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Cruise with Confidence

I have a list of various topics that I am going to be writing my newsletter on for the next few weeks and “Cruise with Confidence” wasn’t something I was originally planning on doing this soon. As more and more people are starting to contact me to book or rebook them on cruises in 2021 and even 2022, I decided that I should do this topic now.

“Cruise with Confidence” goes by several names. Some cruise companies like AmaWaterways calls it “Travel with Peace of Mind”. Viking calls it their “Risk-Free Guarantee”. Regardless of what you call it, most cruise lines offer it and it is pretty much the same for each cruise line.

 

What is Cruise with Confidence

The biggest concern I have from customers about booking cruises right now is what will happen if their cruise is cancelled. Before the coronavirus hit in February, cruises getting cancelled wasn’t a major concern for people. When the virus hit, all of a sudden, all these cruise lines started cancelling voyages and people didn’t know if they were going to get rebooked, refunded, or credited. This is where “Cruise with Confidence” was born.

There are actually two parts to any of these programs. The main part goes into details on what will happen if a cruise gets cancelled. At a minimum, you will get a future cruise credit. In most cases you will also have the option of getting a refund or a 125% cruise credit.

Future cruise credits – Different cruise lines do these different ways. Norwegian cruise line for instance will give you 100% of your cruise cost as a credit. Royal Caribbean will give you your cabin cost as a credit and then return any taxes and port fees to your credit card. In addition to that, all cruise lines will return any fees not associated with your cabin (ex: shore excursions, drink packages, photo packages, etc.) to your credit card. If part of your booking process included you getting an on-board credit, that will go away if that was attached to a special you received when you booked your room.

125% Future Cruise Credit – This sounds like a great option if you are definitely going to cruise again in the near future. Free money is always a great thing to get but there are a few things to be aware of. If you pay $1000 for your cruise, you are not going to get a credit for $1250. If you paid $1000 for your cruise, $600 may have been for the cabin and the other $400 went to taxes, port fees, and other cruising fees. When you are offered 125% credit, that credit is only applied to the cabin fee. On $1000 you will get $1150 ($600 cabin + $125 for 25% + $400 Taxes and Fees, if they are not refunded to your card).

Full Refund – When a cruise is cancelled the cruise line will automatically give you the future cruise credits and refund any of the extra money to your card. If you want to get a full refund you will have to request this. Normally this involves contacting your travel advisor (me) and letting me do the request or you contact the cruise line on the phone and having them process the request. This past spring refund requests were taking up to 90 days because the cruise lines had so many to process, today they are taking about 45 to 60 days.

If you decide to go with the future cruise credits, make sure you know how long they are good for. Most of them right now will let you book through the end of 2021 for travel through the end of 2022, some will even let you book travel through the end of 2023.

 

Cruise with Confidence Part 2

Back in the old days (Spring 2020) if you were concerned about your health and you cancelled your cruise before the cruise line cancelled it, the only options to get your money back was through your insurance carrier. Some cruise lines would let you get a cruise credit but that was it.

Today, we have “Cruise with Confidence”!

This part of the new cruise policy is that you can book your cruise today and then if you are not comfortable with traveling, you can cancel your trip up to 24 hours before sailing and get a full refund. That is best case scenario.

If you are not looking at the best-case scenario this is still a great program for the cruise lines to offer.

Cancelation Window – Best case was 24 hours before sailing however in a worse case scenario you are still looking at having about 72 hours before sailing before you need to make your decision. I haven’t seen any cruise lines say you need to cancel a week or month out, most are between 24 and 72 hours before sailing.

Compensation – You will not be getting a 125% credit as you would if the cruise line cancelled. In most cases you will get a full credit for the cruise (taxes and fees returned to your card if the cruise line doesn’t want to hold onto them). You can also request a full refund and everything will be returned to your card if the cruise line has that option included for the program.

So almost all cruise lines have some sort of “Cruise with Confidence” program. They are doing this because when they return to sailing, they don’t want to sail with less people than they have to and they want guest to book now. This is a win-win for everyone. You can book a cruise for next July and if you feel uncomfortable going you can cancel right before the sailing. If the cruise goes, the cruise line will have its passengers. If it doesn’t go, you will get a refund or future cruise credit.

There are two caveats though…the expiration date. The cruise lines “Cruise with Confidence” may say that only cruises through July 2021 are covered with the cancellation window. If you book something for August and you decide not to go, you won’t be covered. I have seen this extended by a couple of cruise lines since it’s inception due to the health concerns but when booking your cruise I would advise booking based on what the “Cruise with Confidence” says at your time of booking and not expecting it to be extended.

The second caveat is that most cruise lines are only including cruises booked through November or December this year. That means if you book something on January 1st you won’t be eligible to decide you want to cancel 24 hours before the cruise. If the cruise line cancels the cruise they will do the refund or future cruise credits but if you cancel you won’t get anything.

 

Is this Insurance?

The big question I get from customers is do they need insurance or is this insurance. The answer is this is not insurance.

“Cruise with Confidence” is only here to help you if a cruise is cancelled or if you want to cancel your cruise. Most travel insurance will include cancelation reasons or cancel for any reason as part of what they cover. In that respect this could be called insurance.

Trip insurance also includes medical benefits, lost luggage coverage, trip interruption coverage and more. “Cruise with Confidence” does not cover any of that.

 

Conclusion

“Cruise with Confidence” is designed to get people to start planning cruises again. It truly does make it a safe way to plan a cruise and not have to worry about what happens if you need to cancel or the cruise line cancels. Main thing to be aware of is what your cruise line’s “Cruise with Confidence” plan is.

Here are some of the major cruise lines policies:

Royal Caribbean – https://www.royalcaribbean.com/cruise-with-confidence

Celebrity (Owned by Royal Caribbean) – https://www.celebritycruises.com/cruise-with-confidence

Norwegian Cruise Lines – https://www.ncl.com/why-cruise-norwegian/book-with-confidence

MSC – https://www.msccruisesusa.com/total-cruiseflex

Viking – https://www.vikingcruises.com/risk-free-guarantee.htm

AmaWaterways – https://www.amawaterways.com/travel-waiver-plus

And as always, I am here to help you plan your vacations. If you have any questions or need to me get you information on a specific cruise lines policy do not hesitate to call me or drop me an email.