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Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy released a video for travel advisors, in which she explains why some refunds and commission payments are taking time, and she also provides updates on health protocols and the resumption of cruising.
The 17-minute YouTube video was shared on the Facebook page of Adolfo Perez, senior vice president of sales and trade marketing at Carnival Cruise Line.
She begins by discussing the delays in refunds and commission payments.
"First, let me apologize to those who have had challenges with refunds and commissions," she said. "Refunds for FIT bookings are working pretty smoothly at this point. We've been able to automate a good amount of that process, and your clients should now see FIT refunds arriving within two weeks."
However, refunds for FIT bookings using multiple credit cards, a gift card or other payment systems such as PayPal are taking longer. "Your refund will be slower as we need to manually process those transactions," she said.
Likewise, refunds on group bookings take longer due to multiple payments and tour conductor credits. Because of the complexity, some group refunds can take as long as 60 to 90 days to process.
As for agent payments, Carnival has committed to protecting commissions on the original fully paid bookings that the line canceled and the final fully paid rebooking when a future cruise credit is redeemed on an active sailing.
"Unfortunately, this process requires a lot of manual work and intervention, given the volume of commission protections we are handling," she said. "So, the commission payments are taking time to process and, in some cases, can take up to four months."
She continued, "Now, we understand that commission is your lifeblood and we are very focused on ensuring that 100 percent of commission protections are completed."
She further touched on fleet reductions, including the sale of four Fantasy-class ships and delaying the return of four other vessels until dry-dock renovations can take place in the first half of 2021.
Duffy said the return of cruising depends on when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifts the no-sail order, currently set to expire on Sept. 30. Major cruise lines and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced mandatory health protocols, including testing for all passengers and crew members, facial coverings and more.
Carnival also will tap into the plans implemented by sister brands that are resuming cruising in Europe, such as Costa and AIDA.
"But, of course, first we have to satisfy the requirements of the CDC, which are likely to be different than the requirements in Europe," Duffy said.
When Carnival does resume operations, it will be in a "gradual, phased-in approach" to optimize demand and operating performance.
"Remember, even after the no-sail order is lifted and even after we begin cruising," she said, "it will take time for a full recovery back to our 2019 levels."
She touched on some positive developments, such as the February launch of service by the new Mardi Gras from Port Canaveral and the expected delivery of the Carnival Celebration in 2022 - the year Carnival will celebrate its 50th birthday.
Duffy concludes the video by thanking advisors for their patience and support during these challenging months.
"Your dedication to your clients and your support of Carnival Cruise Line means so much to us. I think it's safe to say, we're going to need each other more than ever as we move forward," she said. "As we look to the future, I still believe the role of a travel advisor has never been more important. Your experience and knowledge are critical to guiding your clients to the right vacation choice for them, and our partnership with you is more essential than ever to us."
Theresa Norton, editor in chief of AGENTatHOME Magazine, covers the cruise industry for TravelPulse.com.
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