap my head around it.  On Friday, I will do my third trip to Europe during COVID.  I truly believe that we can navigate travel even now with the right precautions.

 

 

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8 hours ago, FWFrog said:

  I truly believe that we can navigate travel even now with the right precautions.

 

 

The right precautions are indeed the way forward, along with expectation of last-minute changes, which you are obviously aware can happen.  The requirements for land holidays have been very different to cruises and it can be very difficult for many of us to find that criteria, though you may well manage.  I have recently been looking into Spain, as we have a couple of Med and also a Canaries cruise before Christmas, (booked to sail from the UK). We have been told by both cruise lines we are booked on that we would be able to go ashore independently in the autumn, if the local criteria allow that, which of course means absolutely nothing unless we can use a crystal ball to find out what restrictions will be in place when we go, but like many others we have paid our balances and intend to travel even if we do need trips.  We would in fact stay on the ship in some of ports and enjoy some better weather than we would get at home.  If our cruises are cancelled we would be refunded, so no risk for us either.  I realise the UK criteria does not apply to you at all, but similar things seem to be happening elsewhere, so it is perhaps an example of what you may encounter so have mentioned some things here.  From what I have gleaned, it seems Spain had stopped all cruise visits until relatively recently when they were looking at opening a couple of ports and I saw a report that a cruise ship had visited Palma in Majorca (this week I think).  Other countries will have their own restrictions. 

 

I had read an EU document some time back, I am sure there is a more updated version now, but this is the link I have, which may help if you wish to search for a current version:-

 

 https://www.healthygateways.eu/Portals/0/plcdocs/EU_HEALTHY_GATEWAYS_COVID-19_RESTARTING_CRUISES.pdf?ver=2020-07-01-115942-557

 

The restrictions are more a matter of what has been agreed between CLIA (as the cruise lines organisation) and also the individual countries who set the rules as I understand it, though some countries seem to be more relaxed as they are keen to get the cash in since their economies are very reliant on tourism, (I think largely Greece and Spain).  In the UK, for instance, we have cruises mainly just sailing UK waters at present, with only UK residents allowed on the ships.  There was recently a relaxation of the rules which insist on excursions only and one by one the cruise lines are relaxing their individual criteria regards that, I suspect possibly because some want more of their crew double vaccinated first.  The rules on non UK residents being unable to go on ships has also been relaxed, but it is not totally clear when that will take effect in full – Princess for instance, who have already said they will not restrict going ashore independently if local restrictions allow, are still saying in emails that they will only take UK residents on their summer UK cruises (Seacations).   Though other nationalities can visit the UK if they pass through the various hoops imposed as you will be aware.  Cruise lines in the UK have also only fairly recently been given the go ahead to sail internationally (outside the UK), so still early days, and no experience as to how it would work in Europe.  I am aware one ship sailed to Iceland last week and I understand it took a lot of requirements for the cruise line to organise that journey.  Travel within EU countries may be easier than for us though.  I do think though that some cruise lines are being quite coy about how they think things will be in the future, so are either delaying making certain decisions, or hiding the details away in difficult to find parts of their websites, so they do not put people off booking with them.

 

Cruise lines seem to want to indemnify themselves against costs which may be occurred if a covid situation arises, which is logical for them, though insurance was always required for us to book a cruise in the UK previously.  Booking from elsewhere may well be different, so possibly not the same for you.  We have some very good insurance policies as long as we keep the company aware of any pre-existing conditions and pay any extra premium.  For some events the costs could be enormous, such as air evacuation, repatriation if very ill or if need to stay long term abroad in a hospital or other accommodation if not fit to travel, as well as cover for costs incurred by a travelling partner/companion.  Covid is now commonly covered on most of our policies as well, so routine for us.  For you it is perhaps a personal choice and I assume you would have some medical cover already like my relatives in the US and Canada.

 

I have written a lot, but hope it will help point you on the right direction to research how things are going over here,

 

Good luck with your holiday plans, I hope all turns out well for you.     

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On 8/21/2021 at 11:48 PM, FWFrog said:

The same is true for travel insurance.  Star Clipper is the only company among the four that I have contacted that are requiring insurance.  While this may sound prudent, I asked if there were any requirements or minimum coverage and the answer was "no" and you just need "COVID travel insurance" and "there are many kinds".  If you have ever looked into travel insurance, you find that most have so many exclusions that the provide very little real coverage unless you experience something catastrophic (need to be airlifted  somewhere or evacuated). 

In speaking to a cruise line  representative , I got the distinct impression that this requirement is specifically so that if you get to the embarkation point, and then test positive (And are denied boarding) you "may" have some recourse.  (Or at least the cruise line can claim)   

 

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A relevant factor in this is surely that as a privately owned Swedish company sailing between (mainly) EU ports Star Clippers are subject to the protocols of Sweden and the EU, not the UK. So what applies on UK "staycation" cruises may not necessarily apply on Star Clippers in the Med.

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I have a Royal Clipper cruise booked in December but changed it yesterday to 2023 as we are not confident it would go ahead especially with the uncertainty at the moment. Princess have paused it's global operations until next year so it is still very unsettling. 

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