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Booked on a France tour in April...

Fellow Travelers,
I booked my trip for Paris & The Heart of France in July 2019. This was to be my second RS tour. I purchased Travel Guard trip insurance when I made my tour reservation. And now, according to todays news, France is expected to raise the coronavirus alert to its highest level in a few days, max 1-2 weeks to “ prepare for inevitable epidemic”. I am booked for the tour beginning April 17, 2020. I expect that the airline Delta may cancel my flight. Look I am not a shrinking violet but I do not want to travel anywhere at this time! I am older and part of a higher risk group. I am stressed out enough without having to wait and wait for RS to cancel my tour so I can get a full refund (over $4,000). I am not able to book a different 2020 tour. And the $375 I paid for trip insurance is worthless. I am not a happy camper. To Rick Steves - i know your tour guides depend on your tours but as stated by WHO - This Is Not A Drill! Please offer refunds to those who want it. Let the more hardy travelers on the waiting list fill my space.

Posted by
1839 posts

Sit tight....if France is raised to the highest level, my guess is that RS/ETBD will cancel your tour. In the meantime, I would suggest calling the Rick Steves office (even though I am sure someone from their staff will see your post). But, engage with the staff by phone, so you will have specific info on how/when such cancellation may take place. If you cannot rebook for 2020, see if they will allow you a credit for a future year. Or see if your trip insurance covers the tour provider cancelling the tour, especially since you booked well ahead of the "known risk" as the insurance industry calls it.

It is how travel companies treat you during times of crisis that will make/break your long-time, (often life-long) brand loyalty (and often for subsequent generations who hear the "how-they-took-care-of -me" (or how they did not) stories from the generation ahead. This, too, shall pass and in the coming year (or years) you and others will again be looking forward to travel without this worry......so they will want you to consider booking another tour (when you are comfortable doing that). Tauck Tours has incredible, multi-generation loyalty among their tour-goers for reasons such as this.

We, too, have chosen not to travel at all at this time. We came very close to booking a trip earlier this year, but just could not get all the pieces to fall together, so that turned out to be a good thing.

Yesterday, a case (the first) of coronavirus was announced in the Greater Nashville area. 44-year old man had recently flown round trip from BNA to Boston-Logan. There was no mention of recent overseas travel. So, of course, the tracing of contacts, locations, (even more) extra precautions at local airport, etc. begin. His child's(private) school, which had already begun cautionary practices, is now closed thru the rest of the week for an abundance of caution and extra cleaning.

So, yep, we could all catch the virus in our home cities, but why risk the petri dish of planes, airports, mass transit, hotel rooms, and being (potentially quarantined in a strange locale) in the next few months. You have more control at home. Even employers have begun to reduce meetings, allow work-from-home where possible, and some conferences/large social gatherings have been canceled...time will tell if more will follow.

You mention being out the cost of your $375 trip insurance.......it is a lot of money, but so much less than what so many are suffering financially (or with illness).....keep that in perspective. It could always be worse.

Posted by
5700 posts

The $375 trip insurance is worthless -- I paid $1000 for mine and it is also worthless -- thus he is also out the cost of the travel itself if it isn't cancelled not just the wasted $375. I am out about $7000 if I cancel and I am not on a tour so there is no 'canceling of the tour' possible.

Posted by
1524 posts

We are also booked on Paris & HOF in April. I looked at WHO page and don’t see where it mentions France and “this is not a drill”. Can you tell me where you saw that?

Posted by
960 posts

I think (speculation, I know) that RS will be canceling more tours in the coming week or two.
I am in a similar situation with a Sicily tour due to start on April 19th. So I am in a holding pattern myself and may very well lose my air flight money. Luckily all my wrap-around hotels are cancelable with no penalty.
Please call the RS office and ask for a credit to be used sometime in the next two years if you can't wait a few more weeks. That is what I am considering...
It's a very responsible company!

Posted by
566 posts

Patience. Stay home. Stay safe. The RS cancellations have expanded week by week over the last several weeks. All March Tours are cancelled. April cancellations will be next. Airlines are reprogramming travelers as quickly as they can, but they have massive operations. COVID19 will not go away in the near future. However badly we all feel about our busted plans and budgets - there are other who are much worse off than we. Even if individuals do not get COVID19, the European (particularly Italian) hospitality community is shell shocked by the implosion of their business model for months at least, and they don't know how much longer than that.

Posted by
123 posts

https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19---5-march-2020

WHO director says "this is not a drill" but not in the doom or gloom the original poster is acting like.

I dont know where the poster is getting the few days out, max 1-2 weeks for France. Just keep an eye on the CDC and their travel page. This is all out of our control, but dont let the news drive fear when it is not needed. Wait for the professionals to give their opinion and guidance.

(This is coming from someone with plans to go to Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid April 15th to May 1st).

Posted by
6031 posts

Stay home. Stay safe.

Kind of wish people would stop saying this. It seems to me that you aren't really any 'safer' at home than traveling. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle you might not be at any less risk for the virus. What you would be is more comfortable if quarantine is required and more comfortable with using familiar medical treatment facilities and routines. That's not the same as being safe from the virus. Don't get me wrong, I'm not encouraging anyone to travel against their better judgement, and not saying they shouldn't stay home if that's where they feel safer - feelings are important.

Posted by
343 posts

With reference to the alert level, France has 3 stages (in French) -- which I will note in passing is a separate system from the World Health Organization's risk assessment/alert levels -- with the following goals:

  • Stage 1: prevent the introduction of the virus to France
  • Stage 2: slow the spread of the virus in France
  • Stage 3: manage and minimize the effects of an epidemic as best as possible

France is likely to move to stage 3 (in English, here is French news) in its management of the coronavirus situation in the next several days.

This is probably the news that is being referred to. I have no opinions on what actions to take (I'm pretty much as torn as everyone else), but just wanted to clarify this point.

Posted by
5397 posts

dont know where the poster is getting the few days out, max 1-2 weeks for France.

Probably from an English-language report on the remarks made last night by French expert Jean-François Delfraissy, an expert leading a research effort, who said just that last night after a meeting at the Élysée (presidential) Palace.

He was indeed referring, exactly as Andrew notes, on the French government’s probable move from its Stage 2 (which it declared on Feb 29) to Stage 3.

Here is how it was quoted in Le Figaro last night a little after 7:30:

Le stade 3 atteint dans «une ou deux semaines maximum»

Le passage au stade 3 de la crise du coronavirus Covid-19, celui de l'épidémie, sera atteint en France «dans quelques jours, une ou deux semaines maximum», a déclaré jeudi l'expert Jean-François Delfraissy, à l'issue d'une réunion avec le président Emmanuel Macron à l'Elysée.

«On est tous persuadés qu'on va arriver au stade 3 en France», a précisé le professeur, représentant du réseau REACTing qui coordonne la recherche sur le coronavirus. Il a ajouté qu'il fallait déterminer la capacité du système de santé à «encaisser ce choc que va être un certain nombre de malades graves».

Posted by
1839 posts

While this does not relate to your trip, I have a friend who booked a trip with Regent for their entire family this summer.....and their trip is just to Alaska. Obviously, some concern developed in light of the expanded reach of the virus. Today she shared this wonderful email received from the CEO of Regent. to those who have trips book with them. She shared it with me, and I shared it with several of my friends/family who travel frequently. Regent's decision really impressed me!! It is my guess, the good news will be posted on lots of travel boards.

So, unless there is some reason that you need an immediate decision from the Rick Steves' organization.....and it sounds like you are not trying to book other travel this year.....sit tight and let them figure out what their next moves will be. Ditto for the airlines.

I will be really surprised if you wind up being out any money other than your trip insurance premium.

Here is the Regent email my friend and her husband received today:
I want to personally update you on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ response to the current global health environment. Like you, I read and watch stories about the rising numbers of those infected by coronavirus and wish a quick and full recovery to those impacted. With so much information coming from around the world very quickly, some may feel uneasy about traveling ? especially if you have a voyage scheduled to sail during the next several months.

First and foremost, our priority is always the safety of our guests and crew. At Regent, our extended family of guests and crew is always at the center of everything we do. As such, I want to share information to help you understand what measures we have taken, so you feel confident about sailing with Regent.

Accordingly, we are introducing Regent Reassurance. For all voyages embarking April 3, 2020, through November 1, 2020, guests who have paid in full have the option to cancel up to 30 days prior to sailing and receive a 100% Future Cruise Credit, which can be applied to any new booking within one year on any Regent voyage sailing in 2020-2021. We hope Regent Reassurance gives you the additional time, if needed, to evaluate conditions and help you feel confident in your decision to sail on your currently booked Regent voyage or to sail on a future one.

We know that challenging times like this require decisive and carefully thought-out actions. Our Chief Medical Officer maintains constant contact with relevant local, federal and global agencies to ensure we have timely information to maintain and enhance our stringent protocols quickly and as often as necessary, which we believe are among the most comprehensive in the travel industry. We have been highly successful in maintaining a healthy environment on board our ships, and the comprehensive set of preventative actions put in place will help us ensure the safety, health and well-being of all our guests and crew.

Please know that our team is working tirelessly to navigate through these ever-changing circumstances because our priority is to take care of you, our extended family.

Even during these times, we remain optimistic. Guests are praising our newest ship, Seven Seas Splendor, with rave reviews. Our guests continue to enjoy their sailings across our fleet, as traveling and exploring the world remain important to our guests. I myself am sailing on Seven Seas Splendor on March 12 and March 30, and on Seven Seas Explorer® on June 11, and I look forward to hopefully seeing many of you on board.

Thank you for being such an important member of our Regent family. We look forward to welcoming you on board soon.

Jason Montague
President & CEO
Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Posted by
847 posts

Thanks, Kim. Those reports alone made me decided to jump ship. I'm going to go to my favorite non-Europe destination instead: Quebec City. Am I sad? Yes. But I will be back in France at the end of May if everything goes as planned. I just can't afford to miss time off work in case I am forced to quarantine. Lord knows we won't be given a 20-day period.

Posted by
631 posts

Hi besweet,
With respect, we know it's not a drill. That sort of headline from the World Health Organization is helpful guidance to those entities in the world that aren't yet taking it seriously. We're already taking this very seriously. Know that we're never going to put anyone in harm's way and we're watching this very closely. Exemplifying this, we've canceled tours for Italy through March at this time, as that is where the virus is currently known to be posing a risk for travelers. At this time, there are no travel restrictions for France. If that changes, we would reassess. We're taking this day by day given facts on the ground, and not based on conjecture or paid news media's predictions. You've probably already seen it, but here is our Coronavirus FAQ for Tour Members that may address your concerns. We're updating it almost daily as things change:
https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/coronavirus-faq

"I am not able to book a different 2020 tour."

Please do contact our Tour Sales & Service dept. (contact info at the link above). You may have other options and they can work through those with you.

Posted by
7 posts

The information I posted was from France24.com and a clip of the WHO meeting shown on MSNBC

Posted by
6747 posts

“Those reports alone made me decided to jump ship”

We’ve decided to return to the States early, Alexander.

Posted by
1391 posts

I'm fearless;
I booked a fall trip to Germany last week.
This virus will not survive the hot summer weather.

Posted by
6747 posts

It’s doing well in the Australian summer right now. Glad you are able to make predictions based on something between scientific research and Tarot cards?

Posted by
6747 posts

I gave Lola the long answer in a different thread, if you can find it.

Posted by
2938 posts

Dear OP,
This is uncharted ground for just about everyone. Your travel insurance is only “worthless” to you because it does not cover canceling over fear. That is the issue right now, fear.

Only you know your situation and what is right for you. I don’t think, however, it is fair to blame others because you are now afraid ( perhaps with good reason) to go on your trip.

I have been impressed with Rick Steves Tours handling of the situation. When health authorities have stated that people should not travel to a region, they have cancelled and refunded the money. When there are no travel restrictions, they are continuing on. Even then, they have been quite accommodating by all reports. Do contact them directly and see what you can work out.

Posted by
449 posts

Besweet, I doubt RS wants to lose any money, so of course there was that upbeat post of his on FB. But I would wait to see what the airline does, before you cancel. That's what I am doing. I have never taken a tour, and doubt that I ever will. Good luck. I am waiting until I hear WHO with advisories, or France, and last of all, CDC (no confidence in them right now, for reasons I won't mention), and possibly the airlines. If they decided to cancel, change dates, or ground the flight, then I have enough ammo to get my money back. You have time. April 17th. Mine is March 22nd! :D

Posted by
5700 posts

The CDC is advising people over 60 to cancel travel; canceling travel right now is common sense not panic or unreasonable fear.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank all for the kind replies to my post concerning the coronavirus in France. Per the most recent messages for this post, the CDC now recommends persons over 60 cancel travel. I read an article today confirming this but now I can’t find it! I do recall reading the CDC warned “older persons” to not fly but this was shot down by the current administration under President Trump and the wording changed to Do Not Travel . If you have more information on this latest CDC warning or can copy it, that would be great!

Also, I was able to cancel my PARIS flights on DELTA on line and received a full refund with no questions asked. Bravo to DELTA!
PS I located the latest on CDC warning: ABC News story March 8th by Mike Stobbe, AP Medical writer. It states” On Friday the CDC quietly updated its website to tell older adults AND people with severe medical conditions to stay home as much as possible and avoid crowds. It urges those people to take action to reduce your risk of exposure but it doesn’t specifically address flying.” Older is generally defined as age 60-65.

Posted by
569 posts

I just checked the CDC site, and I didn't see an advisory that people over 60 should not travel to France.

To the person who read this somewhere, can you please post the link?
Thank you.

Posted by
5397 posts

The CDC says

Alert Level 2: Because COVID-19 can be more serious in older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, people in these groups should talk to a healthcare provider and consider postponing travel to destinations with level 2 travel notices.

At https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html

However, their map does not show France at level 2

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

So I don't see it . . . not that it might not change soon.

(I do see the reference to “older” travelers in the language on Japan:

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/coronavirus-japan