Cruise Ships, Coronavirus, and State Dept. Advisory against Travel - Questions & Tauck's response?

As many of you may know, the U.S. State Department advised that "U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship" noting an "increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment."

My wife and I are scheduled to take a cruise later this month with Tauck. I'm wondering if Tauck is considering cancelling this trip (and others with cruises) or is simply going to wait and see if the destination countries reach Level 3 or Level 4.

Any suggestions, updates, and comments would be most welcome. Thanks in advance.

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Comments

  • Where are you going? I am unaware of many true cruises with Tauck

  • edited March 9

    pwresq
    10:59AM in General

    As many of you may know, the U.S. State Department advised that "U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship" . . . Any suggestions, updates, and comments would be most welcome. Thanks in advance.

    Other than what has been posted in other forum threads, your best bet is to give Tauck a call.

    British, are you at the airport?

  • No Alan, our flight is at 9-20 tonight. 2 of the 10 people have canceled so it’s 8 of us with a very experienced guide who a couple of people who have traveled with multiple companies say he is the best guide they have ever had. All packed and ready to go, enjoying watching last nights’s Homeland with a cup of tea. Now we just hope we can get back in the US in three weeks time.

  • BritishBritish
    10:57AM
    Where are you going? I am unaware of many true cruises with Tauck.

    Actually, British, Tauck has quite a few ‘true’ cruises. We have done the Panama Canal, Portugal and Spain, we are doing the Treasures of the Mediterranean, and we are doing Antarctica. These are ‘small’ ships, but they are really cruises. We have also done the Danube on the riverboat. It is true that they are different from ‘big boat’ cruises in that it is easy in most cases to stay six feet away from other passengers if you choose to do so.

  • I’m on the Iceland tour in June, which is mostly a cruise. Since the cruise is entirely within Iceland I’m hoping, at a minimum, we won’t get turned away from any ports. Best case they have a vaccine by then that starts to turn the corner on the virus. My wife and I are both over 60, but we don’t have underlying health conditions, so I hope the cruise directives don’t get any more restrictive.

  • I’m at Philly airport on the way to Borneo, it’s quiet!
    Have taken Tauck Iceland, Panama Canal, two Galapagos and one river cruise with Tauck. I think the biggest number of people was on the Iceland one, not much over 100, that’s not what I think of when I think Of a cruise I think to thousands of people, no thank you!.

  • British - I agree with your assessment about large cruises, but I’m not sure if the government will see it the same way. Have fun on your tour and hope all goes per schedule, including your re-entry to the states.

  • Yes, know re entry cold be a problem! We are away for three weeks
    Will be sure to let you know of the experience, it will help fill in the time. Assuming we don’t fall sick. There are only eight people on our tour. Less people likely to be ill than on recent Tauck tours we have taken.

  • Thanks Smiling Sam, British and Sealord. Few things:

    1. Yes, I've checked with Tauck; they are non-responsive re the State Dept. warning - i.e., they aren't saying one way or the other if that will effect the trip(s) other than the Level 3 or 4 trips.

    2. Cruises - yes, my initial thought was large vessels, but it applies to small ones as well.

    3. Our trip is Hidden Galapagos. Boarding a ship for a week in Ecuador. Ecuador has 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 177 being evaluated. Peru (where we start) has 1 case, and likewise several under investigation.

    4. Our concerns are two-fold: first, being exposed to the virus due to our age and health. Second, even if not exposed, being stuck on a ship in Ecuador (we don't have much faith in their level of medical care).

    Yes, I realize there are choices to be made, and options to consider. Our trip has shrunk from 24 to 14 participants so this could have an impact as well. Tauck would not confirm the "minimum" number for the trip to take place.

    Appreciate all the suggestions and thoughts.

  • Two more things:

    1. I meant to thank Alan S. as well; and,

    2. I don't know why Tauck has not been as proactive about this trip (and perhaps others). I'm not sure of the protocol but it would be nice if Tauck responded to this discussion and the questions posed above - i.e., Tauck policy on State Dept. warning to avoid cruises and Tauck policy on minimum number of participants for our trip.

    Thanks again to all.

  • A few (arguable) truths and some observations. This is a situation neither Tauck nor we have caused, nor can remedy. It is changing daily and what is often called a "moving target." We all have invested a considerable amount of money in our trips. Tauck is caught between a rock and a hard place as it is both a company with employees to pay and a provider of services for which customers have paid, and it is responsible for our well being on tour. If a tour goes, both Tauck and its customers are happy if nothing happens. To varying degrees, when a tour must be cancelled, both parties have the potential to lose, though, depending on their insurance underwriter and vendor contracts, Tauck and its employees stand to lose more than customers, who if they have taken the insurance, are generally made whole. While we just have the travelers in our party and our investment to worry about, Tauck has an entire company, domestic and foreign contractors, lodging providers, ship operators, etc, etc, and potentially thousands of travelers on tour at any given time to deal with.

    The biggest problems, at least for me are dealing with the unknowns, the extreme disappointment of a possible trip cancellation after months, even years of anticipation, not being able to go on the tour when planned and having to reschedule when and if possible. But, I think the biggest issue for me and possibly others, that is no one's fault, is being put is a position where I must decide whether to cancel before the tour is officially cancelled, decide not to go if the tour isn't cancelled, or going on a tour that could be cut short or where there is potential to be put in involuntary quarantine, possibly in a foreign country. These are decision only we can make.

    At this time (11:19 pm, 3/9/2020) our decision is to go on the 22 March departure because (1) we have faith Tauck will do its best to provide the best AND safest possible experience- we trust in what is often called the "The Tauck Bubble," and (2) though I am over 70, I'm not in the high risk category for any other condition (I feel like I did when young- bullet proof :D ) so the virus itself is not a concern. We will review our decision every day until we depart or until a decision is made to cancel the trip.

  • Thanks Alan, well said. Safe travels (if you go).

  • I agree with AlanS's comments and I sympathize with those who have cruises / land trips coming up soon; with minimal information it is hard to know what is fact. In May / June I have three trips back to back in Europe over seven weeks; one with another company then two trips with Tauck including a Danube river cruise with a side trip to the Oberammergau Passion Play (done only every ten years). I have had that reservation for three years and would be heartbroken to miss the Passion Play. Also have a Bali trip scheduled in September with Tauck. If things turn a whole lot worse (people dropping in the streets) I will consider cancellation; otherwise I am inclined to go ahead with my plans.

    Best wishes and safe travel to all who are on the road the next few months.

  • We booked a Rhine Enchantment with a start in Milan late April. We had air reservations to arrive in Milan 3 days before the Tauck trip was to begin. Based on doctor's advice we cancelled and took a 25% hit on the trip. I spoke to Tauck about having the cancellation fee as a credit against a future cruise and am still waiting for an answer. Tauck rep said others have asked the same question and they are discussing but have not reached a decision. I am hoping for a positive response as I have taken both domestic and international trips with Tauck and have always had a great experience.

  • edited March 10

    I don’t understand why people are canceling tours before Tauck officially cancels and therefore taking a loss. To be honest, I don’t really see why Tauck should give you the 25% back. We all agree to these contracts when we book a tour with Tauck. It’s not their fault as Alan says. I already realize that if my upcoming tour, early June, gets cancelled, and it likely will be, that because I booked my own air, I will take a hit in cancellation fees because I know the $250 Tauck will allow is not enough. I would hope that the insurance premium that goes into a Dreamsaver can go into 2022 since I already have an additional three tours booked with them into 2021. But we will see. More disastrous will be if Tauck goes belly up and we lose all our future deposits which in our case is thousands of dollars.
    Right now, I’m helping keep lots of people in employment by continuing to travel to places where exposure so far is probably lower than in the US where supermarkets are crowded with people panic buying and the media continuously makes stupid unscientific statements.
    Also, hi to Smarks, I know how much you were looking forward to Oberammagau and do hope it goes ahead. Our best to you, Mr and Mrs British😀

  • Speaking of Oberammergau- this whole situation if it continues into the summer could really impact the Passion Play!!!" It could be a tough nut for that little town to accept if they are forced to cancel, especially when they only put it on every 10th year!! Performances run May 16th to October 4th 2020.

  • We are booked for Oberammergau with the Danube cruise at the end of May - I have been checking the site for the Passion Play frequently and their info on the virus has recently changed from none in the district to reassessing the situation. We are hoping the play and tour goes forward - at our age, we probably would not be able to do this in 10 years. And Alan, you are right - if they were forced to cancel it would have significant impact on the community. Besides the economic impact, the community members have been preparing for the play for months. It would be very tough.

  • British - hi back. Hope your current trip (Borneo?) is going well. I finished a two-week Caribbean cruise recently (no virus issues) and as noted above am waiting to hear from Tauck and another company about my trips in May & June. I have my fingers crossed, especially for the Passion Play. Safe travels to you and Mr. B.

  • Thanks Cathy and Steve, the announcement by President Trump banning all flights from Europe, with some exceptions (I'm not sure which since I'm writing this minutes after his speech), does make one pause and think. Glad to hear you are back safe and sound.

  • "President Trump banning all flights from Europe"
    It is my understanding that this ban just effects non US citizens entering the US from Europe (with a UK exemption ). Travel of US citizens is NOT ,at this point restricted, and flights are not banned. If anyone know this is not the case I would like to hear from them. Now that said, I'm sure that as the number of passengers keeps declining airlines are going to cancel more flights. we are scheduled for early may departure and are still just monitoring the situation. Now if the Europeans decided to block US citizens that would obviously be a big problem.

  • The following was posted on Viking Cruise Webpage this morning:

    Changes Affecting Itineraries in March and April 2020
    As of March 11, 2020, Viking is temporarily suspending operations of our river and ocean cruises, for embarkations taking place between March 12 to April 30, 2020. We believe Viking will be in a better place to provide the experiences our guests expect and deserve after this time and plan to resume operations on May 1, 2020, continuing all further sailings as originally planned.

    When itinerary changes are required, impacted guests and their travel agents are notified directly by Viking Customer Relations. Please log onto MyVikingJourney.com for details regarding your specific voyage.

    I would hope that Tauck follows soon with a similar announcement as my Tour starts 4/2 to Paris and while I was holding out that I would be able to travel, I have now realized this is not a possibility especially with the new 30 day travel ban per President Trump.

  • edited March 12

    JHughen
    9:58AM

    "President Trump banning all flights from Europe"
    It is my understanding that this ban just effects non US citizens entering the US from Europe (with a UK exemption ). Travel of US citizens is NOT ,at this point restricted, and flights are not banned. If anyone know this is not the case I would like to hear from them. . . .

    I would like to see more details, but this extract from today's Washington Post confirms what you say,

    The European travel restrictions set to take effect midnight Friday will not apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, their families and an array of other travelers, according to the presidential proclamation issued Wednesday, exemptions that make the measures less severe than President Trump’s initial announcement suspending “all travel.”
    Travelers arriving from Europe will be routed to 10 to 15 designated U.S. international airports likely to include most of the large commercial hubs that already receive those flights, according to a senior administration official involved with the planning. U.S. border officials and contracted medical personnel will screen those passengers for symptoms but they will not be tested for coronavirus, the official said. . . .

    Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said he would issue more detailed guidelines in the next 48 hours explaining how the measures will alter travel during the next 30 days as authorities try to control the spread of the virus.

  • Tauck has also updated their Travel Policy Update (March 12 2020) - saying, they're on top of the situation, evaluating, and will inform Tauck guests who are on future trips. Link: https://www.tauck.com/travel-alert

    In part, the Update states:

    (3/12/2020) As you are undoubtedly aware, the President last night announced unprecedented restrictions governing travel, specifically barring foreign nationals from entering the United States. (These restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens.) We are evaluating this and other developments relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we will be reaching out to all impacted guests and their travel advisors to share updates as soon as possible. This may take some time, and I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

  • The State Department posted this overnight:

    Global Level 3 Health Advisory - Reconsider Travel
    The Department of State advises U.S citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.

  • Game over - at least for my tour, per the email received today from Dan Mahar at Tauck. Here are some snippets:

    **"We have accordingly decided to pause, and forgo operating our scheduled tours and cruises from March 17, 2020 through April 14, 2020. We will revisit our re-start date as mid-April approaches, and of course, we will be here and available throughout this entire time. **As per our recently relaxed policy pertaining to Tauck-cancelled departures, you will be receiving a full refund of your tour or cruise cost. Any Guest Protection Product premiums will be Dreamsaved (and any Cruise Protection Product premiums will be kept on account in voucher form) for use on future Tauck journeys. Most airlines are currently waiving change fees. However, if you booked your flights through Tauck, and any change fees are incurred, they will be covered by Tauck. (For Tauck-booked flights, reimbursement will arrive separately from any tour or cruise refund.) For non-Tauck flights, we will reimburse change fees up to $250 per person with the submission of a receipt. Please allow up to two weeks for any refunds to arrive.

    We fully recognize that you want to travel with us – you’re just anxious about traveling now. With this in mind, we’re offering a $500 credit per traveler if you transfer to a new 2020 or 2021 reservation. If you are unsure of your future travel plans you can instead choose to leave the funds from your cancelled tour in a “Tauck Travel Wallet,” and receive the same $500 credit per traveler to be used toward your future reservation. For up-to-the minute availability on all of our land tours and cruises, please visit our website, www.tauck.com. (If you preemptively cancelled your journey on March 12, 2020, we will honor the above offer and reconcile your account within 30 days.)

    To summarize, we’re providing you with the flexibility offered by two options; 1.) You may cancel and receive a refund, or 2.) receive a $500 credit by transferring to a new journey or leaving your tour funds in a Tauck Travel Wallet.

    Thank you for choosing Tauck. I know that we will emerge from our current circumstances stronger than before, and be ready to provide you with the kind of life enhancing travel experiences that have been Tauck’s hallmark for the past 95 years."

  • I'm keeping my fingers crossed. My tour starts April 16th and really hoping that Tauck does not cancel. I trust Tauck to take care of their customers, after many tours with them know for a fact that their main concern is always for us travelers. Have absolutely **not considered canceling. :) **

  • Our cruise starts on April 15 and we leave the US on April 13 so ours is still a go. Problem is we spend 3 days in Madrid before sailing the Douro. I find the situation in Spain to be very scary at present and Madrid is the epicenter of the Spanish outbreak. The country went on lockdown today, after infections increased by about 1500 cases since yesterday. I certainly hope that Tauck reconsiders their decision not to cancel this April 15 cruise/tour!

  • I'm so glad Tauck had the wisdom and courage to cancel the Hidden Galapagos trip to Peru and Equador. Now folks are trapped in Peru as that country closed its borders. I consider myself extremely fortunate that my family was able to get in a trip to Hawaii from Feb. 29 to March 08. When we returned, the world as we know it, changed, perhaps forever. Peace, love and blessings to everyone. Come home and stay safe.
    .https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/americans-stuck-peru-over-coronavirus-fears-urge-u-s-bring-n1164316

  • Ponant announced on its website that it's immobilizing all of its ships through 7 May 2020. See, https://us.ponant.com/. This should result in Tauck cancelling the 2 May 2020 Glasgow departure for the Scotland tour.

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