A popular option for many cruisers is to book a cabin far in advance of sailing, to then decide to book or cancel a voyage closer to the cruise. It provides guests with enough options to make decisions later on, but it also helps to take advantage of the best price guarantees.
This option is not a problem with refundable deposits, as guests pay a higher fare for these bookings. For non-refundable bookings, this was a problem for Royal Caribbean.
The cruise line’s policy stated that guests would receive a Future Cruise Credit if they canceled the booking, minus a $100 change charge. Royal Caribbean has now removed that FCC starting with bookings made from June 1 onwards.
No More Future Cruise Credit For Non-Refundable Booking Cancelations
Over the years, many people have found many different ways to search for and book the best available cabins onboard Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships. One of these options is to book a cabin through a much cheaper non-refundable cruise deposit.
Guests can book cabins many months or even years ahead of the actual voyage and just wait until they have decided to take the cruise or not. If not, they can still cancel the journey and receive a future cruise credit minus a $100 charge. However, Royal Caribbean has put a firm stop to this somewhat questionable practice.
Starting June 1, 2022, a non-refundable deposit will be just that; Non-refundable. Guests will no longer receive a future cruise credit. Instead, as is the case with airlines, hotels, etc., the full deposit will be withheld by the cruise line if a guest decides to cancel the voyage.
The new policy reads as follows: “Effective June 1, 2022, a change to our Non-refundable Deposit policy will occur. The Future Cruise Credit component is being discontinued and will no longer apply when canceling under this policy outside of the final payment period. Instead, the deposit amount will be withheld in full. Guests booked before June 1, 2022, are protected under the prior policy terms.”
Cruise Line Battles Late Changes
The non-refundable booking option has become a popular option, especially for those guests interested in booking their favorite stateroom or suite onboard one of Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships. However, there are several drawbacks.
The FCC option guaranteed passengers that they would get a cheaper cruise fare, with the benefit of being guaranteed their money back in a future cruise credit.
While the $100 service is significant in case of a short voyage with a cheap fare, in case of longer voyages, costing thousands of dollars, it provided guests a very attractive deal.
However, it also means that cabins are sold out long before the cruise’s start, where potentially they would have been sold to guests paying the more expensive refundable fare. In effect, the FCC option cost Royal Caribbean thousands of dollars, if not more, in lost income.
With that comes an expensive room such as the suites onboard typically sells well in advance. With late cancelations comes the problem of selling the suites on short notice. While an inside cabin for $500 could sell quickly, the market for a $20,000 bi-level suite is much smaller.
By removing the automatic Future Cruise Credit option, Royal Caribbean will not just save money; it will also open up many cabins and suites that would otherwise have been spoken for.
It will also have the added benefit for the cruise line of removing the possibility of waiting for the best price guarantee, where guests can change their booking in case a better price comes up and cancel the voyage if the price remains the same.