Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Overbooked, Guests Left Behind

Quantum of the Seas was overbooked for a sailing but guests weren't notified until they reached the terminal on embarkation day.

A number of guests booked aboard Quantum of the Seas were denied boarding in Brisbane, Australia through no fault of their own.

The cruise line had overbooked guarantee staterooms, and without available cabins, several guests were denied boarding and left behind as the ship set sail on Tuesday, November 28, 2023.

Quantum of the Seas Overbooked

Several guests hoping to set sail with Quantum of the Seas were not permitted to board and instead were left behind when the ship set sail on Tuesday, November 28, 2023. The 8-night South Pacific cruise is a round-trip itinerary from Brisbane, calling on ports in New Caledonia and Vanuatu before returning to Brisbane on Wednesday, December 6.

Unfortunately, several guests received unexpected letters at the cruise terminal, alerting them to the unusual situation.

“We regret to inform you that currently we have been unable to allocate a stateroom number to your reservation,” the letter read.

There was no explanation as to why staterooms were unable to be allocated, but most likely this is an overbooking situation, as the impacted guests were reported to have booked “GTY” or “guarantee” cabins. Those reservations are made without specific stateroom numbers, but are usually assigned a few days before departure.

The 168,666-gross-ton Quantum of the Seas can welcome 4,180 guests at double occupancy, or up to 4,905 passengers with all berths filled. The ship is homeported from Brisbane for the Australian summer cruise season, and will reposition to Seattle, Washington in April 2024 for the Alaska sailing season.

Alternatives Offered

Royal Caribbean did offer several alternatives for impacted guests.

“The time and effort you took to plan your cruise is important to us, and we apologize for the inconvenience. Every aspect of your time with us should be enjoyable, so we have put together some alternate options that we hope will work for you,” the notification read.

The first option was for guests to remain on standby for their booked sailing, in the hope that a stateroom might be able to be assigned at the pier before the check-in window closed. Staterooms could become available if other guests were unable to reach the cruise in time and never checked in on embarkation day.

Guests who chose to remain on standby would receive a $100 (USD) onboard credit if they were in fact able to sail. If no cabin became available, however, the guests would receive a full refund as well as a 25% future cruise certificate based off the cruise fare paid for their now-cancelled vacation.

Quantum, of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Venturelli Luca / Shutterstock

The next options were for impacted guests to switch to similar itineraries on different dates. One such sailing offered is the January 29, 2024 departure of Quantum of the Seas, a 9-night South Pacific cruise. That cruise is visiting the same ports of call, but with one additional day at sea to enjoy.

There would be no additional charge for guests switching to the 9-night January cruise, and a free stateroom upgrade would be offered where available.

Similarly, guests could shift to any alternate 7- or 8-night sailing with price protection and a complimentary upgrade, where possible.

Finally, affected guests could simply cancel their cruise for a full refund, and would also receive a 25% future cruise certificate as compensation for the inconvenience.

According to social media posts, several guests were able to be accommodated on the ship at the very last minute, but others had to remain behind with no available cabins.

Overbookings Not Common

Overbooked cruise ships are not a common situation, but they do occasionally happen. Royal Caribbean, in particular, had several overbookings aboard Wonder of the Seas in late 2022 and early 2023.

In those situations, guests were notified in the days leading up to their cruise and given various options, such as cancellation or moving to an alternate sailing.

It is not clear why guests booked on Quantum of the Seas were not notified sooner so the oversold situation could have been resolved before embarkation day.

There is also no indication that further sailings are expected to be impacted, though guests booked in guarantee cabins may want to stay in close communication with the cruise line or their travel agent in case of updates, especially if their stateroom is not assigned as their departure date approaches.

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