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Royal Caribbean pushes back final payment for cruises departing through January 2022

In:
30 Sep 2021

Royal Caribbean has pushed back its final payment date for more cruises.

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

The cruise line informed guests that it has decided to push the final payment date for all sailings departing in January 2022.

Guests on sailings departing between January 1, 2022 through January 31, 2022, will now have until 30 days prior to their sail date to make their final payment. 

Royal Caribbean hopes this flexibility of having more time to make final payment date will keep guests from cancelling their cruises, "Our hope is that this gives you a little extra flexibility when making the best decision for you and those in your party."

"Rest assured, no action is needed on your part, and no cancellations will occur until the new final payment date."

This comes just a few weeks after Royal Caribbean pushed back final payment due date on sailings departing between October 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021 to 30 days prior to sailing.

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

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

This change means guests have more time to cancel their cruise and get a 100% cash refund. 

Ordinarily, final payment date for a cruise is 90 days before sailing. 

Even with the pushed back final payment date, guests could still cancel their cruise without penalty, up to 48 hours before sailing and qualify for a 100% future cruise credit.

Royal Caribbean's Cruise with Confidence program offers future cruise credits for cancellations past final payment date.

Royal Caribbean pushes back final payment date and will allow kids to take antigen tests

In:
15 Sep 2021

Royal Caribbean announced two changes to policies that will likely make things easier for all guests going forward.

An email update was sent to travel agents on Wednesday advising them of these changes.

The time needed to make final payment for a cruise has been pushed back, a change the cruise line has not done throughout the global health crisis.

The final payment due date on sailings departing between October 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021, will now have until 30 days prior to sailing to submit full payment.

Do cruise prices drop? | Royal Caribbean Blog

The final payment date is typically 90 days before a sailing commences. 

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 says the change was made to "grant a little more time and flexibility."

This change comes just days after Royal Caribbean extended the time guests have to use their future cruise credits under the Cruise with Confidence program.

Royal Caribbean originally introduced the Cruise with Confidence program at the very beginning of the global health crisis, as a way for guests to cancel their cruise past the final payment date window.

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

Guests could still cancel a cruise past the final payment date even with this new final payment date window, up to 48 hours before their sailing without penalty and get a 100% future cruise credit.

Change for unvaccinated kids pre-cruise testing

Is Royal Caribbean's Kids Sail Free offer a good deal? | Royal Caribbean Blog

According to the cruise line, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) has revised its pre-cruise COVID-19 testing requirement for unvaccinated kids.

This means unvaccinated kids ages 2 to 11 may present either a negative PCR or antigen test result.

The test must be taken no more than 3 days prior to sailing, but not on boarding day. 

Then on embarkation day, unvaccinated kids ages 2 to 11 will undergo a complimentary PCR test for COVID-19 at the terminal. Pre-cruise test cost continues to be the guest's responsibility and telehealth home tests are still not accepted for unvaccinated guests.

Royal Caribbean announced yesterday that unvaccinated kids would be able to do back-to-back cruises as well.

Royal Caribbean will now allow kids under the vaccine eligibility age to go on back-to-back cruises

In:
14 Sep 2021

Royal Caribbean has changed its policy and will now allow children under the vaccine eligibility age may now sail on back-to-back cruises.

What's the difference between a large and small cruise ship? | Royal Caribbean Blog

When cruises first restarted in North America in June, Royal Caribbean added a provision preventing unvaccinated children to do back-to-back cruises.

That rule was in place until today when Royal Caribbean informed travel agents of the policy change.

Kids on a back-to-back cruise will be subject to all health protocols, plus a complimentary COVID-19 test administered onboard prior to the start of their second voyage. 

Royal Caribbean also added that guests are welcome to do as many back-to-back cruises as they wish.

In addition, Royal Caribbean said it would "continue to evaluate this policy as public health guidance evolves."

What is a back-to-back cruise?

Back-to-back cruises is a term referring to when a guest goes on consecutive cruises on the same ship, rather than just one and then disembarking.

The reason to do a back-to-back cruise is so that you can have more time to enjoy everything the ship you sail on has to offer, as well as perhaps a different itinerary. Some ships alternative itineraries depending on the week they sail.

Towards the end of the first sailing, a letter is delivered to a back-to-back cruiser's stateroom to let them know what to expect on turnaround day.

Typically on Royal Caribbean, all the consecutive cruisers report to a designated area of the ship to wait for all other guests to disembark.  Then, a complimentary covid test is administered (sometimes the test is done the day before), and after the results come back, guests are escorted through the process of de-activating their SeaPass card from the first sailing and issued a new SeaPass for the new sailing.

Royal Caribbean extends window of time to use future cruise credits through end of 2022

In:
14 Sep 2021

Royal Caribbean is giving guests an additional three months of cruises to choose from when using their future cruise credit.

The Cruise with Confidence program allows anyone booked on a Royal Caribbean cruise to cancel their sailing up to 48 hours before their sail date, and that credit can now be used for sailings departing by December 31, 2022.  It was previously held to September 30, 2022.

Essentially, anyone with a future cruise credit can apply it to more sailings than before.

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.

The credit is valid to book by April 30th, 2022 and sail by December 31, 2022, or one year from the original sailing date, whichever is later.

As of now, the Cruise with Confidence program is valid on any cruise booked before October 31, 2021.

Royal Caribbean has steadily extended the Cruise with Confidence program by pushing back the date at which sailings must be booked by.

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.

The additional three months of cruises to choose from follows up on guest feedback that many RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers shared last month when Royal Caribbean extended the program without also extending when you could sail.

Sean McVeigh wrote, "They need to extend the date for cruise rebooking. There are so many of us at this point that have cancelled 5+ cruises and they take so long to get us the cruise credits we end up with more credits than we can use in a year."

Alan DeHaan wanted the same thing, "I have a small amount of FCC I'd love to put on my next cruise but that's next October. Just extend Rebooking."

With the new change, guests now have more cruises to choose from when applying their credits.

Royal Caribbean will now require passengers to get a Covid test no more than 2 days before their cruise

In:
03 Sep 2021

Royal Caribbean has shortened the amount of time before your cruise you can must get your Covid test done before your cruise.

Following an update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week, Royal Caribbean has adjusted its policy, beginning with sailings departing September 13, 2021 or later.

In order to meet the CDC's requirements, Royal Caribbean will now require vaccinated guests 12 and older to show a negative Covid-19 test result for a PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days prior to sailing in order to board. (Previously, it was 3 days.)

Unvaccinated kids ages 2 to 11 may present either a negative PCR or antigen test result no more than 3 days prior to sailing, but not on boarding day. 

Guests under 2 years of age will not be tested. 

Test results must be issued by an accredited test provider and show a laboratory negative result which can be printed or shown via a phone.

Under the new rules, you would have two days before your sailing date to get the test done. As an example, if your cruise departs on a Saturday, you could get your test done on

  1. Friday (Day 1)
  2. Thursday (Day 2)

Sailings departing before September 13 will still have the requirement for all guests age 2 and older — regardless of their vaccination status, departure port or the length of their cruise, to get a Covid-19 test done no more than 3 days before their sail date.

Other cruise lines changed their policies this week as well, such as Carnival Cruise Line and MSC Cruises.

Why the change?

The reason why Royal Caribbean is changing their policy is due to updated guidance from the CDC.

The CDC altered their guidelines to cruise lines to recommend fully vaccinated passengers get their Covid test no more than 2 days before boarding or get a test on embarkation day.  It also lists unvaccinated passengers get their test no more than 3 days before the cruise.

The CDC still allows passengers to get either a PCR or antigen test.

Where can you get a test before the cruise?

With such a short turnaround time for taking a test and getting the results back in time, you may be wondering what the best options are.

First and foremost, rapid antigen tests are the easiest test to take and get because they do not require the "brain tickler" prodding associated with PCR tests, and more importantly, antigen test results come back in less than an hour.

Royal Caribbean will begin offering an at-home test kit, beginning September 8, 2021. Fully vaccinated guests can order at-home test kits, shipped right to your door (anywhere in the U.S.) in two business days or less.

Complete this pre-cruise test at home, with live video supervision by a Certified Guide and get results in 15 minutes.
Your clients can visit RoyalCaribbean.com/HomeTestKit to place their order.

Many health providers and chain drug stores, including WalgreensRite Aid and CVS, now offer COVID-19 testing with the possibility of advanced reservations.  When at all possible, getting a reservation makes the process easier.

Read moreWhen do you have to take a Covid test before your Royal Caribbean cruise?

Another very easy option is the at-home Covid-19 test. Royal Caribbean accepts the Abbott BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test because it is supervised and administered remotely via a video session. 

At-home tests can be purchased online and ship quite quickly, allowing you to take the test anywhere with an internet connection at any time.  The test can be proctored at any time of day or night.

eMed sells tests in six packs, which brings the price down to $25 per test.  

Read moreI tried the at-home Covid-19 test that Royal Caribbean accepts

Royal Caribbean did not change their back-to-back cruise policy

In:
27 Aug 2021

An erroneous email went out to some guests about a change in the consecutive cruise policy, but Royal Caribbean has clarified the process will not change as drastically as first thought.

On Thursday, Royal Caribbean sent an email to guests to inform them guests doing a back-to-back cruise would have to take their luggage off the ship with them, take a Covid-19 test, and then re-embark during a selected check-in time.

This drew a great deal of negative reactions from cruise fans, who relish the opportunity to do back-to-back cruises. Many cruise fans questioned the logic in leaving the contained environment of the cruise ship to mingle with the public again before coming back onboard.

Many of the outraged took to airing their frustrations on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog message board.

ConstantCruiser wrote, "Tested on the ship and confirmed to be negative but you have to fully pack and sit in the terminal for fours hours?"

"Definitely not the experience we were looking forward to," teddy added.

Corrected and updated back-to-back information

A few hours later, Royal Caribbean sent a follow up email to clarify that the original directions of being required to pack your bags and bring them to the terminal between sailings was incorrect.

"This is incorrect. You do not need to pack your bags and bring them to the terminal," the email said.

Instead, here are Royal Caribbean's back-to-back sailing requirements.

Guests who sail on back-to-back cruises must show proof of full vaccination against Covid-19 and are required to take a Covid-19 test producing negative results between each sailing. 

This test will be administered onboard at no expense to the guest. The regular back-to-back process will occur on turnaround day which means, back-to-back guests will debark (leaving their luggage onboard) and check-in for the next cruise will take place. 

Be sure to bring your Covid-19 Vaccine record card, as well as your Passport and any important documents needed to board your next sailing. 

And if you're sailing on consecutive cruises on different ships within 3 days, Royal Caribbean will arrange for a complimentary pre-cruise Covid-19 test on the last day of your sailing. Just let Guest Services onboard know a couple of days before you disembark and they'll arrange the complimentary test for you. 

Guest reactions

Just as quickly as the negative comments originally came in, RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers commended the quick fix of what looked to be a bad situation.

JimnKathy immediately wrote, "I commend Royal for correcting this so quickly. Makes me feel much better about our back-to-back sailing next month."

BrianB added, "I appreciate Royal acting so quickly to change it. It may have sounded like a good idea, and was probably made with input from health officials, but somewhere along the way reasonable accommodation for the customer must also enter into the formula."

Teddy admitted he the job of crafting protocols cannot be an easy task, "I’m glad I don’t have to make policy decisions for cruising. Truly a no-win situation for everybody. "

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel cruise for a credit additional month through October 2021

In:
25 Aug 2021

Royal Caribbean has announced a new extension of its Cruise with Confidence program by another month.

This program allows guests to cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before their sail date with no penalty.

Royal Caribbean extended it by one month, and now Cruise with Confidence is good for cruises booked on or before October 31, 2021.  Previously the program was set to expire unless you booked by September 30, 2021.

With the future cruise credit you receive from Cruise with Confidence, you get a get a future cruise credit valid to book by April 30, 2022 and sail by September 30, 2022, or one year from the original sailing date, whichever is later.

Cruise with Confidence was introduced at the beginning of the cruise industry shutdown in 2020, and was designed to give guests peace of mind that they can change their plans after final payment date.

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.

In addition, the Best Price Guarantee program will be extended to the end of October.

The Best Price Guarantee means you can take advantage of better rates up to 48 hours prior to sail date. Usually guests in certain countries can reprice cruises only up until their final payment date to take advantage of a price drop.

How does Cruise with Confidence work?

Ever since Royal Caribbean shut down cruises in March 2020, it has offered guests increased flexibility in being able to change their minds due to the fluid nature of news and the global health crisis.

Essentially, Cruise with Confidence is the name of the program that allows guests to change or cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before their sail date with no penalty or change fees.

Guests can opt for a 100% Future Cruise Credit that is good for 12 months or more.

Today's change means Cruise with Confidence is applicable to guests booked on-or-before August 31, 2021 on sailings departing through April 2022. 

The program includes refundable and non-refundable cruise fares, and only excludes chartered sailings.

It is important to note that if you elect to cancel a cruise on your own with this program, and later Royal Caribbean cancels the sailing, you waive any right to receive any refund oft he cruise fare paid.

Royal Caribbean will require all cruise ship passengers 12 and older to be fully vaccinated to comply with Bahamas policy

In:
19 Aug 2021

Hours after The Bahamas issued a new policy requiring cruise ship passengers 12 years old or older to be fully vaccinated, Royal Caribbean has updated its September cruise protocols to match.

Bahamas Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis signed an order on Thursday that will not allow a cruise ship to to enter a port in The Bahamas, including a private stop, if they anyone 12 years old or older is not vaccinated, beginning September 3, 2021 and runing through November 1, 2021.

As a result of this change by The Bahamas, Royal Caribbean announced it will now require passengers 12 and older to be vaccinated.

For cruises departing from any U.S. port and visiting The Bahamas on and after Sept. 3, guests who are 12 and older must provide proof of vaccination in order to sail. This also applies to itineraries that include Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

Travelers unable to show proof of vaccination will be unable to sail.

Those of our guests under 12, who are currently ineligible for the vaccine, can still cruise with us as long as they continue to provide a negative test result at boarding and follow certain health and safety protocols.

In a statement, the cruise line said it was committed to complying with regulations, "Royal Caribbean’s top priority is maintaining everyone’s well-being while complying with federal, state and local laws as we always have. We will continue to evaluate and update our health and safety measures as circumstances evolve."

The new policy change applies to cruises out of Florida, as other departure ports have required passengers at least 12 years old to be fully vaccinated since August 1.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on Facebook a summary of the new policy and how it affects the cruise line.

"The Bahamas has introduced a Executive order which only allows cruise ships to enter any Bahamian port (including private destinations) only if all guests over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated. Effective September 3rd."

"So what does it mean? Along with the USVI order a couple of weeks ago, it means all of our ships sailings from Florida and from all USA ports and ports around the world require all eligible guests to be fully vaccinated."

Only kids (under 12 from USA ports) who cannot yet be vaccinated can sail subject to testing and protocols."

The move may leave some wondering how much of an impact will requiring adults to be vaccinated have on Royal Caribbean's business.

During Royal Caribbean Group's second quarter earnings call earlier this month, the company said in the month of July Royal Caribbean sailed with around 92% guests vaccinated, which was while the cruise line still allowed guests ages 12 to 16 to sail unvaccinated.

September health protocols

In addition to announcing the change in vaccination policy, Royal Caribbean released its health protocols for cruises from September.

Royal Caribbean has been releasing its health protocols for its cruise ships one month at a time to ensure guests have an idea of what changes and requirements will be expected of passengers.

The protocols for September sailings from Florida mirror the August protocols, minus the new vaccination rule.

Testing

All guests age 2 and older — regardless of their vaccination status or the length of their cruise — will need to take a COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) with an accredited test provider, such as a drugstore chain or diagnostic lab, no more than 3 days before arriving at the terminal and show their negative test result upon arriving. 

In addition to the pre-cruise test, kids will take one or two more tests, depending on the length of the cruise. Royal Caribbean’s test provider will administer these, at no cost to guests.

At the Terminal

For all cruises, kids will take a complimentary PCR test when checking in at the terminal. Registration details will be sent via email in advance.

Prior to Disembarking

For cruises that are 5 nights or longer, kids will take a complimentary antigen test onboard before the cruise ends. Vaccinated guests who require a COVID-19 test for re-entry into their country may receive one onboard as well. Guests will be notified onboard about how to register for this test.

Masks

Masks are required for all guests to be worn, regardless if they vaccinated or not (except those under age 2, who do not need to wear a mask at any time).

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 and shows.
  • In your stateroom when you are with your traveling party.
  • While visiting our private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, 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.

Some venues and nightlife events will be for vaccinated guests age 12 and up, only. Masks won't be required in these venues. Vaccinated parents are invited to enjoy these experiences while their kids are living it up at Adventure Ocean.

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel cruise for a credit until August 31, 2021

In:
27 Jul 2021

Royal Caribbean has once again extended its popular option for giving guests the ability to cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before their sail date.

Travel agents were informed on Tuesday that Royal Caribbean has extended the Cruise with Confidence program.

This allows cancelations up to 48-hours prior to the sail date in exchange for a 100% Future Cruise Credit when booking on or before August 31, 2021, for sailings departing by April 30, 2022.

Prior to today's announcement, Cruise with Confidence was set to expire on July 31, 2021.

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.

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.

In addition, the Best Price Guarantee program will be extended to the end of August.

The Best Price Guarantee means you can take advantage of better rates up to 48 hours prior to sail date. Usually guests in certain countries can reprice cruises only up until their final payment date to take advantage of a price drop.

How does Cruise with Confidence work?

Ever since Royal Caribbean shut down cruises in March 2020, it has offered guests increased flexibility in being able to change their minds due to the fluid nature of news and the global health crisis.

Essentially, Cruise with Confidence is the name of the program that allows guests to change or cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before their sail date with no penalty or change fees.

Guests can opt for a 100% Future Cruise Credit that is good for 12 months or more.

Today's change means Cruise with Confidence is applicable to guests booked on-or-before August 31, 2021 on sailings departing through April 2022. 

The program includes refundable and non-refundable cruise fares, and only excludes chartered sailings.

It is important to note that if you elect to cancel a cruise on your own with this program, and later Royal Caribbean cancels the sailing, you waive any right to receive any refund oft he cruise fare paid.

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

In:
01 Jul 2021

If Royal Caribbean's new health protocols for a cruise you have booked aren't what you want, you can not only cancel your cruise but get a refund on any future cruise credits you have.

When Royal Caribbean announced its new health protocols for Freedom of the Seas sailing from Miami, it added an option for guests to cancel and get a refund, but future cruise credits (FCC) typically get re-issued instead of refunded when a sailing is cancelled.

At a webinar with travel agents on Wednesday, Royal Caribbean International Assistant Vice President of Guest Experience, Aurora Yera-Rodriguez, told travel agents guests can get a refund for their FCC on sailings where protocols have been announced.

The question came up if a guest was adamant that they will not get vaccinated and has a FCC, will Royal Caribbean offer a full refund.

Ms. Yera-Rodriguez responded that Royal Caribbean will indeed offer a refund for both money paid on the reservation and money owed in most FCCs.

"If we've announced protocols for a particular sailing that anyone is booked on, we're glad to offer them a refund."

"Any FCC that has their funds backed by it, like a Cruise with Confidence or a Global Suspension, we will refund it if they disagree with our announced protocol."

Ms. Yera-Rodriguez further clarified her statement, "If you're sitting on an FCC, you haven't booked it, you haven't done anything with it, and you're like, oh, I'm just reading that potentially, there are going to be vaccines required or I might have to do something that I don't like or agree with. Well, let's kind of wait it out and see what happens to your particular sailing, for what happens in the future. But I understand that as we communicate these out, but then we just need to be as accommodating as we can be, and we've really been trying hard to be."

She did note that a FCC obtained by other means, such as from a cruise impacted by a hurricane or the result of an incident on a ship, would not qualify.

Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean announced the first protocols for sailings from the United States, which allowed unvaccinated guests onboard. Unvaccinated guests would have certain venues off-limits to them, as well as required out-of-pocket Covid-19 testing and a travel insurance mandate.

Vaccinated passengers on Freedom of the Seas will be issued wristbands that show they are vaccinated and allow them access to venues reserved for vaccinated passengers only.

Passengers who are unvaccinated will have a hole punched in their SeaPass cards.

All passengers will have to show their SeaPass cards to access lounges, shows and dining venues on the ship.

These new protocols only apply to the initial sailings of Freedom of the Seas through the end of July. More protocols will be announced for other ships and sailings, which may or may not be similar to what Freedom has planned.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com will be aboard the first sailing of Freedom of the Seas this weekend to share what the first Royal Caribbean International sailing from the United States in 15 months is like for passengers.

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