Royal Caribbean Makes Beverage Changes Passengers Will Like

The cruise line has been listening to what some of its best customers want.

When you are on vacation, time works a little differently than it does at home. You don’t have to wake up to get the kids to school or to be at the office (or your remote office) at any specific time.

When you’re on a cruise, time becomes even more squishy since the ship you’re on may move into different time zones. A time of day that might be considered late during your working life becomes a time when you consider whether to go to the casino, head to the late comedy show, or opt for the silent disco.

On a Royal Caribbean (RCL) – Get Free Report cruise ship, planned activities generally run until 2 a.m. while the casino operates later than that. The day doesn’t end at midnight, which has actually created a confusing situation for some passengers.

Diamond and higher level members of the cruise line’s Crown & Anchor Society get 4 or more drink vouchers each day. Those free drinks operate like this, according to the cruise line:

“One of the great benefits of being a Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club members is the daily complimentary drink vouchers you receive on every sailing. Currently, the active window for voucher redemption each day is from 12 a,m. to 11:59 p.m., which means that any vouchers you redeem after midnight count towards your balance for the next day,” Royal Caribbean said in an email to Diamond-level and higher Crown & Anchor members.

That’s something some passengers don’t like, and the cruise line has been listening.

Image source: Daniel Kline, TheStreet

Royal Caribbean Changes Its Clock

The drink-voucher program was enacted when Royal Caribbean began sailing after the covid-era shutdown. Previously, the cruise line offered Diamond-level (and higher) Crown & Anchor members a happy hour in the Diamond Lounge, an onboard room open only to them.

That policy changed to four drink vouchers each day for Diamond members. They could be redeemed at any time in any onboard (or CocoCay) venue and used for any beverage up to a $14 value. Diamond+ members get five drinks while Pinnacle members get six.

The move was made to reduce crowding in the Diamond Lounge during the happy hour period. 

Now, from 5 to 7 p.m. the lounge still has a light spread of appetizers, snacks, and desserts along with beverage service, but the drinks are no longer free. You can use a voucher or a beverage package, or you can pay for your drink.

The voucher system has generally been well-received, but the midnight definition of when counted as today versus tomorrow led to some problems. People tend to think of days not by the calendar, but by when they go to sleep. 

Now, the cruise line has changed the definition of its day, at least as far as the Diamon drink vouchers go.    

“We know how much you love these drink vouchers, and we want to make sure you’re getting the most out of this benefit!” Royal Caribbean said in an email. 

“We’re excited to share that we’re changing the daily schedule so that these vouchers are now redeemable from 5 a.m. to 4:59 a.m. the next day. What does this mean? It means that your daily complimentary vouchers will now reset at 5 a.m. every morning, allowing you to get more out of this benefit during prime hours of each day, including your after-midnight drinks.”

That changes the voucher day to basically reflect when people actually use the vouchers.

Royal Caribbean Also Offers a Tracking System

Another passenger pain point with the voucher system has been that the people who have them want to be able to control when they are used. That requires providing a tracking system, which the cruise line has not offered.

Royal Caribbean got rid of paper receipts for drinks as a covid safety measure. That makes sense, but it also made it hard for people to know when they’re being charged for a drink or having a voucher applied. 

Voucher holders generally want to use them on the highest-priced mixed drinks or glasses of wine rather than beer, soda, or even bottles of water.

Now, Royal Caribbean has made a change to make it easy to track your drink vouchers. 

“On top of the schedule change, we want to help you better keep track of the usage of your complimentary drink vouchers, so we’ve added a tracker to the printed receipt that is given upon receiving your complimentary drink,” according to the email. 

“At the bottom of the receipt, there will now be a line of text which indicates how many vouchers you have used towards your daily balance, e.g., ‘C&A Beverage Voucher [# Used] of [# Total].'” 

The changes have already gone into effect.

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