The California-based cruise line announced its limited-time flexible-booking policy will be extended to sailings through Sept. 30, 2022 — though cruise planners should keep in mind that it only applies to reservations made by March 2, 2022.
With the Book with Confidence program, ticketed cruise guests will be able to make changes to their reservations up to 30 days ahead of their scheduled departure. For canceled trips, Princess Cruises will extend a Future Cruise Credit instead of the standard cancelation fees it typically issues.
The Book with Confidence program includes a COVID-19 protection policy that offers a chance to book a future cruise in case a passenger shows symptoms or test positive for coronavirus at the time of departure.
Full vaccinations for COVID-19 are still required for cruise passengers and need to be administered at least 14 days before departure, per current CDC guidelines, but the health agency does note that breakthrough infections are still possible.
"Planning a vacation gives us something to look forward to and so many of us have an inherent desire to explore the world and experience sought-after destinations," said Princess Cruises’ Chief Commercial Officer Deanna Austin, in a statement. "With the extension of our Book with Confidence program, we're giving cruisers the confidence to book a summer vacation now, knowing they have flexibility in case they need to alter their plans."
Princess Cruises also offers Princes Vacation Protection plans that offer Future Cruise Credits or reimbursements for canceled trips, lost or damaged luggage, emergency excess medical expenses and emergency evacuation and trip interruption coverage. The standard protection plan costs 8% of the cruise cost, while the platinum protection plan costs 12%.
The CDC identifies cruising as a "very high" risk activity during the COVID-19 pandemic and recommends travelers avoid it regardless of vaccination status.
If a cruise can’t be canceled, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask in shared spaces, social distancing at least six feet indoors and outdoors and regular handwashing. The national health agency also says cruise passengers should be tested for COVID-19 before and after their scheduled trips.
On a global level, more than 329.7 million people have tested positive for coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard.
The World Health Organization has named five COVID-19 variants as "variants of concern," which include the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron variants.