The Royal Caribbean ship Rhapsody of the Seas recently returned to active service, demonstrating that all 26 of its company’s ships are working again. This was both a pandemic-era milestone and a bit of a sign from the industry to the rest of the world.
After a tough couple of years, the cruise ship industry is on the rebound. The vacation and travel sector as a whole was, obviously, severely impacted by the covid-19 pandemic. But the cruise industry was hit especially hard, as it voluntarily shut down in March of 2020.
But after vaccines began to roll out and the three main cruise lines, Carnival Cruise, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line, spent millions refurbishing their ships to make them as safe as possible, people began feeling comfortable sailing again.
This year all three of the major lines have slowly reactivated their entire fleets. While cruise line fans are thrilled to see their favorite form of travel regain its luster, the return to normal is not without its downsides.
The financial repercussions of closing for more than a year and then updating the ships for safety reasons were no small thing, and companies like Royal Caribbean International have made a financial decision that some fans are not going to like.
As of June 1, Royal Caribbean has announced that when guests cancel their non-refundable fares, the full deposit amount will be withheld by the cruise line. Any payments made after the deposit will still be refunded.
If instead of canceling, a guest elects to change their ship or sail date, then a change fee of $100 per person will apply. Again, this is for any sailing booked after June 1st. Any trip booked before then is still subject to the earlier policy terms.
Royal Caribbean is also doing away with the Future Cruise Credit component. It will no longer apply when canceling under this policy outside of the final payment period. Instead, the company will keep the deposit amount.
So guests that booked a non-refundable fare before June 1, 2022 can request a Future Cruise Credit in the amount of the deposit paid per guest, less the $100 fee.
Royal Caribbean will continue to offer two types of deposits a guest can make when booking a cruise: refundable and non-refundable. The non-refundable rates are cheaper, which is a way for Royal Caribbean to get customers to lock in their plans.
But there is a risk to going this route. A few years ago, the company instituted a policy that its suites, one of the most in-demand options on a cruise ship, would only be available on a non-refundable basis.
The deposit amount to book a suite is generally twice the price of a regular room, so fans were taking a risk when booking ahead of time, as their plans could always change.
Meanwhile, refundable deposits cost more, but they also offer greater flexibility. But the exact difference in price between refundable and non-refundable varies by ship. Royal Caribbean has also made a change to the Best Price Guarantee program.
If guests note that there is a better price on a cruise they’ve booked, guests have up to 48 hours to request the difference as a non-refundable onboard credit inside final payment or rate adjustment outside final payment.
The Street.com / ABC Flash-Point News 2022.