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

In:
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

In:
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

In:
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

Flexpay

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

Royal Caribbean's flexible cancellation program is about to end

In:
30 Mar 2022

There's just about a day left to book a cruise that qualifies for Royal Caribbean's policy that allows for a last minute cancellation.

Royal Caribbean's website

The Cruise with Confidence program is set to expire on March 31, 2022, which means cruises booked after will not qualify for the program.

There's been no word from Royal Caribbean on it being extended, so it appears the program may very well come to an end at the end of the day on Thursday.

Cruise with Confidence program is the name of the offer for guests who can cancel their cruise even after final payment date, up to 48 hours before a ship is scheduled to sail in exchange for a future cruise credit.

As of the writing of this article, it applies to sailings booked by March 31, 2022 that depart by September 30, 2022.

The program was introduced at the start of the global pandemic so passengers could feel assured they could change their mind closer to sail date.

The flexibility this program provides is a great "safety net" for anyone with a cruise booked who is unsure what the cruise world may look like closer to your sail date. In short, there is very little risk when your booking is protected with Cruise with Confidence since you can change your mind at any time.

Royal Caribbean thought Cruise with Confidence would have ended before, but the Omicron variant compelled them to keep it going once more.

What happens after Cruise with Confidence ends?

Once Cruise with Confidence comes to an end, cancellation policies revert back to pre-pandemic.

Cancellations may occur up to the final payment date without penalty if you booked refundable cruise fare. Typically the final payment date for most cruises is 90 days before a cruise begins.

If you booked a non-refundable cruise fare, and are outside of final payment, you will receive a Future Cruise Certificate in the amount of the cruise deposit, less a $100 per guest change fee.

After final payment date, there is a penalty for cancelling a reservation in the form of losing a percentage of the cost of the cruise. The exact amount of this penalty depends on how close to your sail date you are when cancelling.

In addition, the enhanced Best Price Guarantee program reverts back, which means guests can reprice their cruise up until final payment date. After final payment date, price changes are not allowed.

Moreover, certain countries had been able to price match because of the enhanced Best Price Guarantee.

What you should do before Cruise with Confidence ends?

If you are thinking of booking any cruise between now and September 2022, it may make a lot of sense to at least put a deposit down now to not only lock in the price of your cruise, but also ensure you can cancel it under Cruise with Confidence up to 48 hours before the sailing.

Of course, there are still some other means to retain some level of flexibility to change your mind later even without the program. 

  • Book refundable cruise fare so you can cancel before final payment date for a 100% refund.
  • Consider a "Cancel for any reason" travel insurance plan

How to get flexibility in the future

As Royal Caribbean sunsets Cruise with Confidence, this is a good reminder how to book a cruise with maximum flexibility.

While cancelling at the last minute for any reason may be a thing of the past, there are still some easy ways to change your mind down the line.

Book refundable cruise fare

Be sure to put a refundable deposit down, and not a non-refundable deposit.

While a non-refundable deposit will save you some money, those savings are offset by the inflexibility and change fees it comes with.

Purchase cancel for any reason travel insurance

Travel insurance

While not as easy as Cruise with Confidence, there are some travel insurance policies that allow you to cancel for any reason.

Most travel insurance only kicks in under certain conditions, but there are Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) policies that allow you to get reimbursed for travel costs.

A typical CFAR policy allows you to cancel a cruise and any associated prepaid activities for whatever reason you choose. 

Be sure to read the policy before buying one of these plans, as you usually have to purchase a plan within 14-21 days of making a deposit.

Cancel for any reason insurance is not available in all states, so check with your insurance provider if you're eligible. 

One other thing to consider is most CFAR plans only pay out 50 to 75 percent of your out-of-pocket expenses if you decide to cancel. Expect to pay as much as 40 percent more on your policy for the privilege.

Wait longer to book a cruise

While I always advocate booking as early as you can to lock in a good price, if you're uncertain about your plans, perhaps waiting to place a deposit makes more sense.

Talk with a good travel agent about prices, and if you see prices starting to creep up, consider putting down a deposit or see if prices drop again.

Royal Caribbean relaxes unvaccinated shore excursion policy

In:
15 Mar 2022

Royal Caribbean has released updated North American health protocols for cruises departing on or after March 18, 2022.

This includes updated shore excursion requirements for unvaccinated children and their families.

For departures on or after March 18, 2022: all guests, regardless of vaccination status, may visit most ports freely or book a shore excursion.

A few ports still require an excursion to go ashore, regardless of your vaccination status. 

Those ports are:

  • Barbados
  • Falmouth
  • St. Lucia
  • Dominica
  • St. Vincent

According to the cruise line, all guests going ashore must still follow local health and safety guidance when visiting each port of call. Unvaccinated children should expect to wear their masks while ashore, avoid crowded areas, and maintain physical distance whenever possible.

Up until now, families with unvaccinated children had to take only Royal Caribbean shore excursions and were not allowed to take private tours.

The rest of the protocols for North American cruises remains unchanged.

North America Cruise Ship Protocols

Here are the Covid protocols for U.S. sailings (excluding Puerto Rico).

Vaccines

All guests 12 and older must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before sailing.

Children aged 5 to 11 are not required to be vaccinated.

Royal Caribbean recommends children that become eligible for vaccination receive their vaccine before sailing.

Children with one dose of a two-dose vaccine do not count as fully vaccinated for the purpose of a sailing.

Testing

Pre-Cruise: All guests 2 years and older must present a negative COVID-19 test result.

  • Vaccinated guests: PCR or antigen test must be taken no more than 2 days prior to sailing.
  • Unvaccinated children ages 2 to 11: PCR test must be taken no more than 3 days prior to sailing — but not on boarding day. Antigen tests are not accepted for unvaccinated guests.
  • No testing required for guests under age 2.

Certificate of Recovery: Instead of a negative pre-cruise test, a Certificate of Recovery and a positive PCR test taken between 11-90 days prior to our sail date can be provided to sail with us. To learn more, check out our dedicated FAQ here. Please note: we will not accept a Certificate of Recovery in the place of a vaccination record. Additionally, some ports of call do not accept Certificates of Recovery for the purposes of debarking and enjoying the destination.  

Embarkation Day: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 will take a complimentary antigen test for COVID-19 during check-in. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

Onboard: For sailings that are 5 nights or longer, unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 will take a complimentary antigen test prior to debark. Sailings longer than 10 nights may have additional onboard testing requirements. Registration details will be provided onboard.

Masks

Masks are optional for vaccinated guests and are expected for unvaccinated children.

Masks will be required in Adventure Ocean, in the terminal, and may be required at various destinations. Guests under 2 years old don’t need a mask.

Royal Caribbean releases updated health protocols for cruise ships through April 14, 2022

In:
24 Feb 2022

Royal Caribbean has updated its health protocols for cruises sailing through April 14, 2022 in order to match the cruise line's decision to opt into the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) voluntary cruise program.

Wonder of the Seas night lit up

In an email to guests and travel agents, Royal Caribbean issued new health protocols that apply to all cruises sailing from the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Barbados between February 25, 2022 and April 14, 2022

Royal Caribbean says this update reflects the, "government mandates, the changes based on our voluntary opt-in to the US CDC Cruise Program, plus shore excursion requirements for unvaccinated children and their families."

Royal Caribbean also said that protocols are still subject to change, due to the fluidity of the situation with Covid.

Here's a look at the latest protocols.

Covid-19 booster

Michael Bayley addresses concerns of requiring Covid-19 vaccine on Royal Caribbean ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

While currently not required as a condition to sail, the US CDC has recommended COVID-19 vaccine booster doses for those eligible, prior to cruise travel.

Royal Caribbean, "strongly recommends" guests get boosted before their cruise.

Vaccine requirements

Celebrity Cruises will accept mixed vaccines following CDC update | Royal Caribbean Blog

All guests 12 and older must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before sailing.

Children aged 5 to 11 are not required to be vaccinated, however, as they are eligible, Royal Caribbean recommends they receive their vaccine before sailing.

Children with one dose of a vaccine do not count as fully vaccinated for the purpose of the sailing. 

Face masks

Here's Royal Caribbean's new optional mask policy | Royal Caribbean Blog

Masks are optional for fully vaccinated guests. 

Unvaccinated children should expect to continue wearing masks indoors and in crowded settings.

Masks are required for all children age 2 and older while at the Adventure Ocean youth program.

Guests under 2 do not have to wear a mask at any time. 

Adventure Ocean Youth Program Reservations

6 questions we still have after Royal Caribbean released new health guidelines | Royal Caribbean Blog

For the first time, Royal Caribbean has included Adventure Ocean children's programming as part of the protocol release.

These spaces will be cleaned and sanitized frequently.

Royal Caribbean asks that guests make a reservation before bringing their child to Adventure Ocean on port days the ship is in port — just stop by Adventure Ocean on boarding day to reserve time, or throughout your cruise.

Dining

Cruise FAQ: Dining | Royal Caribbean Blog

In the Main Dining Room, vaccinated guests may dine with other vaccinated guests outside their travel party. Parties that include unvaccinated kids will be assigned a table of their own.

Royal Caribbean recommends making reservations for dining before the cruise or via the app while onboard.

Vaccinated venues

Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program changes: What's temporary and what's here to stay | Royal Caribbean Blog

Previously designated "vaccinated zones" are being removed.

This means no more vaccinated zones in the theater, spa, or gym, among other locations.

Shore excursions

How to book a Royal Caribbean shore excursion | Royal Caribbean Blog

Families traveling with unvaccinated kids are required to purchase a tour through Royal Caribbean to go ashore (except at private destinations, Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee).

Some ports require all guests, regardless of vaccination status, to purchase tours through Royal Caribbean. These tours follow our health guidance and are available at a variety of prices. 

Pre-cruise Covid-19 test

The email made no mention of Covid-19 tests before the cruise, but the policy remains unchanged on Royal Caribbean's website.

Cruises from U.S. homeports (except Puerto Rico)

Miami-Dade officials slam CDC for slow response to cruise lines to restarting | Royal Caribbean Blog

  • Pre-Cruise: All guests 2 years and older must present a negative COVID-19 test result.
    • Vaccinated guests ages 12 years and over: PCR or antigen test must be taken no more than 2 days prior to sailing.
    • Unvaccinated children ages 2 to 11 years: PCR test must be taken no more than 3 days prior to sailing — but not on boarding day. Antigen tests are not accepted for unvaccinated guests.
    • No testing required for guests under age 2.
    • Pre-cruise testing costs and scheduling are the guest's responsibility.  

Embarkation Day: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 will take a complimentary antigen test for COVID-19 during check-in. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

Onboard: For sailings that are 5 nights or longer, unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 will take a complimentary antigen test prior to debark. Sailings longer than 10 nights may have additional onboard testing requirements. Registration details will be provided onboard.

Cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico

Oasis of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - San Juan | Royal Caribbean Blog

     

    • Entry to Puerto Rico:
      • All guests unvaccinated guests 2 years and older will need a PCR or antigen test for entry.
      • Guests arriving from non-US countries (regardless of vaccination status) will need to provide a negative result from a PCR or antigen test taken within 24 hours prior to boarding a flight to Puerto Rico.
    • Pre-Cruise: All guests 2 years and older — regardless of vaccination status — must present a negative COVID-19 test result in order to sail. Your client's entry test can meet this requirement as long as it falls into the appropriate timeframe. 
      • Unvaccinated children ages 2 to 11: will need to show proof of a negative test result from a PCR test taken no more than 3 days prior to our sail date — but not on boarding day. Antigen tests are not accepted for unvaccinated guests.
      • Vaccinated guests 12 years and older: will need to show proof of a negative result from a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days prior to our sail date. If for any reason guests can’t arrange this test prior to sailing, Royal Caribbean has port testing available for scheduling here.
      • No testing required for guests under age 2.
    • Pre-cruise testing costs and scheduling are the guest's responsibility.
    • Embarkation Day: In addition to the pre-cruise test requirement, unvaccinated guests 2 to 11 years old will be required to take a complimentary embarkation day antigen test. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.
    • Prior to disembarking: Unvaccinated guests 2 to 11 years old will take an antigen test prior to debarking in San Juan. 
      • ​For re-entry into guest's home country, guests may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test. If needed, we’ll offer complimentary testing on Day 5 or 6 of the cruise. Testing details will be provided onboard.
      • Please note, the test results will also be shared with Royal Caribbean International. This will let us help guests plan the next steps of their cruise and keep them informed. Royal Caribbean may also share the results with third parties, such as public authorities and health care providers.
    • Post-Cruise: If a guest is staying in Puerto Rico after the cruise, or they live in Puerto Rico, an additional test will be needed.
      • Residents of Puerto Rico ages 2 years and older regardless of vaccination status, guests must take a COVID-19 test, at their own expense, after the cruise and upload their results on the TravelSafe Declaration within 48 hours of departing the ship.
      • Non-residents ages 2 years and older regardless of vaccination status, non-residents extending their stay in Puerto Rico after sailing must complete a COVID-19 test after their cruise, and upload the results to Puerto Rico's TravelSafe Declaration form within 24 hours of departing the ship. Guests will be provided a complimentary test kit for this purpose.
      • Please Note: Failure to meet this requirement can result in a $300 USD fine from Puerto Rico authorities.
    • Quarantine: Unvaccinated travelers intending to stay in Puerto Rico before or after their cruise are now required to complete a quarantine period of 7 days. However, if a guest arrives in Puerto Rico on cruise boarding day, and depart Puerto Rico on the same day the cruise ends, a local quarantine is not required.
      • Quarantine Before: If guests arrive in Puerto Rico 1 or more days prior to their cruise, any unvaccinated guests ages 2 years and up in the travel party must remain in quarantine for those days. These guests may only leave to head directly to the cruise terminal for check-in on boarding day.
      • Quarantine After: Any unvaccinated non-residents ages 2 years and up extending their stay in Puerto Rico post-cruise must quarantine for up to 7 days. If a guest’s flight departs prior to the completion of the 7 days, they must remain in the hotel and may only leave to proceed directly to the airport on the day of your flight.

    Vaccine and Testing protocols for cruises from Bridgetown, Barbados

    What you need to know about visiting Barbados on a cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

    • Due to the requirements of destinations on our Barbados itineraries, Royal Caribbean can only accept vaccines that are authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO).
    • Guests under the age of 12 years, who are considered fully vaccinated, should follow the guidance for vaccinated guests below. Children with one dose of a vaccine do not count as fully vaccinated for the purpose of our sailing. The only mixed MRNA vaccines accepted are combinations of Pfizer and Moderna.
    • Entry to Barbados: Guests must follow Barbados’ COVID-19 Travel Guidelines. All guests 5 years and older — regardless of vaccination status — must present a negative PCR test result taken no more than 3 days prior to arriving in Barbados. 
    • Pre-cruise: All unvaccinated guests 2 - 11 years old must present a negative PCR test result no more than 3 days prior to sailing.
    • Embarkation Day: All guests 2 years and older — regardless of vaccination status — are required to take a complimentary embarkation day antigen test and receive a negative test result. Registration details will be sent via email in advance for the antigen test at the terminal.
    • No testing required for guests under age 2.
    • Prior to disembarking: Guests 2 years and older will be provided with a complimentary antigen test to re-enter Barbados.
    • For re-entry into a guest’s home country, proof of a negative COVID-19 test may be required. More details will be provided once onboard.

    Bracelets

    Royal Caribbean signs deal for new contact tracing band | Royal Caribbean Blog

    Royal Caribbean informed travel agents that they will no longer be using bracelets to identify vaccinated guests.

    Under the CDC guideline for Highly Vaccinated sailings, with at least 95% of guests fully vaccinated, the ships are considered a vaccinated community, so identification via bracelets is not required.

    Royal Caribbean pushes back final payment for June 2022 cruises

    In:
    23 Feb 2022

    Royal Caribbean will give anyone with a June 2022 cruise more time to make final payment.

    Royal Caribbean cancels December 2020 cruises while preparing to restart | Royal Caribbean Blog

    In a webinar with travel agents, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, told travel agents final payment is extended to 60 days-to-sailing for June 2022 departures.

    Unlike other times Royal Caribbean has pushed back final payment date, this is pushed back to 60 days. Previously, they pushed it back to 30 days.

    Prior to this change, the final payment had only been pushed back for cruises through May 31, 2022.

    Royal Caribbean will extend future cruise credits that were going to expire at end of 2020 | Royal Caribbean Blog

    The benefit to guests is it gives guests more flexibility in deciding if they want to cruise without forcing a cancellation earlier.

    The final payment date window of 75 days for cruises 1-4 nights and 90 days for cruises 5+ night remains for sailings beyond June 2022.

    No action is required on the part of guests or travel agents, and no cancellations will occur until the new final payment date.

    Royal Caribbean will refund your future cruise credits if you don't like announced health protocols | Royal Caribbean Blog

    By cancelling a cruise before the final payment date, they can get a full cash refund, if they booked refundable cruise fare.

    Royal Caribbean had already announced an extension of its Cruise with Confidence program for bookings made by January 31, 2022.

    The Cruise with Confidence program allows anyone with a cruise booked the ability to cancel up to 48 hours before the sail date and get the full value in a Future Cruise Credit that’s good to redeem until May 31, 2022. 

    Between the Cruise with Confidence program and final payment extension, Royal Caribbean is looking to give consumers more time to decide if they want to move forward with their cruise.

    Planning a cruise? Here's some helpful articles:

    Royal Caribbean will end stricter face mask rules on its cruise ships

    In:
    09 Feb 2022

    With Omicron cases on cruise ships plummeting, Royal Caribbean will not extend its stricter face mask rules and will allow them to end.

    In mid-December Royal Caribbean tightened its face mask protocols due to the increase of Covid-19 cases around the world due to the Omicron variant.

    Specifically, face masks were required to be worn indoors at all times, unless actively eating or drinking. This included vaccinated-only zones.

    Beginning February 15, 2022, the stricter mask rules will go away and that means guests will not have to wear face masks at venues designated for vaccinated guests only, such as select bars, lounges, restaurants, shows and Casino Royale. 

    Woman wearing a mask in front of cruise ship

    During a webinar with travel agents, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, told travel agents the policy was changed yesterday, and beginning February 15, 2022 the stricter mask rules will go away.

    "One thing that changed yesterday is we have now announced that in our casinos you will not be required to wear masks and you can smoke again in the smoking areas of the casino," Ms. Freed told travel agents.

    Royal Caribbean International Assistant Vice President of Guest Experience, Aurora Yera-Rodriguez, told travel agents protocols will go back to the way they were before the stricter mask rules were added due to Omicron, "After February the 15th, we'll now allow smoking in the casino again. That is actually aligned, with us going back to protocol the way they were before, where you don't have to wear a mask in vaccinated areas."

    "We'll go back to the way it was before on Omicron."

    "As of right now, we did not push that additional mask restriction and casino smoking out to guests beyond the 15th. So hopefully we're in a good spot."

    Masks are NOT required to be worn:

    • In open-air areas of the ship, unless you are in a crowded setting.
    • In the pool or any activity where they may become wet.
    • At venues designated for vaccinated guests only, such as select bars, lounges, restaurants, shows and Casino Royale. NOTE: For cruises departing through February 14, 2022, masks must be worn in vaccinated-only venues
    • In your stateroom when you are with your traveling party.
    • While visiting our private destinations, unless you are in a crowded setting.
    • By any guest under the age of 2.

    Masks ARE required to be worn:

    • While indoors in public areas of the ship, unless seated and actively eating or drinking.
    • While visiting public ports of call, where local regulations may require them.

    Falling Covid cases on ships

    What it's like to go on a cruise with Royal Caribbean's stricter mask rules | Royal Caribbean Blog

    The change in protocols coincides with Covid cases onboard falling back to pre-Omicron levels.

    Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty told investors last week that ship cases are significantly lower than the last two months, "In the last several weeks, cases on board our ships have been declining rapidly and we now have returned to exceptionally low pre-Omicron levels."

    Over the last seven days, Royal Caribbean Group has averaged only "a handful of positive guest cases per cruise."

    Other cruise lines relaxing protocols

    Royal Caribbean's announcement comes a day after Norwegian Cruise Line said it would end its Omicron protocols as well.

    NCL said beginning March 1, masks will no longer be required while indoors. Instead, they will be recommended.

    Another change is NCL will now allow children under 5 years old to sail if they are unvaccinated, beginning on March 5.

    In addition, NCL will require its passengers to test once at home before the cruise begins in an effort to speed up the check-in process.

    Royal Caribbean removes deadline to redeem future cruise credits

    In:
    03 Feb 2022

    Royal Caribbean has made those future cruise credits you have accrued over the last two years easier to use.

    Future cruise credits (FCCs) have been given out to guests by the cruise line for cancelled cruises, and up until today there was a date a customer had to redeem it by before they expired.

    Travel agents were advised today that Royal Caribbean has removed the "book/redeem by" deadline, and FCCs can now be redeemed anytime up until the expiration date listed on the certificate.

    A FCC can now be redeemed on any Royal Caribbean International sailing departing on or before the expiration date. For example, if their credit expires on December 31, 2022, they can redeem their certificate on any sailing departing on or before the same date.

    Royal Caribbean said the decision was made due to limited options for guests in light of the current global situation.

    Royal Caribbean hopes this change will give guests more choice and more time to plan a cruise that can be booked with the FCCs.

    Some other important notes about FCCs:

    Multiple FCCs can be combined for one sailing.

    If you are cruising with other guests on the same booking (reservation number), you can equally share the value of a FCC across all guests on that booking.

    In addition, FCCs can be used with any promotion by the cruise line.

    A welcome change

    Sharla Manglass, a travel agent with MEI Travel, thinks this change will offer more flexibility for her clients, "This will give people more time to use them."

    "And more time to sail, since a lot of people don't feel comfortable cruising right now."

    Royal Caribbean has steadily pushed back expiration dates for FCCs given out during the pandemic.

    While widespread cruise cancellations have stopped, the Cruise with Confidence program has been a popular option for Royal Caribbean customers who need to cancel a cruise close to the sail date for many possible reasons.

    The program allows customers to get their money back in the form of future cruise credit if they choose to cancel for any reason, up until 48 hours prior to sailing.

    Cruise with Confidence has been popular because of customers like knowing that they can cancel them due to Covid, or any reason.

    The result has been a great deal of future cruise credits sitting idle as customers make a decision to sail again, or wait for the pandemic and its policies to change.

    Read moreTop ways you cannot use your Royal Caribbean future cruise credits

    Lots of credits out there

    Prior to Covid, a future cruise credit was fairly rare, since cancelled cruises were few and far between.  But since then, many cruisers of all levels have dealt with them in one way or another.

    During the height of pandemic when the cruise industry was shutdown, Royal Caribbean and other lines offered bonus FCC if a guest took the credit instead of a cash refund.

    This strategy allowed the cruise lines to stay afloat, but it also has left lots of FCCs out there.

    While cruise ships are back in service, there are still plenty of people who have a FCC and cannot use it yet for a variety of reasons.

    Hopefully today's change will give these folks more time to find the right way to redeem it for them.

    Planning a cruise? Check out these articles:

    Royal Caribbean extends Cruise with Confidence program to be able to cancel a cruise at the last minute

    In:
    13 Jan 2022

    Once again, Royal Caribbean is giving its customers more time to take advantage of its flexible cancellation program.

    Royal Caribbean cancels most cruises in June | Royal Caribbean Blog

    Cruise with Confidence has been extended again for bookings made through March 31, 2022 on sailings departing on or before September 30, 2022.

    What this means is you can cancel a booked Royal Caribbean cruise for any reason for a 100% future cruise credit.

    In an email travel agents, Royal Caribbean explains the Omicron variant impact to its business, "With the rise of the Omicron variant, we have strengthened some of our health protocols to ensure that we mitigate the spread of COVID-19 onboard. We are confident in our approach as Royal Caribbean Group has carried 1.1 million guests since the restart of cruising from the US in June of 2021. We remain in constant communication with various government health authorities and will continue to work collaboratively with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."

    Do all Royal Caribbean cruises qualify for Cruise with Confidence? | Royal Caribbean Blog

    "At the end of the day, we want to ensure that planning your clients' vacations is as worry-free as possible. Therefore, we've made the decision to extend our popular Cruise with Confidence program to reservations confirmed on or before March 31, 2022 on sailings departing through September 30, 2022."

    Prior to this extension, the Cruise with Confidence program was set to expire on January 31, 2022.

    When a guest cancels their cruise past the final payment date, they can get a future cruise credit worth 100% of the cruise fare paid as long as they cancel at least 48 hours before the sail date.

    It was originally introduced right before cruises began shutting down due to Covid-19 as a mechanism to give guests piece of mind they could change their plans after the final payment date.

    Without the Cruise with Confidence program, there would be a penalty if you cancelled a cruise after the final payment date.

    Included with the ability to cancel a cruise under Cruise with Confidence is the Best Price Guarantee, which allows guests to reprice their sailing up to 48-hours prior to the sail date if the price drops.

    If you have a cruise booked already, then you qualify automatically for Cruise with Confidence. Going forward, you have until at least March 31, 2022 to qualify for Cruise with Confidence.

    Do all sailings qualify for Cruise with Confidence?

    Cruise with Confidence is applicable to all sailings.

    It is not available to guests booked on chartered sailings or residents of mainland China.

    You simply need to book a cruise before March 31, 2022. Existing bookings automatically qualify for Cruise with Confidence.

    Why are they extending Cruise with Confidence?

    The reason Royal Caribbean has extended this flexible cancellation program again is to give consumers more time to change their mind if they are worried about going on a cruise during the pandemic.

    Traditionally, the final payment date would be the point in time when you would have to cancel without incurring a penalty fee.

    At the onset of Covid-19, people were uncertain what to expect and cancelled their bookings early out of concern they could not predict if they would want to sail or not.

    As a result, Cruise with Confidence was introduced so that anyone who has a cruise booked could wait longer to make a decision if they want to sail or not.

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