Alt Text!

Policies

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 January 31, 2021 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.

Royal Caribbean extends flexible cancellation policy by an additional 2 months

In:
22Jul2020

Royal Caribbean informed travel partners on Wednesday they have extended its popular Cruise with Confidence policy by another two months.

Cruise with Confidence now allows cancellations up to 48-hours prior to sailing, in exchange for a 100% Future Cruise Credit (FCC) on sailings through April 2022 for bookings made on or before September 30, 2020.

There is no change to the policy parameters, which was originally announced on March 6, 2020 in an effort to give consumer a higher level of trust that they could change their mind later if they do not want to cruise.

Under the program, should you change your mind about a booked sailing, Cruise with Confidence offers the flexibility to cancel up to 48-hours prior to the sail date in exchange for a 100% Future Cruise Credit.

Cruise with Confidence is applicable to guests booked on-or-before September 30, 2020 on sailings departing through April 2022 (all open deployment as of July 22, 2020).

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 to Cruise with Confidence, guests can still take advantage of "Best Price Guarantee" and "Lift and Shift."

  • Best Price Guarantee: Guests can choose to change the price and promotional offer on their reservation up to 48 hours before their cruise.
  • Lift and Shift: This option is ideal for those guests wishing to move their vacation plans to next year. Eligible between now and September 30, 2020, guests can protect their original cruise fare and promotional offering by shifting to a future sailing on the same itinerary type, sailing length, stateroom category, and within the same 4-week period of their original cruise date same-time-next-year.

“Guests are reacting positively to our Cruise with Confidence policy,” says Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO Richard Fain, “because it enables them to make informed decisions and to better manage complicated travel plans during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.”

Currently, Royal Caribbean has cancelled all of its sailings through September 30th, 2020.

Helpful resources:

Royal Caribbean has significantly reduced refund delays to under a month

In:
Category: 
15Jul2020

Royal Caribbean has made great strides in getting the average time it takes to process refund time, getting the average under a month.

Ever since Royal Caribbean suspended its global sailings in March, the cruise line has been swamped with refund requests, resulting in significant delays processing refunds.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, told travel agents that the average refund request is now 23 days.

Moreover, there are about 1,000 bookings that are still over 30 days waiting for a refund, but all of them should be processed by this Sunday.

"We also want to report some great news, and that is that our average refund is twenty three days," Freed said in a webinar.  "Now, we do have about a thousand bookings that are over 30 days waiting for a refund. And we should have those process by Sunday this weekend.

Tackling the problem

Processing refunds has been a sore subject for Royal Caribbean, with refunds taking much longer than expected.

Refunds were originally expected to take 30 days to process, but some refunds were taking up to 45 days or longer. 

In April, Royal Caribbean apologized to guests for the delays after hearing from so many guests how long things were taking.

To help speed things up, the cruise line rehired over 100 employees that were laid off in April 2020 in order to help with the significantly long phone hold times.

Top 10 Royal Caribbean Lift and Shift questions

In:
Category: 
10Jul2020

With so many cruise cancellations these days, Royal Caribbean devised a new way for guests to easily defer their cruise vacation with the Lift and Shift program.

This new policy makes moving an existing cruise vacation to next year much simpler than having to cancel a reservation, get a refund, and then re-book and re-pay for everything. Plus, it has the added benefit of protecting the price you paid for the original reservation.

Considering the typical year-over-year price increases, Lift and Shift has proven to be a very lucrative and popular choice for guests.

Naturally, new policies tend to have lots of questions associated with them, so here is a look at the most commonly asked Lift & Shift questions readers have been asking.

Who is eligible to use Lift & Shift?

The Lift & Shift option is available to guests with existing bookings, as well as someone who has had their cruise cancelled by Royal Caribbean.

If you have a cruise booked currently, you can elect to Lift & Shift that sailing between now and August 1, 2020. After this point, Lift & Shift expires and is no longer eligible (although Royal Caribbean could potentially extend it).

If Royal Caribbean cancelled your cruise during the sailing suspensions departing June 12 - September 15, 2020, as well as Bermuda sailings and those sailings visiting a Canadian port through October 2020. Likewise, Odyssey of the Seas departures between November 5, 2020 and April 17, 2020 are also eligible.

Sailings previously impacted by cancelled cruises prior to June 12, 2020 are unfortunately ineligible.

Can I use Lift & Shift with any cruise fare?

Lift and Shift works with most fares, but there are a few restrictions on select rates that are ineligible for Lift and Shift.

These include (but not limited to):

  • Net rates
  • Casino rates 
  • Travel Agent Friends & Family rates
  • Travel Agent Reduced rates
  • Complimentary staterooms

Do I have to book the same ship or ship class when using Lift & Shift?

No, you do not have to rebook on the same ship or even the same class of ship.

The requirement for Lift & Shift is to ensure it is the same itinerary, stateroom category, sailing length, and timeframe. You can move between ships without an issue, provided those other requirements are met.

Will add-ons (such as air, transfers, and hotel) and pre-cruise purchases (such as beverage packages, shore excursions, etc.), follow to the future ship/sailing?

No, all add-ons and pre-cruise purchases will be cancelled and refunded when opting to Lift & Shift.

These add-ons can be added to the future reservation, as desired, at prevailing rates.

Keep in mind that while Royal Caribbean's promotions carry-over with the reservation, any promotions or incentives your travel agency may have provided will likely not carry over.

Are there any sailings that I cannot Lift & Shift my cruise to?

There are a few dates that you cannot Lift & Shift to, unless you are already booked during this time of year.

This includes Christmas, New Year’s, and Chinese New Year’s cruises.

If you are already booked on one of these holiday sailings and want to take advantage of Lift & Shift, you can move to the same sailing next year (assuming all other qualifying criteria is met).

Can I Lift & Shift a 2021 sailing to 2022?

This is a gray area of the rules, where I have heard from numerous readers they have been able to Lift & Shift their reservation to 2022.

It seems in general it is possible, but it may require talking to the right person to get it done. 

It seems the only caveat is that is allowed as long as there are sailings in your date range (currently Royal Caribbean only has 2022 cruises available to book through early 2022).

Is there a limit to the number of times I can Lift & Shift a reservation?

Yes – throughout the life of your client’s booking, you can opt to Lift & Shift only one time during the designated opt-in period.

Can I Lift & Shift if I have only paid deposit, and not made final payment date?

Yes, all that is required to take advantage of Lift & Shift is for names and full deposit to be on the reservation.

This includes refundable or non-refundable cruise deposit. Either one will work.

When you complete Lift & Shift, your deposit type remains the same, so a refundable deposit remains a refundable deposit.

Can I Lift and Shift if I am past Final Payment and now within the cancellation penalty period?

Yes, provided all required criteria are met, your client can opt to Lift & Shift to a qualifying future sail date.

Since your current reservation falls within the cancellation penalty period, the applicable penalty amount (as indicated on the
day the booking is re-accommodated) will follow your reservation to the new ship and sail date.

Assuming that you sails as planned, there is no impact. Should you decide to cancel in the future, the assessed penalty amount
from the original reservation will be withheld, as well as any additional cancellation fees as indicated by the payment schedule on the new ship and sailing.

Once I decide to Lift & Shift my reservation, can I change my mind later for a refund or Future Cruise Credit?

No, once you decide to Lift & Shift , reverting to a Future Cruise Credit or requesting a refund at a later time is not an option.

Lift and Shift Tips & Tricks

Here are a few bonus tips to keep in mind if you opt to Lift and Shift!

You cannot pick a room with the self-service form. When you decide to Lift and Shift, if you use the self-service form online, you cannot specify a specific room. If you want to pick your room, you will need to call.

Beware of inconsistencies. Royal Caribbean has been inconsistent with enforcing certain Lift and Shift rules, such as the exact same itinerary. Going between Western and Eastern Caribbean is technically not allowed, but some people have been able to do it by simply talking to a different agent.

Your cruise-add on pricing does not carry over. It is worth noting again that your drink package, shore excursion, or specialty dining purchases will be refunded when you Lift & Shift. You certainly can re-purchase them for your new sailing, but it will be at the prevailing rates.

Have you used Lift & Shift?

What has been your experience using Lift & Shift? Is there a question you still have about the process? Share your questions and advice about Lift and Shift in the comments!

You can combine Future Cruise Credits instead of separately being reissued

In:
Category: 
26Jun2020

Royal Caribbean has made it easier to manage Future Cruise Credits in a situation where a guest uses a Future Cruise Credit towards another sailing.

In a scenario where a guest uses a Future Cruise Credit to pay for their existing cruise, but now wishes to cancel under “Cruise with Confidence” terms, the cruise line aims to simplify the process.

If a Future Cruise Credit was leveraged to pay for either all or a portion of the existing reservation, Royal Caribbean will make it easier by combining all funds into one voucher. This is an alternative to having multiple FCCs, one from each cancelled booking.

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

Regardless of the original FCC’s expiration date, the new FCC is valid through December 31, 2021, at which time all unused funds will expire.

Prior to this change, Royal Caribbean would have issued a separate FCC for each cruise instead of combining the value into one.

This is another change Royal Caribbean has made to its Future Cruise Credit program, which has evolved since the start of the current global cruise suspension in order to meet the needs of guests.

Earlier in June, the cruise line began allowing guests to use Future Cruise Credits to pay for a new cruise deposit.

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.

When Royal Caribbean cancels the sailing, the Future Cruise Credit is worth 125% the value of the cruise fare that the guest paid.

You can now use a Future Cruise Credit to pay for a Royal Caribbean cruise deposit

In:
Category: 
08Jun2020

Royal Caribbean has updated its policies to allow guests to use a Future Cruise Credit towards the deposit on a new cruise booking.

The cruise line updated its policy on Monday to allow guests to use a Future Cruise Credit to pay for the deposit owed on a reservation.

As long as the value of the Future Cruise Credit covers the full deposit amount, no additional funds will be owed until Final Payment, at which time any cruise fare balance and taxes/fees will be required. 

If the value of the FCC does not cover the full deposit amount, additional funds will be required to meet the total deposit needs and, thereafter, the remaining balance due at Final Payment.

Prior to this policy change, guests with a FCC would be required to put a cash deposit down first on a new reservation, and then apply a FCC to the reservation.  

What happens if I want to cancel my Royal Caribbean cruise?

In:
Category: 
05Jun2020

Royal Caribbean is working on resuming sailings as soon as it is safe to do so, but some guests may be considering whether or not they want to keep their upcoming cruise booking.

With an ever-changing global landscape, new regulations announced by other cruise lines, as well as changes close to home, it is completely understandable if some vacationers are reconsidering their fall and winter cruise plans.

While no one can decide for you, whether you should cancel your cruise or not; I want to provide an in-depth look at your options.

If you are considering cancelling your Royal Caribbean cruise, here is what you can expect to happen:

How to cancel your cruise

Depending upon when your cruise is scheduled to sail, you have a few options to consider when it comes to cancelling.

Traditional cruise cancellation

Forgetting some of the new policies that will be outlined in a bit, Royal Caribbean's cruise cancellation policy is based upon the type of cruise fare you have purchased; and the timing of your final payment date.

If you booked refundable cruise fare, and have not yet made your final payment, you can cancel for a full refund of your deposit and any money paid.

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.

Once you pass the final payment date, you may be subject to cancelation charges that vary depending on how close you are to your sailing. 

A traditional cruise cancellation will provide cash back, but potentially with penalties.

Cruise with Confidence cancellation policy

The traditional cruise cancellation policy worked for a world prior to 2020, so Royal Caribbean introduced the Cruise with Confidence policy to offer more flexible cancellation terms.

Essentially, Royal Caribbean will let you cancel any cruise you already have or one you will make between now and August 1, 2020 that is scheduled to set sail through April 30, 2022. 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).

Lift & Shift

Another option available is to simply move your existing reservation to a cruise next year with the Lift & Shift program.

If you are ready to push your existing reservation to a cruise the following year, Royal Caribbean will protect the price 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 August 1, 2020.

Can I cancel my Royal Caribbean cruise online?

In order to expedite the amount of requests for cancellations, Royal Caribbean has set up an online form to cancel your cruise.

You will need the Booking ID, Ship, Sail Date, and Last Name from the reservation you wish to cancel.  At that point, the website will present options available to you.

If you booked with a travel agent, I strongly advise that you speak with them first to determine your options. Moreover, an agent can handle the paperwork required for a refund; and serve as a go-between when (not if) refund delays occur.

What if Royal Caribbean cancels your cruise?

You should be aware that more cruises could be cancelled by Royal Caribbean if the cruise line is not confident they can ensure your safety.

Since March, Royal Caribbean has cancelled a multitude of sailings around the world. There is usually little to no warning these cancellations will occur;  but it reflects the "moving target" the cruise line has encountered in their plans to resume sailings.

In the event you hang onto your reservation, but Royal Caribbean ends up cancelling your cruise, you will likely have a few options.

First, you can opt for a 125% Future Cruise Credit.  By opting to take a credit instead of a refund, Royal Caribbean will reward you with bonus money to use on a future sailing.

Alternatively, Royal Caribbean offers Lift & Shift to anyone affected by a cancelled cruise, allowing you to move it to next year.

Lastly, you can take a 100% refund instead of a credit or deferment.

If you had any pre-cruise purchases (drink packages, shore excursions, etc) booked, those will automatically be refunded, although you could opt for a 125% onboard credit for these purchases that you can apply on any future sailing.

How can I get my money back if I want to cancel?

If you are interested in getting your cash back, here are the options available to you:

Traditional cancellations will provide cash back, minus any change fees or associated penalties.  Quite often, guests run into penalties because they booked a non-refundable cruise fare and/or they are past the final payment date.

If Royal Caribbean ends up cancelling your cruise, you can take a 100% refund, regardless of if you booked a non-refundable cruise fare or final payment date penalties. This requires the cruise line to cancel, instead of you, so the choice is taken out of your hands.  Still, this is the only way to get all of your money back as cash without penalties.

What about travel insurance?

Travel insurance covers a great deal of scenarios, but cancelling your vacation because you want to cancel is usually not covered.

Refer to your travel insurance policy, but unless you have a 'Cancel For Any Reason' policy, most travel insurance does not kick in until an outside influence occurs that prevents you from going on the cruise, such as becoming ill or another covered scenario.

Refund Delays

I will not sugar-coat things: Royal Caribbean is taking a long time to process refunds.  There are plenty of guests who have been waiting months for refunds, and the cruise line is not denying it.

Royal Caribbean is working hard to expedite refund requests and get money out sooner; but you should be aware that any refund request will not be processed quickly.

Working with a travel agent to get updates, and rectify incorrect refund amounts, has been one of the best strategies I, and many others, have used.  It is not pretty, but having someone working on your behalf does help.

Non-Royal Caribbean related refunds

Of course, you may have other purchases made in conjunction with your cruise vacation that is outside of Royal Caribbean. 

Each company you work with will have different cancellation policies, with some being far more flexible than others.

The airlines have modified their cancellation terms to be more flexible, although each airline has different rules regarding travel credits, refunds, or both. One loophole to getting a refund is if the airline cancels or changes your flight time, you may be able to jump in on a refund request.

Hotels have traditionally offered flexible cancellation terms, provided you did not opt for a non-refundable deposit. 

Perhaps car rentals have the most customer-friendly cancellations available; but you will have to refer to your rental reservation. 

Regardless of which refund you are requesting, the key is to be persistent and polite about getting answers to options available to you.

Your Choice

Ultimately, the decision to cancel your Royal Caribbean cruise is a personal choice that depends on various factors unique to yourself. There is little doubt the cruise experience will change, at least temporarily, from what we are accustomed to having onboard, but the cruise line is committed to cruising remaining a fun vacation experience.

The Cruise with Confidence options that have provided a great deal of flexibility may not be around forever, so now is a great opportunity to consider all of your options.

Royal Caribbean expects new changes once cruises resume may not be permanent

In:
Category: 
28May2020

When Royal Caribbean starts sailing again, the cruise line expects new policy changes to evolve and change over time.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd Chairman and CEO Richard Fain was interviewed by Travel Weekly, and indicated new policies added when sailings return might not be a permanent change.

"There will be a lot that will be a lot different, but it’ll be one thing the day we start up and something else a month later, and something else a month after that."

Mr. Fain's comments today echoed what he recently told CNBC that the start up will resemble what we see in society with an evolving approach to policies, "And my guess is that when we start, we will limit the number of people who can go on to a ship, just as my neighborhood restaurants are beginning to open up."

"And by the way, we'll learn from the experience in our society. We'll learn from the restaurants. We'll learn from the barber shops. we'll learn from the experience in our society. We'll learn from the restaurants. We'll learn from the barber shops. I know I need one and I We'll learn and we will adjust much as they are doing. So we'll start at one point and then gradually, as knowledge of the disease, as the testing, as the contact tracing, as vaccines come on board, that will gradually adjust.

Royal Caribbean has not announced any new policies or changes guests can expect in order to keep everyone onboard safe. 

There has been plenty of speculation in and around the industry, with parallels being drawn to other businesses and industries that are beginning to start up.

Royal Caribbean's current date to resume sailings is August 1, 2020, with the exception of China, which is set to resume sailings on July 1, 2020.

Pages