Some cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line in the U.K., are dealing with passenger delays due to the air traffic disruption caused by the ash from the Iceland volcano. Most of the disruption appears to be British passengers trying to get to or from their cruises. The British National Air Traffic Service (NATS) said restrictions will remain in place in airspace over England and Wales until 7 a.m. U.K. time April 17 at the earliest. From 7 p.m. April 16, restrictions will be lifted in a large part of Scottish airspace including Shetland, Orkneys and Northern Ireland. NATS noted that some aircraft operated at Manchester the morning of April 16, but that restrictions were reapplied to Manchester.
In the U.K., Royal Caribbean said guests returning home would be "looked after by the airline" with affected flights redirected to another airport or guests rebooked. The company said guests could try to claim additional costs on their travel insurance, "as this is a true 'force majeure' situation." For guests flying to their cruises, the company said it would rebook them when airports reopen. If air arrangements cannot be met in time, the company said it will offer an alternative cruise. If the new cruise is cheaper, guests will receive a refund for the difference. If the new cruise is more expensive, guests will need to pay the difference. The line will waive the normal change fee of £75 per person. If no suitable arrangements can be made, guests will get a full refund.
Royal Caribbean said guests who purchased a fly-cruise package from another company should contact that travel provider for advice regarding their flight schedule. "For cruise-only guests, we will be adhering to our normal terms and conditions," the company said in its statement. "Therefore regrettably, if guests have booked flights independently and are unable to travel, then we will charge our standard cancellation charges for their cruise element. Cruise-only guests will need to make a claim on their travel insurance."
NCL issued a similar statement, saying that inbound affected flights for inbound guests will either be redirected to another airport or rebooked, with additional costs claimed on travel insurance. For guests heading to a cruise, NCL said it would work to rebook guests and will communicate with passengers and agents with other flight options. "As the [U.K.] airports are currently closed, guests should check with the airline and airport prior to traveling and monitor websites for further news" NCL said. For more information, visit www.nats.co.uk.
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