Updated on 2 Oct with further cruise re-start dates:
Tui-owned Marella Cruises has retired a second ship, Marella Dream, rather than bringing it back into service next summer as originally planned.
Passengers due to sail on the Dream next summer will be switched to the newer, bigger Discovery, which will homeport in Palma for the summer instead of moving to North America. As a result, Discovery’s US cruises next summer have been cancelled. These include the Sunshine and Jazz, Sunshine State and Sands, American Dream, Big Apple Adventure, Floridian Adventures and East Coast Adventure cruises.
Tui says it is contacting customers to give them the option to amend their booking for free with a10% on top of the cost of the original booking, or cancel and receive a full refund.
All Dream sailings due to take place from 26 October 2021 and beyond have been cancelled and all affected customers are being notified, said Tui. They will have the option to amend to any cruise that’s currently on sale for free with a 10% booking incentive or cancel and receive a full refund.
The cruise line announced earlier this year that it was retiring sister ship Marella Celebration earlier than planned due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Marella Dream is the cruise line’s smallest and oldest remaining ship. It is more than 30 years old and has a capacity for 1,533 guests. It was due to resume sailing next summer.
Marelle Cruises will now operate a fleet of just four ships, the 1,830-passenger Discovery, Discovery 2, Explorer and Explorer 2.
It is planning to resume cruising from 16 November, but if you have a booking for a cruise up to the end of March next year and you no longer want to go it is giving you the option to change to any other Tui holiday for free before 31 October.
These are the dates it is planning to resume cruises:
– Explorer, from Gran Canaria, 16 Nov
– Explorer 2, from Barbados 29 Nov
– Discovery, from Malaga 3 Feb
– Discovery, from Montego Bay 16 Feb
– Discovery 2, from Paphos 24 Mar
Should you amend your booking?
I’d say it’s highly likely that Marella will be forced to extend the suspension of its cruises for a few more months, probably even until next spring.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is currently advising against all ocean cruises for an indefinite period. With such advisory in place, cruise lines like Marella are unable to plan for a relaunch of their cruises.
Another UK-based cruise line P&O Cruises has already cancelled all its sailings from the UK until mid-February next year and all cruises in the Caribbean until mid-January.
My feeling is that Marella will announce further cancellations, possibly until at least mid-February, within the next few weeks, in which case any with a booking will be entitled to a free refund or a free change. So if you’re happy to switch to another Tui holiday then I’d say go for it, but don’t be bounced into switching for the sake of it if you’re able to hang on in the hope of a refund.
Which ocean cruises are still operating?
Some European and Scandinavian cruises have resumed. Italian cruise line MSC has relaunched cruises on one ship and is planning to re-launch cruises on a second on 19 October, but at the moment the cruise line is only accepting passengers from the Schengen area, which excludes the UK.
Costa Cruises has also resumed sailing on two ships from some Italian ports, but it is only accepting Italian guests.
Scandinavian cruise line Hurtigruten has half its ships operating and plans to have its full fleet sailing by November, but it has cancelled its expedition cruises to Alaska.
When will the others resume?
It looks like cruises in North America and the Caribbean will be allowed to resume from next month after the White House allegedly blocked an extension to the “no sail” policy beyond 31 October.
The New York Times has reported that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wanted to extend the cruise ban until mid-February, but this would have hit the ‘politically powerful’ tourism industry in the swing state of Florida.
Instead, the administration will allow cruises to resume after 31 October, but this doesn’t mean that cruises will re-start straight away. Instead, they are likely to resume gradually.
Royal Caribbean Cruises has said it is planning to re-start European and transatlantic cruises at the end of October, but it has cancelled sailings on Odyssey of the Seas until 17 April 2021.