Cruise travel has come to a complete halt throughout the world.
In fact, with thee no-sail order from the CDC and many ports not allowing entry, many currently sailing cruise ships are at anchor or waiting to dock…with up to 80,000 crew members on board.
And what if you have a cruise booked for later this year? Should you cancel, and if so how do you do it?
Today’s short show is about getting a refund or credit from the cruise line, and tips to make the process easier.
Show Notes & Timestamps
- The current CDC “No Sail” order guidelines for ships 00:00:28
- 2 options for cruise cancellations 00:01:15
- The downside to taking the cruise credit 00:02:16
- 5 tips for getting your cancellation 00:03:44
- Summary 00:05:09
Hello and welcome to Safe Travels. This is the show that helps you get rid of your travel worries so he can sit back and relax and enjoy your trip.
But, as I have been saying recently, nobody’s really traveling right now. But we’re still talking about how to get back to it as we’re trying to clean up some of the mess from Coronavirus.
Today we’re going to talk a little bit about cruises, cruise cancellations, and how to get a refund or a credit if your cruise was canceled.
A couple of weeks ago on April 9th the CDC extended their “no sail” order, which affected a lot of cruise travelers.
That order states that “Cruise ships cannot board passengers and return to their sailing schedules until one of these three events takes place”.
First, the expiration of the department of health and human services declaration that coronavirus constitutes a public health emergency.
So basically it’s been declared a public health emergency and that would need to expire. That’s the first thing.
The second thing that would negate the CDC’s “no sail” order would be if the CDC’s director made the decision to modify the “no sail” decision. So they would make the decision themselves.
Or, a third, the passage of a hundred days from the time the new order is published. So there’s a bit of an expiration date there.
Until that happens, there’s about a hundred cruise ships in the Atlantic, Pacific Gulf of Mexico that are just remaining idle. They’re either in port or at anchor. And those ships have about 80,000 crew onboard.
So due to all of this, cruise lines have been canceling cruises and they are giving travelers a couple of options as far as what to do with their reservation.
The basic options are a full refund or a cruise credit.
So obviously a refund would be a full reimbursement of all expenses that you paid. This is a good option. It gives you a lot of flexibility. You’re basically just getting your money back and you can wait until things clear up and you feel comfortable booking another cruise and you can move forward with that.
The second option is this…in an effort to try to keep the money in their bank account, the cruise lines are offering a cruise credit, but instead of just a dollar for dollar cruise credit, many lines are offering a sort of bonus…for example Royal Caribbean is offering a future cruise credit for 125% of the original amount paid.
So as an example, and just to make the math easy, let’s say you had $10,000 you had spent on a cruise. Option one would be to get all of that money back, you’d get $10,000.
Option two with the cruise credit would be 125% so your credit would be for $12,500 you’re getting an extra $2,500 in credit with the cruise line.
But, there’s a downside to that bonus money.
First of all, there is a deadline in which you need to use that cruise credit.
For example, that same line, Royal Caribbean, it’s stating it needs to be used by the end of the year 2021…and that seems like a lot of time, but we’re also dealing with something that we’ve never dealt with before.
And here’s another possibility. Cruise lines are having a very hard time right now. The industry has been in the news a lot over the past several years about safety, about sicknesses, onboard about viruses, even before Coronavirus.
And this isn’t going to help their industry. And like all travel suppliers, as the lockdowns and shutdowns start to ease, they are all going to be trying to get people back to travel.
So back to our example, if you take your $10,000 back and pass up on the 125% bonus that they’re offering, it’s quite likely that you could see a deal in nine months or next year even, where the same cruise line is offering a trip that is well discounted and you can use that same $10,000 to buy a super discounted trip anyway.
Their rates will not go back to where they were at. They’re going to need to get people back on their ships and they’re going to need to do that by discounting fairs. So basically the 25% bonus that you’re getting by taking a credit could easily be made up for with future deals that they’ll probably offer.
Plus you get to choose exactly where you use it and even which cruise line you use it with. So it gives you a lot more flexibility.
So really the only risk there is that the discounted fares of the future are not as good as the 25% bonus that you would get now. And I think that’s a pretty slim chance.
But now let’s talk about a few tips about how to work your way through a cancellation with a cruise line.
Let’s talk about those that might have a reservation coming up in the next year and if you have concerns about a cancellation.
Here’s five tips on how to navigate that.
First of all, watch for email updates from the cruise line with which you booked. They will be keeping in touch as far as their reservations, as far as their cancellations due to coronavirus. As of right now, there is a “no sail” order, so no travel is taking place.
Second, review all of your options carefully and consider outside factors before making any sort of decision. That cruise credit for the future might be enticing, especially if it’s above the amount that you paid if you get that bonus…it might be the best option to just take the refund. This is back to what we were just talking about. You might have the time deadline in which you need to use the credit. It might be smarter just to take the refund and hope for a better deal in the future.
Number three, wait to see if the cruise line is going to cancel your cruise or extend their sailing suspension before making any moves on your own.
For example, Royal Caribbean’s cancellation policy through September 1st is allowing guests to cancel for a future credit up to 48 hours before setting sail.
If you cancel early, and then the cruise line later cancels that sailing, it may negate the option for a full refund. So wait to see what they do.
Every line has a different policy, so check on your cruise line’s website as you need to check that fine print
Number four…if you have worked with a travel advisor…with an agent on booking your trip, reach out to them with any questions because they’ll be able to help you.
Oftentimes they’ll have better lines of access to customer service with cruise lines.
And then when you are canceling, check in on any refunds for other prepaid expenses you might have made such as beverage packages or excursions.
So to summarize getting a refund or that credit, if your cruise was canceled because of Coronavirus you’ll likely see two options…a full refund or a credit.
The credit might have some sort of bonus to entice you to take it, but between the limitations on the date of usage for that and the probability that cruise lines will be very aggressive with their deals in the coming months, I would opt for the refund.
Watch for emails from your cruise line because they will be communicating about cancellations. Review those two options carefully.
Wait to see if the cruise line cancels before you make the decision. If they cancel, you would have both options, but if you cancel, you might only have the one option.
Utilize a travel advisor if you booked your cruise with them, they can help.
And don’t forget any other prepaid expenses such as beverage packages or excursions.
Thanks again for listening…I appreciate it. Please share this if you can, and Safe Travels!