In a unique situation, one Royal Caribbean International cruise has been oversold, and the cruise line is offering very tempting incentives to encourage booked guests to switch their reservations to another sailing.
The impacted cruise is the upcoming August 25, 2022 sailing of Rhapsody of the Seas, a 7-night roundtrip Greek Isles cruise departing from Haifa, Israel.
Inventory Error Leads to Oversold Cruise
An email sent to booked guests on the impacted sailing date announced the unusual situation.
“We’re sorry to inform you that due to an unexpected inventory error, the scheduled Rhapsody of the Seas Sailing on 25 August, 2022 is currently oversold,” the email read.
No details are given as to the cause of the inventory error, but it could be a simple technical glitch in the cruise line’s booking engine that permitted extra reservations to be made. It is also possible that if Rhapsody of the Seas is currently sailing with capacity limits due to local regulations, extra reservations may have inadvertently been confirmed.
Rhapsody of the Seas is a Vision-class ship, with a guest capacity of 1,998 guests at double occupancy, and as many as 2,416 passengers when all berths are filled.
To entice booked guests to switch their reservation to a different sailing, which would correct the oversold error, Royal Caribbean is offering huge incentives.
“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 email explains.
First, guests who accept the offer will receive a 100% refund of their original cruise fare. Plus, they will be rebooked on an alternative sailing, selecting from several 2022 and 2023 sailings, all aboard Rhapsody of the Seas and all still departing from Haifa.
The alternative sailings include:
- 8-night Greek Isles cruise, September 1, 2022
- 6-night Greek Isles cruise, October 13, 2022
- 7-night Greek Isles cruise, September 1 or September 8, 2023
- 5-night Greek Isles cruise, September 22 or 29, 2023; October 13, 18, or 27, 2023; November 1, 2023
- 4-night Greece and Cyprus cruise, October 23, 2023
The alternative 7-night itineraries offered in September 2023 are the same itinerary as the oversold cruise, calling on Limassol, Cyprus; as well as four different ports in Greece: Rhodes Island, Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos.
If guests choose an alternative sailing, their booking will be transferred in the same stateroom category as they had chosen for the original, now oversold cruise. There will be no transfer fees and no change in cruise fare. Guests who choose one of these alternate bookings will still receive the 100% refund of their original cruise fare.
Guests will be responsible for any additional charges for port fees, taxes, and gratuities, as well as onboard purchases.
If guests are not interested in an alternative sailing, it is possible that bonus future cruise credits may be offered as further enticement to correct the oversold situation. Those credits, then, could be used on any future cruise, not just on selected sailings or a designated vessel.
Rhapsody of the Seas is the only Royal Caribbean International ship that currently uses Haifa as a regular homeport.
About Cruise Ship Capacity
How could a cruise ship be oversold? As the email communication states, this unique and relatively unprecedented situation has been caused by an error.
Cruise ship capacities are generally calculated based on double occupancy, the standard figure for how many passengers set sail.
When cruise lines discuss capacities over 100%, they are referring to additional bookings featuring third, fourth and even fifth berths in single staterooms. This happens frequently with group and family cruises, when friends or family members may share staterooms and take advantage of lower fares for additional berths.
No cruise line deliberately oversells a cruise ship, which would cause exactly the type of confusing situation now faced for this Rhapsody of the Seas sailing.
The cruise line is attempting to correct the situation in the same way airlines work to correct oversold flights, by offering very tempting incentives for travelers to choose later arrangements.