Northern Europe port officials say they expect little impact on North American cruisers from the Icelandic volcano eruptions, pointing out that Baltic sailings by the major lines don’t start until early May.
The big change to date is Celebrity sidelining launch ceremonies for Celebrity Eclipse. Instead, Celebrity deployed the new Solstice-class vessel on a mission to repatriate stranded U.K. travellers stuck in Spain. The move was an effective way to expose nearly 3,000 people to the Celebrity brand – and get some great press in the process.
Eclipse’s two-night naming festivities will now take place April 24th – two days later than originally scheduled. Celebrity is working to accommodate guests, but with backlogged transatlantic flight schedules, it could be a difficult process.
At this point, agents report no slowing of Baltic sales for the summer season with air services expected to return to normal within the next week or so. But it should be remembered that when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano was last active in 1821 the eruptions continued on and off for two years.
If the volcano continues to disrupt travel, there are potential problems. One agent checked with his insurance carrier and learned that if customers had purchased insurance before the eruption they are covered. However, the company said if a customer now books a cruise to Europe and purchases the insurance, they would be excluded from this volcano-related coverage.
As for cruise line insurance, a representative situation can be found with Princess. “A key feature of Princess Vacation Protection is that it allows a passenger to cancel for any reason at all and still receive a credit for a future cruise,” says V.P. Public Relations Julie Benson. “The standard plan provides a 75% future cruise credit and the Platinum Plan provides a credit of 100%.” That being said, disruption of air travel is not a covered reason of cancellation – that’s why the credit would apply instead of a cash refund.