The world's largest Gay Cruise -The cruise line has come under fire for reportedly denying reimbursement for travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
The German government's latest travel advisory says people over 65 and those with pre-existing health conditions should avoid Gay Cruises cruises after a number of ships around the world were closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks on board.
Several major cruise companies have cancelled trips with full refunds. Others have opted to cancel their Gay Cruiser to travel on, but give a full refund to customers who do not wish to travel.
The Gay Cruise Atlantis, which charters exclusively gay tours, did not offer customers the same.
In the second week of March, Atlantis changed its cancellation policy "to accommodate our gay to offer guests more flexibility in these uncertain times". However, it was only agreed to offer customers company credits if they cancel at least 60 days before the departure of their ship.
"We hope this temporary policy change will reassure you that your payments are safe and we understand your concerns," the statement said.
It is no consolation to those booked on Atlantis' Southern Caribbean cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is scheduled to depart as planned on 21 March next Saturday.
Angry customers shared their concerns in a forum set up for the cruise. Facebook group in which Celebrity and Atlantis were accused of "corporate greed during the most unprecedented pandemic of our generation".
LGBT+ people are more susceptible to the corona virus due to the prevalence of smoking in the LGBT+ community. Add this to the fact that the average cruiser is 55 or older and many clients were desperate to cancel.
The Gay Cruiser aged 73, booked the gay cruise with his 67-year-old partner before the pandemic started. "I ask to be able to cancel like any other normal cruise customer, with a check for a future cruise," he commented.
Others were worried about infecting their relatives when they returned. "If everyone gets off the ship, we are likely to be responsible for putting thousands of people in danger by carrying / spreading a virus that may not kill us but could harm or kill some of our family members," wrote one man.
Jim Cone, Vice President Marketing at Atlantis, explained the cancellation policy to LGBTQ Nation.
In an apparent contradiction to the company's previously stated travel advisory, he claimed that the cruise line would not allow any clients who are on Celebrity's restricted list due to the European travel ban, and medical professionals who regularly work with them, to travel to the US Patients.
Atlantis' seven-day Southern Caribbean cruise was scheduled to sail on 21 March (atlantisevents.com)
Jim Cone said refunds will also be given to elderly customers and customers with breathing problems or other "significant health issues".
"We have already contacted most of these guests, but if they fall into one of these groups, they should contact Atlantis directly to find the appropriate accommodation for them," said Cone.
"Most of these guests have travel insurance and we will work with others on a case-by-case basis."
This information is not listed on Atlantis' website, nor is there any indication of the risk of quarantining the ship or the possible need for self-quarantine after the voyage.
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