Victory Cruise Lines Cancels Remainder of 2020 Season
Given the ongoing uncertainty about restrictions on cruising in North America, the Hornblower subsidiary Victory Cruise Lines (VCL) has announced that it will cancel all planned itineraries for the remainder of the 2020 season. VLC, one of the leading cruise operators on the Great Lakes, cited Canada's extended ban on cruising in its decision.
Under the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886, foreign-flagged cruise ships must call in a foreign port at least once during each itinerary involving U.S. ports; without access to Canadian ports of call, a U.S.-based cruise on the Great Lakes is not legally possible for a Bahamian vessel.
The company had already canceled all sailings aboard the Bahamas-flagged cruise ship Victory II this season and had delayed the season start for the Bahamas-flagged Victory I until July 5.
In a statement, VCL said that it will continue to focus efforts on the upcoming 2021 season, which includes the debut of the expedition cruise ship Ocean Victory in Alaska and new itineraries on the Great Lakes, Canadian Maritimes, New England and the Southeastern U.S.
“The decision to suspend service for 2020 was a difficult and disappointing choice but necessary in response to uncertainties of Canadian travel in the coming months. In anticipation of operating, we have taken this time to implement cutting-edge health and safety protocols. We will now focus on our exciting new itineraries planned for 2021,” said John Waggoner, founder and CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company, the operator of VCL. “The health, safety and confidence of our guests, crew and partners is our number one priority, and we will return in 2021 stronger and better than ever.”
In 2021, VCL will roll out 12- and 13-day expedition cruises on the Inside Passage between Vancouver, B.C. and Sitka, Alaska. To encourage sales, early booking discounts up to $1,400 per stateroom are now available for VCL's 2021 cruises.
Like other cruise lines, VCL is refunding fares in the form of cash or credit for bookings in the affected cancellation period. The credit option is valued at 125 percent of the fare, incentivizing rebooking. Passengers opting for cash repayment will be paid within 90 days.