The cruise line continues to address passenger pain points and it just solved a big one.
During the pandemic, canceled cruises happened from March 2020 through well into the summer of 2021. Even as some cruise ships came back in July 2021, the full Royal Caribbean International (RCL) – Get Royal Caribbean Group Report fleet had not returned, so cancelations remained common.
Even during the darkest days when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had banned cruising and refused to work with the cruise industry on a return, the cruise lines kept selling future sailings. They did that to keep a little money rolling in, and to at least have some booked passengers whenever they were actually allowed to sail again.
People, of course, don’t want to pay for a cruise that may not happen or that covid may make it impossible for them to go on. Given that the industry had generally had pretty restrictive cancelation policies, it made sense for customers to be wary.
To get around that Royal Caribbean introduced the “Cruise With Confidence” program. Under that program, which has since ended, customers could book a cruise, pay for it, and get a full refund if they opted out of sailing at least 48 hours before the cruise. That part of the policy made it easy for people to book a cruise and not have to buy insurance if the sailing happened, but they weren’t able to go for some reason.
Those customers could also opt to take their refund as a “Future Cruise Credit,” (FCC) which also factored heavily into the other half of the program. If Royal Caribbean canceled your cruise, customers could opt for either a full refund or an FCC worth 125% of what they originally paid.
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Future Cruise Credits Had a Number of Problems
While the concept of FCCs was great, the reality was a little more challenging. Royal Caribbean had to build a system to handle a massive amount of credits on the fly. That led to some problems, the biggest of which might have been customers both getting their FCC and being able to track it.
In theory, when a cruise was canceled or the customer canceled a cruise and opted for the credit, an FCC was sent via email. If the customer never got, ignored, or lost that email, Royal Caribbean had no place on its website to check your FCC balance.
That was a bit tricky since some customers had FCCs from cruises that were canceled at the beginning of the pandemic and may have wanted to redeem them close to two years later. Royal Caribbean could track the information down, but it did not seem to be an easy process which put added stress on an already stressed-out customer service system.
The second problem with FCCs is that they could only be used for a cruise ticket, not for anything else onboard. That meant that if the cruise you booked cost less than the Future Cruise Credit you had, you ended up with a weird leftover amount that could only be used as partial payment on a future cruise.
It’s easy to see why Royal Caribbean would want to do that. But leaving a customer with a small balance or even a few hundred dollars with only one way to spend it seemed like a very customer-unfriendly move. Now, Royal Caribbean has finally fixed that problem.
Royal Caribbean Makes a Big Future Cruise Credit Change
Royal Caribbean has decided to allow passengers to, in some cases, apply the balance of an FCC to their onboard credit account on the cruise that was booked with the credit. The move was shared with travel agents by the cruise line Aug. 24, Matt Hochberg of the Royal Caribbean Blog reported.
“In a situation where a future cruise credit is applied to a booking, but the full value is not utilized, instead of a new future cruise credit being created for the remainder balance, it will be issued as onboard credit on the cruise that they’re using the cruise credits in the first place,” Hochberg, who is not affiliated with the cruise line, shared.
The cruise line has not allowed passengers to take unused portions of FCCs not used to book the cruise as onboard credit. Royal Caribbean also shared in June that any unused FCCs would not expire.