Nationwide flight pause has minimal effect on cruising
The cruise industry caught a break on Wednesday morning, with the nationwide flight stop due to an FAA computer error coinciding with a quiet day for cruise departures.
Only three ships were scheduled to depart from the two of the busiest U.S. cruise ports on Wednesday — two from Miami (Oceania’s Sirena and Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady) and one from Port Everglades (Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess). The Norwegian Gem was scheduled to depart from New York. There were no sailings scheduled from Port Canaveral, Tampa, Galveston, San Diego, Los Angeles or New Orleans.
Virgin Voyages was scheduled to sail the Scarlet Lady as normal at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The latest check-in time remains 5 p.m. Virgin encouraged impacted guests to reach out to the line’s “Sailor Services” team to help them sort through solutions, including the offer of future cruise credit or changes to their sail date.
Carnival Cruise Line, which operates from the most domestic homeports, had no departures Wednesday.
“From a cruise perspective, we are fortunate that there are light cruise departures today, and we have not seen any formal communications on cruise delay impacts,” said Pam Young, executive vice president of partner relations who focuses on cruise for Internova Travel Group (No. 9 on Travel Weekly’s Power List). “Our advisors always recommend flying in a day prior to their cruise departure.”
Travel advisors working diligently
Still, some advisors were in overdrive, accommodating clients who were impacted. Adam Duckworth, president of Travelmation in Fort Lauderdale, said that agents were “working diligently” this morning helping affected clients, including some cruise passengers trying to catch their ships, and even making arrangements for clients to meet up with the vessel at its first port of call, “in an extreme circumstance or two.”
“The most important thing is to remain calm as we work to get the families we serve to their destination as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said. “Today is a great example of why it benefits customers to have a travel agent working and advocating for them, and that’s what we do every day for the families we serve.”
Michelle Fee, CEO of Cruise Planners (No. 18 on the Power List) said she hasn’t seen many instances where clients have missed cruises because of the flight stop.
“But it is a good reminder of why we advise clients to travel two days ahead to ensure there is a buffer and to use a travel advisor who can quickly help you monitor or make changes to your unexpected travel plans,” Fee said.
Internova executive vice president of partner relations Peter Vlitas, who focuses on air, said his team sent alerts as developments became public.
“Our advisors then could see who needed reprotection, and unless your flight was canceled or you were not going to misconnect and you did not want to cancel the trip, we advised to stay on the original flight that was delayed. We anticipate the ripple effect to last till late tomorrow.”
Johanna Jainchill and Andrea Zelinski contributed to this report.
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