Royal Caribbean International has reached out to guests booked aboard Allure of the Seas for the Sunday, April 30, 2023 departure to inform them that the ship has been oversold.
Guests have been able to choose from several options with very generous compensation if they revise their sailing, but little explanation has been offered as to why these overbookings continue to happen across the fleet.
Allure of the Seas Oversold
The April 30, 2023 sailing of Allure of the Seas is oversold, and guests have been offered several compensation options to change their travel plans.
“We’re sorry to inform you that due to an unexpected inventory error, your scheduled Allure of the Seas April 30th, 2023 sailing is currently oversold,” the email explained.
“We’re aware that this may cause disruption to your booking, so if your travel plans are flexible, you may be able to take advantage of our special offer.”
The impacted cruise is a 7-night roundtrip Western Caribbean sailing from Galveston, calling on Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel, with three days at sea for guests to enjoy all Allure of the Seas has to offer.
The email did not indicate how much of the ship is oversold, but very generous compensation offers have been created to encourage guests to change their travel plans.
The first option is for guests to move to the May 15, 2023 sailing of Voyager of the Seas. That cruise, also departing from Galveston, is a 5-night sailing (rather than the oversold 7-night cruise on Allure of the Seas), and will visit Costa Maya and Cozumel, but not Roatan.
Guests who choose that option would receive a full, 100% refund of their Allure of the Seas cruise fare, plus $300 of non-refundable onboard credit for the free cruise on Voyager of the Seas.
While a financially generous compensation offer, Allure of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas are radically different ships in size, guest capacity, and onboard amenities.
Guests who prefer to remain sailing onboard Allure of the Seas can shift their cruise to one of three alternative departure dates later this year. Instead of the overbooked April 30 sailing, guests can opt for the June 4, July 9, or July 16 departures, all of which are identical to the impacted cruise.
Guests who choose to shift their sailing to a later date will have their original stateroom category price protected or reduced to the current fare rate on the new departure date, whichever is lower, to ensure they receive the best deal.
Because the shifted sailing date is for an identical cruise, however, guests receive no onboard credit for accepting this option.
A third option is to simply cancel the cruise altogether. Guests who do so will receive a 100% refund, as well as a 100% future cruise credit (FCC) for the cruise fare paid, valid for any Royal Caribbean cruise departing through April 30, 2024.
Because the cancellations are happing just days before the cruise is to set sail, Royal Caribbean is also offering compensation for other charges.
“Regardless of which option you choose, we’ll also reimburse you for any non-refundable, pre-purchased travel expenses (e.g. hotel, flight) you have incurred,” the email said.
It must be noted that this “special offer” is extended to guests on the oversold cruise, but their reservations are not being forcibly cancelled.
Instead, the various compensation offers are designed to be so tempting as to encourage enough guests to take advantage of the options that no mandatory cancellations are required.
Why Are So Many Cruises Oversold?
Oversold situations have been happening more and more frequently across the Royal Caribbean fleet.
Wonder of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, was oversold for the local spring break week in mid-March, and again just days ago. Previously, the ship had been oversold in December 2022.
In August 2022, the Vision-class Rhapsody of the Seas, one of the smallest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, was similarly oversold for a Greek Isles cruise, and offered massive incentives to compensate guests.
In each instance, the explanation is given only as an “unexpected inventory error” with no other details. It is possible a technical glitch on the cruise line’s booking engine may be responsible for oversold sailings, or there could be other factors involved.
While Royal Caribbean has been generous with alternative offers, it can be frustrating and disappointing for travelers to have their plans disrupted or cancelled altogether just days before setting sail.
Guests booked on upcoming Royal Caribbean cruises will want to stay in close contact with the cruise line or their travel agent in case of similar situations or other adjustments, such as itinerary alterations, embarkation delays, or weather-related disruptions.