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Only RC Excursions To Leave Ship?


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How will this effect your cruise choices if, as outlined in some of the press releases of late, RC as well as the other cruise lines do not allow passengers off the ships in port except for cruise ship sponsored excursions. No more free roaming in port? I know this may only be temporary, but it's kind of a big deal to a lot of people.

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If they follow what's happening in Europe, for the near term, passengers would not be able to leave the ship at ports unless on a cruise line sponsored excursion.  Whether they would have a "shopping area bubble" for an area within the cruise line controlled areas is yet to be announced or seen.   I would expect this to be the normal practice until the health concerns are mitigated.

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This was addressed in the Healthy Sail Panel submission to the CDC.  Those aren't finalized as policy but likely something that will be a requirement at least initially.  

Some ships and itineraries work well for this and some don't.  As a cruiser you'll need to consider this possibility and decide if postponing your cruise is the right choice for your circumstances. 

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Although some of the ports have walking tours available through RC, I would imagine we might see more added as an "inexpensive" way to leave the ship in port. Of course not as inexpensive as free though. I know that no company likes to do things for free, but, could RC provide guided walking tours for free to passengers? Does anybody know if this would fall under the proposed mandates? It would be a way to allow passengers off the ships and maybe save some bookings. Just a thought. 

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8 hours ago, FManke said:

How will this effect your cruise choices if, as outlined in some of the press releases of late, RC as well as the other cruise lines do not allow passengers off the ships in port except for cruise ship sponsored excursions.

This is my one concern with my prior post about maybe booking a last-minute trip to Bermuda in '21. If Bermuda says no overnight stays by cruise ships, then it wouldn't be so big of a deal to me. But if overnights remain part of the trip, then I lose that freedom to go wherever I want for a lot less than the ship's excursions cost, with no worries about being late for all-aboard. And that's by far the biggest draw of that trip.

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28 minutes ago, HeWhoWaits said:

Not being able to "do my own thing" would be a hard NO to cruising. I enjoy visiting the ports but take an excursion (RC or private) at only half the ports on any given itinerary.

I understand completely and it's for reasons like this why I don't think they'll need to cancel bookings to reduce capacity initially.  There will be enough people like us that aren't good with the restrictions required until things can get back to normal.  

I looked into some 3rd party Alaskan excursions for next summer.  The cancellation policy for many 3rd party excursions provide refunds if the ship doesn't arrive into port but if the ship makes it there, no refunds.  I asked about a cruise line policy that requires ship booked excursions.  That wasn't covered by the cancellation policy for 3rd party excursions.  If the ship makes it to port, no refunds.  Changes in policy don't qualify for refunds.

I'm still deciding what to do for my spring and summer cruises.  Royal jacked up Alaska excursions 40% then recently put them on sale at last year's peak prices.  The Healthy Sail Panel advised them to consider excursion pricing given the requirement to use a ship excursion but so far there are no signs Royal is accepting this advice from the Healthy Sail Panel.     That is a bit of a concern for me too as it indicates that Royal is cherry picking what Healthy Sail Panel advice to implement.  

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Here is an example of excursion pricing shenanigans.  I am fortunate to have sailed to Alaska a number of times over the past three years.  I save my excursion books from the ship and I have screen shots of cruise planner offers.  I also track sale events in a spreadsheet. 

 Excursion booked through Royal

2019 Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier normal price $580

2021 Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier  normal price $769

2021 Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier sale price $691

Excursion booked direct with vendor for same excursion

2021 Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier normal price $549

 

I understand that Royal as a middle man has to have their cut.  In previous years that explained the $549 vs. $580 difference but if you managed to catch a sale then the difference was often close to zero.  In those cases it made more sense to book it through Royal which is what I often did.

The problem for 2021 is with Royal inflating excursion prices across the board.  Now when they put them on sale they are nowhere close to the vendor direct price, the 2021 sale price is well higher than last year's normal price.  

It has the appearance that Royal knew this Healthy Sail Panel recommendation was coming so they preemptively raised prices.  They are offering promotional or sale events but those don't come close to previous pricing nor do they come close to vendor direct pricing.  

This makes it appear like they aren't trying to follow the guidance of the Health Sail Panel:

  • Cruise operators should consider employing strategies that would make these cruise line-sponsored excursions more appealing to guests (e.g., potentially reconsidering the cost of curated experiences, offering a wider variety of excursions to private beach locations) than self-exploration or other externally sponsored excursions.

The pricing increases create the appearance that Royal is trying to capitalize and increase profits based on the requirement for guests to be required to book a cruise line excursion only.

If Royal was taking an approach to promote cruise line excursions by lowering the prices or keeping them closer to last year and/or direct pricing then I would be more likely to embrace cruising in the restart phase.  Instead I have to pay out of pocket for numerous COVID-19 tests and I have to pay inflated rates for shore excursions since I am forced to book the excursions through Royal.   When you put it all together I'm left thinking I need to carefully consider cruising in 2021 and look towards 2022 or 2023 for some cruising normalcy.

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7 hours ago, twangster said:

If Royal was taking an approach to promote cruise line excursions by lowering the prices or keeping them closer to last year and/or direct pricing then I would be more likely to embrace cruising in the restart phase.  Instead I have to pay out of pocket for numerous COVID-19 tests and I have to pay inflated rates for shore excursions since I am forced to book the excursions through Royal.   When you put it all together I'm left thinking I need to carefully consider cruising in 2021 and look towards 2022 or 2023 for some cruising normalcy.

Unfortunately, this is something I had discussed with my travel agent not only when debating 2021 vs 2022, but even 2022 going forward. We don't know how long that particular requirement of only going on ship-hosted excursions will remain in effect (though I'd be surprised if it lasts all the way into the 2022 season).

It's not at all surprising that Royal (and probably other lines as well) will try to make up for lost revenue by inflating prices for excursions offered right now. I'm sure that part of it is that they are banking on people not knowing they can cancel and rebook if a particular excursion comes down to a lower price. But the cynical part of me is thinking that (a) they know that all such excursions will be very limited capacity to start with, (b) there is probably enough pent-up demand to cause excursions to sell out even with those inflated prices, and (c) once sold out they're under no obligation to continue showing updated prices or having more sales.

So they're probably taking a calculated gamble -- "Let's see if we can sell out these excursions on '21 sailings before lower pricing policies become mandatory. If we can do that, we've gotten a good bit of extra profit on this sailing. If not, we'll put the updated pricing policy into effect, still sell out because now it's more desirable, and still have some profit. Either way, win-win."

They know they've got those who really want a particular trip in the next 12-18 (24?) months over a barrel. Just like they're starting to make the sneaky move of changing refundable deposits to NRD after a Lift & Shift or application of FCC, I fully expect they're going to try and find other ways to lock in higher than normal revenue at least until the volume of sailings and passenger loads are fully back to normal. They have a metric crap ton of debt to pay off over the next few years, and unfortunately I think the most desperate to cruise and the long-term die-hards who will be earlier to return than most are going to be helping in that effort. Whether we want to or not.

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I'm fine with staying on the ship, especially Freedom class and larger.  Plenty to keep amused - especially on a Q or O class ship.  If I were sailing the Med, I'd want to get off the ship, but I've seen enough of the Caribbean to be happy on the ship.  Wouldn't want to deal with the overseas flight anyway at this time.

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15 minutes ago, cruisellama said:

I'm fine with staying on the ship, especially Freedom class and larger.  Plenty to keep amused - especially on a Q or O class ship.  If I were sailing the Med, I'd want to get off the ship, but I've seen enough of the Caribbean to be happy on the ship.  Wouldn't want to deal with the overseas flight anyway at this time.

I feel the same way.  I am fine with staying on the ship if it's a Caribbean itin.  We rarely get off the ship anyway.

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