How to Speed Up Your Cruise Refund

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Is it possible to speed up your refund from a cancelled cruise vacation? Yes, if you are prepared for the refund process and use easy tricks to make the refund more efficient.

Why Refunds Take So Long

With the global COVID-19 pandemic continuing and more cruises being cancelled as case numbers grow, ports of call implement travel restrictions, and new cruise ships get delayed, you may be wondering where your cruise refund is and how you can speed up the refund process.

It can take several weeks or months to fully process a cruise travel refund, particularly if the refund involves multiple passengers, several cabins, or complicated booking with add-on drink packages, pre-booked tours, spa appointments, airfare, and airport transfers.

This is an unprecedented time for the cruise industry as sailings are cancelled around the world, and cruise lines are working diligently to refund fares as efficiently as possible. When a refund may involve multiple time zones, different currencies, different banking regulations, and other complications, however, it can be a tricky and time-consuming process. Fortunately, you can speed up your refund.

Do You Need Your Refund?

Many cruise lines are offering passengers incentives to pass up a refund. Special deals like future cruise credits with bonus amounts, often up to 125% of the initial fare, can be a great bargain for cruise travelers in lieu of straight refunds.

While the exact offers vary for different cruise lines and impacted sailings, other deals may include onboard credit based on the cabin type, cabin upgrades, or other incentives for rebooking or postponing a cruise instead of requesting a refund.

These incentive offers are typically the default choice when a cruise is cancelled at this time, so passengers who want to take advantage of the special bonuses do not need to take any extra steps to receive them. These offers will process automatically and be available for passengers to use on future sailings.

It is important to note that these bonus offers only apply to the cruise fare itself. Extra charges, including taxes and port fees, will still be refunded to all passengers.

Many passengers, however, may prefer to request a refund instead of using these incentive offers. This may be true for guests who simply prefer not to sail because of the uncertainty in the industry, or whose cruise plans may have been dramatically altered because of ship repositionings, altered itineraries, or personal economics that mean a cruise vacation is no longer possible.

No matter what the reason, every passenger is entitled to request a full refund of their cruise fare.

Speeding Up Your Cruise Refund

The first step to speeding up your cruise refund is to request a full refund immediately, as soon as your cruise is cancelled. This will start the process right away so you can get your money back more quickly.

There are several ways you can request a refund, depending on the cruise line. Some cruise lines have set up dedicated online forms for refund requests, or you can call customer service hotlines to submit your request to a representative. If you booked your cruise through a travel agent, you should check with your agent for the best procedure for requesting a full refund.

If you call to speak with a representative, try calling outside peak hours to shorten wait times. Calling earlier in the day or later in the evening will generally mean less time spent on hold, so you can speak with a representative more quickly.

Note, however, that different cruise lines have different hours of operation for service calls, and you will need to call during those available hours.

If you’ve booked your cruise travel through a travel agent, your agent may have access to different customer service phone numbers or representative extensions. Using those numbers can make your call a higher priority and you may be able to speak to someone sooner than by calling a general number.

Likewise, if you are a priority past passenger with the cruise line, calling a number dedicated to your passenger status can be helpful to get in touch with a representative more quickly.

When you call to speed up your refund, it is helpful if you have all the numbers associated with your cruise immediately available. This includes:

  • Reservation or confirmation number of the booking
  • The date you booked or paid for the cruise
  • Sailing date for the cancelled cruise
  • Past passenger program numbers, if applicable
  • Credit card or banking numbers for how you paid for the cruise
  • Identification numbers for all passengers, such as birthdates

Additionally, you should know the cruise fare breakdown for each passenger’s fare. For example, some cruise lines offer deals where the second, third, or fourth passengers in the same cabin receive dramatically reduced fares, so the amount of refund in each passenger’s name may be different.

Also knowing the amount of the total cost that is attributed to taxes and port fees can help you be certain that your refund is processed completely, as different parts of the refund may be processed at different times.

Once you are on the phone waiting to speak with a representative, be patient. Hold times can be extensive when hundreds or thousands of cruise passengers are calling for refund assistance, booking questions, and other concerns.

If you have a speakerphone option, you can use that to avoid holding your phone to your ear for long periods as you wait to connect with a representative.

When you connect with a customer service representative, remain calm and polite with them at all times. Many representatives are working remotely rather than in their offices, and their connections may not be as clear or their computers could lag more than if all office operations were fully open. Make sure you speak clearly and stay patient with further holds as they look up your information and investigate the status of your refund.

As you speak with a cruise line representative, take notes about their progress. Be sure to get their name and employee number if possible, as well as a direct phone extension, so you can reconnect with them immediately if the call is accidentally disconnected.

This can also help if you need to make multiple calls regarding the same refund, as you’ll have notes on what progress has already been made and what the result was of each call. Note the dates and times you’ve called, how long each call lasted, and any reference numbers regarding the call so your records can be accessed quickly in future calls.

It will take time to get a cruise refund fully processed, and you may need to call again in a few days or weeks if your refund does not seem to be moving forward. Be in touch with your credit card company or bank to check on any in-progress refunds or charge reversals, and be prepared to call the cruise line again for an update on the refund’s progress. After your first call, note when they recommend you call again, and respect that timeline for further contact.

Be Patient

It can be difficult to wait on a cruise vacation refund when economic times have shifted and it can be difficult to meet other bills or you may have lost a job or significant income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It can take 90 days or more to process a cruise refund, but if you call customer service and work with them politely, it is possible to resolve your refund more quickly. Remaining patient is essential, and eventually, all the parts of your refund will be successfully accounted for.

Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia /

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