We have been operating in Norway since June when we started sailing as one of the first luxury lines in the world. While the itineraries were put together on a short notice – and while we did encounter a few issues with last minute regulations – we have had a great summer in Norway. Most voyages were sold out very quickly.
We feel like this summer has been a success, partly because of our health protocols, but also because we were able to provide the luxury SeaDream experience that you are used to with your familiar crew and the SeaDream level of service and cuisine. We have also been very fortunate to be able to operate in a region of the world that has been blessed with very little COVID – and strict rules. Our guests and crew have collaborated and made this summer unforgettable and safe.
From an operational perspective, we have been able to practice and improve our COVID protocols. This experience is invaluable and will become even more important when we leave Norway. Our close collaboration with the Norwegian health authorities has been extremely positive.
Of course, operating this summer has not been without challenges. Some of you may have read about a non-CLIA cruise line who did not follow the rules and that caused the government to create new laws and regulations – while we were sailing. We were actually punished for mistakes made by others, but we adapted and kept on sailing.
The experience that we perhaps learned the most from this summer was when we had a guest who disembarked and later tested positive for COVID. It turned out it was a false positive (the guest did not have COVID in the first place), but our health protocols kicked in as they should and we were able to verify that they worked the way they were designed to. We notified the government within minutes of learning about the test from the guest and had a very good experience working with the local health authorities. We had to pause for about a day to test all our guests and crew. Thankfully, everyone tested negative and we continued the sailing.
All in all, we are very happy about this summer and most thankful for the amazing crew and guests who have been adapting to quickly changing conditions. The product we have delivered has been the exceptional SeaDream experience you have become accustomed to, with a different backdrop of Norwegian mountains and fjords instead of our typical Mediterranean scenery. Operating in the Mediterranean would not have been possible, so the decision to come to Norway was a good one.
So what does the world look like ahead? The truth is that we do not know exactly. What we do know is that the health and safety of our guests and crew come before anything else. And while we have tried to perfect our COVID protocols this summer, we now feel like it is the right decision to pause the sailings scheduled to take place in the Mediterranean in September as well as the trans-Atlantic voyages. The COVID situation further south in Europe is not as good as it has been in Norway and we want to take a small time-out to make sure we are ready for the winter season. Guests who are affected by this and our travel partners are now being notified and we are issuing most refunds in a matter of days.
If there are major changes to our Caribbean season, we hope to make those decisions by the end of next month. We fully understand that it can be frustrating to be a traveller these days and thank you all for your understanding. Our Ultimate Booking Assurance should hopefully make it easier to book with us by reducing your financial risk. And once the time is right for you to travel, we look forward to seeing you onboard again. For some of you that is later this year, and for others it may take a bit longer. But even with a pause in our operations staring next month, we are here for you when the time is right.