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What happens if you miss your cruise ship?

06 Sep 2022

Every cruiser’s worst nightmare is running to the pier as your cruise ship sails away, leaving you stranded in a foreign place!

Freedom of the Seas sailing away

Videos of “pier runners” (people frantically running to the ship) are popular online and can provide a great laugh, but the reality is that missing a cruise ship is not something you want to deal with on vacation!

Paying out-of-pocket to travel to the next port and being in a foreign country without any of your belongings is not on anyone’s vacation bucket-list. While you’ll have extra protections when on a shore excursion booked through Royal Caribbean, missing the cruise ship can still be a stressful experience for any passenger.

The good news is that missing the cruise ship is not as common as you might think, and with proper planning and responsibility, you’ll be able to ensure you arrive back to the ship with plenty of time to spare.

Here’s what happens when you miss your cruise ship and the steps you can take to avoid this mistake.

Will the cruise ship wait for you if you’re running late?

The general rule of thumb is that a Royal Caribbean cruise ship will not wait for you if you’re running late and miss all-aboard time when not on a Royal Caribbean shore excursion.

Cruise ships run on tight schedules, and even a 30 minute to an hour delay can cause problems later on, whether arriving late in the next port or rearranging onboard schedules.

If all-aboard time is 5:30PM and you arrive at 5:35PM, the gangway will likely still be open. When a captain is notified that passengers have not made it back onboard, he or she will try to keep the gangway up as long as possible to ensure they can make it back to the ship.

This wiggle room is not very much time, however, and if you’re 30 minutes late for the ship, you should expect the gangway to be up and the ship ready to sail away.

Exact protocols can change depending on specific ports and scheduling situations.

What if I’m on a shore excursion booked through Royal Caribbean?

If you’re running late but are on an excursion you booked through Royal Caribbean, you’ll receive added protections and the ship will wait for you and your tour group for as long as possible.

If the tour is running extremely late due to an unforeseen event and the ship absolutely cannot wait for the tour group to return before leaving port, Royal Caribbean will cover the cost of transferring all tour group members to the next port of call.

Related: Guide to picking the perfect Royal Caribbean shore excursion

What happens if I miss the cruise ship when NOT on a Royal Caribbean excursion?

Once the ship realizes you have not returned, they’ll often enter your stateroom to remove any essential items like passports and leave the items with the port agents on land. Keeping these items in an easy-to-find place (like the safe) can help crew members locate the items quickly in an emergency.

You’ll be able to retrieve the items Royal Caribbean left with the port agents when you eventually show up to port, even if the ship has already left. Once at the port, the port agents can assist you with figuring out the next steps and contacting Royal Caribbean.

Once you are able to contact the ship/Royal Caribbean, you can discuss your options with them and they can assist you with booking any necessary travel arrangements. These travel arrangements will not be covered by Royal Caribbean and can be costly, especially when traveling from island to island at the last minute.

If you do not have a passport or other proper identification with you, you’ll want to visit the nearest U.S. embassy to discuss next steps and receive replacement identification.

Passenger Vessel Services Act complications

Missing the cruise ship gets more complicated when you miss the ship in a U.S. port of call and want to meet up with the ship in another U.S. port of call.

This is because of the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), which prohibits foreign-flagged cruise ships from transporting passengers from one U.S. port to another.

While there are a few exceptions to this rule (round-trip sailings from the U.S. that visit a foreign country and travel from one U.S. port to another U.S. port including a stop at a “distant foreign port” like Cartagena or Bermuda), cruise lines will violate the PVSA if you depart from Miami and miss the ship on a port day in Key West, for example. This is because the cruise line technically transported a passenger from one U.S. port to another. 

If you miss the ship in Charleston, South Carolina and the next port of call is Port Canaveral, Florida, you unfortunately will not be able to board the ship in Charleston without breaking the PVSA. Instead, you will have to meet the ship in the first foreign port of call, such as the Bahamas, but this can cause you to miss much more of the cruise than you’d like.

How to avoid missing the ship

Keep track of time

Setting an alarm on your phone for 1-2 hours before all-aboard time can be a fool-proof way to ensure you don’t lose track of time.

Plan to get back onboard at least one hour before the ship’s scheduled departure time, and it’s a good idea to leave even more buffer room if you’re further away from the ship while in port.

Make sure your phone is set to ship time

It’s common for cruise ship itineraries to sail through several time zones, with some itineraries switching time zones nearly every day! To make time zones easier to navigate onboard, Royal Caribbean uses what they refer to as “ship time”.

Ship time is the time used onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise, and it may or may not change when you enter/exit new time zones throughout the sailing. Any changes in ship time will be posted on the Cruise Compass.

Before you disembark the ship in port, double check that your phone’s time is set to the correct ship time. You don’t want to think it’s 5PM when it’s actually 6PM on the ship!

In addition, be sure to switch your phone’s time and date settings to manual time instead of automatic. This ensures your phone’s time won’t switch to the destination’s time zone automatically when you switch on your phone service.

Book excursions through Royal Caribbean

Perhaps the biggest benefit of booking shore excursions through Royal Caribbean is the added protection you’ll receive in case your tour runs late. Your cruise ship will wait for your tour group as long as possible, and even cover the cost of transportation to the next port if the ship cannot wait.

Related: Is it better to book excursions through the cruise ship?

Fly to your departure port the day before your cruise

One of our top tips here at Royal Caribbean Blog is to avoid flying to your departure port the same day your cruise begins. While saving on hotel costs and PTO can seem appealing, there are way too many risks involved when flying the same day as your cruise.

Weather delays, flight cancellations, and missed connections can cause you to miss your cruise altogether. Flying in a day ahead of time allots extra wiggle room to help ensure you’ll make it to the cruise port with plenty of time to spare.

Related: Why you shouldn't fly to your cruise the same day it begins

Don’t travel too far

Another way to avoid missing the ship is by limiting how far you travel from the port.

If you’re dreaming of visiting Chichén Itzá while the ship docks in Cozumel, as an example, it’s probably best to book a Royal Caribbean excursion. Visiting the Mayan Ruins requires a 45 minute ferry each way followed by nearly 2 hours by bus.

With so much travel time required, there’s a higher chance something could go wrong along the way (ferry delays, traffic, bus breaks down, etc.).

Avoid drinking too much

Indulging in cocktails, beer, and wine in your port of call may be a fun way to spend the day, but take precautions if you plan on drinking excessively.

Many passengers that find themselves running back to the ship–and even missing the ship altogether–may have spent the day having too much fun and losing track of time.

Have you ever missed the cruise ship (or witnessed the aforementioned 'pier runners' running to the ship)? Share you stories below!

Royal Caribbean will give leftover cruise credits as onboard credits instead

24 Aug 2022

Royal Caribbean is going to stop issuing leftover future cruise credits as cruise credits to be used to book another cruise.

Travel agents were informed on Wednesday that Royal Caribbean decided it would make more sense to let clients redeeming a future cruise credit that has a leftover amount to become an onboard credit instead.

Many cruisers still have future cruise credits from the global cruise industry shutdown of 2020 and 2021 that remain unused.

In a situation where a future cruise credit is applied to a booking, but the full value is not utilized, instead of a new future cruise credit being created for the remainder balance, it will be issued as onboard credit on the cruise that they're using the cruise credits in the first place.

Ship docked in Caribbean

The announcement only applies to future cruise credits that get applied first towards the deposit of a new cruise.

Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service at Royal Caribbean International  explained the new policy to travel agents during a webinar, "if somebody has a left over amount, we're giving them that amount now as an OBC, an onboard credit, on the cruise that they're using the FCC."

"We're not going to reissue FCC's. It's strictly going to go back as an onboard credit for the existing cruise that they're using their FCC."

Simplifying cruise credits

Royal Caribbean has been steadily simplifying the future cruise credit process for guests to ensure they can easily use the money they are owed.

As of June 1, 2022, Royal Caribbean announced all unredeemed future cruise credits (FCC) offered under the Cruise with Confidence program will no longer expire.

Royal Caribbean wants changes like this and today's change to provide more flexibility for anyone with a FCC, instead of them acting as a kind of boondoggle.

How do I redeem my credit?

Royal Caribbean has made it quite easy to redeem a future cruise credit, whether you are booking directly or with a travel agent.

The easiest way is to let your travel agent redeem it by providing them with the Certificate Number and booking ID.

Read moreTop things you didn't know travel agents can do for your cruise vacation

If you book on your own, here's how to redeem a FCC for a new booking on Royal Caribbean's website:

  1. Find the sailing that you are interested in.
  2. Select your cabin type and location.
  3. Proceed to the payment page.
  4. Enter your payment and personal information.
  5. Enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s).
    • If you are booking multiple cabins, you can enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s) for each room.
  6. Click “submit.”
  7. You will receive an email letting you know if your credit was valid.

Here’s how to redeem online for existing bookings:

  1. Visit the Redemption page.
  2. Enter your booking information.
  3. Enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s).
  4. Click “submit.”
  5. You will receive an email letting you know if your credit was valid.

Royal Caribbean Future Cruise Credit: What you need to know

16 Jun 2022

There's a good chance you have a future cruise credit from a cancelled cruise and want to know how to use it.

Many cruisers have questions about how a Future Cruise Credit works, and I did some digging to find answers.

This voucher for a specific amount comes with its own set of rules and things to know, so here is a breakdown of what Royal Caribbean's Future Cruise Credit is all about.

Updated June 30, 2022

What is a Future Cruise Credit?

A Future Cruise Credit (FCC) is essentially a voucher for future travel.  It has a monetary amount associated with it, and it is provided in lieu of a refund.

What can I use the Future Cruise Credit towards in the future?

A FCC may be used towards the deposit and/or base cruise fare of any future cruise.

It cannot be used to pay:

  • Taxes
  • Port fees
  • Prepaid Gratuity
  • Shore Excursions

It can be used towards a new sailing you book, or any existing sailing you have previously booked.

As of June 6, 2020, a FCC can be used for a new cruise reservation deposit.

As it pertains to the Future Cruise Credits issued under the Cruise with Confidence program, the Cruise with Confidence FCC cannot be redeemed to repurchase the same sailing where the original booking canceled.

How is my Future Cruise Credit calculated?

The FCC compensation amount for impacted sailings is based on the total cruise fare paid at the guest-level and is exclusive of taxes, fees, and prepaid gratuities which are being refunded to the original form of payment.

What if the amount of my Future Cruise Credit exceeds the value of the next cruise I book?

If there is leftover value in the Future Cruise Credit, the remainder will be reissued in a new Future Cruise Credit.  The new FCC will have the same expiration date as the previous voucher.

How do I receive my Future Cruise Credit?

Once a FCC is issued, it is sent to each guest via email.

It can take a bit of time for a FCC to become available.  A few weeks is fairly typical, but it largely depends how busy Royal Caribbean is with processing them.

When will my Future Cruise Credit expire?

Effective June 1st, 2022, unredeemed Cruise with Confidence FCCs no longer expire

This means if you received a FCC under the Cruise with Confidence program, there is no longer a deadline to use them and they are good indefinitely.

Can I use my Future Cruise Credit with a travel agent?

Yes, any FCC issued is "owned" by the guest, and is never attached to any agency until it is applied to a booking.

How long does it take for the Future Cruise Credit to be issued/available?

Can I use my Future Cruise Credit to pay for someone else's booking?

Royal Caribbean will allow a one-time transfer of an FCC to someone else.

It currently does require a call into the call center if you booked directly. If you booked with a travel agent, then your travel agent can request the FCC transfer.

Once the FCC is transferred, then that person can use your FCC since it belongs to them going forward.

What if I used a Future Cruise Credit to pay for a now canceled cruise?

If a Future Cruise Credit was leveraged to pay for a reservation now impacted by the suspension of cruising, Royal Caribbean will make it easier by combining all funds into one voucher.

The value of the original FCC will now be added to the new FCC at 100% of its original value, plus 125% of any amount paid by the guest on the cancelled

In a unique scenario where you may have been impacted by multiple phases of suspended sailings where your original Sailing Suspension FCC was redeemed on a newly impacted reservation, a full refund is feasible. Assuming the terms of the original FCC are met, the refund amount will equate to the value of the cruise fare at 100% and will not include
the incremental 25% earned through the original selection of a Future Cruise Certificate.

Royal Caribbean removes future cruise credit expiration dates

01 Jun 2022

You won't have to worry every again about your unredeemed Royal Caribbean Cruise with Confidence future cruise credit expiring.

The change applies to future cruise credits a guest has received during the pandemic between 2020 and early 2022.

As of June 1, 2022, Royal Caribbean announced that all unredeemed future cruise credits (FCC) offered under the Cruise with Confidence program will no longer expire.

Future cruise credits were given to guests as a kind of voucher to represent the amount paid for a cruise. Guests either elected to receive them in lieu of a refund when Royal Caribbean cancelled a cruise, or took them when they decided to cancel a cruise reservation during the pandemic.

Rock wall on Allure of the Seas

Prior to today's announcement, each credit had an expiration date when it had to be redeemed by, which gave some guests concern that they would lose out on the value of their money paid because they are unable or unwilling to cruise before the end of this year.

Royal Caribbean hopes this change will provide more flexibility for anyone with a FCC, as most FCCs were set to expire at the end of 2022.

A cruise credit issued as part of the Global Sailing Suspension (when Royal Caribbean cancelled the cruise, instead of the guest), the portion of the FCC value that represents 100% of the cruise fare paid on the original reservation will no longer expire. 

The incremental 25% bonus value, however, will maintain the current expiration date noted on the Future Cruise Credit and will remain active until this point.

All other FCC types remain unchanged and will continue to enforce the expiration date noted on the Future Cruise Credit.

The change in policy not only applies to Royal Caribbean International, but also Celebrity Cruises.

How do I redeem my credit?

Royal Caribbean has made it quite easy to redeem a future cruise credit, whether you are booking directly or with a travel agent.

The easiest way is to let your travel agent redeem it by providing them with the Certificate Number and booking ID.

Read moreTop things you didn't know travel agents can do for your cruise vacation

If you book on your own, here's how to redeem a FCC for a new booking on Royal Caribbean's website:

  1. Find the sailing that you are interested in.
  2. Select your cabin type and location.
  3. Proceed to the payment page.
  4. Enter your payment and personal information.
  5. Enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s).
    • If you are booking multiple cabins, you can enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s) for each room.
  6. Click “submit.”
  7. You will receive an email letting you know if your credit was valid.
    • Any remaining balance of your Future Cruise Credit (FCC) will be reissued to you as a new FCC after you complete your cruise.

Here’s how to redeem online for existing bookings:

  1. Visit the Redemption page.
  2. Enter your booking information.
  3. Enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s).
  4. Click “submit.”
  5. You will receive an email letting you know if your credit was valid.
    • Any remaining balance of your Future Cruise Credit (FCC) will be reissued to you as a new FCC after you complete your cruise.

Royal Caribbean will keep full deposit if you cancel your non-refundable cruise fare going forward

31 May 2022

Royal Caribbean's rules for cancelling a cruise are about to change.

Allure of the Seas aerial rear

There are two types of deposits a guest can make when booking a cruise: refundable and non-refundable.

Travel agents were alerted of the new policy change regarding non-refundable deposits.  There is no change for guests that book refundable deposits.

Beginning with reservations made on or after June 1, 2022, if a guest were to cancel their non-refundable fare, the full deposit amount will be withheld by the cruise line. Any additional payments made will be refunded.

If a guest elects to change their original ship and/or sail date, then a change fee of $100 per person will apply.

The Future Cruise Credit component is being discontinued and will no longer apply when canceling under this policy outside of the final payment period.

Instead, the deposit amount will be withheld in-full.

Deposit policy change on June 1

Guests booked prior to June 1, 2022 are protected under the prior policy terms. Guests who booked a non-refundable fare prior June 1, 2022 can elect to request a Future Cruise Credit in the amount of the deposit paid per guest, less the $100 fee. 

Impact for suites

Crown Loft Suite

This policy change is especially important to note if you book a suite.

Royal Caribbean made suites non-refundable only a few years ago because of the high demand for them, especially when new sailings were announced. Prior to the non-refundable fares, suites would be booked up early by cruise fans and later decide if they would sail or not. To deter the practice of dumping suites closer to sailing, Royal Caribbean changed suite fares to non-refundable.

With this change, booking a suite well in advance comes with additional risk if you choose to cancel later, especially considering the deposit amount of suites tends to be higher than non-suite rooms.

Typically, the deposit amount for suites is double regular room fares.

Refundable vs non-refundable cruise fares

Just like non-refundable fares found with airfare, rental cars, and hotels, these rates come at a reduced rate as an incentive to lock in plans.

In short, guests get a lower price and the cruise line gets more protection against a last-minute cancellation.

Refundable cruise fares cost more, but allow more flexibility when cancelling a cruise.

The exact price difference between a refundable and non-refundable fare can vary depending on the sailing.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean refundable versus non-refundable cruise fares

Best Price Guarantee change

In addition to the cruise fare changes, Royal Caribbean also tweaked the Best Price Guarantee program.

Effective immediately, the Best Price Guarantee onboard credit option value will be 100% of the price difference (previously 110%). 

This change refers to the original Best Price Guarantee program and not the Cruise With Confidence program.

Read moreDo cruise prices drop?

Here is where you can smoke on a Royal Caribbean cruise

27 May 2022

Royal Caribbean allows cigarette, cigar, e-cigarette, and pipe smoking on its cruise ships, but smoking is restricted to designated areas onboard for the comfort and safety of all guests. Knowing where you’re allowed to smoke (and where smoking is prohibited) will help you be better prepared for your upcoming cruise.

Royal Caribbean’s smoking policies are fleetwide, so you can expect to find the same smoking areas on most ships. Guests who violate this smoking policy may be subject to further action pursuant to the "Consequences Section" of this Guest Conduct Policy.

Whether you’re looking for a place to smoke or trying to select a stateroom further from smoking areas, here’s what you need to know about smoking on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Promenade deck

All Royal Caribbean ships have an outdoor Promenade deck where guests can enjoy an outdoor walk away from the hustle and bustle found elsewhere onboard. This space is located on deck 4 or 5 and wraps around the ship, offering fantastic views of the ocean.

Smoking is permitted in a designated area on one side of the Promenade deck only. Whether this smoking area is on the port or starboard side of the ship depends on the ship you’re sailing on. Even ships in the same class may differ in smoking location, so it’s recommended to take a look at past Cruise Compasses to check where smoking is allowed on the Promenade deck.

On most ships, the Promenade deck smoking section will be small, with just a few chairs and ashtrays. On Quantum Class ships (excluding Odyssey of the Seas), there is a larger, covered smoking area outdoors with comfy seating. 

Oasis Class ships do not have a traditional Promenade Deck, as this area was designated to be a jogging track. While there are still places to sit and relax on the jogging track, this area is designated as non-smoking on all Oasis Class ships.

Pool deck

You can smoke in a designated area on one side of the pool deck on Royal Caribbean ships. The smoking side of the ship differs by ship, so it’s best to check a recent Cruise Compass for the ship you’ll be sailing on to see which side allows smoking.

The designated smoking area will have comfy seating, tables, and ashtrays. Note that while smoking is permitted on one side of the pool deck, it will only be allowed in the designated smoking area on that side, not the entire half of the pool deck.

Smoking is not allowed in other spaces on the pool deck, including near food venues, the upper pool deck jogging track, and the sports deck.


Casino smoking policies vary depending on your cruise departure port. For most departure ports, including those from the United States and Canada, smoking is permitted in the casino while the casino is in operation. Guests will find both a smoking area and non-smoking area at the casino.

On ships departing from the United Kingdom and Australia, no smoking is permitted in the casino. Passengers on cruises departing from China and Hong Kong are free to smoke in any part of the casino.

Cigar and pipe tobacco is not permitted in the casino, as it is only allowed in outside areas (with the exception of the Connoisseur Club).

Connoisseur Club

Select Royal Caribbean ships have the Connoisseur Club, an indoor cigar lounge where guests can purchase and smoke cigars as well as order drinks and chat with other passengers.

The Connoisseur Club is being phased out on Royal Caribbean ships, but it can still be found on Liberty of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas. The club will likely be removed when the two ships are amplified. The space will become either the Diamond Club or Library/Card Room.


Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are only permitted within the designated smoking areas.

Non-smoking areas

Balcony and stateroom

Royal Caribbean does not permit smoking on stateroom balconies or in the cabin itself. While a balcony may be your own private outdoor space, smoking can cause discomfort to guests in staterooms around you. Any passenger caught smoking in their stateroom or on their balcony will be subject to a $250 USD cleaning fee.


The adults-only Solarium on Royal Caribbean ships is non-smoking. While it can be a relaxing place to spend the day away from younger passengers, passengers must stay in the designated area on the pool deck when smoking.

Central Park & Boardwalk neighborhoods

While Oasis Class ships offer many public outdoor spaces onboard, smoking is only allowed in the casino and on one side of the pool deck. The Central Park and Boardwalk neighborhoods are non-smoking.

Other public spaces

Entertainment venues, the Royal Promenade, bars, lounges, and restaurants are all non-smoking. Restaurants with outdoor seating, including the outdoor seating in the Windjammer, are also non-smoking.

One other important distinction is that passengers must be at least 21 years old to smoke on sailings departing from the United States and 18 years old on sailings departing from other countries.

Royal Caribbean updates: Land tour testing change, The Cove & more

13 May 2022

Welcome to a new week of Royal Caribbean news, which has a few tidbits and updates you should know about.

There's a lot happening in the world of cruising, and this week's update aims at catching you up on a few changes that we've seen over the past few days.

If you notice something different, be sure to email any news tips over to [email protected]

Change for Covid testing on Alaska land tours

Cruisetour Alaska train

Royal Caribbean has changed the Covid-19 testing policy for guests that have booked a cruisetour add-on to their Alaska cruise.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader melmar02 shared an update that testing is no longer required prior to the land tour, although testing remains for the cruise portion.

"Cruisetours: Testing is no longer required prior to the land tour, but cruisetour guests must still meet the pre-cruise testing requirements."

"It's recommended guests bring an eMed Test Kit to take at the end of the land tour. Guests who don't bring their own test kit will have a test made available through a local medical service provider at their own expense. "

The cruise tours are optional tours that take guests into the interior of Alaska before or after their cruise.


Remember that Royal Caribbean trademarked the term "secret cove" that sounds like it could be a new area for Perfect Day at CocoCay

A few days later they made another registration for "The Cove", which is also described as " intended to cover the categories of recreational services, namely island resort services."

There's been no word from Royal Caribbean what any of these trademarks may be utilized for, but it's something to keep an eye on.

New Zealand will reopen borders to cruise ships this summer

Auckland, New Zealand

Good news for anyone cruising down under: you'll be able to visit New Zealand again.

Our friends at Cruise.Blog shared an update that New Zealand will reopen its maritime borders on July 31, 2022.

While Australia had re-opened its borders to cruise ships, New Zealand was still holding out.

CLIA statement

CLIA Australasia issued a statement in support of the change,"Today’s announcement is a huge breakthrough for the many New Zealanders who depend on cruise tourism, including travel agents, tour operators, food and produce providers, port workers and many other industry suppliers."

"The suspension of international cruising over the past two years has had a huge impact on the New Zealand travel industry and we now have an opportunity to work on a revival."

Royal Caribbean ship opens new Sitka cruise terminal

Photo by Caitlin Blaisdell for Royal Caribbean Group.

The arrival of Ovation of the Seas to Sitka on May 7 not only signaled the start of the Alaska cruise season, but also the opening of  newly constructed Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal.

The new terminal is a 40,000-square-foot timber-framed facility featuring local retail shops and restaurants, an outdoor covered terrace and a departure point for land- and water-based shore excursions.

The 1,300-foot dock is designed to accommodate two 1,000-foot neo-Panamax-class cruise ships, with a total capacity of 8,000 guests.

The terminal has six retail stores and two restaurants, all locally owned. A shuttle for cruise guests between the terminal and downtown Sitka is designed to load up to four 60-passenger motor coaches at a time.

Royal Caribbean has quietly begun allowing guests to transfer their future cruise credits to someone else

27 Apr 2022

Royal Caribbean will now allow guests to transfer a future cruise credit to someone else.

Allure of the Seas

Many people accrued future cruise credits from cancelled cruises during the pandemic, but the cruise line's policy was to keep the future cruise credits (FCC) non-transferable.

Future Cruise Credits are an option for guests who either choose to cancel their cruise up to 48 hours before the sail date via the Cruise with Confidence program, or have their cruise cancelled by Royal Caribbean. In either case, a voucher code is provided that can be redeemed for the value of the sailing.

During a webinar with travel agents on Wednesday, Royal Caribbean informed travel agents they can do a one-time transfer of an FCC to someone else.

Royal Caribbean headquarters in Miami

Rita Stolze, Royal Caribbean Associate Vice President of Trade Support & Service, clarified that Royal Caribbean has changed the rule on giving someone else their FCC.

"I wanted to share that we actually are going to allow one time transfers of FCC. It currently does require a call into the call center, but we're actually working on an enhancement where it can be used through the real time redemption tool where we just don't have that enhancement completed yet, but very soon."

Promenade deck

As of now, travel agents need to call in to make the one-time transfer request with Royal Caribbean, but a new automated tool is coming soon.

When the new tool is deployed, agents will be able to use an online form to request a transfer. Online forms have been a boon for Royal Caribbean because it speeds up requests while reducing the need for agents to call in and wait on hold.

This is a significant policy shift because it allows guests to gift their FCCs to someone else to use. When Royal Caribbean cancelled a cruise and issued a FCC, it would divide up the FCC among everyone in the cabin, which meant certain family members or friends may end up with a FCC they cannot or will not use.

With this new policy, it means that you can use someone else's credit for your own cruise fare or vice versa.

It's also worth noting that the expiration date for most cruise credits is rapidly approaching at the end of 2022.

This is one of many policy changes towards FCCs since the pandemic began in 2020.

Royal Caribbean's credit policy has evolved over time, such as allowing guests combine different FCCs together, allowing guests to start using a FCC towards a cruise fare deposit, and allowing leftover balances from a FCC not have to wait to apply it to a new reservation.

What are future cruise credits used for?

Royal Caribbean allows guests to use their future cruise credits to pay their cruise fare, including the deposit.

It cannot be used towards add-on purchases, like drink packages, shore excursions, port fees or taxes.

Royal Caribbean will still refund you if you test positive for Covid right before your cruise

12 Apr 2022

While Royal Caribbean's flexible cancellation policy has come to an end, the cruise line will still allow last-minute cancellations if you or someone in your group tests positive for Covid-19.

Odyssey of the Seas at sea

When the Cruise with Confidence ended on March 31, a lot of cruisers were worried that you would be out of luck financially if someone caught covid before their cruise. 

The good news is Royal Caribbean has a separate policy that covers passengers who test positive for covid before their cruise begins that runs for another year.

If you're wondering what happens if someone tests positive in the last few days before a cruise begins, here's a look at Royal Caribbean's policy and why there is still some flexibility in cancelling at the last minute for health reasons.

Covid-19 assistance

The Cruise with Confidence program allowed passengers to cancel their cruise for any reason up to 48 hours before the day a cruise began, but that program was aimed primarily at assuaging concerns of not feeling comfortable going through with a booking, rather than someone being unable to cruise.

In parallel to Cruise with Confidence, Royal Caribbean's Covid-19 assistance program covers guests who test positive for covid at no extra charge.

If you, or anyone in your traveling party, tests positive for Covid-19 within 10 days before your cruise begins (or at the cruise terminal), Royal Caribbean will refund 100% of the cruise fare to all of you. You also have the option for a future cruise credit (FCC) instead.

Royal Caribbean defines "traveling party" as your family members living with you in the same household and traveling companions assigned to your stateroom on the cruise.

This applies to cruises departing on or before March 31, 2023.

Royal Caribbean says your test result must be submitted as proof of a positive result in order to qualify for a refund, unless you tested positive from a test administered by Royal Caribbean.

Docked in Terminal A

If you had close contact with a positive or suspected covid-19 case within 10 days of embarkation, and Royal Caribbean deems you are unfit to travel, you, and anyone
else in your traveling party who cancels, are eligible for a refund of the cruise fare paid, or an optional FCC equal in value to the same. 

Anyone effectively denied boarding in these circumstances will be entitled to a refund, or an optional FCC, for the cruise fare paid to Royal Caribbean. 

You can refer to the full policy here.

Refunds during a cruise

Additionally, if your cruise is cut short for reasons related to Covid-19, Royal Caribbean will provide a pro-rated refund of the cruise fare for cruises departing on or before April 30, 2022.

If you test positive for COVID-19 during the cruise, Royal Caribbean will cover the costs of Covid-19 related medical treatment onboard, any required land-based quarantine, and travel home for you and your Traveling Party, for cruises departing on or before April 30, 2022.

There is no word yet if either of those two policies will be extended beyond April 2022.

Royal Caribbean introduces new payment program for anyone that books with a travel agent

11 Apr 2022

Royal Caribbean has a new way for guests to pay off their cruise in increments rather than waiting until the final payment date to pay the cruise in one lump sum.

The new FlexPay option was announced on Monday as a tool for travel agents to offer their clients an easier way to schedule payments.

Travel agents were always able to take partial payments prior to final payment date, but it required the client or the agent to arrange for those payments to occur on their own.  With the new FlexPay program, this can be scheduled and set up in advance.

At this time, it is only available if booking a cruise through a travel advisor. This means someone who books their cruise directly with the cruise line instead of a travel agent can not use this feature.

Read moreTop things you didn't know travel agents can do for your cruise vacation


Royal Caribbean hopes FlexPay will make it more convenient for both advisors and guests and save time.

Travel partners can now pre-schedule up to 10 automatic payments that can be arranged by date, amount and can even accept more than one credit card.  

There's no fees to using it, so FlexPay is totally free.

If client changes their mind or wants to modify their payment schedule, the agent make those alterations in a few clicks.

FlexPay is available immediately for use for both Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity.

More tools for travel agents

Odyssey pool deck couple

FlexPay is one of many new innovations aimed at making life easier for travel agents.

The pandemic brought with it a greater need for agents to be in contact with the cruise line, which contributed to longer hold times on the phone.

In an effort to combat the need to get on the phone, Royal Caribbean has been working on creating self-service tools to lessen the load on phone-based support.

Some examples of these tools include:

  • Allowing travel agents to redeem future cruise credits (FCC) and check the status of a FCC online
  • Send personalized FCC reminder emails to clients 
  • Generate leads with eQuote
  • Online tool for travel agents to access and share directly with clients the current protocols for the guest’s sailing date and itinerary
  • Travel partners can explore the available offerings (i.e., shore excursions, dining options, beverage/dining packages, etc.) based on ship and sail date to better serve their clients 

Why use a travel agent to book a cruise?

Unlike other forms of leisure travel, a good travel agent can be a major asset for booking a cruise.

The actual booking of a cruise is simple enough for anyone to handle, but the nuances of navigating the many different options and promotions is challenging even for the most veteran cruiser.

Not only do travel agents have access to all the discounts Royal Caribbean has to offer, but a good travel agent may have access to special promotions provided by their travel consortium.

More importantly, travel advisors can save their clients time just as much money. Long hold times while trying to contact the cruise line are not limited to travel agents. Many cruise fans report long hold times to get through to ask even basic questions.

Equally important is when changes are needed to a reservation. Travel agents have access to automated tools that the public does not. In addition, travel agents should be clued into the various policies that could greatly impact the cruise fare price.

Read moreTop 5 things to look for in a good travel agent for your cruise vacation

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