World’s Largest Cruise Ship Oversold for Spring Break

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Royal Caribbean International has been reaching out to guests booked on the March 12, 2023 sailing of Wonder of the Seas with news of overbooking. The cruise line is offering a variety of rebooking options if guests’ travel plans are flexible, with generous compensation for the error.

Guests Offered Rebooking Options

In an email sent to booked guests, Royal Caribbean International has acknowledged an inventory error that has oversold Wonder of the Seas. “We’re sorry to inform you that due to an unexpected inventory error, your scheduled Wonder of the Seas March 12th, 2023 sailing is currently oversold,” the email reads.

The impacted cruise is a 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailing, visiting St. Kitts, St. Thomas, and CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island destination in The Bahamas.

This is not the first time Wonder of the Seas has been inadvertently oversold. A similar situation occurred for the December 11, 2022 sailing. Three different options are being offered in an attempt to correct this latest overbooking, but guests may not be pleased with the proposed options.

Sail on a Different Ship

The first option is to transfer the Wonder of the Seas booking to Explorer of the Seas instead, sailing from PortMiami on March 12 for a 6-night cruise rather than a 7-night cruise. This option will also include a 100% refund of the Wonder of the Seas fare, as well as a $300 onboard credit to enjoy Explorer of the Seas.

If the Explorer of the Seas fare is lower than the fare paid for Wonder of the Seas, guests will also receive a refund for the price difference, returned to their original form of payment. Guests must still pay taxes, port fees, and gratuities for the new cruise.

Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas
Photo Credit: Merrillie Redden / Shutterstock

Explorer of the Seas will be sailing a Western Caribbean itinerary for the March 12 cruise, visiting Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and CocoCay.

While the proposed option can be of great value for guests, the differences in cruise itineraries, departure ports, and the ships themselves may make this option less appealing.

Wonder of the Seas is currently the newest and largest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, having just debuted in 2022 and weighing in at 236,857 gross tons.

The Voyager-class Explorer of the Seas is significantly smaller and older, having debuted in 2000. At just 138,194 gross tons, Explorer of the Seas does not have the same features and amenities as the larger, more advanced Wonder of the Seas.

Sail on a Different Date

The second option offered to guests on the oversold sailing is to transfer their Wonder of the Seas booking to a different sailing date. Only two select dates are available for this offer – the July 30 and August 13 sailings this summer.

Both alternative sailing dates are 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruises, visiting St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and CocoCay. While this is not quite the same itinerary as the original March 12 departure date, it is a close comparison.

The dates themselves may be problematic for many travelers, however. The week of March 12 is the local Spring Break week, and it is likely that many families have been looking forward to their oceangoing getaway during that school vacation.

Wonder of the Seas
Wonder of the Seas (Photo Credit: EWY Media / Shutterstock)

While the alternative July 30 sailing date is before local schools begin the 2023-2024 school year, the first day of school is August 10, meaning the second alternative sailing date – August 13 – is not as attractive, because it would mean students miss critical first days of school.

Full Cancellation and Refund

The third option offered to guests is to completely cancel their sailing. Not only will guests receive a full, 100% refund of their cruise fare, but they will also receive a 100% cruise fare future cruise credit (FCC), which can be used for any Royal Caribbean sailing departing through March 15, 2024.

This would refund the first cruise, and give guests a good credit to use on any future cruise for the next year. This is a great option for guests who do not have immediately flexible travel plans, but who are willing to rebook for a future date on the sailing of their choice.

More Compensation Offered

Regardless of which option guests choose, Royal Caribbean will also fully refund or reimburse any pre-purchased, non-refundable travel expenses, such as airfare and hotel rooms. Guests are also not obligated to accept any of the options, and can instead remain on the original sailing.

“This special offer is time-limited and subject to availability,” the email explains. “If you’re happy to be excluded from the special offer, please disregard this email – no further action is required.”

It is possible, however, that if not enough guests accept one of the options, oversold bookings may be cancelled and refunded, but without the special offers.

Guests who are interested in taking advantage of the offer need to contact the cruise line to make suitable arrangements and select their option. It is likely that the offer is only being made to those guests in oversold stateroom categories, and may not be available to all passengers booked during the Spring Break cruise.

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