The worldwide Coronavirus epidemic may present some challenges to your holiday plans. Here’s the current situation as at 13th March.

New Bookings

Some (mainly smaller) bareboat suppliers have reduced their initial booking deposits from the usual 50%. A few have also delayed the balance payment date until closer to the travel time.

As always, I recommend taking out travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday, not leaving it until closer to your travel date. In the current situation I also suggest you should check closely what cover it provides in the event that you either wish to cancel later, or are forced to cancel. It is also important you advise your insurers of any pre-existing health conditions as these may affect your ability to claim later.

When booking your flights, I suggest you also check the airlines policy should you wish or be forced to change flight dates. Approaches vary widely. Some airlines are allowing more flexibility with date changes than may normally be the case. Other airlines may take the view that if you or they cancel your fights, you may at best be able to get your money back. Please check with the airline direct.

Current Bookings

Some suppliers have indicated a willingness to reschedule bookings to later dates in the 2020 season, subject to availability. There is generally a willingness to be flexible – they would rather keep your booking for a later date than lose it altogether.

However, other than the changes to deposit and balance arrangements for new bookings noted above, there have been no changes to terms and conditions. Whilst the Coronavirus isn’t your fault, it isn’t the yacht suppliers’ fault either. So all balance due dates still apply and as usual.

Before you change your yacht booking, you will need to check the situation regarding changes to your flights. Unless you have booked at flight inclusive package, you will need to check with the airline directly, or if you booked through an agent, check with them.

Future Developments

It is not clear to what extent infections will spread, how individual governments will react, nor how the outbreak will affect other providers of your holiday arrangements, notably the airlines.

At present, whether you choose to cancel or are forced to, there is no indication that any of the operators will offer full refunds. However, if you are forced to cancel, you may well be able to claim back the costs from your insurers.

The good news is that at present, with the exception of Italy, the main destinations I offer are reporting lower levels of infection than the UK. Greece currently has reported 117 cases, Croatia has 27 and Turkey has just 2, compared to 609 cases in the UK.

As holidays go, sailing is arguably one of the safer options. For much of the time you will be confined only with your crew. Bear in mind too that tourism is a major earner for these nations so they are perhaps less likely to close their borders than other nations.

Finally, though all yacht suppliers are likely to have seen a drop off in bookings in the last couple of weeks, I currently have no indication that any are in financial jeopardy. They generally have the advantage that they are asset rich (the yachts) and as they employ a lot of casual staff, they have the ability to trim running costs more than any other industries.