The Case For A Direct Booking
Cruise lines have always been cautious about offering their products directly to consumers, fearful that they might offend the travel agency community on which they depend for distributing their products. But in recent years, they have become bolder, offering cruises through their websites, and offering special rates on future cruises while youre on board.
Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line Refund Policies
Refunds can be one of the trickiest of the financial aspects of cruising. It pays to know what you are entitled to on any cruise, before you book, but especially when something goes awry.
Like most cruise lines, Royal Caribbean refunds triggered by guest cancellations are based on length of cruise and the number of days prior to sailing.
Royal Caribbean is continuing its Cruise with Confidence 48-hour cancellation window on bookings made through May 31, 2021, on sailings through April 30, 2022. Under that program, inside the standard penalty dates refunds will be issued in the form of 100% future cruise credit.
In cases where Royal Caribbean cancels a cruise, guests are notified of applicable refund policies, procedures, and deadlines. That information is also on the line’s royalcaribbean.com website.
Will The Extension Boost Confidence
Several cruise ships have been denied entrance to different ports around the Caribbean, even private islands owned by cruise lines in the past weeks. The Cruise with Confidence policy will undoubtedly help boost guests confidence to book a cruise, despite the uncertainty that has evolved.
Whether the situation levels out and cruising returns to normal, or if we see more port closures and cruise cancellations, guests will be able to choose to take their cruise or cancel. At least with this policy, there is no money lost.
Guests can be confident that cruises are still safe despite all the media attention towards cruises in the past weeks. With vaccination mandates, testing requirements, health and safety measures, mask mandates, and social distancing, there is no safer place to take your next vacation. And now you can book that vacation without worrying you will lose money.
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Drawbacks Of A Direct Booking
- Youre dealing directly with the cruise line. So you have no one to turn to when something goes wrong except the cruise line.
- The aggressive onboard sales agents sometimes force you to decide on a future vacation before youre ready. Its a high-pressure sales pitch on the high seas.
How do you buy a cruise, then? In the end, there may be no correct answer for everyone. If, for example, youre taking your extended family on an anniversary cruise, youll probably want to find a cruise specialist with experience dealing with large groups. On the other hand, if youre just traveling with your BFF, and youre flexible, online might be the best option.
A Look At Royal Caribbeans Cruise With Confidence Rules
With the ever-changing CDC guidelines, its good to know what your options are if your planned cruise can no longer happen.
With the ever-changing cruise rules, CDC guidelines, and Covid-19 Delta variant spread, its good to know what your options are if your planned cruise can no longer happen for whatever reason. Heres a look at what Royal Caribbean is offering those who have booked with them in their Cruise with Confidence rules.
To break it down to the simplest terms, you may cancel up to 48 hours before you sail and get a future cruise credit valid to book again by April 30, 2022 and sail by September 30, 2022.
Royal Caribbean will let you cancel any cruise that sets sail through April 30, 2022. Whether its a booking you already have or one you make right now through July 31st, 2021, youre covered. As long as you cancel at least 48 hours before your sail date, youll receive a future cruise credit.
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Dont Buy Jewelry Or Art
Weve received numerous complaints from readers who purchased overpriced jewelry or art on their cruises. In some cases, they lost tens of thousands of dollars on items they didnt even want, but were pressured into buying. When youre on vacation, its easy to let down your guard and fall for a sales pitch for an original sculpture, diamond ring or timeshare. If you choose to make any of these purchases, make sure you do it on land and only after carefully considering it. Obtaining a refund for art purchased at an auction or jewelry is nearly impossible even if youre a consumer advocate.
Refunds And Future Cruise Credits
After the pandemic, our advocacy organization was slammed with a tidal wave of help requests about future cruise credits. Heres what happened: Many cruise lines offered either a refund or a 125 percent cruise credit when COVID-19 hit. And most passengers accepted the credit. But then the cruise lines canceled their rebooked cruises. When the customers asked for a refund, the cruise lines said they couldnt get one future cruise credits were nonrefundable. Other passengers couldnt cruise for health reasons. Were mediating these problems on a case-by-case basis.
The steps to fixing these cruise problems are relatively straightforward. Here are my strategies for advocating your case. You can also appeal your case to a company executive. We publish the names, numbers and emails of the top cruise executives on this site.
Failing that, you can file a or complain to the Federal Maritime Commission for violations of the Shipping Act. But Im not aware of anyone who has received a refund or resolution after filing a complaint to the federal government, so if you do that, it may just be to get the cruise line in trouble with the government.
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Benefits Of A Direct Booking
- Youll probably get the deepest discounts, and in some cases, a price protection that assures you that if the fare drops, youll get a refund. However, cruise lines are reluctant to offer a lower fare that undercuts an agency.
- Youre dealing directly with the cruise line, so the company cant blame an intermediary for anything that goes wrong.
- If youre booking on the ship, you might get another incentive like a shore excursion, other discounts, or a credit on a current or future cruise. Cruise lines are sometimes creative with their offers.
Royal Caribbean Makes It Easier To Use Future Cruise Credits
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Got a future cruise credit from a canceled cruise with Royal Caribbean that youre having trouble spending? The cruise line just made it easier to recoup the entire credit amount by letting travelers use any leftover credit to pay for onboard expenses on their cruise.
The cruise line announced its updated policy to travel agents on Wednesday, as first reported on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog.
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Many travelers still hold future cruise credit, which they received when their booked cruises were canceled during the pandemic when the cruise industry shut down for more than a year.
They soon discovered that it was not always a simple matter to find a replacement cruise priced the same, down to the penny, as the original booking and credit amount. Some cruisers had to pay the balance in cash others booked a cruise for less than the amount of the credit, ending up with a small remainder.
Prior to this week, Royal Caribbean would reissue the leftover amount as new future cruise credit. Travelers would have to book a second cruise or forfeit some of the money they paid. Neither option was ideal for Royal Caribbeans customers.
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Benefits Of An Online Agent
- Youre in control. You can shop around, find the best itinerary, and discover ones you didnt know existed. You can also book the cruise whenever you want to.
- You have 24/7 phone support through most of the online agencies. When something goes wrong, someone should always be there for you.
- Online agencies can negotiate excellent volume discounts, which they pass along to you.
How To Complain About Your Cruise
If you have a problem on your cruise, youll want to say something immediately. Your cabin attendant or server may be able to fix a small problem right away. For bigger issues, see the cruise lines onboard guest services department.
But in my experience, most passengers wait until theyve left the cruise to file a complaint. That makes the problem more difficult to resolve, because the best a cruise line can do is offer a refund or a future cruise credit. And cruise lines dont like to do that.
Most complaints fall into one of these categories:
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Royal Caribbean International Cancelation Policy
For sailings departing on or before July 31st, 2020:
Cruise with Confidence: Cancel up to 48 hours before you sail and get a future cruise credit good through 2021. Learn more.
For sailings departing after July 31st, 2020:
Cruise with Confidence does not apply. Please see below for the cancelation policy for all sailings departing after July 31st, 2020.
Select fare programs require the payment at the time of booking of a nonrefundable deposit. That deposit amount shall not be refunded at any time after it has been paid. Change fees will apply to bookings for which the deposit is nonrefundable.
cancelation of Cruise or CruiseTour. Cruises that are cancelled prior to the sail date, and CruiseTours that are cancelled prior to the first day of the CruiseTour, may be subject to a cancelation charge. The amount of the cancelation charge shall be determined as shown in the table below and shall vary depending on how far in advance of the sail date the Operator receives notice of cancelation.
|FOR 1 TO 4 NIGHT CRUISES IF CANCELATION IS MADE||CANCELATION CHARGE|
|30 days or less||100% of total price|
In the event of a cancelation of a Cruise or CruiseTour, any applicable Taxes/Fees or Fuel Supplement charges shall be refunded. For bookings made outside of the United States and Canada, a different cancelation policy may apply. Contact your local office or travel advisor for details.
cancelation notices are effective when received by the Operator.
Non-Refundable Deposit Fares
What Is Cruise With Confidence
Royal Caribbeans Cruise with Confidence program is designed to remove any trepidations guests may have when booking a cruise. Whether this is because they are scared of a COVID infection, whether they think a lower price may come up after theyve booked, or if private or worldwide events force guests to have to cancel a voyage. The multifaceted program includes a flexible cancellation policy, the best price guarantee, and a final payment extension.
The final payment plan and the Cruise with confidence policy allows guests to book a cruise and cancel at any time, without incurring costs. Should the cancellation happen before the 30-day final payment date , guests can avail of a full refund should the cancellation occur after the last payment date, guests can avail of a Future Cruise Credit. Any bookings cancelled after the 48-hour window are subject to the original policies.
Another advantage of the Cruise with Confidence policy is the opportunity for guests to avail of a cheaper cruise fare for the same booking should this become available. Guests can quickly transfer their booking to the lower price by contacting their travel agent or the cruise line.
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Are Cruise Ships Forcing Covid
Copas fears of being forcibly disembarked appear to be unfounded. Most cruise lines have stopped screening their passengers for COVID. If you test positive, cruise lines will confine you to quarters or to a special section on the cruise ship for infected passengers, usually for the duration of the voyage. We have not had any reports of passengers with COVID being forcibly removed from a ship recently.
Invalid Id Passport Or Visa
Passengers sometimes arrive at the cruise terminal with the wrong visa or an expired passport. Ill make it simple. Its your responsibility yours alone to have the correct documents. If you leave the country, you must have a passport. And it should have at least six months validity left on it to be safe. If you think youll have less, get it renewed before your cruise.
Dont rely on your travel agent or cruise line for the correct information on your paperwork . Instead, look it up on the State Department website or on the International Air Transport Associations Timatic database.
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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:
- 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.
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That could include people who have opted not to get vaccinated or those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons. In addition, some cruise customers have chosen not to return to cruise ships while the pandemic continues for personal or medical reasons.
Anyone who has a future credit and can’t or won’t cruise is in a tough spot. They have an asset — sometimes valued at thousands of dollars — and can’t use it. That frustrated many of RCL’s customers.
Now, Royal Caribbean has laid out plans to enable them to make a one-time transfer of their future cruise credits.
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Why Are They Extending Cruise With Confidence
The reason Royal Caribbean has extended this flexible cancellation program again is to give consumers more time to change their mind if they are worried about going on a cruise during the pandemic.
Traditionally, the final payment date would be the point in time when you would have to cancel without incurring a penalty fee.
At the onset of Covid-19, people were uncertain what to expect and cancelled their bookings early out of concern they could not predict if they would want to sail or not.
As a result, Cruise with Confidence was introduced so that anyone who has a cruise booked could wait longer to make a decision if they want to sail or not.
Dont Overspend On Your Cabin
Your stateroom is a place to sleep. Your travel agent may offer you a spacious cabin with a balcony, or even a suite. But once you get on the ship, youll realize its a waste of money. Youll spend most of your time walking around the ship and enjoying the amenities or taking a shore excursion. The cabin is for sleeping. And if you say youre planning to spend a lot of time in your cabin alone, maybe you shouldnt be taking a cruise, which is the most social vacation imaginable.
Tip: Avoid a cabin near an elevator or nightclub. That can get a little noisy. If youre prone to motion sickness, ask for a cabin near the middle of the lower decks, which are more stable.
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Rcl’s Cruise With Confidence
Concerned about traveling? Looking for flexibility in your plans?
As of May 6, 2020, RCLs enhanced Cruise with Confidence program gives you even more flexibility.
Whether youre already booked on a cruise, or are thinking about it, we want you to Cruise with Confidence. Thats why Royal Caribbean will let you cancel any cruise that sets sail from now through April 30th, 2022. Whether its a booking you already have or one you make right now through December 17, 2021, youre covered. As long as you cancel at least 48 hours before your sail date, youll receive a Future Cruise Credit. The credit is valid to book by April 30th, 2022 and sail by September 30th, 2022.
What you need to know
Drawbacks Of An Agent
- If its a small shop, you may not have 24/7 support. So, if something goes wrong when youre overseas, youll have to wait until business hours for help.
- Agents are not free. You may be charged a fee to book airfare and make other arrangements, although there may not be a fee for booking the cruise itself .
- Agents are often incentivized by commissions and bonuses called overrides from cruise lines that reward them for booking a lot of itineraries with the same company. First and foremost, an ethical agent will make sure the cruise is the right one for you, but some agents, sadly, go straight for the highest commission. Travel agents can make 10 percent or more in commissions and overrides from your cruise. Ive heard of these kickbacks going as high as 14 percent.
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Drawbacks Of An Online Agent
- Its an online travel agency. Many of their phone agents are located in overseas call centers. They read scripts, are timed by their supervisors, and really dont care if youre having a good vacation. No wonder offline agents call these operations vending machines. Also, they may try to steer you to the highest-commission cruises by displaying their favorite cruises first.
- Service, when it does come, can be slow and impersonal. Its not uncommon to hear of people waiting upwards of an hour for help.
- You may feel like a number. Thats because you are a number. Youre one of a million, literally. Online agencies are a volume business, so if you like to feel special and appreciated, you might want to book elsewhere.