Update 1: 27th of March 2020

UPDATE  on COVID-19 VIRUS and the BikePlanet Tours and the MPS IRIS Tours  statement

Introduction:

We hope you are all OK and, for now, can still say all of us are healthy.

As you know by now, the virus has become a real threat everywhere. In our country, we are reaching the limits of the ICU treatment within days.

All we can do is try to find a way to deal with this unwanted and overwhelming situation. Please know that we have a lot of issues with this. We are about to lose a substantial part of revenue, with remaining costs that will, pretty sure, be leaving us with a substantial loss. There is a huge amount of uncertainty amongst the people we work with, our staff and the guides. Most of them depend on this income and we can’t compensate them fully. Of course, we do not yet how long this situation will continue and are still hopeful we can still offer tours, planned later on in the season. And our government will help us to get through this by giving us subsidies so we can still pay salaries. Our contractors can get a kind of income on a basic level also. So, all in all, that’s what keeps us busy right now.

In this statement, we only refer to the tours on the IRIS, all other tours are offered with/through other partners and we will send information about that separately.

Current situation

We are in a semi-lockdown, which is hopefully working. This will last until April 6th at least and I don’t believe anybody is expecting it to be over by that date. Big events are cancelled up until the 1th of June. No more flights etc. Most countries in Europe have gone into total lockdown.

We are aware of the situation in the regions you live in, but not exactly of course. But all and all we see almost everybody is in some kind of lock-up or at least has to deal with the virus as a threat to normal life.

The decision on MAY TOURS

We will not sail with the IRIS until the 1st of JUNE, the MAY Danube trips are about to be rescheduled or cancelled.

Guests on the individual departure dates will receive a personal offer to reschedule the trip until a later date this year, or a date in 2021, as long as available. In case of rescheduling to next year, we will offer the 2020 or 2021 price and keep the 20% payments, just collect the difference between payments made and costs of tours in 2021, 3 months prior to the departure date.

Also, we have a legal position to follow, according to Dutch/European laws. In this case, a full refund will be given because we are cancelling this trip now.

Thinking about cancelling and postponing?

We have adapted our rules of cancellation for individual guests for 2020 as follows:

When booked on a tour taking place before the 31st of July 2020:

You can decide to postpone your booking to a future departure date. We will send you a voucher for the amount you have paid to us, and you can use that payment on a trip, book within 365 days after your departure date, the tour can start anytime, even after those 365 days. You will pay for the (normal) 2021 price raise only. You do not need to book right away.

In case WE cancel a departure date (due to too many cancellations due to the Covid-19 virus) we will also if you prefer that, return your payment. Of course, we prefer to send a voucher, but you have the right to ask for a refund. This also applies if you decide to get a voucher now. So you don’t have to wait until WE cancel, your position stays the same: you can accept a voucher, you can also ask for a refund later on.

When booked on a tour taking place in August, September and October

We still have the hope that we will be able to return to a regular season, and the current problems are under control and not restricting us. For that reason, we still will maintain the policy to follow regular cancellation fees but have lowered those to make it possible for you to decide to cancel despite our decision.

Cancellation fee as of 27th of March booked with MPS IRIS BV for tours that start after 31th of JULY:

20% of tour costs, cancelling up until 84 days prior to the departure date (as stated in the regular Terms and Conditions of MPS IRIS)

25% of tour costs, cancelling up until 1 month prior to the departure date

90% of tour costs, cancelling up until 1 week prior to the departure date.

Guarantee of departure:

Under the current circumstances, it might happen that tours will be cancelled, in case we have only a few remaining guests. We will then try to offer an alternative, like going on another tour, if there is still a possibility. We have always promised guarantee of departure, but under these extraordinary circumstances have to announce we can’t keep that promise this year. As you can imagine, sailing with a few guests is making us lose even more money. So we will try to prevent this as much as possible, see if there are available other tours to go on and find individual solutions.

We will let you know, between 3 and 1 month prior to the departure at the latest, with the exception of developments that are out of our control.

Is your money safe with us?

Yes! First of all the company has a good cash flow, due to other, former, activities. And, we are a member of a guarantee fund that will refund guests in case our companies are subject of bankruptcy.

What to do next?

Tour is cancelled:  We will send you the official message

Tour is starting in June or July: Please contact us in case you want to postpone or cancel your trip. We will respond a.s.a.p.

Tour is starting in August, September or October: We expect no response at this stage, but you can cancel following the adapted cancellation rules.

It might be wise to contact the flight companies and look for options to cancel or change your flights. Most companies have altered their flexibility to the max. But also, it happens that flight get cancelled. Unfortunately, these situations are not giving you the right to get a full refund on our trips

Updates about the tours:

This is the first update published

We will update this message on our website in case there are substantial changes we need to mention about the situation in the European countries.

You will find this as a blog post. The link to the blog post (the text you are reading now and the previous message!)

www.bikeplanet.tours/covid-19

So you can follow the updates about the IRIS or other tours later on, but of course, we will also contact you personally in case it has consequences for your tour departure.

Please do not expect updates about news about Covid-19 in general. We only update about decisions we make and the perspectives.

Hygiene on board

Of course, we are prepared with soap and paper towels and all these things we can do to make our barge a safe place. You will not be travelling with people from risk countries, we will have a protocol for boarding, including a temp check and rules on how to act on board and during the cycling. Our staff will be advised to stay home in case they have any symptom of a viral disease that might worry you.

We wish you the best! Stay healthy and keep on biking if possible!

Kind regards, on behalf of our crewmembers and guides,

Lenny Versteeg, owner of the premium barge IRIS, MPS IRIS BV and BikePlanet Tours BV

Original statement dd 17th of March

COVID-19 VIRUS and the BikePlanet Tours and the MPS IRIS Tours in 2020

Introduction:

First of all, we would like you to know that we are very sad about the current situation our guests are in.  And second, also because travelling becomes a worry instead of something to look forward to, especially for those who would love to join us in the upcoming first weeks of the season.

All we can do is try to find a way to deal with this unwanted and overwhelming situation. Please know that we have a lot of issues with this. We are about to lose a substantial part of revenue, with remaining costs that will, pretty sure, be leaving us with a substantial loss. There is a huge amount of uncertainty amongst our guests and the people we work with, our staff and the guides. Most of them depend on the work we have promised to them and we can’t compensate them fully. Of course, we do not yet how long this situation will continue and are still hopeful we can still offer tours, planned later on in the season. Also, we hope the government will step in and maybe offer some compensation to companies and contractors. But at this point, that’s, of course, all very insecure.

In this statement, we only refer to the tours on the IRIS, all other tours are offered with/through other partners and we will send information about that separately.

Current situation

Since yesterday evening there is an almost complete shutdown in our country and also in almost every European country. At least until 6th of April, but who knows how much longer. We don’t, but we believe we need to make decisions now about the first tours in April or early May.

The decision on APRIL DEPARTURES and EARLY MAY DEPARTURES

We will not offer any IRIS tours with the IRIS until the 16th of MAY, the departure dates, booked by individual guests, of 9th  and 23rd of April, are CANCELLED.

How we want to deal with cancelled departure dates (cancellation by us, the tour-operator):

This guideline on how we are acting will be the same for the tours that could be cancelled by us later on. Until further notice. With this level of uncertainty, we can’t make too many promises.

Guests, only on the mentioned individual departure dates, cancelled by us, the tour operator now:

  • will receive a voucher for payments made, to use on a booking of a trip within 365 days from the booked departure date now
  • In case this is not feasible for you, you can try to find another traveller to use your voucher
  • You or the voucher holder can book a tour after the period of 365 days, and pay 250 euro extra per booking per person.
  • Pricing of the tour departure dates are higher (around 8%), you will need to pay that difference 3 months prior to the departure date
  • In case your only option is to ask for a refund, you can contact us, our policy then we will keep 25% of the tour costs and refund the remaining payments made.

 

Thinking about cancelling and postponing yourself?

We have lowered our rules of cancellation for individual guests for 2020 as follows:

Cancellation fee as of 17th of March 2020, for all departures booked with MPS IRIS for 2020 tours:

20% of tour costs, cancelling up until 84 days prior to the departure date (as stated in the regular Terms and Conditions of MPS IRIS)

25% of tour costs, cancelling up until 1 month prior to the departure date

50% of tour costs, cancelling up until 3 weeks prior to the departure date

90% of tour costs, cancelling up until 1 week prior to the departure date.

After your cancellation, we will not change the rules later on. So if your tour gets cancelled with the remaining guests, we will stick to the deal we made with you.

What will happen if an authority issues a travel ban?

Only the local government can issue binding rules and guidelines for its own territory. In other words: the Dutch government issues a travel ban in the Netherlands. This is not the case yet, strange enough, but might happen any day now. Still, we are acting as if we are under this situation as of today. So we take matters in our own hands and decide about cancellations, so you are able to inform you on time.

As of today, we will cancel departures until mid-May. So for the upcoming 2 months. In case a charter is booked, we will check with the group to decide what to do. So no decisions yet about tours starting after the 16th of May (Amsterdam to Koblenz).

Guarantee of departure:

Under the current circumstances, it might happen that tours will be cancelled, in case we have only a few remaining guests. We will then try to offer an alternative to guests that do not want to cancel, like going on another tour with us later on, if there is still a possibility. We have always promised guarantee of departure, but under these extraordinary circumstances have to announce we can not keep that promise this year. As you can imagine, sailing with a few guests is making us lose even more money. So we will try to prevent this as much as possible, see if there are available other tours to go on and find individual solutions.

Is your money safe with us?

Yes! First of all the company has a good cash flow, due to other activities. And, we are a member of a guarantee fund that will refund guests in case our companies are subject to bankruptcy. Returning the payment will stay under their guarantee, also vouchers are refunded.

What to do next

Tour is still more than 3 months ahead:

Just wait and see, but in case you are already totally sure you won’t/don’t want to come: let me know and cancel or opt for rescheduling within this year. We will prioritize reschedulings from guests who are now being cancelled upon by us for bookings this year. So you might need to wait to know if we can reschedule you.

Tour is starting less than 3 months ahead:

Please let me know if you want to wait until 1 month prior to the departure date, or you already know you are not coming.

It might be wise to contact the flight companies and look for options to cancel or change your flights. Most companies have altered their flexibility to the max. But also, it happens that flight get cancelled.

Updates about the tours

We will update this message on our website in case there are substantial changes we need to mention about the situation in the European countries.

You will find this as a blog post. The link to the current blog post (the text you are reading now!)

www.bikeplanet.tours/covid-19

So you can follow the updates about the IRIS or other tours later on, but of course, we will also contact you personally in case it has consequences for your tour departure.

Please do not expect updates about news about Covid-19 in general. We only update about decisions we make and the perspectives as we see them.

 

We wish you the best! Stay healthy and keep on biking!

We might still “set sail” on many trips! 

Kind regards, on behalf of our crewmembers and guides,

Lenny Versteeg, owner of the premium barge IRIS and BikePlanet Tours

 

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