Holland America Line, which this year is celebrating 75 years sailing in Alaska, has informed travel partners and impacted guests that some of its popular cruisetours must be canceled.
Some of the affected sailings are just a few days away, but the cruise line is offering generous compensation for the inconvenience and disappointment.
Holland America Line reached out to travel partners on Friday, June 3, with the news of the impending cancelations, and booked guests were notified shortly thereafter. The impacted cruisetours are the line’s popular “Yukon & Denali” options, including a sailing as soon as June 14 aboard the Signature-class Nieuw Amsterdam.
Other ships and sailing dates affected were not immediately disclosed, but the initial email did indicate multiple cancelations.
The reasoning given for these abrupt, last-minute cancelations are staffing shortages, which have become commonplace among all major cruise lines in recent weeks.
The notification email reads, “We are very sorry to inform you that due to staffing shortages affecting the entire hospitality industry, we must regretfully cancel select 2022 Yukon & Denali Cruisetours.”
While not all cruisetours have been canceled, the email also states, “We regret we are unable to offer a replacement Cruisetour option for 2022 due to the staffing issues which have resulted in reduced capacity on several journeys.”
It is completely understandable that guests – who may have been planning this once-in-a-lifetime experience for years – will be upset at the sudden change. Holland America Line is trying to be generous with compensation, however.
In addition to a full refund including cruise fare, port taxes, fees, pre-paid gratuities, beverage packages, spa reservations, shore excursions, etc., the cruise line is also providing all guests with an additional 100% Future Cruise Credit (FCC) equal to the cruise fare paid.
That FCC is applicable to any new booking on a cruise or cruisetour on any vessel and for any itinerary that is booked and sets sail by December 31, 2023.
Furthermore, FCCs may also be used for flights booked through Holland America Line, pre- and post-cruise tour packages, or cancelation protection plan packages on future sailings, providing more security for travelers, as well as options to use up credits.
FCCs should be available in guests’ accounts by June 15, 2022.
The cruise line is also giving each guest a $200 onboard credit for any future sailing that is booked and sails by December 31, 2023. These credits can be used for any onboard expenses, including drinks, photos, art auctions, spa treatments, shore tours, and more.
“We hope these credits will enable your clients to join us on another Alaska cruise this year or explore Alaska with us in 2023,” the email said.
Guests should be aware that both the FCC and onboard credit do not have to be used just for an Alaska sailing, but can be applied on any Holland America Line cruise vacation.
If guests had booked their now-canceled cruisetour with an existing FCC, that credit will be returned to their Mariner account and its expiration date extended to December 31, 2023.
Holland America Line will also consider reimbursement of non-HAL costs, such as airfare or hotels booked independently, on a case-by-case basis. This reimbursement is not guaranteed, but guests should provide thorough documentation for their request to be considered.
Staffing Shortages Affecting All Cruise Industry
All major cruise lines are suffering from staffing shortages at the moment, and are dealing with the difficulties in different ways.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America, which offers sailings around the Hawaiian Islands, has capped capacity on popular voyages in order to maintain the proper level of service with fewer crew members.
Cunard Line has similarly capped capacity aboard select sailings for June and July to maintain the expected guest-to-crew level for superior service while the ships are understaffed.
Carnival Cruise Line has canceled VIFP events onboard its ships, as well as closed popular restaurants, while staffing numbers remain low. In the meantime, the cruise line is working with the U.S. State Department to expedite crew members’ visa applications so they can begin working more quickly.
These staffing shortages have been ongoing for months. In early April, P&O Cruises opted to cancel seven voyages and delay Arcadia‘s full return to service in order to redeploy crew members to other vessels and improve staffing.
Cruise travelers should remain patient and flexible with their cruise plans, as well as especially polite to overworked and understaffed crews, while cruise lines work to fully staff their vessels.