The fine print associated with a Royal Caribbean cruise has been updated.
Royal Caribbean informed passengers with a cruise booked that the cruise line has amended Cruise Ticket Contract, which is the legal terms all passengers agree to when booking a cruise.
In an email to guests, Royal Caribbean says the updates "simplify" the method in which guests have access to the contract.
We’re making important changes to our legal terms and simplifying the process by which these terms – which are applicable to your cruise purchase and other activities, services, and products related to your cruise – are communicated to you and all our guests from around the world.
Royal Caribbean also highlighted three areas where the new cruise contract has been updated.
The changes will go into effect on April 12, 2023 and will apply to sailings that depart on or after that date.
If you are currently booked on a voyage that departs on or after April 12, 2023, the new legal terms will apply. Additionally, the new legal terms will apply to those guests that book on or after April 12, 2023.
The changes apply to the Cruise Ticket Contract, Booking Conditions, and Global Purchase Terms and Conditions. Royal Caribbean highlighted three changes they believe are the most important.
In comparing the updated terms to the previous terms, here are the changes we noticed based on the USA terms of service.
Please keep in mind this writer, nor RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com, is not a legal expert of any kind. You should review the legal terms on your own and not rely in any way on a blog post to convey important legal information that affects you and/or your traveling party. This blog post is not to serve as offering legal advice of any kind.
Primary Country of Residence
One of the biggest changes appears to be the cruise contract now varies depending on where you live.
The cruise line says the the Cruise Ticket Contract or Booking Conditions applicable to your cruise purchase are now determined by your Primary Country of Residence.
This means whichever country you live in primarily at the time of booking will be which contract applies to you. Royal Caribbean will determine the primary country of residence based on what's indicated by you, your agent, or other representative at the time of booking the cruise or at online check-in.
This applies to each guest on a booking on an individual basis.
Countries listed as options for the cruise contract include:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
- All Other Locations
Royal Caribbean also updated their cancellation and Covid policies.
Pre-cruise cancellation due to Covid
One change in comparing the two American cruise contracts is there is now less days prior to a cruise beginning to have tested positive for Covid to qualify for a refund.
Royal Caribbean changed the policy from 14 to 5 days prior to embarkation if a passenger tests positive for Covid, exhibits signs or symptoms of Covid, or has had close contact with a person confirmed or suspected as having Covid, Royal Caribbean may deny boarding.
The two changes here are 14 to 5 days, and the word "will deny boarding" to "may deny boarding".
Unless the passenger failed to follow Royal Caribbean's Covid policies and procedures, any passenger denied boarding under these circumstances will be entitled to either a refund or a future cruise credit equal in value to the cruise fare passenger paid.
Cruise cancellation or deviation due to Covid
The updated cruise contract removed verbiage under the "Cancellation, Deviation, Or Substitution By Carrier" section related to public health emergencies.
The phrase "as a result of a declaration of a public health emergency or government order" has been removed.
There's a few times the text was amended, here's one such change that exemplifies the nature of this change:
Carrier may for any reason at any time and without prior notice, cancel, advance, postpone or deviate from any scheduled sailing, port of call, destination, lodging or any activity on or off the Vessel, or substitute another vessel or port of call, destination, lodging or activity. Except as provided in Section 7.e below, and except as provided in Section 4.e or Section 4.f regarding an actual or suspected COVID-19 infection, and except where a refund is required by law as a result of a declaration of a public health emergency or government order cancelling the Cruise or delaying boarding of the Vessel by Passengers by three (3) days or more, Carrier shall not be liable for any claim whatsoever by Passenger, including but not limited to loss, compensation or refund, by reason of such cancellation, advancement, postponement, substitution or deviation.
Carrier may for any reason at any time and without prior notice, cancel, advance, postpone or deviate from any scheduled sailing, port of call, destination, lodging or any activity on or off the Vessel, or substitute another vessel or port of call, destination, lodging or activity. Except as provided in Section 7.e below, and except as provided in Section 4.e or Section 4.f regarding an actual or suspected COVID-19 infection, and except where a refund is required by law because Carrier cancelled the Cruise or boarding of the Vessel by Passengers was delayed by three (3) days or more, Carrier shall not be liable for any claim whatsoever by Passenger, including but not limited to loss, compensation or refund, by reason of such cancellation, advancement, postponement, substitution or deviation.
The last highlighted change is to choosing where a lawsuit would be heard.
"The forum selection, exclusive jurisdiction and choice of law provisions have been modified to and now correlate to your Primary Country of Residence or the location of your cruise itinerary. "
A great deal of new legal terms were added to the "FORUM SELECTION; GOVERNING LAW; TIME LIMITS TO BRING SUIT; ARBITRATION; CLASS ACTION WAIVER:" section.
Essentially, there's a lot of new legal information related to how any legal action could occur and where it might occur.
Why the cruise contract is important
The cruise contract is an important legal document that you agree to when booking a cruise.
It encompasses protocols and policies related to guest conduct and expectations during a cruise.
Every cruise line includes this as part of the agreement you make when you book a cruise.
Upon placing a deposit, Royal Caribbean adds a check box to indicate the guest has read through the Cruise Contract and agrees to everything inside.
Airlines also have something similar, known as the Conditions of Carriage, that cover almost every scenario a passenger can encounter to clearly indicate expectations of rules and penalties for violating those rules.