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Royal Caribbean greatly expands ability for guests to cancel and rebook cruises for later

In:
Category: 
06May2020

Royal Caribbean announced a massive enhancement and extension to its Cruise with Confidence program, which allows guests to cancel their cruises up to 48 hours before sailing.

The "enhanced & extended Cruise with Confidence policy" was announced on Wednesday , where guests can cancel up to 48-hours prior to sailing in exchange for a 100% Future Cruise Credit on sailings through April 2022 for bookings made on-or-before August 1, 2020.

In addition, Royal Caribbean announced "Lift & Shift", where guests can move their existing booking to next year, protecting their original price and promotion. 

Lift & Shift is available by selecting 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.  It is not required that your client rebook on the same ship or ship class.

Guests are eligible to rebook under the Lift & Shift guidelines between now and August 1, 2020. After this point, Lift & Shift expires and is no longer eligible.

All pre-cruise purchases will be removed during the re-accommodation process and can be added to the future reservation, as desired, at prevailing rates. 

You can opt to Lift & Shift only one time.

Guests who take advantage of the Cruise with Confidence program can get a 100% Future Cruise Credit if they decide they would like to cancel their cruise vacation due to the current global situation.

Non-Refundable Deposit bookings are eligible for Cruise with Confidence and follow the same guidelines.

If you purchased a hotel or transfer, here is how it works:

  • When electing for a Future Cruise Credit
    • If you purchased hotel accommodations or transfers with Royal Caribbean, all charges will be automatically refunded.
    • If you booked outside of Royal Caribbean, you will need to contact the company you booked through directly.
  • When opting to Lift & Shift
    • If you purchased hotel accommodations or transfers with Royal Caribbean, these will be removed during the re-accommodation process, but can be re-added, if desired, once confirmed on the future ship/sailing of choice at prevailing rates. 
    • If you booked outside of Royal Caribbean, you will need to contact the company you booked through directly.

Lift & Shift blackout dates:

  • Christmas, New Year’s, and Chinese New Year’s cruises are ineligible, unless you are currently confirmed on one of these sailings and wishes to take advantage of Lift & Shift to move to the same sailing next year (assuming all other qualifying criteria is met). 

Best Price Guarantee Update

Another big change announced is guests can take advantage of Royal Caribbean's Best Price Guarantee up to 48-hours prior to their cruise vacation start date, ensuring the best rate and/or promotion.

This means guests can now take advantage of price drops after final payment date, up until 48 hours before the cruise.  This is applicable to all sailings made on or before August 1, 2020 (including ones made before today's announcement).

Price variances will result in a rate adjustment if requested outside of final payment or a non-refundable onboard credit when inside final payment period.

Prior to this change to the Best Price Guarantee, price adjustments after final payment date would incur cancellation fees that would offset any price adjustment advantages.

Will you be more willing to book a cruise because of this enhanced policy? What do you think of the Lift & Shift offer? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Royal Caribbean apologizes to guests for refunds taking longer than expected

In:
Category: 
30Apr2020

Royal Caribbean sent an email to guests who are still waiting for a refund from a canceled cruise in order to apologize for the longer than expected time it has taken to process these requests.

Thousands of guests received emails expressing the cruise line's apology for how long it has taken, along with an explanation of why things have taken longer than expected.

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

In addition, Royal Caribbean has promised an update by May 6th, unless a refund has already been issued by then.

Currently, some refunds are taking up to 45 days. Please know that each and every request is receiving the same level of care and dedication. And rest assured, your refund will be honored and it is coming – it’s just taking a little longer than expected and we’re very sorry about that.

Royal Caribbean has cancelled dozens upon dozens of sailings since mid-March due to the global cruise suspension. Each time sailings have been canceled, guests have had the choice of a 100% refund or 125% Future Cruise Credit.

The delay in receiving refunds has prompted frustration among some guests, with plenty expressing their dissatisfaction with the delays online.

Royal Caribbean offers updates on refunds, Odyssey of the Seas and the President's Cruise

In:
29Apr2020

There are plenty of questions among cruisers in this time of a global cruise suspension, and Royal Caribbean shed a bit of light on some of these topics.

Earlier on Tuesday, Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service Vicki Freed took questions from travel agents about a variety of topics that many guests are wondering about.

In addition to announcing a doctor's note is no longer needed for guests who are over 70 years old, a number of hot topics were hit during the question and answer session of the call, and here are the answers provided to concerns many readers have had as well.

Changes to buffets

One agent wanted to know how Royal Caribbean will handle guests going to the buffet once sailings start back up.

Royal Caribbean Director, Post Cruise Guest Relations & Shared Services, Laly Rodriguez, commented, "We're still ironing out some of the different details, as to whether there'll be folks serving. We might have different shifts for our buffets, and have different options taking place in our main dining venues. Those are still being worked out, but as soon as we know, you'll know."

Refunds

A very hot topic is when guests can expect to receive refunds for canceled sailings.

Ms. Rodriguez provided an explanation on the current refund situation, "When we first started with our global suspensions, we anticipated that refunds would take us about 30 days, but given the volume and being able to handle all the volume that we are receiving, it seems that we are closer to a 45 day window."

"We've been able to modify some of our processes, add things that we didn't have in the past, like bots processing the refunds; we've added resources to accounting; we've always been looking to speed this up"

"Your clients should be seeing their refunds in about 45 days, and hopefully with the next batches of suspensions that we've announced, the timing should get tighter and tigher."

In addition to the refunds being processed, Royal Caribbean will be sending a proactive apology communication to guests in order to explain how long it has been taking to get through all of the refunds promised.

"Seaface" mask trademark

Last week, I broke the news of Royal Caribbean's trademark of a name for a sanitary mask, and Ms. Freed was asked if there was any update on what this was all about.

There was not much information to share, but Ms. Freed had this to say, "Other than what I read on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog that we have a patent for it, I don't know anything else about it. I'm sure it will be adorable with Crown and Anchors, and whatever else designs we can come up with."

Ms. Rodriguez elaborated, "This whole situation has made us as a cruise line take on a bunch of other innovations that we've never thought we'd been in the business of taking on."

"This is one of a number of innovations that our team's are exploring as we look forward to safe and healthy and a fun return to cruise. So keep your eyes peeled for more hopefully."

Alaska cruises in 2020

When asked about cruises to Alaska this year, Ms. Freed offered an optimistic attitude, "Alaska's certainly a real possibility that we will be sailing there. The end of July, certainly I'm optimistic.

Pushing back final payment dates

Another question asked was if Royal Caribbean would shorten or change the final payment date due to the current situation.

Royal Caribbean Account Executive Brittany Yochum spoke to this concern, "At this time, we're not pushing back any of our final payment dates, especially because we do have the Cruise with Confidence policy out through the end of August."

Odyssey of the Seas update

Just like readers here, travel partners were curious if Odyssey of the Seas has any kind of update on the progress being made.

Ms. Yochum provided a brief update, "She is still being built, and we are definitely working on our way to still having her be delivered."

President's Cruise

Another question asked as if there would be any changes to Royal Caribbean's President's Cruise on October 25 out of Barcelona on Allure of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean's manager of the Sales Training Team, Renee Didier, answered, "The President's Cruise is still in our scope, and of course we're going to look forward to welcoming our guests onboard. So right now, we are still planning that cruise."

Royal Caribbean says no doctor's note will be required to cruise once sailings resume

In:
Category: 
29Apr2020

Following a swirl of rumors online about policies guests can expect once cruising resumes, Royal Caribbean spoke briefly to travel agents about the issue of guests needing a doctor's note in order cruise.

Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service Vicki Freed spoke at the beginning of her webinar by addressing the need for a letter from a doctor for guests who are 70 years old or older, or have a pre-existing chronic medical condition.

"We found out that CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) did actually change this requirement on April 3rd. So a health form is no longer required for those travelers ages 70 plus, nor are there restrictions for those guests with underlying health conditions."

"In our current environment, everything can change at a moment's notice, so this is very fluid. But as of today, there are no requirements for doctor's notes."

"We are working on our return to service protocols, and they may look very different in the next couple weeks or months. Until that's finalized, we can't say for sure this is never going to happen, but we will keep you informed."

Ms. Freed's comment comes less than a day after a few travel agents spotted an updated list of boarding & health protocols, which was quickly taken down after being prematurely posted.

The post sent ripples through social media as guests and travel advisors began to wonder if these policies would indeed enter into practice.

Prior to Royal Caribbean suspending global sailings in March, the cruise line issued a notice it would deny boarding to any person age 70 or older, unless the guest provides written verification from a qualified treating physician that certifies the person has no severe, chronic medical condition and is fit to travel.

"According to CLIA," Ms. Freed reiterated later in the call, "a health form is no longer required for those travelers ages 70 plus, nor are there restrictions for those guests with underlying health conditions."

Royal Caribbean extends Future Cruise Credits dates of use

In:
Category: 
27Apr2020

Royal Caribbean sent an email indicating it will honor its Future Cruise Credits for a longer period of time so that guests can have more options to consider when using their credits.

Originally, Royal Caribbean advised that you had until December 31st, 2021 to re-book and sail using your 125% Future Cruise Credit. 

So, instead of selecting a sailing the departs on or before December 31, 2021, you may now select a sailing departing on or before April 30, 2022. 

This provides an extra 4 months of sailings to choose from, although the credit must be applied by December 31, 2021 to the sailing.

Royal Caribbean says the decision was made to give guests more flexibility in properly planning a cruise.

Guests who have already received a 125% Future Cruise Credit will not receive an updated email, but the change has been made in Royal Caribbean's system.

How to request a refund for your cancelled Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
Category: 
17Apr2020

If your Royal Caribbean cruise was cancelled as a result of the voluntary global suspension of cruising, you have the choice of a Future Cruise Credit or getting a full refund.

There are advantages of both options, but if you are interested in a refund, here is what you need to know.

How long do you have to decide if you want a refund or a credit?

Royal Caribbean wants to provide its guests the greatest flexibility when choosing between either compensation offer.

Even if you opt for a future cruise credit, you have a certain amount of time to change your mind and opt for a refund instead.  Royal Caribbean would prefer you take the future cruise credit, but they do provide a means of changing your mind up until a certain point.

  • If your cancelled sailing was on-or-before March 14 - May 11, refunds must be requested on-or-before December 31, 2021 and will be processed approximately 30 days after the request is submitted.
  • If your cancelled sailing was between May 12 – June 11, 2020, refunds must be requested on-or-before December 31, 2020 and will be processed approximately 45 days after the request is submitted.

Keep in mind that even if you take a future cruise credit, taxes, fees, and prepaid gratuities  will be refunded to the original form of payment automatically.

How to request a refund

If you know you want a refund, there are two methods you can employ to get the process started on processing it.

If you booked through a travel agent, my advice is contact them and ask them to do it for you.

Alternatively, Royal Caribbean provides a self-service form that you can fill out and submit your refund request. This form is good for requesting refunds of a cancelled sailing, as well as opting into the Cruise with Confidence program.

You will need a few details to complete the self-service request:

  • Booking ID
  • Ship
  • Sail Date
  • Last Name

When can I expect refunds for shore excursions, specialty dining, beverage package, and other add-ons?

For sailings departing on-or-before April 10, 2020, once the reservation is cancelled, refunds can be expected within 30 days.

For sailings departing April 11 – May 11, 2020, guests had the option to select a 125% onboard credit to be used on a future sailing, in lieu of a refund. This option was available, if desired, through April 8, 2020, and has since expired. The fulfillment of both options is currently underway and can be expected within 30 days of request date.

For sailings departing May 12 – June 11, 2020, guests can elect to convert their purchases into an onboard credit valued at 125% of the amount paid via the Cruise Planner tool. You must opt-in to take advantage of this option on-or-before Monday, May 4, 2020 – at which time the offer will expire.

Thereafter, all guests who did not opt-in for the elevated onboard credit will automatically receive a refund to the original form of payment. Please allow 45 days for processing. This offer is applicable to individual reservations, as well as individuals within a Group.

Can I change my mind later and opt for a future cruise credit instead of a refund?

Yes, if the refund has not yet been processed, the compensation offer can revert back to a Future Cruise Credit.

What if my cruise isn't cancelled yet? Can I request a refund?

If your cruise has not been cancelled yet, you have a few choices that will depend on when your sailing is scheduled.

If you have not reached your final payment date, you can always cancel your cruise to get a refund, subject to the usual Royal Caribbean policies on how to cancel a cruise.

If your cruise is on or before September 1, 2020, you can take advantage of the Cruise with Confidence program to get a 100% future cruise credit.

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel a cruise up to 48 hours before a sailing through September 1 due to coronavirus

In:
30Mar2020

Royal Caribbean announced today it has extended its Cruise with Confidence cancellation policy to now include sailings through September 1, 2020.

Under this policy, Royal Caribbean is providing guests with the flexibility to cancel a cruise for any reason up to 48 hours before a sailing is scheduled to depart.  

 Guests will receive a full Future Cruise Credit for their fare, usable on any future sailing of choice in 2020 or 2021.

The Cruise with Confidence program was introduced earlier this month at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, and provides significantly relaxed rules concerning cancelling a cruise if the situation changes for a guest.

Ordinarily, guests would incur a penalty for cancelling 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.

“Guests are reacting positively to our Cruise with Confidence policy,” says company 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.”

The extension applies to all cruises with sailing dates on or before September 1, 2020, and applies to the company’s global brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara.

All Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credits must be redeemed on sailings departing on-or-before December 31, 2021.

Currently, Royal Caribbean has cancelled all of its sailings between March 14 and May 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and plans to resume service on May 12, 2020.

In addition, due to port closures around the world, Royal Caribbean added they expect to return to service for Alaska, Canada and New England sailings July 1, 2020.

Royal Caribbean letting travel agents place a hold on cruise reservations through end of May

In:
Category: 
21Mar2020

Royal Caribbean is helping travel agents with guests that have an upcoming future cruise credit by allowing travel agents to place a hold with no deposit through the end of May 31.

With a lot of guests awaiting future cruise credits emanating from the canceled cruises due to the coronavirus pandemic, Royal Caribbean wanted to make things easier for travel agents to start making new reservations with the credits.

Travel agents can now place a hold on a new booking and keep that hold through May 31, 2020. Traditionally, holds would expire after 3 days. This extension allows guests to await the delivery of their FCC to apply to the booking and then only pay any potential remaining balance at that time.

This new option is available for reservations beginning March 18, 2020 and is valid on sailings departing on-or-before December 31, 2021. It is also only available to travel agents, and not guests.

The final payment date for these new sailings remains unchanged. 

Royal Caribbean Future Cruise Credit: What you need to know

In:
Category: 
16Mar2020

With Royal Caribbean suspending cruises for due to the Coronavirus outbreak, there are a lot of people who may be getting a Future Cruise Credit because of a canceled sailing.

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

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

Updated April 8, 2021

What is a Future Cruise Credit?

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

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

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

It cannot be used to pay:

  • Taxes
  • Port fees
  • Prepaid Gratuity
  • Shore Excursions

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

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

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

How is my Future Cruise Credit calculated?

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

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

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

How do I receive my Future Cruise Credit?

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

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

When will I receive my Future Cruise Credit from the 2021 cancelled sailings?

The delivery of a FCC can be expected depeinding on which phase of cruise cancellations your sailing was part of: 

  • Australia/New Zealand sailings departing January 1-31, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than December 18, 2020
  • Sailings between January 1-February 28, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than January 15, 2021
  • Australia/New Zealand sailings departing February – April 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than January 15, 2021.
  • Spectrum of the Seas China sailings between January 24 - February 15, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than February 2, 2021
  • Sailings between March 1 – April 30, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than February 12, 2021
  • Spectrum of the Seas China departures February 16-28, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than February 12, 2021
  • Quantum of the Seas sailings between April 25-October 14, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than February 19, 2021
  • Quantum of the Seas sailings departing April 5 & 15, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than March 19, 2021
  • Spectrum of the Seas sailings departing March 7-30, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than March 19, 2021
  • Sailings between May 1-31, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than April 16, 2021
  • Spectrum of the Seas China sailings departing April 3-25, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than April 16, 2021
  • Adventure of the Seas Europe sailings departing June 5-October 14, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than April 21, 2021
  • Vision of the Seas San Juan sailings departing June 6-August 29, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than April 21, 2021
  • Jewel of the Seas Europe/Northeast sailings departing June 7-October 31, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than April 28, 2021
  • Anthem of the Seas Europe sailings departing June 4-August 29, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than April 16, 2021
  • Sailings between June 1-30, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than May 13, 2021
  • Spectrum of the Seas China sailings departing April 30 – May 26, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than May 13, 2021
  • Voyager of the Seas China sailings departing April 29 – May 27, 2021: FCCs can be expected via email no later than May 13, 2021

When will my Future Cruise Credit expire?

When a FCC is issued, there is an expiration date that comes with it. 

As it relates to the Coronavirus-impacted sailings,  FCC's must be redeemed by April 30, 2022 for cruises sailing by September 30, 2022.

Future cruise credits redeemed under the Cruise with Confidence program are also valid to book by April 30th, 2022 and sail by September 30th, 2022.

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

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

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

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

Future Cruise Credits are per person, per booking, and valid only for the person noted above. The FCC can only be applied to the cabin that has the passenger with the FCC.  

Are Future Cruise Credits transferable?

Future Cruise Credits are not transferable, minus two exceptions:

  • Guests under 12 years old
  • Guests over 70 years old

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

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

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

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

Can I change my mind after getting a Future Cruise Credit and opt for a 100% refund instead?

Yes, refunds can be requested in exchange for unredeemed FCCs as follows:

  • Refund requests were available through December 31, 2020 for all suspended sailings departing May 12, 2020 through December 31, 2020 (including Odyssey sailings through April 17, 2021) and by March 31, 2021 for all sailing departing between January 1-April 30, 2021, as well as Quantum of the Seas sailings departing April 25-
    October14, 2021. Suspension announcement thereafter must submit refund requests by June 30, 2021. 

Upon processing the refund and reimbursing the original form of payment, the Future Cruise Credit will be deactivated. Additionally, if you previously opted-in for the 125% Onboard Credit, it, too, will be deactivated when the refund is requested.

Royal Caribbean denies boarding to anyone over 70 without doctor's clearance

In:
Category: 
12Mar2020

Royal Caribbean has updated its coronavirus protocols effective Monday, March 16, boarding will be denied to any person age 70 or older, unless the guest provides written verification from a qualified treating physician that certifies the person has no severe, chronic medical condition and is fit to travel.

In addition, boarding will be denied to any person with a severe, chronic medical condition, including those specified by the CDC.

Guests of all ages will be screened prior to boarding, regarding underlying health issues that may prevent them from sailing, i.e.  chronic heart, lung, liver, or kidney disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or cancer.

For guests 70 years or older, they can have this letter template filled out by a physician.

This new policy is in addition to the cruise line's enhanced screening policy that include mandatory temperature screenings, denial of boarding to anyone that has been to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Europe, Iran, or South Korea 15-20 days prior to embarkation.

Royal Caribbean has also implemented additional protocols that include professional medical treatment; isolation of unwell individuals from the general ship population; and intensified ship cleaning, air filtration, and sanitization procedures.

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