WOD on the Waves Determined to Set Sail Despite Global Pandemic, Costing Customers Thousands — UPDATE

March 20, 2020 by and
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3/21 Update at 1:07 PM PT.

Morning Chalk Up spoke with WOD on the Waves CEO Christopher Brauser who was able to shed some additional light on the situation:

  • WOD on the Waves chartered the cruise from Celebrity Cruises and has already paid for all rooms onboard the ship. 
  • Only Celebrity Cruises can cancel the sail, not WOD on the Waves.
  • If Celebrity does cancel the cruise then WOD on the Waves would be refunded. 
  • Brauser said that it is their intention to refund all passengers if Celebrity cancels the cruise.
  • Morning Chalk Up has contacted Royal Caribbean, the owner of Celebrity Cruises.

Despite a global pandemic, country and state-wide mandatory quarantines and business closures, the WOD on the Waves cruise, which is due to set sail in less than a month, has neither canceled nor offered full refunds to customers. The cruise operated by Celebrity Cruises appears to be an outlier in the cruise industry as major cruise lines have suspended travel. Fans forked out between $699 – $3,999 for the five-day trip, not including airfare.

What’s happening: Major cruise lines across the world are essentially docked right now with several pushing back the next sailing well into mid-spring. WOD on the Waves is set to sail in just 26 days on April 16.

  • All ocean-going departures from American ports are suspended until at least April 11.
  • Viking cruise line suspended all river and ocean cruises until at least April 30.
  • Princess cruises halted all 18 ships until at least May 10.
  • Virgin Voyages postponed the launch of their first cruise ship until this summer.
  • Multiple cruise ships are still sailing around in search for ports to dock.

Despite all of that, WOD on the Waves alerted passengers on March 16 that the company intends for the cruise to continue, a decision that has both passengers and celebrity guests concerned. The Morning Chalk Up has reached out to cruise organizers but has yet to receive any kind of response or acknowledgment.

  • “As of now, Celebrity has confirmed that they still plan to host our cruise next month, and we are making final plans to move forward with our sailing.”
  • “WOD on the Waves is working closely with Celebrity Cruises to enhance the sanitizing procedures that will be followed throughout the cruise in all staterooms and public areas of the ship, as well as with the fitness equipment and scheduled workout classes.”
  • Customers will be offered a full refund only if the voluntary suspension is extended: “We will notify all booked guests and anticipate refunding our guests their monies paid,” the company’s notice said.

One big thing: More than 40 celebrity attendees are still contractually obligated to show up according to multiple conversations with athletes who are on contract to attend. The athletes we spoke to understand, they’d have to be quarantined for 14 days upon return based on current CDC guidelines.

  • Some of their ambassadors from outside the US will be unable to travel to Florida, notable people like Patrick Vellner.
  • The celebrity list includes: Rich Froning, Brooke Wells, Patrick Vellner, Chyna Cho, Dan Bailey, Team Mayhem, Chris Hinshaw, Margaux Alvarez, Jessica Griffith, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Kari Pearce, Amanda Barnhart and more.

The big picture: At this stage, passengers’ options are limited to either canceling without a refund or applying 25% of their reservation to a 2021 cruise, even for those with travel insurance. The Morning Chalk Up has been contacted by several customers given that flights both international and domestic have been restricted until after the cruise departs.

  • Christen Kirkwood also made an appeal to the company, given that her husband is an active serviceman and prohibited from leaving the country until May 11: “I actually wrote to them and sent them the DoD official order, and they refuse to give me anything but the standard 25% credit, which for my family means we are losing $3000,” she said.
  • Customer Hollie Shirley said: “This is completely unfair, unethical, and wrong. We cannot travel, we have physically been grounded and put onto lockdown in some cases by the FCO, WHO and local government officials.”
  • Shirley continued: “Customers booked on this cruise stand to be out of pocket by thousands, as insurance companies are increasingly telling us we cannot claim, as the cruise is technically still traveling.”
  • Upset customers have also taken to Instagram and Facebook comments to voice their dissatisfaction.

Why it matters: Due to travel restrictions, getting to Miami where the cruise is set to sail from would prove extremely problematic. Adding to that is a myriad of statewide travel restrictions that would make getting to Miami logistically difficult even for U.S. citizens.

  • The U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 “do not travel” advisory on Thursday to all Americans not to leave the country. Despite The Bahamas’ relative proximity, it’s still foreign soil.
  • Four states have issued stay at home orders: New York, California, Connecticut and Illinois.
  • More than 1 in 5 Americans have been ordered to stay indoors.
  • The US airline industry has slashed approximately 75% of international flights and 30% of domestic flights.
  • Passengers from the following countries couldn’t even fly to the United States for tourism if they desired: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.

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