RCCL's New Policy Allows Cancellations 48 Hours Prior To Sailing
Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has launched a temporary cancellation policy called "Cruise With Confidence" in hopes of reassuring both travel advisors and guests during the coronavirus outbreak.
For sailings taking place between 6MAR and 31JUL, 2020, the Cruise With Confidence policy allows guests tocancel up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive a Future Cruise Credit(FCC) in the original amount they paid.
"There are two viruses out there," said Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International, during a trade and media webcast on Friday.
"There is the very serious coronavirus, but equally as serious is the virus of fear. Today, we really want to address the fear virus and help you and your clients overcome it and have confidence when selecting a cruise with any of our brands."
A total of4,494 people tuned into the webcast, which detailed the line's new policy, according to Freed.
Here are some details:
The FCC is redeemable on sailings departing on or before 31DEC, 2021.
If the re-booked cruise fare is more than the FCC value, the guest pays the difference.
If the re-booked cruise fare is less than the FCC value, a new FCC will be issued for the difference for future use.
If a client is currently booked with an FCC, they will still receive a cruise recompense.
The new policy applies to all cruise lines within the Royal Caribbean family of brands –Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea and Azamara-- but the FCC is only valid on the specific brand of original booking.
The FCC is automatically generated for the customer in Espresso.
The FCCs can be used immediately after issuance.
The policy applies to both new and existing cruise bookings.
Travel advisors will receive their commission once a client redeems their FCC for a future cruise.
For guests who booked a flight with RCCL's internal air program:
Refundable fare: RCCL will handle all re-accommodations and cover all air change fees
Non-refundable fare: contact the independent air carrier directly for changing or cancelling your client's flight accommodations.
With this policy in place, the RCCL team urged travel advisors to convince customers tostay on their cruise.
"By having flexibility, people feel like they're more in control. In this scene, they don't lose. You might as well just hang on because you never know which way things are going to go. And if you have to change your plans, you can cancel [two days before your sailing]," said Carol Cabezas, Chief Operating Officer, Global Operations, Azamara.
Last month Royal Caribbean announced that it has updated its coronavirus health screening protocols and heightened sanitation onboard and at cruise terminals.
"We are doing everything we can to keep everyone onboard healthy," said Cabezas. "The cruise industry is well versed in handling all kinds of viruses that can happen once in a while, and this one is no different. And in fact, we've elevated the sanitation processes so that we keep everything as clean as possible."
Advisors are encouraged to use the automated tools at their disposal to help answer any questions – Espresso, their preferred GDS system, their sales manager, or readonline FAQs– as the call centre has been experiencing a higher than usual call volume since the policy was announced, said Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support & Service, Celebrity Cruises.
"We are trying to get people to call only if there is no alternative way. If you need to call, please have the patience for longer hold times," she said.
The RCCL team thanked advisors for their loyalty and support, and offered a few words of encouragement.
"Thanks for sticking with us and hanging in there with us," said Ritzenthaler. "We know it's hard on y'all on, it's hard on the guests and it's hard on us. But we are going to do this together, as we always do."
Agents can reach RCCL's trade support & service line by calling:
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.