Britain’s largest cruise lines have pledged to protect bookings made by Freedom Travel Group and Future Travel members following the collapse of Thomas Cook – and then return them once members pick up the pieces and get their businesses back on track.
Cook-owned Freedom and Future were liquidated when the 178-year-old travel firm collapsed last Monday (23 September), ripping livelihoods from beneath the feet of around 300 Freedom agents and Future homeworkers.
Many though have already set up with new consortium partners or homeworking agencies and have set about protecting and rebooking their clients’ holidays, with a number of major cruise lines this week reaffirming to TTG their commitment to Freedom and Future agents.
Royal Caribbean International said Freedom members with Royal Caribbean, Azamara and/or Celebrity Cruises bookings should get in touch with the respective line as soon as possible once they have re-established their businesses to reclaim their bookings. Royal says it will look after any Freedom or Future clients sailing with any of its brands before 30 November directly.
Following a meeting on Tuesday (1 October) of key figures across the three brands, a Royal spokesperson confirmed: “Freedom and Future Travel members, who have had their business partnership agreements (BPAs) with Thomas Cook cancelled, can be assured their guests’ bookings are secure and are currently being held by us directly.
“We want to work with members to help them reclaim these bookings as quickly as possible. In order to do this, we’re asking them to ensure they have adequate insurance, set up new BPAs directly with us, and then reach out to us no later than 30 November.
“In the interest of ensuring our guests’ holidays are not compromised, any guests sailing with us prior to this date will be looked after by us directly. We will continue to work closely with Freedom and Future Travel members and are grateful for all the guests that they’ve booked into our RCCL family of brands.”
Meanwhile, Carnival UK, parent of P&O Cruises, Cunard, HAL, Seabourn, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line, told TTG on Wednesday (2 October) it was now in a position to extend its support to Freedom consortium members.
Carnival said once members had a new Abta number under which to trade, the firm would transfer bookings made prior to 23 September back to the agent, on the instruction of the client.
“This change can be actioned by the guest calling our contact centre with details of the new Abta number,” said a Carnival spokesperson. “All bookings are transferable, irrespective of travel date. Bookings where the full balance has been paid cannot be transferred.”
A Princess Cruises spokesperson added: "Princess Cruises has been engaging with Abta to understand the most appropriate arrangements for retail bookings made by Freedom Travel Group members.
“To provide reassurance to our guests, we will be assuming responsibility for managing these future bookings. However, should these guests wish to transfer the booking back to their original agent, they may do so once the agent has a new Abta number under which to trade.
“This transfer will be done with consent from the guest directly to Princess Cruises, providing there is still payment owing on the booking prior to balance due date. Bookings within balance due date cannot be transferred back to the agent."