Cruise lines reassure passengers following Thomas Cook bankruptcy

Major cruise lines operating in the UK and Europe, with cruise bookings made through Thomas Cook have reassured passengers that their bookings will be honoured after the British travel group ceased operations.

Thomas Cook announced on Monday that it was closing down with immediate affect after last-ditch talks with creditors to avoid insolvency failed. The development left more than 150,000 British holiday makers around the world stranded and precipitated the largest peacetime repatriation in UK history.

Thomas Cook, the UK’s oldest travel group, announced bankruptcy Monday

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For thousands of people who booked cruises through the travel agency, there was immediate concern that their cruise bookings may now be void and non-refundable.

However, the cruise industry took to social media to reassure Thomas Cook customers that this was not the case.

TUI UK, which operates one of the largest British cruise lines under the Marella Cruises brand, was one of the first to respond, reassuring passengers that their bookings would remain valid.

The group announced however that some bookings would need to be cancelled.

“We’ve unfortunately had to cancel any TUI and First Choice bookings featuring Thomas Cook flights for any customers due to travel from Monday 23rd September until 31st October 2019,” TUI UK said in an online statement.

Marella Cruises is the cruise brand of TUI UK

“The advice is not to travel to the airport. We will be organising full holiday refunds for these customers and will process these as quickly as possible,” the statement added.

“For any TUI and First Choice customers with Thomas Cook flights due to travel after this date, please bear with us as we look at other options and alternatives for you as a priority.”

As an indication of the TUI UK Group’s size though, its site crashed during the day due to the volume of people trying to access it.

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MSC Cruises UK put out a statement expressing its sadness at the news of Thomas Cook’s insolvency and reassured passengers booked through the travel group that it was working to ensure that they could still sail with the line.

The cruise line said that from Wednesday it would begin to update passengers regarding their bookings in sailing date order. It also asked passengers with bookings in the next two weeks to get in touch, and extended its call centre hours in anticipation of the higher volume.

Royal Caribbean UK meanwhile told passengers that if their booking was for a cruise within the next week, they should get in touch, while those sailing after that date would be contacted by the cruise line.

“We will honour all elements of the booking which Thomas Cook made through Royal Caribbean. We are contacting all guests affected by the news, in sail date order,” the cruise line said in an online statement.

Princess Cruises also took to social media to announce that passengers booked through Thomas Cook would still be able to cruise with the line.

“If you have a booking with Thomas Cook Group plc, please be assured your booking with Princess Cruises is safe. We will contact you in due course, but please ensure your contact details are up to date on Cruise Personaliser,” Princess Cruises said in a statement.

The cruise line also encouraged those with any questions to contact its UK call centre.

Princess Cruises is currently gearing up for one of its largest-ever UK and European seasons

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P&O Cruises, which primarily operates fly-cruise package holidays, some of which may have been sold through Thomas Cook, said that it was working to arrange alternative flights, but that the cruise bookings would remain valid.

“We will contact all P&O Cruises guests booked through Thomas Cook. All P&O holidays booked through Thomas Cook will go ahead as planned,” the cruise line said. “We will contact guests booked on Thomas Cook aircraft on Caribbean or Med holidays once we have confirmed alternative aircraft.”

A Wells Fargo Securities note meanwhile has anticipated that the collapse of Thomas Cook may have a positive affect on Carnival Corporation’s UK operations in the short-term (Carnival Corp owns Princess, P&O, and nine other cruise brands).

“The near-term disruption from the liquidation of Thomas Cook’s tour/hotel operations should result in UK/Continental European budget consumers looking to vacation/holiday options from stable operators,” the Wells Fargo Securities note said.

Of the 12.4-million passengers that cruised with Carnival Corporation in 2018, 7% were British and 19% were from Continental Europe.

In Dubai, it has been reported that the collapse of the travel group will have no affect on regional iterations of the brand. Al Rostamani Travels used to represent Thomas Cook UK previously but later tied up with Thomas Cook India, which is owned by Fairfax Financial Holdings Canada and is not a part of Thomas Cook UK.

“We used to be Thomas Cook Al Rostamani. However, we now have tied up with Thomas Cook India which is not under Thomas Cook UK. We have not been affected by the UK crisis because since 2012, the UAE operations are no longer under the UK company. Hence, it is business is usual here,” a spokesperson for Al Rostamani said.

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