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Royal Caribbean announces its 2022-2023 Australia cruise deployment

In:
19Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has revealed what it has in store for Australia in the 2022-2023 cruise season.

Three ships will sail down under to destinations in the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia.

The new deployments will go on sale beginning March 25, 2021.

The new season also features more weekend 2- or 3-night “sampler” cruises than ever before, so guests can get a taste for cruise life and weekend like they mean it in 2022/23.

Three ships will call Australia home, including two Quantum Class ships.

Quantum of the Seas will arrive in in Brisbane in October 2022 and offer 24 sailings ranging from 3- to 18-nights, including two transpacific journeys, to destinations in the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia. 

Quantum has more South Pacific sailings falling across school holidays than ever before.

Ovation of the Seas will sail from Sydney and offer 20 sailings, ranging from 2- to 19-nights, to summer stops in New Zealand, Queensland, the South Pacific and Australia.

Radiance of the Seas is headed to Sydney as well, and will offer 22 sailings, including two transpacific voyages, ranging from 3- to 18-nights, to destinations such as New Zealand, Great Barrier Reef, South Pacific & Fiji, and Tasmania.

Royal Caribbean is also adding a new refundable fare option to provide guests with "added piece of mind". 

The refundable deposits are available for 2022/23 sailings, which allows guests to retrieve their deposit up to 70 days prior to sailing for most cruises.

Everything we know about if Royal Caribbean will require a vaccine

In:
18Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Ever since Covid-19 vaccines were announced, there has been rampant speculation if cruise lines will require passengers to get the vaccine or not.

Over the last few months, there has been plenty of sound bites, quotes, and interviews by various Royal Caribbean executives on the issue of vaccines, but what is the answer right now?

In an effort to make it clearer for everyone to more easily understand what Royal Caribbean's stance is on a Covid-19 vaccine, here is a summary of where things are right now.

This information was updated April 11, 2021.

Crew members will be vaccinated

It is clear that Royal Caribbean intend to have its crew members get the vaccine before sailings restart.

Royal Caribbean informed its crew members that it expects vaccinations will be required for crew as part of the plan for cruises to start back up.

Prior to making that decision, Royal Caribbean sent out a survey to all of their crew members and got back 32,000 responses, with 98% of the responses being in favor being required to get the Covid vaccine in order to work.

It is not clear yet when or how this will occur, but the intention is certainly there.

No decision yet if passengers will be required to get a vaccine

Royal Caribbean has not made a fleetwide decision if it will require guests to have received a vaccine and/or prove antibodies in order to cruise.

Thus far, two ships will require adults to be fully vaccinated adults (kids under 18 will be tested):

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said in a March 2021 video update that no decision has been made, but they are looking into the possibility.

"Whether we will require vaccines of all of our guests on all of our ships hasn't been decided yet, but we are prepared to go where the science leads us."

A statement by the cruise line to RoyalCaribbeanBlog echoed Mr. Fain's words that there has been no decision made yet.

"We have been working in collaboration with government authorities, medical professionals and experts to continue to develop our plan to keep our guests, crew and communities we visit safe. The new COVID-19 vaccines present a new opportunity to do just that. The vaccines are a way to build protection for everyone involved and we continue to look into all options that will assist in keeping people safe. "

For what it is worth, Royal Caribbean sent an email survey in March 2021 asking a number of passengers if they have received a Covid-19 vaccine and if they intend to get one.

Whether or not guests will have to be vaccinated is a decision that Royal Caribbean will look to the Healthy Sail Panel to make.

Mr. Fain's response put the decision on if requiring the vaccine is a good idea on the panel of experts so that the cruise line can make the best decision based on the panel's guidance.

"We have the experts and we'll let them guide us."

Adults on five cruise ships will require a vaccine

There are four exceptions so far, and that is anyone over the age of 16 years old sailing on Odyssey of the Seas from Israel, and anyone over 18 years old on Anthem of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, and Jewel of the Seas will be required to get the vaccine.

As part of the agreement between Royal Caribbean and the State of Israel, sailings on Odyssey from Haifa, Israel in 2021 are restricted to only residents of Israel.

Anthem of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, and Jewel of the Seas will be available to adult guests who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results.

Royal Caribbean's plans for Israel are independent of the rest of the fleet, as it was developed specifically for that market and ship.

What about other cruise lines?

If you want to peek over the fence and see what other cruise lines are thinking, there is an equal amount of indecision there as well among Royal Caribbean's peers.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) announced on April 5, 2021 a plan to restart cruises with requiring 100% of its guests and crew members to be vaccinated in order to sail.

Carnival Cruise Line has not made a decision if their passengers will be required to get a Covid vaccine or not.

Some other smaller and/or luxury cruise lines have said they will require their guests to get a vaccine including:

  • Virgin Voyages
  • SilverSea
  • P & O Cruises
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Saga Cruises

Cruise FAQ: Weather

In:
18Mar2021
By: Ashley Kosciolek

Few things can put a damper on a cruise like bad weather. At their best, poor conditions can mean that your fun day in port is rained out; at their worst, your itinerary could be heavily altered or canceled completely.

When it comes to weather, you've got questions, and we've got the answers. Read on to find out what to expect. 

Will a cruise line cancel a cruise due to weather?

The safety of passengers and crew is always the top priority, so if weather conditions are severe enough to warrant it, yes, cruise lines will cancel sailings. If that happens before you set sail, you will be given a full refund.

However, because cancellations result in unhappy passengers and a logistical nightmare -- not to mention a financial hit -- for cruise lines, ships will most often attempt to reroute if bad weather is on the way.

That could mean something as simple as swapping the order of ports on the itinerary, canceling certain calls altogether or switching the sailing region completely from, say, a Caribbean voyage to one that instead visits Canada and New England.

It's crucial for passengers to understand that they should prepare to roll with the changes.

Alterations made to the planned cruise schedule because of weather are beyond cruise line control and, therefore, affected travelers are not entitled to compensation. (This is one of many solid reasons to purchase travel insurance.)

Can cruise ships withstand storms?

Modern cruise ships are equipped with the latest technology to help them anticipate storms. Officers on the bridge carefully track and monitor any systems that creep up, allowing them to quickly maneuver their vessels out of the way.

Additionally, some lines have their very own shoreside meteorologists (such as Royal Caribbean's James Van Fleet) and command centers to assist with weather predictions and relay important information to all ships that are sailing in the area. 

Should a ship be caught in a storm, there are several safety mechanisms in place to help it stay afloat.

Cruise ships are built to include stabilizers, which minimize the rolling (side-to-side leaning) passengers feel in choppy seas. Vessels are also constructed with water-tight bulkheads that seal off areas where unwanted water might enter, as well as water expulsion systems that allow H2O to be pumped out of the vessel to make it more buoyant or from one side of the ship to the other to further minimize rolling.

Ultimately, most ships would have to list more than 60 degrees to either side in order to be in danger of sinking -- something that, to date, hasn't ever happened to a modern cruise ship as a result of weather conditions.

Read moreThings not to worry about on a Royal Caribbean cruise

What happens if it rains on a cruise?

Unfortunately, cruise lines can't control the weather, and rain happens. You're entitled to pout, but what you're not entitled to is compensation for bad weather, so don't expect a refund for your sailing -- even a partial one.

When it does precipitate, crew do their best to swab the decks and put down non-slip mats to reduce the risk of passengers' falling.

If conditions are bad enough, some outdoor attractions like surf simulators and rock climbing walls may be shut down until the rain stops and the crew deems them safe to use again. But don't worry -- you'll find plenty of onboard activities taking place inside, so you won't be bored on sea days.

On port days, excursions might be canceled. If that's the case and you booked your tour through your cruise line, your money will be refunded. If you booked independently through a third party or directly through your tour operator, you'll have to check with them to ask about cancellations and refund policies.

If you haven't booked an excursion and don't feel like traipsing around with an umbrella all day, you can either seek out something fun to do inside, such as a museum tour or shopping, or you can simply elect to stay onboard and take advantage of a less crowded ship (and, often, spa discounts).

Read more: Help! It's supposed to rain my entire cruise!

Do you feel waves on a cruise ship?

Some cruisers are more sensitive to ship movement than others, but you're sure to feel at least some minor movement while cruising. Ocean conditions are almost always the determining factor when it comes to the amount of movement you'll experience.

Although some movement is inevitable, mainstream cruise vessels are built and operated with travelers' comfort in mind. Passenger vessels are equipped with stabilizers that extend off the ships' sides to reduce the amount of rolling.

If you suffer from seasickness, book a cabin with a view on a lower deck and near the middle of the ship. Invest in an ear patch or a motion sickness bracelet, or pack some Bonine or Dramamine pills

Read moreHow To Avoid Getting Sick on a Cruise

Do cruise ships get cold at night?

This depends entirely on where you're sailing and where you spend your time indoors in the evenings.

If you're out on deck at night in Alaska, chances are it will be cold. In the Caribbean, it can be chilly after the sun goes down, thanks to the ocean breezes, but chances are good that you won't ever need a down parka to stay warm.

When it comes to the ship's climate control, each cabin has its own settings, which are controlled by the passengers staying in them. That means you dictate the temperature in your own room.

However, ships tend to keep public areas, such as restaurants and theaters, at cooler temperatures to offset the humid sea air and warmth from the crowds of people who tend to gather there.

Regardless, we recommend packing a blazer, cardigan or pashmina to wear at night, just in case you find yourself suffering from a case of goosebumps.

Read moreYes, it does sometimes snow on cruise ships

What is hurricane season on a cruise?

Hurricane season is the span of time between June and November when hurricanes are most likely to form in the Atlantic Ocean.

Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda and Mexican Riviera cruise fares are generally the least expensive during this time because passengers have to be more flexible, knowing that a storm could force an itinerary change at any time.

Keep in mind that the safest place for a ship during a hurricane is at sea, where it can steer well clear of the storm. Ships that are docked are at greater risk when severe weather hits because they have less room to move and are in proximity of other vessels, piers and the shore, which all create the potential for collisions.

So, if your ship has to change course due to a weather event, relax, enjoy the fact that you're still on vacation, and trust that your ship's officers will do all they can to keep you out of harm's way.

Read moreWhat to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

Royal Caribbean updates on test cruises, June cancellations, & Alaska 2021

In:
18Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Wondering what is the latest on where things stand with test cruises, June sailings, or Alaska cruises this year?

Many travel agents wanted to get the latest on these topics as well, and these questions were brought up during a webinar with Royal Caribbean on Wednesday.

Royal Caribbean's senior vice president of sales and trade support & service, Vicki Freed (and her team), provided the latest updates on where things stand.

Test cruises

First, the question was asked if the U.S. Center for Disease Control had provided technical guidance to the cruise lines for test cruises to start.

"Conversations are happening every week, multiple times during the week," Ms. Freed said in response to the question.

"We don't have the actual dates yet for the sample cruises... but we're getting closer."

Read moreEverything you need to know about Royal Caribbean test cruises

The question comes almost a month after Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley told investors that he was expecting to get technical instructions on what each ship needs to do in order to prepare itself for test cruises.

"We're literally expecting the technical specifications any day soon," Mr. Bayley told investors.

Will Royal Caribbean cancel June cruises?

Norwegian Cruise Line cancelled its June 2021 cruises this week, and that has prompted many to speculate if Royal Caribbean will follow suit.

Royal Caribbean Director of Revenue Strategy, Brittany Briggs, indicated nothing has changed yet, "It's a question that we get often when other cruise lines do make announcements and the best we can say is that, trust us, that we're continually evaluating the current environment.

"We're trying to do all that we can as well from our side. But currently we're only canceled through May of this year, which we've gone out with an announcement on."

Any update on Alaska cruises?

Another hot topic surrounds the fate of Alaska cruises for this year, which Royal Caribbean has placed on hold until further notice.

The entire Alaska cruise season this year is in jeopardy due to Canada's one-year ban of ships (along with the CDC's general ban of ships around the United States).

Ms. Briggs also answered this question, and told travel agents there is no change in the Alaska cruises yet.

"Currently that environment hasn't changed, we're continuously having those conversations and we are hopeful."

Earlier this month, a new bill was introduced to to alleviate the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) restrictions for cruise ships transporting passengers between the State of Washington and the State of Alaska.

Royal Caribbean will cruise from California for the first time in a decade

In:
17Mar2021
By: Ashley Kosciolek

Royal Caribbean will base a cruise ship in California after a 10-year-long hiatus.

At a webinar on Wednesday, the line announced that recently refurbished Navigator of the Seas will homeport in Los Angeles, beginning next year, offering a series of Mexico sailings.

The voyages will vary in length, featuring three- and four-nighters with calls on Ensenada and Catalina Island; five-night cruises visiting Cabo San Lucas; and seven-night sailings with stops at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.

"We are going back to the West Coast," said Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean's senior vice president of sales and trade support & service. "Los Angeles, here we come...."

This will be the first time the line has based a ship in the Golden State since Mariner of the Seas left Los Angeles back in 2011 due to violence in Mexico and dwindling profits.

Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean Blog speculated that the move was coming after spotting the ship listed on the Port of Los Angeles' website. Navigator of the Seas was also blatantly missing from Royal Caribbean's list of upcoming itinerary offerings.

Oddly, the port's website lists Navigator of the Seas' sailings beginning as early as September 2021, but Royal Caribbean has said they will run from summer 2022 through spring of 2023.

"California was calling us home once again, and what better way to reintroduce Royal Caribbean than to bring our next-level cruise vacations to the City of Angels and make it a year-round adventure starting just in time for summer," Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said in a statement.

Read moreNavigator of the Seas Tips & Best Things To Do

The ship, which received $115 million in enhancements in 2019 as part of the Royal Amplified program, boasts a refreshed pool deck, featuring a tropical theme with three pools and two new water slides: Blaster, the longest at sea, which offers one- and two-person rafts; and Riptide, the only headfirst mat racing slide at sea, which includes a see-through section for added thrills.

The vessel has also seen the addition of Playmakers sports bar, complete with drinks, pub grub and plenty of TVs; the Lime & Coconut bar, which serves up signature cocktails and rises three decks, comprising lounge seating and a rooftop sun deck; and Hooked, an intimate New England-style raw bar seafood restaurant.

Hooked first debuted on Symphony of the Seas, and Navigator of the Seas is now the only other ship in the fleet on which it's located.

Bookings for Navigator of the Seas sailings, which will depart from Los Angeles' World Cruise Center in San Pedro, are scheduled to open at the end of March 2021.

Read moreTop 10 Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas hidden secrets

Returning after a decade

Royal Caribbean's announcement that it will cruise from Los Angeles regularly after more than a decade is significant, as industry insiders have speculated about its West Coast return for years.

While other cruise lines returned, Royal Caribbean stayed away, claiming it was able to make more money elsewhere.

 

In 2015, Freed pointed out the low rates competitor cruise lines were getting. "We always look at the West Coast. But we continue to look at the rates that the other cruise lines are getting, and we offer an experience that we can't afford to be selling at those low rates.

"If and when we see the rates start to bounce back, and we feel we can get paid for what we offer for our product, then we’ll be back there. But right now, unfortunately, it's a bath out there. They're selling four-day cruises at $199 per person, and we’re not just talking Carnival.

"We spend more on food, more on entertainment and more on our overall onboard experience [than other lines], and so we cannot be the low-price leader out in any market."

The line also cited the logistical challenges of returning its ships to the West Coast, much of which had to do with the rise of cruise popularity in other areas of the world, such as Europe and China. Sending ships to those locations meant fewer ships to go to other ports. (The West Coast has always been a seasonal market for ships repositioning from other regions.)

This was the big announcement?

The day before Royal Caribbean revealed its plans to return to Los Angeles, Freed told travel agents to expect a big announcement, referring to it as "the news we've all been waiting for."

While cruises from the West Coast are significant, many readers were disappointed the news was not worthy of the hype preceding it.

Because several travel agents reported being told by Royal Caribbean that the big announcement was being delayed or canceled, we suspect that larger news was originally on the docket.

During a question and answer session, listeners specifically asked about test cruises, Alaska sailings and whether the line's restart date will be pushed back further.

Freed and her team said that there is currently no date set for test voyages, but the line continues to work with the CDC. There has been no change to indicate that Alaska cruises from Seattle will happen, but officials remain hopeful. As for the resumption of sailings from the U.S., the line maintains that it has no plans to push cancellations into June at this time.

Cruise FAQ: Cabins

In:
17Mar2021
By: Ashley Kosciolek

Choosing a cruise cabin isn't easy. In fact, with so many options, it can be downright confusing.

We've already broken down Royal Caribbean's cabin types for you, but below, we'll explore some of the most common questions we're asked about staterooms.

What do cruise ship cabins look like?

Cruise ship cabins look a lot like hotel rooms in many ways, albeit smaller in most cases. They're outfitted with carpeting, decorative lighting and wall art, along with plush duvets and throw pillows. Whether or not your stateroom has a view or a balcony with outdoor furniture will depend on the type you book.

Although layouts for special cabin types can vary by ship, rooms on all mainstream cruise lines' vessels include a bed that can be configured as a queen or two twins, at least one night stand, a vanity with a chair, and a coffee table.

Many also include a larger chair and/or a sofa, which may or may not convert into a bed. Some staterooms also provide bunks that pull down from the ceiling to sleep third and fourth passengers.

In each cabin is a bathroom with a shower (rarely a bathtub), sink, toilet mirror and storage shelves, as well as towels and in-shower dispensers for basic toiletries.

Staterooms generally also come with interactive TVs that allow you to watch a limited number of channels, rent movies and check the ship's position and your onboard bill; a phone with the capability to call other cabins on the ship (shoreside calls cost a pretty penny); a hair dryer; reading lamps; and outlets for charging devices.

Each cabin will also have some sort of closet space with shelving, drawers and bars for hanging clothes. Additionally, the closet is where you'll find life jackets, robes and slippers (higher-level staterooms), forms for requesting dry-cleaning and laundry services, and a safe for storing small valuables.

How big are cruise ship cabins?

The size of your room will depend on the cabin type you book. As a rule, the larger the cabin, the higher the cruise fare. In general, the larger your view, the more interior space you'll have, as well.

Although sizes vary by ship across the cruise industry, insides (no view) generally start around 150 square feet, with outsides (porthole or fixed window view) offering just slightly more space. Veranda accommodations (with balconies) usually start around 175 square feet, not including the balcony.

Suites, on the other hand, offer significantly more living area. One of the largest afloat includes the Regent Suite on luxury brand Regent Seven Seas' Seven Seas Splendor. The stateroom encompasses more than 4,400 square feet of space -- more than most large houses on land.

For questions about specific measurements for a cabin you're considering, check with your cruise line or travel agent.

What is the best deck to be on for a cruise?

The best place to book a cabin on your ship depends on several factors.

If you're someone who is prone to motion sickness, you'll want to reserve a room on a lower deck, as close to the middle of the ship as possible. Make sure it's at least an ocean view cabin, as gazing at the horizon -- where the water line meets the skyline -- can help to alleviate symptoms.

Looking for peace and quiet on your sailing? Avoid staterooms that are above, below or next to crew areas such as the galley, and noisy public spaces like the theater, pool deck or kids club. Your travel agent or cruise line representative can help. If all else fails, Google deck plans for your ship.

However, if breathtaking vistas are what's most important to you, we highly recommend staying in one of your ship's coveted forward- or aft-facing cabins. These are often pricey suites that are positioned on higher decks, but the wake and captain's-eye views they afford are worth every cent.

Is it worth paying extra for a balcony on a cruise?

It all depends. If you're someone who plans to go ashore in every port and squeeze as many onboard activities as possible into each day, you probably don't need a balcony because you won't be in your room except to shower and sleep.

There are also plenty of outdoor public spaces with railings where you can enjoy sea views if you don't want to miss out while respecting your vacation budget.

However, if your goal is to have some alone time or romantic time with your significant other, if you plan to enjoy your morning coffee with a view in your bathrobe, or if you're someone who feels claustrophobic in small spaces, we highly recommend balcony accommodations.

What do cruises do with unsold cabins?

They sell them at a discount. Cruise lines strive to fill ships completely, so if any are left unbooked one to two months prior to the embarkation date, you could snag a sailing for a steal if you're flexible. (Generally, that means being able to pay in full at the last minute and not being too picky about cabin type.)

Because it's less of a kick in the teeth for lines to discount their lower-end cabins, they will often try to coax already-booked passengers into upgrades from lower- to higher-tiered staterooms for a small added cost. That ensures balconies and suites are filled, and the vacated insides and oceanviews can then be offered at discounted rates.

The discounted rates are usually offered through large travel agencies and marketed to people who live near the ship's embarkation port.

How do you choose a room on a cruise ship?

Picking a cabin can be difficult, particularly with the large number of types available on any given ship. Your best bet is to consider the following before making a decision:

  • Preferences: Do you need a room with a view? If so, does your view need to come with outdoor space?
  • Travel party: With whom are you traveling? Do you need space and beds for more than two people? Are you cruising alone? Do you need connecting rooms?
  • Location: If you're prone to seasickness, book low and middle. If you're a light sleeper, book away from noisy public spaces.
  • Price: Does the type of cabin you want fit into your budget? Sign up for price drops, and ask your travel agent about deals and discounts.
  • Status: Are bragging rights or high-level loyalty status important to you? If so, you'll want to book swankier digs.

Royal Caribbean teases update coming is "the news we've all been waiting for"

In:
16Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean says something big could be announced on Wednesday.

Travel agents received an email about a new webinar scheduled for Wednesday with "some hot off the press updates."

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, told travel agents to attend a webinar that strongly hints at a big announcement.

"I guarantee this is a session you will not want to miss out on - I'd say this is the news we've all been waiting for!"

The invitation did not disclose what the topic or scope of the announcement could be, but the wording is very clear that it is significant.

There are plenty of possible topics this webinar could tackle, including an update on when test cruises might start, revenue sailing restart plans, new health protocols, ship deployments, and more.

UPDATE: A new email from Ms. Freed points to a new homeport for Royal Caribbean.

It is unknown if Royal Caribbean's decision to redeploy Mariner of the Seas beginning in October 2021 has anything to do with the announcement.

It has long been speculated that the first Royal Caribbean ships to restart sailings in North America are likely to be short sailings to the Bahamas, and Mariner of the Seas has offered those types of cruises.

Moreover, if there is any connection between the newly redeployed Mariner sailings and restarting cruises, Royal Caribbean can get around the problem of having to figure out a way around needing to maintain a reduced capacity without canceling certain reservations and not others. 

Stay tuned to RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com for details on anything Royal Caribbean announces.

Royal Caribbean redeploys Mariner of the Seas between October 2021 - April 2022

In:
16Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

If you have a cruise on Mariner of the Seas booked between October 2021 and April 2022, your sailing has been changed.

Royal Caribbean informed travel agents on Tuesday that it has made a change to all Mariner of the Seas sailings scheduled between October 2021 and April 2022.

Mariner of the Seas will still sail from Port Canaveral, but the departure dates and itineraries have been revised with new itineraries. Essentially, she will sail from the same port - just on different days.

As a result of the change, existing bookings have been canceled.

Guests who were booked on Mariner of the Seas have four options:

You have up to  March 29th, 2021 to decide which of these options suits you.

1. Stay onboard redployed sailing

Royal Caribbean will automatically move the guest to a similar stateroom beginning on April 1, 2021.

2. Rebook another Mariner of the Seas sailing

Guests can choose to rebook to a different sailing, based on their original booked sail date.

3. Move to any other Royal Caribbean sailing

If option 1 or 2 does not work, then they move their reservation to any other Royal Caribbean sailing without incurring a change fee.

You will still be subject to any difference in pricing for your cruise fare, taxes, fees, gratuities, and other non-cruise fare items. If you were already paid in full and your cruise fare rate decreases, Royal Caribbean will provide you with a refund if there is any difference in pricing. Expect a  refund to your original form of payment 45 days after the move is complete.

Airfare changes will be reimbursed as well for non-refundable airline charges with receipts (up to $200 USD per guest for Domestic flights or up to $400 USD per guest for International flights). Please email airline receipts and booking information to [email protected] for review and reimbursement.

4. Refund

If none of these options work, Royal Caribbean will offer a full refund of any paid portion of your cruise fare to the original form(s) of payment, including any non-refundable deposit.

Expect a refund 45 days after you submit the refund request.

If you used a Future Cruise Credit on this sailing, and request a refund instead, Royal Caribbean will refund any NEW funds paid above the certificate amount, and reinstate the original certificate.

Norwegian cancels June 2021 cruises

In:
16Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

One of the big three cruise lines just announced it will not be restarting cruises until at least July.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced on Tuesday morning it has canceled its June 2021 cruises across its three brands: Norwegian, Regent and Oceania.

The cancellations extend through June 30. 

Prior to today's announcement, NCL had cruises canceled through May.

The pattern thus far during the cruise industry shutdown has been when one of the major three cruise lines, NCL, Carnival, or Royal Caribbean, cancels cruises, the other two follow eventually.

The company said it it continues to work through its return-to-service plan to meet the requirements of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Guests who are currently booked on canceled voyages on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises are asked to contact their travel advisor or the cruise line for more information.

NCL had pulled all of its June cruises from being bookable on its website earlier this week, which has been another tell-tale sign of impending cancellations.

Royal Caribbean had only just cancelled its May cruises one week ago, and there has been no announcement yet by Royal Caribbean if June will also go.

We know that Quantum of the Seas cruises from Singapore and Odyssey of the Seas sailings from Israel will be able to sail in June, with perhaps a chance of cruises from China being able to sail.

The big question is not if there will be any Royal Caribbean cancellations in June, rather, if there will be an opportunity for one or two other ships to move towards a restart.

What should you not buy on a cruise ship?

In:
15Mar2021
By: Matt Hochberg

There is a fine line between "so what? You're on vacation!" and "That's a lot of money" when it comes to buying things on a cruise vacation.

Part of going on vacation is splurging and treating yourself to something you might not otherwise buy back at home. Jewelry, a massage, cocktails are just a few examples of ways some people like to plus-up their trip.

Just because you are on vacation does not mean you have to waste your money either, and there a few situations where you should put your SeaPass card back in your pocket.

Here are the top things you can buy on a cruise, that I think you should hold off on buying at sea and buy them when you get home.

Art auction

I know there are some readers who really love the art auctions on a cruise ship, but art auctions are a prime example of "buyer beware".

Unfortunately, these art auctions have a really poor reputation for over the top evaluations, slow shipping times, and buyer regret.

Certainly some people buy art on a ship and love their piece.  I think the key is to be aware that valuations are opinions, not facts, and you should buy art because you think it will look good in your living room; not because you think it will be part of your retirement plan.

An alternative is to look at buying art in the ports your ship will visit. Many ports have art for sale in the stores near the ship, and you can find something that captures your vacation memories for likely less than the art onboard.

Read more5 Costly lessons learned on a cruise (and how to avoid them!)

Electronics

Royal Caribbean sells a decent selection of cameras, action cameras, memory cards, and other fun electronics that you can use on your vacation, but don't expect any kind of competitive price for them.

In general, you are going to pay full retail prices for cameras, camcorders, and various accessories on a ship.  If you buy them at home at a retail store or online, you will find more more competitive prices.

There is nothing wrong with picking up a spare memory card if you realize you forgot one (I have done that once), but deals for these items are not common at all.

If you realize you forgot your camera or something else important, consider buying it in your embarkation port.  Your taxi can easily bring you to WalMart or Best Buy before going to the port.  Or you could look at prices in a port you are visiting.

Baby supplies

If you are going on a cruise with a toddler or infant, Royal Caribbean does stock a limited supply of diapers and formula, but this should really be for an emergency only.

Not only is their stock low, they may not have the right size of something, or the brand your child prefers.  Never mind you are going to overpay for these items.

It is a good idea to pack many more supplies than you think you will ever need to ensure you have plenty of extra.

Another alternative is to buy baby supplies in a port you are visiting.  Look for a pharmacy or super market for reasonably priced options.

Read moreIntroduction to bringing toddlers on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Personal hygiene & medicine

Got a sun burn? Need more shaving cream? Have a headache? Royal Caribbean stocks what you need, but it will not cheap.

Whether you need toothpaste, aloe, Tylenol, or any other personal care product, skip buying it on the ship.

Any port you visit likely stocks these items at better prices, so try to wait to pick it up there.

If you are flying to your cruise port and do not want to deal with the airline restrictions on liquids, consider buying them in your embarkation port before you go to the cruise terminal.

Read moreHow To Avoid Getting Sick on a Cruise

Drink package

Don't worry, I think a drink package can be a great value.  However, if you are buying it onboard the ship, you are wasting money.

Royal Caribbean regularly discounts its drink packages when you purchase them online, so do yourself a favor and buy them online before your cruise.

You can buy a drink package at almost any time up until a few days before your cruise.  

No matter the price of the drink package online, it will absolutely be less online than if you buy it onboard.

Read moreHow to get a get a discount on a Royal Caribbean drink package

Ship internet

Just like the drink package, your wifi package will absolutely be cheaper online if you buy it before the cruise.

There is one exception to waiting to buy the ship wifi, and that is if you are Diamond or higher in Crown and Anchor Society because you are entitled to a big discount on your wifi package. On short sailings (less than 5 nights), it actually can make sense to wait to buy it onboard.

But if you are new to Royal Caribbean, or have not cruised much, you will save money by booking a wifi package online before the cruise.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean WiFi: Guide to Internet at sea

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