Cunard Line has become the latest big ship cruise line to cancel its entire 2020 cruise program, with plans to resume cruises only in the first quarter of 2021.
All three of the line’s ‘Queens’ are affected by the decision, with Queen Elizabeth now only scheduled to resume service on March 25th, 2021, while its flagship Queen Mary 2 will resume cruises on April 18th, 2021 and Queen Victoria will return to cruising on May 16th, 2021.
Cunard Line’s president, Simon Palethorpe, said that given the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic, the cruise line didn’t feel comfortable with any plans to resume cruises before next year.
“We are so sorry to all those guests who were due to sail on any of the cancelled voyages and for the disappointment this news will cause.,” he said. “After very careful consideration and reviewing the latest guidance, we simply do not feel it would be sensible to start sailing again with our current schedule so we have reviewed future itineraries.”
While four cruise lines have resumed services, or are imminently about to, in the Mediterranean, Cunard Line is in a different situation as its passenger base is more international, with a heavy dependence on the UK and US cruise markets.
With strict travel restrictions ongoing for UK residents, and unpredictability in the open or closed nature of many cruise destinations across Europe and the rest of the world, Cunard Line isn’t able to offer any cruises without a significant measure of uncertainty.
“Queen Elizabeth has returned to the UK and with ongoing uncertainty over the re-opening of many ports and countries, it is sadly not practical to continue her planned itineraries for 2021,” Palethorpe added.
“Therefore, in addition to the pause in operations, all of Queen Elizabeth’s sailings due to depart between March 26, 2021 and December 13, 2021, in and around Australia, Japan and Alaska, will be cancelled,” he said.
Cunard Line will replace these voyages with a programme of shorter duration European holidays ranging from three to 14 nights, departing from Southampton.
These will start at the end of March 2021, with a series of scenic voyages (cruises to nowhere) around the coast of Cornwall, the west coast of Ireland and the Scottish Isles.
There will also be short breaks to Amsterdam, which will include an overnight in the city, as well as voyages to northern and southern European destinations, including Norway and the Iberian coast, with several of these itineraries featuring overnight city stays.
“Queen Elizabeth’s new program will be completed with a series of seven and 14 night voyages in the Mediterranean, sailing from Barcelona. It is an exciting new programme which I am sure will have great appeal,” said Palethorpe.
All new itineraries onboard the Queen Elizabeth will be available to book from September 29, 2020. Cunard Line will also be offering an all-new 104-night World Cruise aboard Queen Mary 2, visiting Greece, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Australia and Bali before returning to Southampton via Abu Dhabi, Oman, Italy and Portugal.