Royal Caribbean has notified passengers that the Freedom of the Seas April 26, 2024, voyage has been redefined as a private charter, leading to the cancellation for the general public. The cruise line outlined several rebooking alternatives and various compensation to all guests not a part of the charter.
Freedom of the Seas Cruise Cancelled
The April 26, 2024, departure of Freedom of the Seas, a 3-night sailing, has been cancelled. The roundtrip cruise set to embark from Miami to visit Royal Caribbean’s exclusive Perfect Day at Cococay and Nassau in the Bahamas will now proceed exclusively as a charter trip.
Guests impacted by the cancelation have several rebooking and compensation options, including the opportunity to rebook a 3-night sailing to Perfect Day at CocoCay or a combination trip including Nassau. Departures are available from Miami aboard Freedom of the Seas on April 5, April 12, April 19, May 3, and May 10. Options from Fort Lauderdale aboard Liberty of the Seas are also available on April 12 or 19.
The email from Royal Caribbean states, “The time and effort you took to place your cruise is important to us, and we apologize for the inconvenience. Every aspect of your time with us should be enjoyable, so we’ve put together some alternative options that we hope will work for you.”
To encourage guests to consider rebooking, Royal Caribbean is offering a guarantee of the original stateroom category price as either protected or reduced to the current cruise rate fare, whichever is lower, as well as an onboard credit of $50 for Interior, Ocean View, and Balcony staterooms, and $100 for Suites. An additional $25 is offered for each third or more guests to spend onboard.
Flexible Rebooking and Compensation Refund Policies
Royal Caribbean is waiving its non-refundable deposit change fees for guests electing to rebook any other Royal Caribbean International sailing. If the original booking was paid in full and the new itinerary fare rate is lower, RCL will reimburse guests for fare differences.
Additionally, for any non-refundable, pre-purchased transportation changes, such as a flight, rental car, or train ticket, guests can be reimbursed up to $200 for domestic and $400 for international differences.
Passengers wishing to forgo any rebooking options may receive a full refund for any portion of their cruise, including non-refundable deposits and pre-paid amenities. For travelers who used a Future Cruise Credit, Royal Caribbean will refund any new funds paid above the certificate amount and reinstate the original certificate.
Airfare booked through Royal Caribbean International will automatically be refunded, but any airfare purchased independently will not be provided additional compensation.
Royal Caribbean has set a deadline of January 4, 2024, to decide on a preferred course of action, promising that any refunds will be processed promptly within 14 business days of the decision.
Why the Cancellation?
According to the email sent to booked guests, Royal Caribbean has chartered the entire ship for a private event. Charter sailings like this are typically acquired for corporations or groups to host themed sailings or to convene large gatherings. The extent of a charter varies.
Sometimes, depending on the group size, it involves organizing exclusive events for the group amidst other passengers. However, for the sailing scheduled on April 26, the charter is comprehensive, meaning the entire ship has been reserved for the private use of the chartering party.
This isn’t the first time Royal Caribbean has canceled a cruise for a charter. Most recently, its Explorer of the Seas 7-night voyage from Italy in September 2024 was canceled to accommodate a private charter with additional cancelations, such as Navigator of the Seas‘ 7-night sailing to Mexico from Los Angeles in October 2022 meant to accommodate an Atlantis Events private charter.
Freedom of the Seas, the first Freedom-class ship, is homeported in Miami, and also offers longer Caribbean itineraries. It can accommodate 4,515 guests when fully booked and houses 1,360 international crew members, including charter cruises.