Do cruise prices drop?
Have you booked a Royal Caribbean cruise (or about to book one) and wondered if the price of the cruise could drop later?
Prices of Royal Caribbean cruises have a tendency to fluctuate quite a bit, very similar to airfare pricing, and that kind of fluid price changes may concern some cruisers with fears of not getting the lowest price.
There are a few tips and strategies you can use to lock in a great price, and protect yourself in case there is a price drop later.
Royal Caribbean's 48 hour price guarantee
First and foremost, you should be aware of Royal Caribbean's price guarantee for any cruise fare booked in the first 48 hours following the reservation being made.
If you spot a lower publicly advertised rate available to the general public for the cruise fare you booked within 48 hours of reserving your cruise, Royal Caribbean will honor the lower rate by applying an onboard credit to the reservation equal to 110% of the price difference. For reservations outside of final payment period, the onboard credit may be replaced, upon request, with a reduction to the outstanding balance or a refund.
Group rates, membership programs, charters or other Travel Agent promotions not offered by Royal Caribbean to the general public, including but not limited to travel agent rebates are ineligible.
To submit a Royal Caribbean Best Price Guarantee claim, submit a request via the claim form. You will be asked to provide the lower rate amount and where the rate can be found.
The lower rate must:
- Be for the same ship, sail date, stateroom category and number of guests.
- Be available for reserving at the time Royal Caribbean reviews your submitted Royal Caribbean Best Price Guarantee claim form
All Royal Caribbean Best Price Guarantee claim forms must be submitted on-line within 48 hours of reserving your cruise and verified by Royal Caribbean in order to qualify for the onboard credit.
The Royal Caribbean Best Price Guarantee is applicable to North American reservations only.
Book early and reprice often
The tried and true strategy for cruisers who live in a country that allows price adjustments (United States, Canada and others) is to book a cruise as soon as they know they want to go on that sailing, and then re-price if the fare drops.
Royal Caribbean allows cruisers to reprice their cruise at the lower cruise fare if the price for that cruise goes down at any time before final payment date. As long as the price drops for the same ship and sail date that has been booked previously, and it is before final payment date, guests can reprice their cruise as many times as they want.
Unfortunately, residents of the United Kingdom cannot use this strategy since local laws prevent price adjustments.
The final payment date for Royal Caribbean cruises is 75 days prior to the sailing date for 1 - 4 night cruise vacations and 90 days prior to the sailing date for 5-night or longer cruise vacations. The payment schedule for groups is different from that of individuals.
The strategy of booking early and then taking advantage of price drops ensure you always have the lowest price, as opposed to trying to time a price drop later (which may or may not happen).
Don't forget your booking incentives
If you spot a lower price and want to re-price, make sure you consider the perks included in your original booking reservation versus what is included with the new price.
Any onboard credit, instant savings or booking promotions can be lost if you rebook at the lower price. Weigh the value of your perks before pulling the trigger on a price drop.
How to check for price drops
The tried and true way to check for price drops is to periodically make a mock booking on Royal Caribbean's website and see if the price has changed. This is the most straightforward approach and works quite well for verifying the current pricing.
Of course, manually checking the price means you have to take the initiative to regularly verify current pricing. Some cruisers make this easier by joining a Facebook group for their specific sailing and sharing information when a price drop is observed.
Some travel agents (the great ones) will check for price drops on your behalf. In our experience, travel agents that take the extra step to check for price drops on behalf of their clients tend to do this when new sales and promotions are announced. Here is one such recommended travel agency that specializes in Royal Caribbean. If you are not convinced using a free travel agency that is recommended by Royal Caribbean is right for you, read our post discussing the benefits they offer.
There are websites that claim to check for you as well, but I have not used any of these to verify their claims. CruiseFish.net and Ship Mate offer price tracking tools, that may be worth investigating.
What if there is a price drop after final payment?
Once you are past the final payment date, there are very limited options if your cruise fare drops again.
Royal Caribbean's rules state that once you make final payment, the fare is essentially locked-in and price changes are not possible.
In general, price drops after final payment are rarer than they used to be, but they can occur. If you do spot a price drop after final payment date, you should contact Royal Caribbean or your travel agent and (politely) inquire what can be done, if anything.
Despite the rules, on a case by case basis, some guests have had luck getting onboard credit or moving up to a higher stateroom when the price drops after final payment. That is not to say you should expect this to be the case for yourself, nor should you plan your cruise around taking advantage of a potential price drop after final payment date.
In short, there is no harm in inquiring about a price adjustment after final payment, but do not expect a price change either.