Coronavirus / Covid-19

The worldwide Coronavirus epidemic may present some challenges to your holiday plans.

Update, 27/5/20

There are signs that things are easing. Croatia plans to allow yacht charters from the start of June, with Greece following in mid June. However, it is less clear when you will actually be able to get there!

Airlines are generally advising that flights will restart in early July, but it is not yet clear what restrictions will be in place at that time, either at the UK end or the destination. It seems possible at least some countries will prioritise countries with lower infection rates which will sadly put the UK at the back of the queue.

So rescheduling of holidays continues and my thanks go out to all those so far involved, both customers and suppliers.

New Bookings

Some bareboat suppliers have reduced their initial booking deposits from the usual 50% to as little as 10%. There are some good discounts on offer. 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. Unfortunately, Covd-19 issues are now excluded from new policies.

When booking your flights, I suggest you also check the airlines policy should you wish or be forced to change flight dates. Airlines are currently allowing more flexibility with date changes than is normally be the case. However, some 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

There are minor differences between the different suppliers in terms of what they are offering. There is one common theme – none are offering refunds. Whilst it isn’t your fault your holiday may be impacted it isn’t theirs either.

All suppliers are offering to reschedule bookings to later dates in the 2020 season, subject to availability. The usual booking change charges are being waived and there will be no extra charge unless you move to a more expensive date band (eg from May to August). There is generally a willingness to be flexible – they would rather keep your booking for a later date than lose it altogether. So in some cases, operators are willing to move bookings to 2021, though sometimes with some small extra cost or a limitation on date options.

Most suppliers will only consider date changes once they are sure you will be unable to travel. They generally consider this to be 4-6 weeks before travel. (The airlines generally seem to be working on 4 weeks). So whilst you are welcome to contact me earlier than this, in many cases, I won’t be able to effect any changes until closer to your travel date.

Technically, your balance due date remains as before. However, suppliers are being flexible, either formally or informally. They understand you may not wish to commit the balance payment until you have rescheduled your trip. Generally (but not always), the balance due date will change in line with your revised travel date.

If you decide not to change travel dates, or can’t decide which date to change to, a few suppliers are offering credit notes for use in 2020 or 2021. However, note that the price you will pay is that prevailing when you book, which may not be the same as this years booking.

If you decide to cancel your holiday, you will lose your deposit. You may be able to claim this back from your travel insurance, or if you paid by card, from your card provider. Note that travel insurance taken out after 11th March is unlikely to cover Covid-19 related matters. I don’t doubt that some insurers my also seek to hide behind Force Majeure provisions. Please contact your insurers for more information.

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

Other Considerations

It is not clear to what extent infections will continue to spread, when governments will relax border restrictions, nor how the outbreak will affect other providers of your holiday arrangements, notably the airlines.

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 countries such as Greece, Croatia and Turkey who will be keen to welcome you.

Though all yacht and flotilla suppliers have seen a massive fall in bookings recently, I currently have no indication that any of those I work with 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 many other industries. If you think their “no refunds” policy is unfair, bear in mind that many are not getting the level of Government support available (in theory) in the UK.

I hope the above provides some useful information. It is of necessity rather generalised. Please feel free to contact me for more specific details if I don’t contact you first. However please bear in mind I can only advise what the suppliers are offering now, which may change by the time your travel date is 4-6 weeks away. And until then there is no need to rush to a decision.

And most of all, will you all please keep safe and follow the rules, or you may not be going anywhere.