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Is there a pattern to when Royal Caribbean cancels cruises?

18 Feb 2021
Matt Hochberg

After a year of Royal Caribbean cancelling cruises due to the global health crisis, is there a pattern to when they cancel sailings?

There are plenty of theories out there that the announcements come on Fridays, or after 5pm, or before calls with travel agents, but it is not clear if there really is any kind of pattern.

I wanted to determine if Royal Caribbean follows any sort of pattern when it cancels its cruises by looking at the past cancellation notices and trying to determine if there is truly a "method to the madness" of cancellations.

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To accomplish this, I looked back at past posts about the cancellations.  I always posted them very soon after Royal Caribbean made the announcement to cancel, so it is an easy way to get a sense of when the cruises were cancelled, as well as how many days before the scheduled sailing was to begin.

  • June 20201
    • Cancelled Tuesday, April 6 at 2pm
    • 56 days before first sailing
  • May 2021
    • Cancelled Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 10am
    • 53 days before first sailing
  • March/April 2021
    • Cancelled Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 9am
    • 48 days before first sailing
  • January/February 2021
    • Cancelled Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 11am
    • 61 days before first sailing
  • December 2020
    • Cancelled Monday, November 2, 2020 at 4pm
    • 29 days before first sailing
  • November 2020
    • Cancelled Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at 4pm
    • 26 days before first sailing
  • October 2020
    • Cancelled Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at 10am
    • 57 days before first sailing
  • Mid-September 2020
    • Cancelled Friday, July 17, 2020 at 10am
    • 46 days before first sailing
  • August/Early September 2020
    • Cancelled Tuesday, June 23, 2020 at 9am
    • 39 days before first sailing
  • July 2020
    • Cancelled Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at noon
    • 42 days before sailing

Looking back at these cancellations, the only thing resembling a pattern are cancellations most often occur on Tuesday or Wednesday.

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There appears to be no pattern to the time of day tends to favor before noon eastern, although there were a few that came in at the end of the day.

How many days before the first affected sailing also seems to not follow much of a pattern, unless you count "more than 26 days and less than 60 days" as a pattern.

The best takeaway I can determine from this data is Royal Caribbean cancels cruises when they come to a consensus that there is no chance for these cruises to occur.

Industry pattern

There is a different pattern for cruise cancellations that Royal Caribbean is absolutely following, and that is following other cruise lines.

When one of the top three mainstream cruise lines cancels a cruise, usually the other two lines follow with similar cancellations a few days or weeks later.

There has not been a pattern which cruise line starts first, but so far Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have been following each other's leads when it comes to cancelling more cruises for the same duration of time.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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