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What is a group rate for a cruise?

By: Matt Hochberg

A reservation for a Royal Caribbean cruise comes in a variety of cruise fare choices, including a group rate that comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

So what is a group rate, and why might you want one?

Group rates are a type of cruise fare, where a travel agency reserves a bank of staterooms on a particular ship and sailing that locks in the price for a set period of time.

Traditionally, group rates are used to facilitate gatherings of guests sailing on the same same cruise ship in order to better organize their sailing, as well as provide additional benefits specifically for the group.

One key reason group rates are popular with travel agents are the fact the prices freeze, and even if the price for the same category room rises in the weeks and months after a group is made, the group rate remains frozen at the lower rate.

While group rates are most commonly associated with a gathering of people who are tied together somehow, there are no rules about who may or may not take advantage of a group rate.  This means, travel agents who are booking a new client that wants to sail on a cruise where there is an existing group set up, can book that client into the group and provide them additional savings.

In fact, many online websites that sell cruises tend to use groups as a tool for offering lower cruise fares. 

If you have ever shopped around for a cruise, and noticed a certain website offering a lower price than anywhere else, it is almost always the result of a group fare.

In most cases, being part of a group rate is something guests will never know about or need to be concerned with since it is has no impact on the onboard experience.

Differences between group rates and individual rates

There are a few differences between a group rate and an individual rate that occasionally pop up.

First, group rates require a full deposit when making the booking. This means if there is a discount on the cruise deposit offered by Royal Caribbean (i.e. NextCruise bookings), you must pay the difference in deposit amount in order to get into the group.

Likewise, some Royal Caribbean booking promotions may not be compatible with the group fares.  

Since there is a significant discount for being in a group, Royal Caribbean tends not to offer the same discounts as someone who is potentially paying more with an individual fare. While this sounds unfair, more often than not, the person in the group is still getting a lower price.

Different kinds of cruise fares: Here be dragons

If you are not confused yet, there is way more options available when it comes to cruise fares that can blur the line between individual rates and group rates.

Travel agents (and yes, third-party websites are a kind of travel agent) have a lot of leeway with how they book their customers. After all, nearly any client is interested in the best rate and the type of fare is almost always irrelevant.

You can be booked into a standard cruise rate and then be pulled into a group later. That means you have still a standard rate, but not a group rate.

Most good travel agents will tell you if you actually have a group rate versus a standard rate.

In addition, families of 3 or 4 do not get group rates.  Group rates tend to be for two people in a room, so someone booked with that many people in a room are just standard rates pulled into a “group space” or block.

Should I care if I have a group rate?

Most of the time, it does not matter at all what type of rate you get, as long as you are getting the lowest possible fare.

The two concerns are if you really value a lower deposit amount, or a specific promotion.

If you booked directly with Royal Caribbean, you can be assured you have a standard individual rate.

If you booked with a travel agent, you can ask what type of rate you currently have and if it is part of a group or not.

Royal Caribbean CEO warns crew members of e-mail scam

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley took to social media on Monday to warn crew members not to fall for an email scam going around that targets private information.

Mr. Bayley posted on Facebook the warning that scammers are trying to get crew members to fill out information in order to get crew member's personal information.

Furthermore, Mr. Bayley emphasized crew not to click the links, and that all information will be shared via the Royal Caribbean employee portal.

"We will never ask you for your personal information via e-mail," he warned.

The scam email even went to the length of copying Royal Caribbean email letterhead and Mr. Bayley's email signature in order to convince employees it is legitimate.

Phishing scams not uncommon

Unfortunately, scammers using emails that look like the real thing are an all-too-common hack that works equally as well as it is prevalent.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost $57 million to phishing schemes in one year.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says the scammers are trying to steal someone's passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers.

Phishing emails like this one are designed to look like they are from a company you know or trust.

Carnival hit hard by similar hack

While this scam seems to target personal information, Carnival Cruise Lines was recently the victim of a similar attack, where ransomware ended up stealing personal information about the cruise company’s guests and employees.

The attack accessed an encrypted portion of technology systems for one of the cruise line's brands and certain data files were downloaded, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

While Carnival did not divulge how the hackers were able to install the ransomware, quite often legitimate looking emails targeted to employees are the preferred vector of attack.

Why you should skip the elevator on your cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

Every cruise ship has a couple sets of elevators, but if you are able-bodied, there are some good reasons to skip the elevator.

Elevators are a convenient means of traversing many decks of your ship, but between the realities of cruising and new health protocols, skipping that elevator ride may make more sense.

As an alternative, you will find stairs near any elevator bank, usually in the middle of the ship and towards the back.

Here are a few good reasons to bypass the elevators on your next cruise and take the stairs instead.

Wasting time waiting for them

Elevators seem like a great idea, until you stand around waiting for one to not only arrive on your deck, but have room for you.

Unfortunately, elevators tend to take a while to get to your deck (especially during meals or on port days) and the time you stand around waiting for an elevator exceeds the time it would have taken you to just take the stairs.

Even when the elevator does arrive, they are often crowded and all too often it stops at every floor, taking forever.

Makes room for those that really need it

As I previously stated, if you are able-bodied and can take the stairs, it has an added benefit of freeing up the elevators for other guests who must rely on the elevator.

Shipmates with strollers or wheelchairs have no choice but to use the elevator, and your decision to bypass the elevators means more opportunity for them.

Healthier to take stairs

One of the best reasons to bypass the elevator and take the stairs is the opportunity to burn off a few extra calories.

By taking the stairs, you will not only get to your destination just as quickly as waiting for the elevator, but it you will help burn off all those extra calories you had earlier in the cruise.

Walking up and down the stairs is great for your body and you can burn off that cake from dessert without having to hit the ship's gym.

New health protocols will make elevators more difficult to get one

Another reason to use the stairs may be going on a cruise means the elevator will be very limited once cruises restart.

Royal Caribbean's new set of protocols that encourage social distancing stipulates that elevators are limited to four people at a time or your travel group only. 

Stairs are available as usual and railings are cleaned frequently.

Tip: Pick a room near a popular area

In order to reduce your dependency on an elevator, you might consider picking a stateroom near a popular area of the ship.

If you plan to spend a lot of time on the pool deck, perhaps book a cabin towards the top of the ship so you only have to go up a deck or two to reach the pool.  Plus, the Windjammer buffet and Adventure Ocean kids club tends to also be on the same deck as the pool.

Or you, might consider booking a cabin as close to the Royal Promenade to not only be accessible to the many events there, but only a few decks down to the dining rooms or gangway on port days.

Choosing a stateroom in close proximity to an area of the ship you may spend more time at can make the decision to use the stairs much easier.

Royal Caribbean offering double loyalty program points on 2021 cruises

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is offering double Crown and Anchor Society points for new cruise bookings, as part of its new program enhancement.

Loyalty 2X Points applies to new, individual, and named group bookings confirmed at prevailing rates, and existing bookings made before December 31, 2020 on all Eligible Sailings.

Royal Caribbean updated the offer to extend it as well to existing bookings. The sailing must depart between January 1 – December 31, 2021.

Loyalty 2X Points is available to Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Crown & Anchor Society members.

Crown and Anchor points will be applied once the guest pays the booking in full and completes the sailing. When reserving, a valid Crown & Anchor Society membership number must be included in the reservation.

The bonus provides an additional point per night of new cruises booked, which means staying in a standard stateroom would get you two points per night, instead of one.

The Double Points offer also provides bonus points for guests who would otherwise qualify for bonus points:

  • Standard room: 2 points per night
  • Suite room: 4 points per night
  • Solo guest in standard room: 4 points per night
  • Solo guest in suite: 6 points per night

The Double Points offer is global but excludes China.

Thanks to Pippa for sharing this with us!

UPDATE: It also appears Royal Caribbean will extend this offer to existing bookings, and not just new reservations.

Thanks to Big Dawg Ron for sharing this with us!

Thanks to Karina for sharing this with us!

Why this is a good deal

Royal Caribbean offering double Crown and Anchor Society points is significant because this is an offer that has not been available in many years. 

Even when Royal Caribbean did offer extra points, it was usually restricted to much less of a timeframe. And even then, that was quite a long time ago.

Getting extra points makes it much easier to move up the cruise line's customer loyalty program, which allows for better perks and amenities for repeat cruisers.

Usually you get one point per night of the cruise, but with this offer you can get an extra point per night.

Perks of the Crown and Anchor Society include rewards such as onboard discounts, complimentary alcoholic beverages, special rates and more.

A look at Royal Caribbean's upgraded cruise ship facilities to combat COVID-19

By: Matt Hochberg

When Royal Caribbean restarts cruises with Quantum of the Seas in Singapore, the cruise ship will feature a variety of enhancements meant to contain, treat, and isolate any possible COVID-19 threats.

Royal Caribbean has introduced a wide array of new health protocols known as the Royal Promise, which also include upgrades and enhancements to its cruise ships.

These improved facilities mean their cruise ships have never been safer for guests and crew to be treated while onboard.

Medical Centers

Part of Royal Caribbean's overall plan to mitigate the threat of COVID-19 is to enahnce its onboard medical facilties.

The onboard medical care offers guests and crew members daily temperature checks, fast and free SARS-CoV-2 testing capabilities onboard, and complimentary in-stateroom medical evaluations.

Royal Caribbean has also added more doctors and nurses in their shipboard Medical Centers and enhanced our state-of-the-art equipment to provide high quality care.

The medical center itself has been redesigned  into two separate zones, including a dedicated Controlled Care Unit for the management of infectious diseases. Each zone is equipped with its own entrance, critical care beds, restrooms, and lab collection.

Some of the upgrades include: 

Upgraded Medical Equipment

  • Hospital grade ventilators
  • Cardiac monitor
  • Central oxygen system
  • Nebulizers
  • Defibrillators and external pacemakers
  • EKGs

Therapeutic Treatments

  • Antibiotics including IV medications
  • Antiretroviral
  • Oxygen therapy

Comprehensive Laboratory

  • Large range of tests
  • Results provided onboard
  • Includes PCR rapid testing for COVID-19

For its initial cruises from Singapore on Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean will cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment onboard, any required quarantine accommodation once off the ship and travel home, up to the value of $25,000 SGD.

Filtered and fresh air

Another major upgrade is the air filtration onboard that promises to deliver fresh air and filter the air onboard to avoid any possible pathogens circulating around the ship.

Every Royal Caribbean shipboard HVAC system continuously flows 100% fresh air from outdoors to your stateroom and public areas.

Upgraded MERV 13 filters capture aerosols 0.3 to 1 micron in size — fine enough to filter coronavirus, colds and flu.

Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: October 18, 2020

By: Matt Hochberg

The fall temperatures may be dropping, but the Royal Caribbean news from this week is as hot as ever, and we have it all summarized for you in this week's round up!

Royal Caribbean plans to restart cruises in December on Quantum of the Seas, and has released some easy to read guides about the new changes that will be added.

The cruise line calls its collection of new health protocols, "The Royal Promise", and it encompasses all the new changes onboard to protect guests from the current health crisis.

These changes include reducing the number of guests onboard to no more than 50% occupancy, testing everyone before sailing, and enhanced cleanliness standards.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Getting married on a cruise is something many couples choose to do, and this week's podcast episode is about Rebecca's Allure of the Seas wedding cruise.

Rebecca shares why she chose to get married on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and what goes into planning a wedding and honeymoon cruise.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

New RCB Video: 6 things that happen on a cruise that nobody talks about

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video — 6 things that happen on a cruise that nobody talks about — and don’t forget to subscribe here.

Three things Royal Caribbean needs to go right for cruises to resume in the U.S.

While Royal Caribbean announced it will restart cruises in Singapore, the big question is when will they be able to cruise again from the United States?

The next couple of weeks could be a moment of truth for the industry. In order for cruises to resume sooner than later in the USA, at least three key things have to go Royal Caribbean's way.

Based on comments from last week's meeting with the cruise lines and Vice President Mike Pence, here are the three big things that have to fall into place for Royal Caribbean.

Parents of toddler who fell from a Royal Caribbean ship still suing the cruise line after grandfather pleads guilty

By: Matt Hochberg

Despite the grandfather of Chloe Wiegand pleading guilty to negligent homicide, the parents of the child are still pursuing a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean.

The parents of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean in December 2019 that alleges the cruise line was at fault because the accident was preventable.

The toddler fell to her death on Freedom of the Seas after her grandfather, Salvatore “Sam” Anello, dropped her from an open window.

The family alleges that the cruise ship company is at fault for Chloe's death, a claim the company has strongly denied. 

Michael Winkleman, an attorney for the Wiegand family, said the lawsuit against the cruise company is ongoing.

He added that discovery and evidence confirm "this was a tragic, preventable accident" and there were no grounds to bring charges against the grandfather.

Royal Caribbean released video and images in January in response to the lawsuit to prove Anello knew the window was open prior to holding his granddaughter up to it. Anello has repeatedly said that he did not know the window was open. 

"When he arrives at the open window, and while Chloe is on the floor, Mr. Anello leans his upper-torso over the wooden railing and out of the window frame for approximately eight seconds," the company said in the court filing. "Because Mr. Anello had himself leaned out the window, he was well aware that the window is open."

Royal Caribbean says Anello stayed in front of the open window and exposed Chloe to it “for approximately 34 seconds at which time she unfortunately fell."

"The only reasonable conclusion from the video is that Mr. Anello knew the window was open before picking up Chloe. He nonetheless lifted the child over the wooden rail and the open window for a considerable period, recklessly endangering her life. There was no ‘hidden danger’ — Mr. Anello knew the window was open."

The family attorney claims the photos are "misleading".

Is it worth it to book a short 3-night cruise?

By: Matt Hochberg

Should you book a 3-night cruise, or are you better off spending your money on a longer sailing?

Weighing value versus opportunity is something a lot of cruisers consider when planning their next cruise vacation, and short sailings have certain advantages and disadvantages to them.

If you are debating booking a short cruise versus a longer one, here is what you should know about booking a 3-night cruise vacation.

Why you should book a short cruise

Here are the top reasons a weekend cruise makes a lot of sense.

Cheaper upfront cost

The best reason to book a short cruise it will cost you less than a longer sailing.

In terms of the overall cost of the cruise, a 3-night cruise will almost always cost less than a week-long cruise vacation, which is perfect for anyone on a limited budget.

While the per-night cost of a short cruise will likely be higher than a 7-night cruise, your cruise fare will probably come out less than a longer cruise.

Many people that book short cruises tend to want an inexpensive getaway, rather than an extravagant voyage.

Short cruises are convenient

Cruise lines (including Royal Caribbean) schedule 3-night cruises over weekends, and that means it is easier to get away from work or school for these sort of trips.

A 3-night cruise that departs on a Friday will get back on Monday morning, meaning the amount of vacation time you need is quite minimal.

If you happen to live near the cruise port where the ship sails from, it is almost as easy to hop on a weekend 3-night cruise as it is to go to the beach for the same amount of time and stay in a hotel.

Great introduction to cruising

Three night cruises are a popular choice among first time cruisers because it requires the least commitment to cruises, but still allows them to "dip their toes" into the proverbial cruising waters.

A common concern among first-time cruisers is they are worried they might not like a cruise vacation, so as a result, they book a short cruise to give it a try.

While I recommend first time cruisers book longer cruises for their first sailing, a short cruise remains a less-expensive way for them to "test out" what a cruise is all about.

The drawbacks of a short cruise

Cruise is over before you know it

A short cruise also means that your voyage will conclude just as quickly as it began.

Just like any weekend, a 3-night cruise leaves very little time to do a lot onboard and you will quickly find that a short sailing leaves limited opportunity to "do it all" onboard.

Royal Caribbean packs its ships with a lot of fun things to do, and then there are the ports of call you will visit that also offer exciting tours. All of this means your opportunity to experience everything on the ship in minimal.

One of the primary regrets anyone that books a short cruise usually has is they did not have enough time during the cruise.

Flight costs can be more than the cruise

If you are traveling to the cruise from somewhere that requires you to fly, often the cost of the flight dilutes any value of the cheap cruise fare.

Travel costs associated with getting to the cruise port makes 3-night cruises a better value for anyone that can drive to the port, rather than a family vacation where you fly the day before the cruise begins, stay in a hotel and rack up other related charges.

The newest ships do not offer 3-night cruises

If you watched a Royal Caribbean commercial and saw the amazing things you can do on an Oasis or Quantum Class ship, unfortunately those vessels do not offer 3-night cruises.

While Royal Caribbean's Voyager Class ships offer a lot of fun activities onboard (and were recently upgraded), they still are not on the same level of offering incredible amenities as the newest and biggest ships.

Many first-time cruisers are attracted by the glimmer of the latest and greatest cruise ships, but keep in mind a 3-night cruise means going on a slightly older ship that does not offer quite the same experience as the bigger ships.

Read moreWhich is the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship?

Hope you like the Bahamas

One other consideration that may or may not impact you is a 3-night cruise rarely have any itinerary variation.

In the case of North America, 3-night cruises almost always visit the exact same ports in The Bahamas.  While there The Bahamas are lovely, they lack the exotic appeal that other Caribbean ports offer.

Elsewhere, weekend cruises from California go to Baja Mexico and four-nighters from Galveston go to Cozumel.

While the fact 3-night cruises from Florida only visit the Bahamas is listed under a negative, I freely admit only visiting Perfect Day at CocoCay is absolutely worth it!

Should you book a short cruise?

Ultimately, the decision to book a short cruise or not depends on how strongly you feel about the lower cruise cost versus how much time you will have to enjoy the vacation.

A 3-night cruise will be an affordable and fun experience that may mean limited activities onboard and a busy schedule of activities and port adventures.

If you have the time and money, a longer cruise (6-7 nights) can offer a larger cruise ship with more to see and do, as well as a greater variety of places to visit.

Basically, short cruises are a great idea for a weekend getaway, so be sure to savor every minute of it.

Top 14 best free things to do on a Royal Caribbean cruise

By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean cruises offer a lot of activities and things to do, and a great many are available at no extra cost.

The value of a cruise means you can enjoy amazing entertainment, family-friendly activities, and plenty to eat while onboard. While there are some extras that have a surcharge, you will still find a lot of great options that are totally complimentary.

Regardless of your vacation budget, these activities made the top list of fun and worthwhile things to do on a cruise that will cost you absolutely nothing extra!

See a Broadway show

Royal Caribbean is well-known for its onboard entertainment, including full-length Broadway shows that cost nothing extra to see.

Select Royal Caribbean ships offer Tony Award-winning shows that are the exact show you would have seen on The Great White Way, and included in your cruise fare.

The musicals available on Royal Caribbean include Mama Mia, Hairspray, Grease and more!

On Royal Caribbean ships that allow for entertainment reservations, guests may reserve tickets in advance for the Broadway shows via Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner site.

There  is no cost to making advanced reservations, and you certainly could wait to get a seat onboard if you so choose.

Watch a movie

Throughout the day and evening, Royal Caribbean will show a mix of movie classics and new releases on its pool deck cinema screens.

These movie screens are giant, and you can pull up a chair from just about anywhere on the pool deck to watch it with your family. Many cruisers opt to stay in the pool and watch the movie while floating.

On Radiance Class ships, there is actually a dedicated movie theater with movies throughout the day.


Most Royal Caribbean cruise ships offer a mini-golf course that is a fun family adventure at any time.

The courses are available to play day or night, and there is no cost to play. Just grab a club and a ball, and you can enjoy this over and over again.  Keeping score is up to you.

During the course of the cruise, there may even be a mini-golf competition held among guests.

Climb the rock wall

One of the signature onboard activities that Royal Caribbean has become well-known for is the rock climbing wall.  Since the first rock climbing wall debuted on a Royal Caribbean ship, the experience has spread to every other ship in the fleet making it a favorite among guests.

The 30-foot rock wall offers different tracks for various experience levels and is open for most of the day.  

It's open to kids and adults and Royal Caribbean provides all the safety equipment that you will need, including helmets, harnesses and shoes.  You just need to bring a pair of socks.

Go down a slide

One of the newer additions to Royal Caribbean's array of activities are the water slides.

Over the last few years, Royal Caribbean added water slides to many different cruise ships in order to plus the family activities offered onboard.

There are racer slides, as well as champagne bowl slides.  Liberty of the Seas even offers a family raft slide.

On the Oasis Class cruise ships, there is the Ultimate Abyss dry slide, where you can ride down in a mat over 100 feet.

Virtual reality bungee jump

Combine virtual reality and a bungee experience and you get the SkyPad.

The SkyPad straps guests into bungee chords, where you can bounce up and down with an optional VR helmet on to provide the sensation of moving through an augmented reality world.

Drop the kids off at Adventure Ocean

Did you know supervised children's programming is not only available on Royal Caribbean but included in your cruise fare?

Up until 10pm, there is no additional cost for Adventure Ocean.  The programming is included in the cruise fare.

There's a lot for kids to do here and the programs specialize for each age group.  It's a mix of learning, play time and socializing.

Note that there is an hourly fee if your children are left in Adventure Ocean after 10pm, as well as a fee for the nursery.

Go ice skating

On Royal Caribbean ships that have an ice skating rink, guests can put on a pair of ice skates and hit the ice rink during their sailing.

Check the Cruise Compass for open skate sessions during your sailing.  Royal Caribbean will provide you with complimentary ice skate and safety equipment rentals.  Just be sure to pack long pants and socks.

See a show in the AquaTheater

While Broadway shows are classic entertainment, Royal Caribbean has created its own brand of spectacle with its AquaTheater.

Designed for Oasis Class ships, the AquaTheater has two 10-meter high platforms and a hydraulic-floored pool below.

On select evenings, you can enjoy performances held in the AquaTheater that combine music, dance, acrobatics and high-dives. It is something you have to see to believe.

Take a ride on the carousel

Guests of any age (that means you) can enjoy a ride on the carousel in the Boardwalk for no additional cost.

The carousel is just plain fun for kids and adults. Eighteen figures are suspended from stainless steel poles along with one ADA accessible chariot are rideable.

Be sure to also check out the carousel at night because like the fairs of the past, nighttime is when these rides really shine when they are all lit up.

Try surfing

You can try your hand at surfing on the FlowRider surf simulator.

Royal Caribbean offers guests the choice of stand-up surfing, as well as boogie-boarding sessions.

You can ride the FlowRider for free as many times as you like during the course of your cruise, you just need to wait in line for a turn.

Sky dive

The Quantum Class ships offers every guest one time in the  iFly by RipCord "indoor" skydiving simulator.

RipCord by iFly is a skydiving simulator that will be a first for cruise ships.  Rather than descend from 10,000 feet in the sky, RipCord allows guests to get the sensation of skydiving without the incredible risk.

Set in a recirculating indoor vertical wind tunnel, guests can feel like they're falling from the heavens in a safe environment.  You wear the gear and goggles as if you were jumping out of an airplane, so it's as authentic an experience as you can get without the airplane.  Trained instructors are with you the whole time in a totally controlled environment.

Try the zip line

On Oasis class ships, guests can soar 9 decks above the Boardwalk neighborhood, stretching 82 feet from end to end.

Passengers must be at least 52" tall to participate and weigh a maximum of 275 pound, also must at least weigh 75 pounds.

The zip line is free and guests must sign a waiver.

Enjoy most of Perfect Day at CocoCay

Royal Caribbean's private island destination of Perfect Day at CocoCay was recently refurbished and there is a surprising amount of complimentary activities.

In addition to the classic beach day experience, Royal Caribbean has added the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, the shipwrecked Captain Jill’s Galleon loaded with slides and water cannons, the biggest ever Splashaway Bay aqua park yet, and new sports courts on South Beach.

The beach experience at Perfect Day at CocoCay has not been overlooked, with enhanced Chill Island and South Beach, both offering plenty of free beach chairs and beachside activities.

On top of all of that, there are lots of free food that you can enjoy all day long without any extra costs.

What happens if a cruise is oversold above reduced capacity?

By: Matt Hochberg

Ever since Royal Caribbean said it would lower the capacity of its ships in order to foster social distancing, many cruise fans want to know what happens if the ship is already oversold beyond that limit?

One of the many new protocols that Royal Caribbean has added to make cruises safe for everyone is its ships would not sail at 100% occupancy in order to lower load factors for social distancing.

This change is not permanent, but at least for the early sailings back, reduced capacity is expected.  In fact, for the Quantum of the Seas sailings in Singapore in December, there will be a maximum of 50% capacity for those voyages.

So how will Royal Caribbean determine who gets to cruise and who will not in order to maintain lower ship capacity?

No official answer yet

So far, there has been no official policy announced on how the cruise line will handle enforcing a lower ship capacity in regards to existing bookings.

The question of how will Royal Caribbean determine which reservations are cancelled or moved if the ship is sold above the lowered maximum capacity for the ship is one of the most commonly asked questions among RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers.

A Royal Caribbean Strategic Account Manager said this week that the cruise line is still considering options, "This is a scenario that we are aware of and looking into."

"Once we can pinpoint the exact capacity per ship, we will be able to discuss this process in more detail.  More details to come one hear back form the CDC."

Getting around the problem in Singapore

It looked like we might have gotten an answer with the announcement Quantum of the Seas would restart cruises in December, but Royal Caribbean circumvented the problem by cancelling all of Quantum of the Seas' sailings, and then announcing new sailings to book.

By doing this, Royal Caribbean avoided a scenario where that could happen, but using this strategy in the Caribbean would mean hundreds of cancelled cruises and a shorter window of time to get guests rebooked.

Moreover, Royal Caribbean already has ships sailing short cruises from Florida, whereas Quantum of the Seas was originally scheduled to do longer cruises.  This made the decision to cancel and re-issue new sailings for Quantum more of a necessity.

How would they pick which reservations are cancelled?

It is anyone's guess how Royal Caribbean will handle these sort of scenarios, and which reservations stay and which get cancelled.

Based on the comment from the Royal Caribbean Strategic Account Manager, it sounds like there will not be a fleetwide standard, but based on each ship.

Moreover, there are a few different possibilities I could see happening, but these are all just guesses:

  • Who booked the sailing first gets to stay
  • Reverse Crown and Anchor Society status
  • Airline model: ask for volunteers first, and then start randomly bumping reservations
  • Cancelling all cruises, similar to Quantum of the Seas in Singapore.

UBS Analyst Robin Farley said in June that the cheapest staterooms are likely candidates to be excluded.

"We note that since cruise lines are taking so much capacity out of service and not pricing to fill what is in service, they could potentially eliminate some of the lowest-margin demand that they might normally turn to when filling a ship."

There is no clear indication yet on what Royal Caribbean may or may not do, nor is there any signs if they would cancel certain reservations that are already booked.