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Are future cruise certificates covered by ABTA/ATOL bonding

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Posted (edited)

Bonnie 

I apologise for starting a new thread but as we now have no link into anyone in Azamara who can answer very important questions for UK guests I need to ask it here.  I was going to email Sandra this morning but I see that help door has also been shut.  
This question impacts on my next steps for what I do now three cruises are understandably cancelled.

i appreciate its not something any of us want to think of, but given the amount involved, I need to know, are the future cruise certificates issued on cancellation covered by ABTA/ATOL protection if Azamara was to fail or cease to trade for some other reason.  
I think this is a very important question for UK guests and whilst I might like to give Azamara the benefit of the doubt and have the voucher, being asked to accept this for a large sum of money without knowing the legal implications is very worrying for us.  
These are the kind of questions I would in the passed have routed to Richard Twynam - gone, latterly Sandra - now gone - so feel somewhat abandoned as I am sure many others do to. 

Edited by uktog

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Yes I would like to know the answer too.

I did pose the question on another thread but it was deleted along with some very cross postings by someone who seemed to have lots of financial information about the parent company.

Our June 4th now cancelled, which had 4 free days due to moving up to Discoverer,  so I have no idea what happens to them.  We are also booked on the June 11th cruise which will doubtless be cancelled next month.  DH has new health issues so we certainly would not get a 'fit to cruise' letter from our GP.

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14 minutes ago, Mrs Miggins said:

Yes I would like to know the answer too.

I did pose the question on another thread but it was deleted along with some very cross postings by someone who seemed to have lots of financial information about the parent company.

Our June 4th now cancelled, which had 4 free days due to moving up to Discoverer,  so I have no idea what happens to them.  We are also booked on the June 11th cruise which will doubtless be cancelled next month.  DH has new health issues so we certainly would not get a 'fit to cruise' letter from our GP.

In the Q and A on Azamaras website, it does say you do not lose your free nights and that they roll to December 2021 

https://www.azamara.co.uk/cruising-suspension

Sorry we won’t meet up in June, hope we can get clarity on the legality of the certificates in the event of Azamara being unable for some reason to fulfil them.  

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I have a booking departing August and will need to make final payment next month.

ABTA have clarified what constitutes a Refund Credit note which is protected by their guarantee.

 

From the ABTA website

 

"A Refund Credit Note entitles you to rebook a holiday at a future date or receive a cash refund at the expiry date of the note.  It also retains the financial protection that you had with your original booking.
 
If your original booking, for example a package holiday with flights, came with ATOL financial protection, the RCN will still provide this protection.  If your original booking came with ABTA financial protection, for example a cruise holiday or other package holiday including rail or coach travel, the RCN will still provide this protection.

Refund Credit Notes may look different depending on your travel provider, but they should all comprise the following:

  • An expiry date, which is the date to which your money is protected, and is based on your travel company’s financial protection arrangements. You are entitled to re-book or have a cash refund by this date at the latest (if your original booking was for a package holiday).
     
  • The value of the Refund Credit Note must be equal in value to the amount you paid for the original booking (or less the amount your travel provider has offered you as a part cash refund).  
     
  • The Refund Credit Note must include the original booking details and reference.
     
  • The Refund Credit Note must not include any other amount offered as a rebooking incentive or other offer. Any such offers must be documented separately and are not covered by any scheme of financial protection.
     
  • You should retain all previous booking documentation including booking confirmations, ATOL Certificates where appropriate and proofs of payment."

 

My reading (I may be totally wrong) of this is that a cruise credit issued when a cruise has been cancelled by Azamara is covered (to the original value) but a credit issued prior to cancellation is not.  It would perhaps be helpful if Azamara used the same terminology RCN as used by ABTA.

I will wait a few more weeks before I make a decision whether to make my final payment.

One things for certain, there are no certainties during these times.

Stay Safe. 

 

 

 

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Thanks, it is the 4th bullet that bothers me and I need to know if Azamara have correctly structured the 25% incentive in the wording of what they issue to UK guests.  I’m hoping they had legal advice and can share the exact position.  I could accept risking the 25% I cannot risk the 125%.  

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Uktog,

Let me see if I can get an answer for you.

 

12 hours ago, Mrs Miggins said:

We are also booked on the June 11th cruise which will doubtless be cancelled next month.

 

Mrs. Miggins, which 6/11 voyage are you referencing? Per the 4/16 letter that went out "sailings departing on and before June 11, 2020 are cancelled..." (I italicized that for you to see.)

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12 minutes ago, BBMacLaird said:

 

 

 

Mrs. Miggins, which 6/11 voyage are you referencing? Per the 4/16 letter that went out "sailings departing on and before June 11, 2020 are cancelled..." (I italicized that for you to see.)

Thanks Bonnie,  I did realise just after I posted that our second cruise was included in the list of cancellations.  Both cruises had fantastic itineraries so very sad they will not happen.  

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13 hours ago, uktog said:

Bonnie 

I apologise for starting a new thread but as we now have no link into anyone in Azamara who can answer very important questions for UK guests I need to ask it here.  I was going to email Sandra this morning but I see that help door has also been shut.  
This question impacts on my next steps for what I do now three cruises are understandably cancelled.

i appreciate its not something any of us want to think of, but given the amount involved, I need to know, are the future cruise certificates issued on cancellation covered by ABTA/ATOL protection if Azamara was to fail or cease to trade for some other reason.  
I think this is a very important question for UK guests and whilst I might like to give Azamara the benefit of the doubt and have the voucher, being asked to accept this for a large sum of money without knowing the legal implications is very worrying for us.  
These are the kind of questions I would in the passed have routed to Richard Twynam - gone, latterly Sandra - now gone - so feel somewhat abandoned as I am sure many others do to. 

 

I'm told that there are people looking into this, but that given it is late on Friday, a solid answer won't be available until next week. I will f/u for you then.

 

P.S. no need to apologize for starting a new thread with your questions. It actually makes it easier for me when there is a new or specific question. 

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It's a minefield. Worst scenario: Azamara go 'pop', you take 125% FCC, and ABTA refuse to honour the refund because there's an incentive to re-book. 

 

I would like clarification on this, but speaking to my TA seems pointless - she is just so overwhelmed by enquiries due to COVID. But, I suppose it's a place to start.

 

Furthermore, there may be confusion as to what is happening here. ABTA is issuing a RCN (Refund Credit Note), but Azamara is issuing a FCC. They are not the same. Or am I missing something? 

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I think to give customers any comfort regarding paying final balances worth £000's then Azamara must ensure that their  FCC (for cruises cancelled by Azamara) matches exactly the requirements of ABTA's Refund Credit Note.  I also see no reason why Azamara cant get written confirmation from ABTA  that the this is the case.

For my own piece of mind I would also like to see a copy of an FCC (for cruises cancelled by Azamara).

If the above isnt forthcoming  I will be very reluctant to hand over £000's and will inevitably cancel and take an FCC (unprotected) to cover my deposit.

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16 minutes ago, laser2000 said:

I think to give customers any comfort regarding paying final balances worth £000's then Azamara must ensure that their  FCC (for cruises cancelled by Azamara) matches exactly the requirements of ABTA's Refund Credit Note.  I also see no reason why Azamara cant get written confirmation from ABTA  that the this is the case.

For my own piece of mind I would also like to see a copy of an FCC (for cruises cancelled by Azamara).

If the above isnt forthcoming  I will be very reluctant to hand over £000's and will inevitably cancel and take an FCC (unprotected) to cover my deposit.

Agree and issue the 25% bonus we would get because Azamara cancelled as a separate document.  Now we learn that Virgin is in trouble we have to take the current financial services adage “ no one is too big to fail” to the front of our minds. 

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To quote UK Tog

 

"Now we learn that Virgin is in trouble we have to take the current financial services adage “ no one is too big to fail” to the front of our minds".

 

I am wondering where the credit card companies come into this if all else fails. Can we go down that route. Our May cruise is cancelled and out TA is going down the FCC route. No idea when we would be able to take a cruise again being over 70 but I am thinking wait and see. Someone made reference the other day that if we claim a cash refund then the TA is also paying back their commission to us - that in itself brings on more problems.

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I was told that the FCC would remove my S75 Credit card protection as vouchers aren’t covered but this was from my travel insurers not the bank. That’s why it’s so important I learn the ABTA/ATOL position. I am also concerned we may not fully know itineraries and what’s accessible to over 70s before our 31 Dec deadline for cash runs out. 
I really want to leave the credit with Azamara but I cannot risk such a high sum without answers. 

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I’ve been looking into Section 75 CC charge back just in case Az fail to deliver on a refund.

From my research it looks like that as I purchased the cruise through a TA, protection will not apply as the ABTA/ATOL protection should kick in.

Section 75 would only protect me had I purchased the cruise direct with Azamara as the provider of the goods/services.

 

Has anyone a different perspective based on actual (unfortunate) experience?

 

Regards.

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My understanding is S75 only kicks in for the travel agents failure not the providers failure as that is who they payment was made to, you have to rely on ATOL/ABTA if the provider fails but others might know different - anyone here have any Thomas Cook experience

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Whilst everyone's circumstances are different I wouldnt be relying on ABTA

Unless your TA or cruise provider actually goes bust.

If you read this

there is a post  re " which "  that indicates whilst RCNs  may be offered if your

holiday was booked as a package you are not obliged to accept them instead of cash.

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Not sure there is any point in speculating while we wait for an answer (although I guess the question is whether Azamara’s understanding or ABTA’s controls) but bullet 1 doesn’t match my understanding of a FCC because I didn’t think you could convert a FCC to cash?

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My understanding is that an FCC issued when Azamara cancel can be converted to cash if claimed by a specified date.

An FCC issued when the customer cancels (cruise with confidence) can not be converted.

They are both called FCC but are fundamentally different, they should call the former an RCN and issues the bonus 25% on a separate document (as previously suggested by uktog). 

I hope they respond.

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For those in the UK:

At 9.15 this morning, Victoria Derbyshire  spoke to a Travel Representative from ‘Which.’

He said that all companies are issuing vouchers in lieu of refunds and he wants the Government to intervene, as companies are not complying with the AABT Law, of refunds within 14 days.

The section of the programme was on BBC 1 at 9.15 am. Perhaps if interested you can catch up on iPlayer.

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What we all need to remember is that if all the travel companies, including cruise lines and hotels, were to refund everyone immediately they would probably go bust and then when we want and are able to take holidays again it’ll be difficult to find them. In addition all these companies are employers and and all those employers would be out of work.

For myself, I will take credits, FCCs etc wherever it is feasible to do so - I.e. if I expect to be able to use them within the appropriate timeframe. Where I won’t be able to use them I’ll ask for a refund, but be prepared to be patient about the timeframe for them to be paid.

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1 hour ago, Host Grandma Cruising said:

What we all need to remember is that if all the travel companies, including cruise lines and hotels, were to refund everyone immediately they would probably go bust and then when we want and are able to take holidays again it’ll be difficult to find them. In addition all these companies are employers and and all those employers would be out of work.

For myself, I will take credits, FCCs etc wherever it is feasible to do so - I.e. if I expect to be able to use them within the appropriate timeframe. Where I won’t be able to use them I’ll ask for a refund, but be prepared to be patient about the timeframe for them to be paid.

They have just advised on Watchdog (BBC) that this is not an option you should pursue and are calling for government intervention to stop the industry using their customers as their "bankers".  I was going to go down the voucher route but the absence of reassurance on the ABTA/ATOL position which is still not appearing I am very uncomfortable now.  Each day that passes without reassurance, the more concerned I would be.

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1 hour ago, Host Grandma Cruising said:

What we all need to remember is that if all the travel companies, including cruise lines and hotels, were to refund everyone immediately they would probably go bust and then when we want and are able to take holidays again it’ll be difficult to find them. In addition all these companies are employers and and all those employers would be out of work.

For myself, I will take credits, FCCs etc wherever it is feasible to do so - I.e. if I expect to be able to use them within the appropriate timeframe. Where I won’t be able to use them I’ll ask for a refund, but be prepared to be patient about the timeframe for them to be paid.

 

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I would just re-iterate that whatever anyone chooses to do to fit personal circumstances which may vary from country to country, If you are in the UK and have booked in the UK then if you ask for a cash refund and your TA or Operator does not pay it (currently within 14 days) they are breaking the law.

 

I feel for those who have asked for a cash refund as they really need it and can get no sense out of the TA or Operator as to when it might be available.

Remember whilst on CC we have information or misinformation overload the vast majority of cruisers have nowhere to go.   I have been dealing with the cruise line up until now but sent a simple query to our (Large)TA  only to get  an auto advice that ABTA has now said they only need to reply within 56 Days.

odd way of looking after their members - maybe 36 days would be acceptable but 56! 

 

Similarly I worry for those that take an FCC  and when they come to use it find

a)  The cruise they wanted has increased in price to more than they expected to pay    &/or

b)  when they finally get near the cruise date the rules for being allowed to board have changed - age - illness- whatever and the FCC  expires before the rules are relaxed.

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Bonnie, did you get a response? Thanks 

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