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Here are your options if you want to cancel or defer your booked cruise

In:
Category: 
27Oct2020

There is a lot of uncertainty in the cruise industry, as well as regular life, and some people may want to push off that cruise vacation a bit longer until things settle down.

Luckily, Royal Caribbean is offering the most flexible cancellation terms during these tumultuous times, which means you have a few options to consider.

Many of us probably thought earlier this summer that cruises might have been back already by now, so here is what you need to know about changing your mind about your cruise.

If you want to cancel your cruise

Some people might prefer to cancel their plans and see how things pan out later, and there are a few cruise cancellation options you should know about.

If you have not reached your final payment date yet (75 days for 1-4 night cruises; 90 days 5-night or longer cruises), you can cancel and get a refund subject to the kind of deposit you selected when you booked.  A refundable cruise fare will get you all your deposit money back, whereas a non-refundable cruise fare will hit you with a $100 per person fee.

If you are past final payment, you can elect to take a 100% future cruise credit for the value of your cruise, and be able to use that cruise credit for another sailing later.  You will essentially receive a voucher code to be redeemed later for another cruise that you book.

Be mindful of the fact if you cancel the reservation before Royal Caribbean cancels the cruise, you will not be eligible for whatever offer(s) come from the cruise line.

As an example, when Royal Caribbean cancels a sailing, a full refund is usually offered to everyone (regardless of the deposit type you picked), along with a 125% future cruise credit option.

Regardless of which situation you are in, how you booked your cruise will determine who you need to contact.

  • If you booked your cruise directly with Royal Caribbean, you must call them to do so. 
  • If you booked with a travel agent, your travel agent will need to cancel the cruise on your behalf.

If you want to defer your cruise

A lot of guests simply want to push back their plans another year, and the Lift & Shift program does that very easily.

If you are ready to delay your existing reservation to a cruise the following year, Royal Caribbean will protect the cruise fare and promotions you paid for the original reservation, provided the sailing next year meets these criteria:

  • New sailing needs to be dated within 4 weeks (before or after) of the original sail date
  • Same itinerary
  • Same length
  • Same stateroom category

Lift and Shift is currently available to be used on or before November 30, 2020.

If you want to wait it out longer

The good news is if you are unsure what you want to do, and want to see where things go, you have the flexibility to do so.

As long as you cancel at least 48 hours before the sail date, you can receive a 100% Future Cruise Credit that is valid through December 31, 2021 or 12 months from your original canceled sail date (whichever is longer).

This is part of the flexible terms known as the Cruise with Confidence program, and it means you do not have to decide right now what you want to do about your upcoming cruise.

This kind of flexibility means you do not have to make a decision now, and take advantage of the best information available closer to your sail date.

If you have a December 2020 cruise booked

While the options outlined in this post are available to everyone, if you happen to have a December 2020 cruise booked, you should wait until the end of October to see what happens.

The No Sail order by the U.S. Center for Disease Control is about to expire on October 31, but if it is extended, that will mean Royal Caribbean will have to cancel more cruises.

Essentially, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by waiting to see what happens with the No Sail order before deciding on that December 2020 cruise.

Should you cancel your cruise?

It seems a lot of people are struggling with what is the best option for them right now, and that is not something I, or anyone else, can really answer.

The state of cruising, as well as the global health crisis is changing every day, and there are a variety of factors, risks and considerations that will vary from family to family.

There are still lots of people booked on cruises, but certainly there have been a lot of people who have opted to cancel their planned cruises and wait things out.

Given the nature of the Cruising with Confidence policy, my only advice is you have nothing to lose by waiting and seeing how things progress and make a decision closer to your sail date.

More helpful information

If you have more questions about canceling your cruise (or if Royal Caribbean cancels it for you), here are some helpful resources:

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel cruise for a credit until November 30

In:
29Sep2020

Royal Caribbean has extended its Cruise with Confidence cancellation policy to now include sailings through November 30, 2020.

The popular program allows guests to cancel a cruise for any reason up to 48 hours before a sailing is scheduled to depart in exchange for a future cruise credit.

It was scheduled to end on September 30, 2020 prior to the extension.

In addition, the Lift and Shift option will be extended to November 30, 2020.  Lift and Shift allows guests to defer their cruise by a year.

The Cruise with Confidence program was introduced at the beginning of the health crisis, and provides significantly relaxed rules concerning canceling a cruise if the situation changes for a guest.

Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO Richard Fain thinks this extension makes a lot of sense for guests, "We want our guests to feel they can safely keep their existing cruise bookings or schedule new sailings, because this policy gives them more freedom and flexibility."

Ordinarily, guests would incur a penalty for canceling a sailing beyond the final payment date, which is typically 90 days before a sailing commences. Cruise with Confidence provides a great deal more flexibility to change minds with no penalty.

The extension applies to all cruises with sailing dates on or before April 2022, and applies to the company’s global brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara.

Cruise with Confidence future cruise credits expire on December 31, 2021 or 12 months from the cancellation date, whichever is further out.

Royal Caribbean's option to defer your cruise until next year expires in less than a week

In:
Category: 
25Sep2020

One of Royal Caribbean's most popular ways to move a booked cruise during the shutdown is about to expire.

The Lift and Shift program allows guests to take a booking they have and move to next year, while keeping the price they have locked in from this year.

Lift and Shift is set to expire as an option to use at the end of this month, and RoyalCaribbeanBlog has learned there are no plans to extend it.

An email from a Royal Caribbean Strategic Account Manager confirmed the program is set to expire, "Currently we do not have a plan to extend the Lift & Shift past this end of the month.  Should anything change with the Global suspension, dates will be adjusted accordingly. "

Since being offered as an option during the global cruise shutdown, Lift and Shift has proven to be a practical and lucrative option for guests who simply wish to push off their cruise until the same time next year.

Not only does it avoid having to cancel a reservation, get a refund, and then re-book and re-pay for everything, it also allows the guest to keep their current price, which is often lower than the price of a cruise next year.

Until September 30, guests can protect their original cruise fare and promotional offer by shifting to a future sailing on the same itinerary type, length, stateroom category and within the same four-week period of their original cruise date same time next year.

Guests are eligible to rebook under the Lift & Shift guidelines between now and September 30, 2020. After this point, Lift & Shift expires and is no longer eligible.

Note that while Lift & Shift is set to expire, the Cruise with Confidence program still allows customers to cancel their cruise up to 48 hours before their cruise and recieve a Future Cruise Credit for sailings that set sail on or before April 30th, 2022.

Spotted: Later check-in times for Royal Caribbean cruises

In:
Category: 
07Sep2020

Guests with Royal Caribbean cruises scheduled for later this year are seeing check-in times that are later than usually offered by the cruise line.

A number of sailings for November and December 2020 are showing cruise check-in times that go as late as 5:30pm.

Check-in times for Adventure of the Seas December 4, 2020 sailing

Check-in times for Mariner of the Seas November 20, 2020 sailing

Check-in times for Oasis of the Seas November 29, 2020 sailing

Prior to Royal Caribbean suspending its sailings in March, the latest check-in time for most sailings was early afternoon.  Typically, Royal Caribbean ships would depart in the mid to late afternoon.

There has been speculation that one of the new procedures Royal Caribbean may adopt in order to foster social distancing during the check-in process is to spread guests out with more check-in times.

In the weeks before cruises shutdown, Royal Caribbean was already thoroughly sanitizing the cruise ship terminal before and after every sailing. They also added special sanitizing of high traffic areas onboard the ship.

The extra cleaning takes time, which may require cruise ships to push back their departure times in order to accommodate all of these (and other possible) changes.

Royal Caribbean has only hinted at a few possible changes it will embrace once cruises resume. The cruise line is still developing its full set of policies and procedures, which will not be announced until at least the end of September.

Thanks to RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers Thomas Bissland, Meagan Mapson, Joanne Griffith & Judy Carson for their assistance in this post.

How to contact Royal Caribbean for help with a cruise cancellation or refund

In:
Category: 
31Aug2020

Whether you are new to Royal Caribbean or struggling to get a resolution to your current situation, sometimes we all need a little more help to get pointed in the right direction for answers.

Months of cancelled cruises have not been an easy transition for any cruise line, including Royal Caribbean, but there are some easy steps for getting answers if you are trying to sort out options, or get an update on your refund status.

Getting basic questions answered

Your catch-all place to get questions answered is by contacting Royal Caribbean directly for reservation updates, status questions, and other customer service inquiries.

The most straightforward method of contacting Royal Caribbean is to call them on their toll-free number at 800-256-6649. 

If you have taken at least one Royal Caribbean cruise in the past, you should call the Crown and Anchor Society number for (sometimes) faster service at 800-526-9723.

If you have a question about a specific reservation and booked with a travel agent, you will need to contact your travel agent for those concerns.

While phones are easy, contacting Royal Caribbean on social media has proven to be a very effective and quick way to get answers too. 

You can send the cruise line a message on their Twitter and Facebook pages for answers as well. Not only does this save you a phone call, the social media team is very responsive in providing answers to a myriad of questions.

Refunds and Future Cruise Credits

Refunds are not an instant process, but many cruisers have reported it taking a number of weeks to be processed.

The good news is refunds are flowing and being processed, but some of the older cancellations strangely take the longest to get through. It is far from perfect, but they are getting better and better at it.

According to Royal Caribbean's website, in most cases, refunds will post to the original form of payment about 7 to 10 days after they’re fully processed. However, some refunds may take up to 30 days to post. 

Work with your travel agent

First and foremost, if you booked your cruise with a travel agent, be sure to work that person to get things sorted out.

Your travel agent has new digital tools they can access to check on the progress of a refund request, as well as be able to reach out to the right person at Royal Caribbean for further inquiries, such as if the refund amount is incorrect.

Contacting Royal Caribbean directly

If your cruise was booked directly with the cruise line, then you will need contact them for status updates.

If your cruise was cancelled by the cruise line, you can avoid waiting on the phone to cancel by using an online form. If you want a FCC, there is nothing extra to do, as it will automatically be selected for you by a certain date. 

If you want to cancel, request a refund, or rebook under Lift & Shift, use the online form to process it.

You can always call Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society number at 800-526-9723 to also get updates and questions answered.

More helpful information

If you have more questions about canceling your cruise (or if Royal Caribbean cancels it for you), here are some helpful resources:

Top ways you cannot use your Royal Caribbean future cruise credits

In:
Category: 
27Aug2020

As a result of so many cancelled cruises, guests have the choice of turning their cruise deposits into future cruise credits that can be redeemed later, but you should be aware of a few important limitations on how these vouchers can be used.

Navigator of the Seas pool deck during sunset

For most people, future cruise credits are a flexible and lucrative way to hold onto their deposits and cruise fare costs, and turn them around to be used on a Royal Caribbean cruise in 2021 or beyond. Royal Caribbean has even given guests bonus credits when they cancel a cruise.

While future cruise credits work well for most people, you should be keenly aware of the FCC rules to ensure you know exactly if a future cruise credit is the right choice for you.

You cannot get more Future Cruise Credit if Royal Caribbean cancels your cruise later

In order to put traveler's minds at ease with so much uncertainty, Royal Caribbean introduced the Cruise with Confidence program where guests can cancel their cruise at any point up to 48 hours before the cruise in exchange for a 100% future cruise credit.

If you choose to cancel on your own, and later on Royal Caribbean cancels that sailing and offers guests 125% future cruise credit, you cannot take advantage of that more lucrative offer later.

Credits taken from the Cruise with Confidence program are not refundable at any point in time, even if Royal Caribbean subsequently cancels the cruise.

Additionally, Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credits have no cash value and cannot be exchanged for a refund.

So you can either cancel with the Cruise with Confidence offer, or see if Royal Caribbean will cancel your cruise later.

Freedom of the Seas aerial photo while at sea

You cannot use future cruise credits between brands

While Royal Caribbean International is one of many cruise lines owned by the Royal Caribbean Group, your cruise credits cannot be used on another sister cruise line.

Cruise credits from a Royal Caribbean International sailing cannot be used towards a sailing on Celebrity Cruise Line, Silversea or Azamara.

You cannot use more than one future cruise credit per guest

This is the most surprising caveat for many guests, but you are limited to one FCC per guest.

At this time, only one FCC can be applied to each guest in a reservation. Future Cruise Credits are not stackable.

One trick to keep in mind is if you apply a FCC on a sailing, and Royal Caribbean ends up cancelling that sailing later, you can ask Royal Caribbean to combine the original and new FCC into one to get around this issue the next time.

Sports deck aerial photo of Symphony of the Seas

You cannot use future cruise credits towards taxes or fees

When Royal Caribbean calculates your future cruise credit, they based it on the total cruise fare paid by the guest, minus taxes and fees (those extras get refunded).  Similarly, you cannot apply a FCC towards those extra costs.

FCCs do not cover taxes & fees or other booking components - such as prepaid gratuities or transfers. Taxes/fees must be paid using another form of payment.

You cannot convert a Future Cruise Credit into onboard credit

Another common question is if you can apply a future cruise credit to a reservation, and use any leftover credit for onboard credit for that sailing.

If the value of your FCC exceeds the cruise cost, any remainder credit will be re-issued for the remaining balance in a new voucher. You cannot convert it to onboard credit.

Royal Caribbean is considering extending Future Cruise Credits

In:
Category: 
12Aug2020

With so many guests having a future cruise credit (FCC) now from cancelled cruises, some guests are curious if the expiration date will be extended.

Future Cruise Credits are issued at the time of cancellation to be used within a certain timeframe, but with more and more cruises being cancelled, there is concern guests might run out of time to redeem them.

During a travel agent webinar, Royal Caribbean spoke on this topic after the question was raised.

Royal Caribbean Director, Post Cruise Guest Relations & Shared Services, Laly Rodriguez,said Royal Caribbean is looking at this issue, but has not made a decision on it yet.

"We have been looking at that in plenty. The reason I started looking at that is because some of our Pinnacles are starting to say, 'Hey, I have all these future cruise credits and it seems like I'm not going to have enough time to use them.'"

"We're reviewing, discussing, and while we don't have an answer yet, we're keeping that top of mind to make sure that everybody has ample time to use them."

Lots of guests have taken FCCs

Since the global cruise suspension began, many guests have opted to take Future Cruise Credits, even in lieu of a refund. The bonus 25% credit for opting for a FCC when Royal Caribbean cancels a cruise has been a lucrative option.

During Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call with investors on Monday, it was revealed the company has about $900 million in future cruise credit value, with about 40-45% of those being non-refundable.

A Future Cruise Credit from a cancelled cruise must be redeemed on-or-before December 31, 2021 on a Royal Caribbean International sailing through April 2022.

Do all Royal Caribbean cruises qualify for Cruise with Confidence?

In:
Category: 
06Aug2020

In the wake of Royal Caribbean suspending all of its cruises for many months to come, the cruise line offers guests more flexible cancellation terms under the "Cruise with Confidence" program.

Cruise with Confidence has proven to be very popular with guests, because it covers most sailings and gives peace of mind that they can change their mind later on.

The premise of Cruise with Confidence is it allows anyone free cancellations, where you can cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before the sail date and get a 100% Future Cruise Credit that is good for 12 months or more.

Cruise with Confidence is applicable to guests booked on-or-before September 30, 2020 on sailings departing through April 2022. This encompasses essentially all Royal Caribbean sailings available to book currently.

This includes refundable or non-refundable cruise fares.  You are able to take advantage of either booking type with no penalty or change fee for opting into the Cruise with Confidence program.

Chartered sailings do not qualify for Cruise with Confidence.

When opting for the Future Cruise Credit that Cruise with Confidence offers, all rate codes apply, with no restrictions.  The exception is if you prefer to take advantage of Lift & Shift of the Best Price Guarantee programs, which have restrictions on Net rates, Casino rates, Travel Agent Friends & Family rates, Travel Agent Reduced rates, and complimentary staterooms.

Before you cancel your cruise, you may want to consider using Lift & Shift to price protect what you have booked for a similar sailing the following year.

More helpful information

If you have more questions about cancelling your cruise (or if Royal Caribbean cancels it for you), here are some helpful resources:

Royal Caribbean has only 100 reservations waiting more than 30 days for a refund

In:
Category: 
22Jul2020

Following up on Royal Caribbean's commitment to process guest refunds for cancelled cruises significantly faster, they announced today they have not only cut down the amount of time guests must wait for a refund, but the super long waits are also nearly gone.

Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, proudly informed travel agents on her weekly webinar that there are just 100 reservations left that are waiting more than 30 days for a refund.

"We're pretty much caught up to date. We have about a hundred bookings that are still over the 30 day mark that we have not refunded," Ms Freed said. 

Just last week, Ms. Freed said there were about 1,000 bookings that are still over 30 days waiting for a refund. While she said they aimed to process them all by this past Sunday, they have been able to process nearly every single one.

Currently, Royal Caribbean is averaging about 23 days to process a new refund request

If any travel agent has a client who is waiting more than 30 days for a refund at this point, she asked the agent to personally contact her via email to get a resolution immediately.

Moreover, Ms. Freed added that phone call wait times are significantly down, which means no more crazy long phone hold times.

"And by the way, with the exception of groups and service, the phone lines are pretty much under control and even groups of service, maybe the wait time is 15 to 20 minutes."

Getting refunds processed quicker has been a high priority for Royal Caribbean, which was inundated with refund requests following wave after wave of cruise cancellations due to the global health crisis.

The growing pool of refunds waiting to be processed became a black eye for the company, and they quickly made knocking those numbers down a top priority.

A combination of introducing new self-service tools, along with hiring back laid off workers, have contributed to greatly reducing the processing times.

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