Alt Text!

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

25 Sep 2020

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

07 Sep 2020

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

31 Aug 2020

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

27 Aug 2020

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.

Royal Caribbean now allows guests to combine FCCs.

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 Blog Podcast Episode - Future Cruise Credits

19 Aug 2020

Listen to the Show

Something so many of us are now dealing with are future cruise credits, and how to deal with getting them, redeeming them, and of course waiting for them.  This week’s podcast will talk about FCCs and what to expect when you’re expecting. 

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

Royal Caribbean is considering extending Future Cruise Credits

12 Aug 2020

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?

06 Aug 2020

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

22 Jul 2020

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

22 Jul 2020

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

15 Jul 2020

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.

Subscribe to Policies