Coronavirus & Sailing – What You Need to Know
We understand that Coronavirus has caused lots of uncertainty, especially to those looking to book their holidays. Here at SailChecker, we’re proud of the way we’ve been handling this difficult situation since the first outbreak, and of the way we’ve managed to help form the industry, in order to ensure that we can continue to support you and your charter plans during and post the pandemic.
We are continuously following health advice of the World Health Organisation and Global Governments regarding the evolution of the Coronavirus. In the first instance you should follow the advice given by your own government.
Our foremost priority is to ensure we keep delivering the best possible service we can and equip you with the latest and most relevant information, resources and representation that you need at this unprecedented time.
How are we supporting you?
- Decision Making. With the situation and guidance changing quickly, keeping you fully informed is our primary focus. All our clients will have to make different decisions, at different times. Thus, our aim is to treat each and every booking individually.
- Support. Our role here at SailChecker has always been to help you find the right charter operator and the right boat, for the right price, then provide market, award winning customer service. One of the leading global agents is simply referring clients to their operator – simply unacceptable. Here at SailChecker, you will get our full support throughout this crisis and beyond.
- Web-based Meetings/Calls. We appreciate that email is typically the most convenient, it can be difficult to discuss all the options. On request we will always arrange a call or video call to run through the courses of action open to you.
- Refunds. The Yacht Charter Industry is an independent travel sector, and it’s very different to the flight and accommodation industries. Typically, according to their standard terms and conditions, the fleet operators don’t offer a refund in case of a cancellation. Terms typically say:
<The charter operator> is not liable for damages in the event of reservation changes or cancellation due to situations such as war, riot, strikes, terrorist activity, exceptional sanitary conditions, natural disasters, interventions of local authorities, etc.
- In almost all cases you will be asked to reschedule your trip.
- There are a few exceptions, where the fleet operators would offer a full refund either at an extra cost, or free of charge. Please advise your consultant if you are interested in a refundable booking option only.
1. Our Flexible Payment Policy
Initial Payment. If you are planning to book, or have recently booked, most operators are offering new terms that allow you to pay a 20-30% deposit on booking and allowing you to cancel your trip much closer to the charter date without penalty.
Interim Payments. Few charters are split into any more than 2 payments. Typically, this interim payment is between 20% and 30%. The general rule is that you will need to pay these instalments when they fall due to be entitled to reschedule your charter.
Final Payment. The final payment is due between 56 to 30 days before your charter. This will be 50% – 80% of the charter cost, depending on the fleet operator’s policy. When a Final Payment is due, and the region is not accessible, you will always be offered the opportunity to reschedule. Yet to get this invitation, you will have to pay your second instalment.
2. What happens if I am unable to travel
If your charter is disrupted due to Covid-19*, you are entitled of the following alternatives:
- Reschedule. Typically fleet operators are offering to reschedule any charter within the same season, or sometimes even next season, depending on the availability and according to the latest Covid-19 announcements.If the rescheduled charter price is greater, you will need to cover only the difference. No refunds are given even if the price of the rearranged dates are lower.
- Receive a credit note. Will be equal to the amount you’ve already paid for, and can be either for the full payment of the boat, or the downpayment. The credit note is typically valid until the end of the season, and up to 18 months after the cancelled charter.
*Covid-19 Related Restrictions/Disruptions. You will see this being mentioned almost on every single Fleet Operator Covid-19 Policy. You’re entitled to receive a reschedule/credit note/refund only if your charter qualifies as “disrupted due to Covid-19”. This means that your charter won’t be able to take place either because you are not able to reach the base, or the base is not able to provide you with the charter, due to an Official Lockdown, a Travel Warning, or Quarantine of 7+ days needed either upon your arrival to the destination, or your return to your home country.
- Note: Any other reasons like: personal problems (health issues, work issues etc), failure to provide the authorities with a Negative PCR test etc, are not qualified as “disruption”.
Contact Us. As we have mentioned, almost no two charter are alike in terms of the options available. If you have any questions about the Coronavirus or your charter, do contact us immediately.
3. Cancellation & Refund Policies
Cancellation. You can, without further penalty, cancel and avoid the final payment under the Fleet Operator’s Standard Cancellation Policy. Most insurance taken out before the crisis will pay out if you cannot travel to the region or it’s on your governments list of countries not to travel to.
Typically, the amounts paid are non-refundable. There are a few exceptions, though, that would offer you one of the available options:
Full Refund with no fees. There are very few fleet operators worldwide that would offer a full refund in case you needed to cancel, without any penalties or add-on fees. These are available for cancellations made 1 month after the booking confirmation, or in some cases, up to 2 months prior to the departure dates.
Full Refund with Add-on Insurance. Two of the major fleet operators worldwide have been offering the possibility to purchase additional insurance and then be able to cancel your charter up to 3-4 weeks before your charter and receive a full refund, minus the insurance. Typically, this extra insurance costs between 350 and 450 EUR per booking.
Partial Refund. In some cases, the operators offer a partial refund – your deposit minus an administration fee of 10%-20%.
You should always advise your consultant on the specific Cancellation/Refund Policy that applies for the charter that you’ve booked or you’re about to book.
Charter Insurance. Yacht charter is considered a component of independent travel, compared to package tours that have different regularity structures and oversight in most nations. As a result, they come with a different risk profile that we explain in our client care letters before booking.
In that advice we urge clients to consider insurance to cover and to consider the impact of not doing so. We are discovering that clients who arranged cover before the crisis, are covered if they are unable to reach their charter destination or the destination is deemed high-risk by the jurisdiction of issue.
Whilst we are not regulated or trained to give insurance we can signpost and make clients aware of policies that exist and clauses to look out for; all so long as you understand that we cannot recommend or advise on the suitability of that cover for your circumstances.
Government Advisories. You should, in all cases, seek the advice in you nation or area of jurisdiction.
For example, the Foreign Office in the UK and United States Department of State (DOS), commonly referred to as the State Department, are the respective departments responsible for issuing travel advice for their citizens, in those nations.
Before booking or embarking on a trip check your destination on the site relevant to you national body. Insurance and Charter Companies will reference these advisories in policy wording.
Check With Your Airline. If you are worried with the status of your flight you can check with your airline.