Covid-19 News, Guidance and Policy Updates
The FCO has updated and clarified its advice regarding cruise travel. It clearly states now that the advice is related to ocean going cruise ships, not cruises like the ones we provide:
"The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time. This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.
Cruise ship travel means staying overnight for at least 1 night on a sea-going cruise ship with people from multiple households.
Our advice against cruises applies to international travel on a ship that is exclusively for pleasure or recreation, providing overnight accommodation and other leisure facilities such as entertainment venues or swimming pools.
Our advice does not include ferries or privately-rented boats.
The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice."
See the full statement here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cruise-ship-travel
New Email sent to customers and potential customers as below:
Highlights of this email:
• Government permits Visitor Economy including all forms of boating to reopen 4th July
• Our mitigation measures to meet and exceed Government guidelines
• We continue to provide financial security and flexible booking conditions for 2020
Here’s hoping – again – that you and yours are staying safe. As the lockdown eases and holidays become possible again, I trust you are making plans to get away, at least for a ‘Staycation’: some of you already have bookings with us while others may not have decided but either way, please read on to see why we are a good choice for a relaxing holiday in England. If you haven’t made a booking already, please visit https://river.englishholidaycruises.co.uk or call us on 01452-410411. We are emerging from furlough and have re-opened our office for calls between 10am and 4pm. Our first cruise is scheduled for 10th August and this has space available.
The Government have now confirmed that all inland boating can resume on 4th July, including Passenger vessels and Hotel boats offering overnight stays. The relevant guidance is here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/the-visitor-economy
We have been pouring over the safety requirements which apply to us and we are pleased to say that we will not only be able to meet the new requirements but also go further.
We can go further because we have a river cruiser which we can make into an especially secure zone: we can stop contamination coming aboard; our passengers remain for a complete cruise rather than checking in and out and mixing around every day: you will sleep in the same cabin, eat in the same chair, get served by the same crew and get plenty of fresh air right through your stay! This all means that you should feel much safer on holiday with us than in a regular land-based hospitality outlet and, unlike sea-going ships, you won’t be left trapped aboard at any time either.
Putting the new government safety guidelines into place will serve to reinforce these natural advantages. We have carried out a thorough risk assessment and designed detailed mitigation measures.
We will guide you through all of these new procedures with our usual frequent (and fun) briefings, plus some (inevitable and statutory!) signage but with your help I’m sure we can make your cruise holiday with us more safe, comforting and relaxing than any almost other holiday in England.
Before closing, let me add a reminder about the safety of your deposit payments. We will always ensure that you can relax when you pay deposits for your holiday with us, confident that we will refund you in cash in line with our cancellation terms, confident that you are getting the best value for money whenever you do cruise with us and assured that we will not charge more for a postponed cruise. Our latest terms for date changes and cancellations of 2020 bookings are shown below and we will update you whenever necessary.
I hope this information is helpful but if you have any questions at all or wish to book a cruise please visit https://river.englishholidaycruises.co.uk or call us on 01452-410411 and we’ll look forward to welcoming you aboard!
Richard - and Jay, Judith, Steve, Sam & Fran.
New Email sent to customers and interested parties:
I hope that you have all remained safe and healthy during lockdown. For those of you self-isolating, I hope that the experience has proved comfortable, and that the wonderful weather has helped you through it. On our part, we have a new addition to our family: my son Jay’s wife Gill gave birth to baby Alice Clements on 29th May!
The Government began to ease lockdown restrictions a short while ago and currently plan to allow the hospitality sector to reopen on 4th July. They will soon publish the precautions we will be required to follow and whenever they do, we will be changing our procedures to comply with – and even exceed them - whilst ensuring that you also enjoy a relaxing holiday with us. We will need some extra time to make these changes, so we now plan to restart our cruising in August. So, from then you will be able to take a ‘staycation’ with us in probably the safest region of England, with the NHS nearby and no flights or airports to worry about. If you haven’t made a booking already, please visit https://river.englishholidaycruises.co.uk or call us on 01452-410411 to leave a request for our call back.
The key principles we will follow to enhance your safety are: to stop any contamination from coming aboard the Edward Elgar; to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination; to deal with any outbreak effectively; and return you to our home port of Gloucester safely. We will write again to explain further details so that you can prepare to play your part in these endeavours and feel confident of others doing the same – please look out for further emails from us and check our latest information at https://river.englishholidaycruises.co.uk/help
We have also been working to ensure your financial security. As you know, when the current emergency started, we relaxed our date-change and cancellation terms and returned customer deposits in cash when requested, less admin fees in most cases. We did not resort to ‘refund credit notes’ which many other travel organisers have used. We also announced a policy of ensuring that everybody on the same cruise enjoys the same best ever offers on that same cruise.
Now, we want to re-assure you further, in two ways: Recently, some travel companies have increased their prices when customers postpone their holidays: we will never do that, so if you wish to postpone, we will not charge more for the new date. Secondly, we have decided to further relax our payment terms for all 2020 cruises: you may now cancel as little as 30 days prior to a 2020 cruise and receive your initial deposit back in cash, less our admin charge of £45pp. As before, you may also postpone the date of your cruise at the same point in time, free of charge.
The details of these policies may change to suit the circumstances but we will always ensure that you can relax when you pay deposits for your holiday with us, confident that we will refund you in cash in line with our cancellation terms, confident that you are getting the best value for money whenever you do cruise with us and assured that we will not charge more for a postponed cruise. Our latest terms for date changes and cancellations of 2020 bookings are shown below and we will update you whenever necessary.
Happier times will return, of that I am certain. Yet I am also mindful that we can never forget the many who have suffered. Our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones and our gratitude is with those frontline workers in the NHS and elsewhere who have kept our society functioning throughout this challenging period. I thank my core staff who have remained with me throughout this difficult period for their commitment and loyalty.
For now, we work with determination towards our goal of restarting our cruises in August. Keep updated, or book a cruise at https://river.englishholidaycruises.co.uk and I look forward to welcoming you aboard!
Richard - and Jay, Judith, Steve, Sam & Fran.
Key points about cancelling your 2020 booking or postponing it to any date in 2020 or 2021
- For all bookings for the 2020 season until further notice, passengers may cancel up to 30 days prior to their cruise (rather than 90) and get a cash refund of their total deposit less our cancellation fee of £45pp. Alternatively, at the same point in time, they may postpone the date of their cruise to another date in 2020 or 2021 without charge and without paying any more for their new date, provided it is for the same cruise type.
- After the initial 25% deposit, balances will now be due only 30 days in advance (rather than 90 days). After this time our normal cancellation terms will apply and no refund will be due.
- For new bookings in 2021 all of our normal terms will apply.
- If we are forced to cancel any cruise in advance, we will refund all prior payments in cash.
- If you wish to book any cruise, please ensure that you arrange cancellation insurance. Our partner Just Travel Cover can suggest an appropriate policy. Visit https://englishholidaycruises.justtravelcover.com or call them on 0800-294-2972.
As this is a constantly changing situation, we are publishing updates to our policies on the FAQ Covid-19 section of our website as and when they occur. Please check the latest information at https://river.englishholidaycruises.co.uk/help
To continue to be as flexible as we can in this difficult time, we are amending our balance paymens dates to 30 days prior to the scheduled sailing until further notice.
Up until now we have asked for all balance payments to be made 90 days before the sailing with the possibility to cancel up to 30 days before the sailing. When a cruise is 30 days away passengers will need to either pay their balance or cancel their booking.
Please note that as of 2.4.20 until further notice, we will only be able to take voicemails left at 01452 410411 or emails sent to email@example.com. This is because most of our staff have been placed in furlough due to corona virus so we are not able to answer incoming calls. Please be patient with us and if you leave us a message or send an email, we will respond as quickly as we can but it is unlikely to be on the same day.
I hope that you are all staying safe. We have been heartened by your response to our letter of 18th March. Many of you are rebooking for later dates, others understandably prefer to cancel but a large proportion of those cancelling have made a voluntary contribution as well as paying the administration fee. Virtually everybody – around the same 98% as we advertise as recommending our holidays – are wishing us well for the future. Challenging situations bring out occasionally the worst, but mostly the best, from the great British public and by example I must mention the customers who have both cancelled AND told us to keep the full payment for their holiday! They really did bring tears to our eyes and we are most grateful for their support. This small family company is very grateful for the support of all of you who have given it, in any form. Thank you.
We have been making calls to as many of you as possible who are booked on cruises before 15th June, plus all later cruisers calling in. Each call is taking some time, so If we haven’t talked to you yet please don’t worry, we are working flat out and will call you soon. For all of you booked on cruises boarding on or after 15th June, if you wish to change your booking in any way may I remind you to please call us after Monday 30th March.
Again, may I re-assure you that we will refund the bulk of your deposits to all who prefer to cancel cruises due to board before 15th June, 2020 . All your money is in a separate account which I have never used to run our business (until such time as we have delivered your holidays). We will struggle over the coming year but with your various kindnesses, our own reserves and some help from government, we fully intend to survive. (By the way, some of our staff will benefit from the Job Retention support scheme but marine businesses currently fall between the cracks of all the other support announced, so we are appealing for more – watch this space!).
As this is a constantly changing situation there will be a need for updates periodically. We are not able to do this by post as frequently as we have been so from now on all updates will be published to this webpage. Please read through the Frequently-Asked Questions and our answers below.
If you have email, I strongly recommend you sign up to our email newsletter using the form on the footer of this webpage so you can stay up to date.
Many thanks and continue to take care,
Richard, Judith, Jay, Sam, Fran, ‘Skip’ and the Edward Elgar Crew
We were ready to start our season as scheduled on 27th March. At the time of writing the government instructions are for no one to leave their homes, except for a few special reasons. They advise that no travel should be undertaken before 17th April. They have also advised certain at risk groups to stay at home for 12 weeks. As we know that many of our customers are in at risk groups we are actively contacting everyone booked to travel up to 14th June. Once we have completed that exercise, everyone due to travel up to 14th June will have been personally contacted to discuss options to either cancel their booking or book a date further in the future.
ABTA have a website for customers which we recommend you to visit: https://www.abta.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak The points specifically relating to our business in the current guidelines are that travel restrictions are in place until 16 April. If there is no government advice against travel after that date you are free to make the choice not to go but there is no obligation on our company to waive the cancellation charge for disinclination to travel. Balances need be paid on bookings when they are due 90 days before the sailing date, but a full refund (less the cancellation charge of £45 per person) will still be given on any cancellation made by customers more than 30 days in advance of the 2020 cruise date. Cancellations made less than 30 days before the cruise date will not be eligible for any refund.
All bookings made for, or moved to, 2021 will have our usual terms of cancellation and booking applied as written in our brochure, on our website and attached to all our invoices. The 30-day cancellation relaxation will not apply to 2021 bookings.
All passengers can transfer their booking to a future date without any admin fee and enjoy a price guarantee that we will not raise the price and will pass on any discounts should we discount the cruise they are booked on.
Change to another date in 2020
If you move your date to another date in 2020 we will carry over any payments you have already made into that booking. If any balance payment is due you will be required to pay it before 90 days of the sailing date. Until further notice, all 2020 bookings will be subject to only 30 days’ notice of cancellation rather than our usual 90 days and if you cancel giving such notice you will receive a full refund less the admin fee of £45 per person.
Change to another date in 2021
Those who wish to transfer to a future date in 2021 can chose any of the following options regarding payment for that new date:
If you have paid in full, you can opt to
• carry all of the money over to next year’s booking;
• carry the deposit over and be refunded the balance which will become due again 90 days prior to the sailing date
• have all your money refunded less a deposit of only £100 per person, which is considerably less than our usual deposit and repay the proportion up to 25% in December 2020. The final balance will be due 90 days prior to sailing.
If you have only paid a deposit so far you can either:
• carry the deposit over and pay the balance 90 days prior to the sailing date
• have all your money refunded less a deposit of only £100 per person, which is considerably
less than our usual deposit and repay the proportion up to 25% in December 2020. The
balance will be due 90 days prior to sailing.
All bookings made for or moved to 2021 will have our usual terms of cancellation and booking applied as written in our brochure, on our website and attached to all our invoices. The 30- day cancellation relaxation will not apply to 2021 bookings.
Some passengers felt that our policies were ambiguous across recent correspondence. To clarify, based on ABTA policy and our concessions for customers, our current policies are:
• Passengers booked to travel in the 2020 season may cancel their booking with 30 days notice for a refund less a £45pp admin fee.
• All passengers may transfer their booking to a future date without any admin fee and enjoy a price guarantee that we will not raise the price and will pass on any discounts should we discount the cruise they are booked on.
• If passengers wish to transfer to a date in 2021 you can either leave money already paid with us, or we will refund money less a deposit of only £100pp, which is considerably less than our usual 25% deposit. The balance of the deposit up to a total of 25% will be payable in December 2020.
• All bookings made for or moved to 2021 will have our usual terms of cancellation and booking applied as written in our brochure, on our website and attached to all our invoices.
- All Balances on all cruises will still be due 30 days in advance of the schduled sailing.
- Balances not paid will be treated as a cancellation on the passenger’s part as per our booking and cancellation terms.
ABTA clearly advises all travellers both local and international that travel operators are not obliged to cancel travel until it is “imminent” - meaning within a few days of the date of travel. We will not usually cancel until travel is imminent, but if we ever do this, then your money will be refunded in full without any admin charge. You can view ABTA advice for travellers here: https://www.abta.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak
Please check with your insurer, but it is our understanding that all policies bought before the
outbreak should be able to be transferred over to a change of date booking and be covered for Covid 19. If you cancel and then book again for a later date you are very unlikely to get cover for Covid 19.
Some travel insurance providers are attempting to ”buy back” insurance policies from their
customers. Effectively they are offering full refunds on policies before travellers contact their travel provider. Presently we believe that Covid-19 related claims should be honoured if the policy was purchased before the outbreak for travel which was booked before the outbreak, even if it occurs weeks or months into the future from now. Insurers are buying back all policies they can which they issued for any travel purchased before the outbreak to limit their exposure, although the length of the outbreak has yet to be determined.
For a new travel cancellation insurance policy (albeit probably without cover for cancellations due to Covid-19, please contact Just Travel Cover on 0800-294-2972
We will treat all international customers on the same basis as our customers from the UK and EU.
We have always adopted strict hygiene control on board our vessel. Hand sanitisers are provided free of charge in all cabins and public areas. Unlike alcohol-based sanitisers which only sterilise your hands briefly, we stock a sanitiser which acts effectively to kill viruses for up to four hours, greatly reducing transmission by surface contact.
We also have strict cleaning procedures throughout our vessel using chemicals recommended for commercial disinfection.
We do not have buffets or shared food platters on our menu for hygiene reasons and we have a 5-star hygiene rating for our kitchen.
Before boarding we will be asking guests to answer a short health questionnaire and to voluntarily have their temperature taken with a non-contact device. We will refuse entry to anyone who:
• Refuses to answer the questionnaire or have their temperature taken.
• has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid19 within the 14 days before the time of boarding.
• comes under the current government guidance for those who should self-isolate at home
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