Renaissance sets more policy changes

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Renaissance Cruises continued its series of initiatives intended to win the allegiance of cruise-selling travel agents, with new policies covering cruise cancellations, client deposits, booking options and an travel insurance agreement with BerkleyCare Ltd.

The new policies go into effect Aug. 15 and include an earlier-announced cruise-cancellation policy that Renaissance reached with New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer. (To read that story, click here.)

Renaissance's new cancellation policy is comparable to those of most major cruise operators, and it replaces a policy viewed by agents, insurance providers and even Spitzer as particularly restrictive.

The previous system also led several travel insurance providers to decline to write policies on Renaissance cruise packages.

Under the previous policy, Renaissance charged a $1,500 fee for cancellations made 120 days or more before sailing and a penalty of 100% of the cruise fare if the client canceled less than 120 days before departure.

Spitzer had charged that this policy possibly violated New York's consumer protection laws.

A spokeswoman at Spitzer's office said the agreement with Renaissance only covers the line's cancellation policies.

As for the policy covering deposits, full payments for cruise fares are due 90 days before sailing.

Under the old system, final payments were due 120 days before departure.

The line also adopted a guaranteed, seven-day "option" period for all agent bookings.

Renaissance's agreement with BerkleyCare Ltd. enables clients to purchase travel insurance on which agents can earn "competitive compensation," according to Renaissance.

The changes are expected to enable the repentant operator to "facilitate normal relations and coverage with additional major travel insurance providers," said a company statement.

"Our new payment and [cancellation] policies are as good as or superior to policies established by other world class cruise lines," said Frank Del Rio, Renaissance's co-chief executive officer.

Renaissance also reintroduced its early payment policy, under which passengers who book and make full payment at least 90 days prior to departure earn a $1,000 per cabin discount.

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