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May 19, 2020 | Lois Farley

Company News – 2020:

**Please note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic both our Winnipeg and Edmonton office are closed to walk-in traffic. Consultation appointments are available by phone. Please email us at sales@gctravel.ca to request an appointment date and time. Our hours of operation have been altered to Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm local time.**

Read our current newsletters.

Read the updates from our President, Ian Kalinowsky on his blog page.

Supplier news and information:

Week of 25-31 May, 2020:

Adventure Canada is offering a 15% saving off the berth cost on their 2021 Arctic and East Coast expeditions if booked by the 31 October, 2020. Their current offer of a 15% saving on 2021 European sailings is ending soon – book by the 01 June, 2020 to qualify.

Travelweek’s COVID-19 Consumer Survey, completed by 2,853 consumers from across Canada, shows that 57% of respondents said they are more likely to use the services of a travel agent when booking their next trip.  The survey noted that Canadian travel agents helped thousands of Canadians (some not even their clients) get home as borders were closing in mid-March. The coronavirus crisis brought confusion and chaos to the travel industry, but amid all the tumult, two things have become very clear. First, travel insurance sales will likely skyrocket in a post-pandemic world. And second, travel agents will be seen – rightly – as indispensable.

The Canadian Minister of Transport Marc Garneau has extended the ban on cruise ships with overnight accommodation and allowed to carry more than 100 passengers. These cruise ships will be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31.

Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed a consumer group’s lawsuit demanding that airlines refund travellers whose flights were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The airline industry and airline passengers have been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” wrote Justice Mactavish. “International borders have been closed, travel advisories and bans have been instituted, people are not travelling for non-essential reasons and airlines have cancelled numerous flights.” The Court stated: “Having airlines provide affected passengers with vouchers or credits for future travel ‘could be’ an appropriate approach in the present context as long as these vouchers or credits do not expire in an unreasonably short period of time.”

LATAM, South America’s biggest airline, sought U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday as it grapples with the sharp downturn in air travel sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. Passenger and cargo flights will continue to operate, and employees will still be paid, the Santiago, Chile-based airline company said.

The Greek government recently announced the gradual reopening of the Greek tourism season in the next few weeks, with international flights from select countries resuming in July. In line with this announcement the Greek cruise line, Celestyal, is further suspending its sailings by a month until July 30, 2020.

Costa Cruises has announced that cruises will be paused until July 31, 2020, two months later than its previously announced date of May 31.

Week of 18-24 May, 2020:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today, 19 May/20, that the border between Canada and the US will remain closed for at least another month to all non-essential travel. Canadian and US officials agreed in mid-March to close the border for 30 days. That decision was extended another 30 days in April, reaching to May 21. Adding another 30 days to that means the soonest the border would open to normal traffic would be June 20.

Rocky Mountaineer has extended its seasonal cancellations through to the 31 July, 2020. Guests booked on suspended departures will receive a future travel credit of 110% of the monies paid, valid through to the end of the 2022 season. Rocky Mountaineer will also hold 2021 rail prices at the 2020 level, so guests will not experience an inflationary price increase for the rail portion of their itinerary.

Sunwing’s domestic Canada program will be back for its 15th consecutive season on June 26, with flights from Toronto to three Newfoundland destinations as well as Vancouver. This comes in combination with Sunwing’s Flexible Booking program for bookings made by 30 June, 2020. Features include the flexibility to change or cancel plans with ease, complimentary Price Drop Cash Back, $100 reduced deposit and flexible payment options where travellers can book now and pay over time with monthly payments.

Silversea is extending its Cruise with Confidence cancellation program to all voyages scheduled to depart before 31 December, 2020. Guests may cancel their cruise for any reason up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive a 100% future cruise credit for the amount paid, valid for two years from the date of issue. Also, a reduced deposit of CA$1,250 per suite is in place for new bookings made before 30 June 30, 2020 (excluding World Cruises and Grand Voyages). Guests who redeem this offer will also receive a $1,000 onboard spending credit per suite. Guests with a Future Cruise Credit may use it to take advantage of these special offers.

Norwegian Cruise Line, has voluntarily suspended sailings through to 30 June, 2020, has extended its Peace of Mind policy. The policy applies to any voyage through 30 November, 2020, and allows guests to cancel anytime up to 48 hours in advance of embarkation. Guests will receive a future cruise credit for the full value of their payment, to be used for sailings that embark through 31 December, 2022. NCL also has several special offers in place for bookings made by 31 May, 2020.

Hertz and it’s subsidiaries Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly, filed for bankruptcy Friday night, the latest victim of the economic downturn sparked by the pandemic. The company has been renting cars since 1918, when it set up shop in Chicago with a dozen Ford Model Ts, and has survived the Great Depression, the virtual halt of US auto production during World War II and numerous oil price shocks. By declaring bankruptcy now, Hertz says it intends to stay in business while restructuring its debts and emerging a financially healthier company. The bankruptcy filing excludes operations in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the company’s franchisee locations.

Azamara, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has suspended all cruise departures until the 31 July, 2020. Passengers affected by cancelled cruise sailings can opt for a future cruise credit of 125% of monies paid or receive a refund.

Week of 11-17 May, 2020:

Globus Family of Brands (Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways) has cancelled all tour departures through to the 31 August, 2020. Anyone booked on affected tours or cruises can rebook without penalty for any 2020, 2021 or 2022 departure, on any of the four brands under their Peace of Mind Travel plan. The plan also includes a bonus credit of $50, $100 or $200 per person, depending on the program you are booked on.

Air Canada will automatically block the sale of adjacent seats in Economy Class on all flights and cap the total number of seats sold per flight. As a result, no customer in Economy Class will sit immediately adjacent to another, unless they are travelling with a child under age 14 or someone needing assistance. This policy remains in effect until June 30, 2020.

Westjet Airlines has extended its suspension of flight to the US and international destinations until 25 June, 2020 and has revised its domestic Canada flight schedules for 04 June-25 July.

AmaWaterways, select 2021 sailings booked by the 30 June, 2020 qualify for a 5% discount (max. CA$1,800 per cabin) on balcony staterooms and suites and complimentary pre-paid gratuities. In response to early demand, they have opened up bookings for 2022 sailings, a full six months ahead of schedule. All itineraries in France, Portugal, Holland and those travelling the Rhine and Moselle rivers are now open for reservations, with added rewards for guests who book early. The remainder of the 2020 season will be announced May 20.

The Government of Iceland has today announced that it expects to start easing restrictions on international arrivals no later than 15 June 2020, while from 15 May some professionals arriving in Iceland including scientists, filmmakers and athletes will eligible for a modified quarantine.

Lufthansa Group says it is preparing to relaunch flights to Canada on 03 June with service 3X/week between Toronto and Frankfurt. From now through to 31 August Lufthansa passengers are required to wear a facial mouth/nose covering while on board and all Lufthansa flight attendants in direct contact with customers are also required to wear a mask. As a result of the new regulation the middle seat is no longer being left empty, although seats will be assigned as far apart as possible. Subsidiary airlines SWISS and Eurowings will also be offering increased inter-Europe service starting the 01 June.

Celebrity Cruises is reporting increasing bookings on it’s 2020 Caribbean cruises and strong demand for 2021/22 Europe and Alaska cruises. Families, repeat cruisers and those in the 40-59 age range are booking the most and higher-end cabins are selling better than lower priced cabins.

Disney Cruise Lines has again extended cancellations of all sailings for another two months. Trips are postponed until at least 27 July, 2020.

Avianca, the Colombian airline, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US, blaming its collapse on the “unforeseeable impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.” It will continue to operate during the bankruptcy process. Founded in 1919, Avianca claims to be the world’s second-oldest continuously running airline.

The European Union introduces regulations that airlines will not have to leave seats empty, but passengers flying in the European Union will have to wear masks on planes and in airports, under plans to revive the travel industry.

Week of 04-10 May, 2020:

Air Canada’s newly released June schedule includes service to Caribbean locations of Cancun, Varadero, Cayo Coco, Montego Bay, Barbados and European destinations of Paris, Athens and Barcelona. Packages including flight and accommodation will be offered by Air Canada Vacations, based on the availability of resorts and hotels. 

Air Canada’s CleanCare+ program addresses concerns for high-level cleanliness and safety protocols. Included in the program is mandatory pre-flight passenger temperature checks; required health questionnaires, and seat assignment policies to allow for more personal space in Economy Class on all flights until June 30, 2020. is allowing a one-time change fee waiver for all new flights booked since March 3, 2020 up to May 31, 2020. Changes or cancellations must be made at least 24 hours in advance of the departure.

Air Transat has announced it is suspending all flights until the 30 June, 2020.

Delta continues to provide essential service to key cities globally along with essential service throughout the U.S. They provide flights to all U.S. hubs and top markets, although at significantly reduced frequencies. Some daily flights are offered between the US and Canada including Detroit to Montreal and Toronto, New York to Toronto and Seattle to Vancouver. Less than daily service is offered between Minneapolis and Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg as well as Detroit to Ottawa.

Quark Expeditions has cancelled its 2020 Arctic and North Pole cruises up to the end of September. Cruises scheduled to depart 30 September, 2020 or later are still planned to operate. Their “Book with Confidence & Rebook Anytime” policy applies to any cancelled dates.

Holland America Cruise Line has cancelled all cruise departures to Alaska, Europe and Canada/New England for the duration of 2020.

16 March-03 May, 2020:

Adventure Canada has cancelled all 2020 Canadian Arctic expeditions to comply with the Canadian government’s advisory of no non-essential and tourism travel to the region. Passengers booked for 2020 cruises have the option to transfer to the same or similar cruise in 2021 or 2022, or receive a refund for monies paid.

Exodus has suspended all tours departing up to 30 June, 2020. All travellers booked on a tour departing before 01 July, 2020 are eligible for a refund credit note, which can be used on any booking made by July 31, 2021, for travel prior to March 31, 2022.

G Adventures announced it is suspending all tours with departures up to 30 June, 2020. Any traveller booked and fully paid on a tour departing up to that date will receive a 110% travel credit on all booked tour services, including pre and post-tour accommodations and transfers, to be used on any tour departing up to two years from the end of the month of their original tour’s suspension. Travellers who haven’t yet made their final payment will have their “life time deposit” kept on file to put towards a future tour.

Intrepid Group has extended its tour suspension period for global operations until at least 30 September, 2020. Clients booked on a tour that has been suspended due to the pandemic will automatically receive a credit of 110% of monies paid (of their deposit or full payment).

Quark Expeditions has a “Book with Confidence & Rebook Anytime” Policy, which applies to its Arctic 2020 season (excluding the North Pole), and allows clients to cancel any time, for any reason, up to 24 hours prior to their voyage start date. The policy is risk-free, allowing clients to re-book with a 100% future travel refund credit for deposits or other payments at the time of cancellation received by Quark. It also allows clients to re-book with 120% future travel refund credit for voyages where full payment at the time of cancellation has been received by the company. There are no rebooking fees and credits are transferrable. New and existing Antarctica 2020 bookings receive Extended Payment Terms for voyages up to 60 days prior to voyage.

Sicily, Italy‘s largest island, introduced a program to pay a portion of international visitor’s airfare, every 3rd hotel night as well a free access to museums and archaeological sites, to entice travellers to visit once restrictions are removed. Vouchers will be offered through the tourist board soon after the country re-opens its borders.

COVID-19 News & Updates:

29 April, 2020 –  The travel industry world-wide is asking everyone who can to reschedule rather than cancel. Whether to postpone or cancel your travel plans is a personal decision,but we’ll work with you and use our experience to guide you along the way. We receive daily updates from our suppliers around the globe including air and cruise lines, tour and accommodation suppliers. As your travel company we will provide you with options for your particular travel plans based on the most up to date information.


01 April, 2020 – We continue to receive frequent updates from our airline, cruise line and tour company suppliers, as the situation evolves. As your travel company we will advise you on what your options are for your particular travel plans. The travel industry world-wide is asking everyone who can to reschedule rather than cancel. Whether to postpone or cancel your travel plans is certainly a personal decision, based on your own circumstances. But, you’ll have our experience and help to guide you along the way.


20 March, 2020 – As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect the communities where we live and work (and communities around the world where we love to travel), please know that we are working diligently to assist our clients. Those who are currently travelling we’re assisting to get home safely; those booked to travel over the next few days and weeks, to reschedule their travel plans for future travel; cancelling plans for clients when  future travel is not an option.

We must also do all we can to ensure the health and safety of both our staff and clients.

Effective the end of day today, March 18th, 2020:

  • our office in Winnipeg will operate with reduced staff and reduced hours, from 10:00am to 4:00pm CT.
  • walk-in traffic will not be accepted at this time.
  • our staff will be available to handle your inquiries by phone at 204 949 0199 and by email.
  • in the case of an emergency where an in-person appointment is the only option, we will offer that service on an “appointment only” basis. Please call or email to set up an appointment.

Effective the end of the day Friday, March 20th, 2020:

  • our office in Edmonton will be temporarily closed. All inquiries will be handled by our Winnipeg office staff, who will have access to all client files.

Although there are changes to our staff availability and office hours for the foreseeable future, please be assured that, unlike dealing with an online travel agency, you will be able to reach us! To date, 95% of our clients have re-booked, rescheduled, been refunded or cancelled, all with the assistance of our experienced travel consultants.

While you may not be taken care of by your usual consultant over the next little while, you will definitely be taken care of!  We assure you that we will remain available to assist you.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support. We look forward to the day when we can get back to Creating Your Best Days Ever!


12 March, 2020 – COVID-19, a term we’ve become all too used to hearing these past few weeks, continues to be a serious, ongoing health issue worldwide. But there’s no need to panic. First and foremost, if you have booked your trip with us, then you can be assured you are dealing with a professional travel expert. Your consultant will advise you, as their client, what provisions are in place and what your options may be to enable you to make an informed decision regarding your travel plans. We are receiving frequent, daily updates from our airline, cruise line and tour company suppliers, as well as government updates as the situation evolves. Whether to reschedule or cancel your travel plans entirely is certainly a personal decision, based on your own health and circumstances, your destination and your method of travel. But, you’ll have our experience and help to guide you along the way. Here are some really good resources you can look to for accurate information:
World Health Organization and World Map
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Government of Canada
US Department of State and Country Specific Information
John Hopkins World Map


Our 2020 Consumer Events calendar:
January 30 at 7:00pm – Iceland, presented by Shauna Cook
Our consumer events have been suspended until September.
Dates starting in September will be announced as soon as they are available.