Another Oversold Royal Caribbean Cruise! Why Does this Happen? What Should You Do?

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a cruise ship docked in a harbor

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Royal Caribbean’s May 14th sailing of Allure of the Seas was oversold. This is not the first instance of an oversell situation for this ship, and oversell situations are not unheard of with the cruise lines.

a cruise ship docked in the water

Why Does this Happen?

Much like airlines, cruise lines know some guests will cancel from time to time. Further, cruise ships, unlike airliner, routinely set sail with over a 100 percent load factor. How?! Because load factors for cruises are based on double occupancy and many staterooms can accommodate more than 2 people. Occasionally, the planets align in such a way that a ship is oversold. In this particular case, Royal Caribbean International blamed a “system error” according to CruiseHive.com.

I’ve never experienced this, and I really don’t know what I’d do if I showed up at port and was told my cruise was oversold. Thankfully, the cruise lines try (and almost always succeed) to entice passengers onto other cruises so the situation is rectified before boarding day.

In this particular case, the cruise line offered to move interested volunteers to a different ship with a slightly shorter itinerary, but with a full refund of their fare on Allure of the Seas plus a $300 onboard credit. Another option was to sail on Allure on different dates with the identical itinerary, but with no compensation. A third option was to cancel your cruise with a full refund and a 100 percent future cruise credit (Cha-ching! if you have a lot of flexibility). And a final option….. do nothing and go on your cruise as planned.

What Should You Do?

Well, first things first, don’t get mad, get on the phone. You are quite likely to wind up on a cruise that works for you, or perhaps even your originally planned cruise if the cruise line is successful in enticing enough guests onto alternatives. Talk to the cruise line as politely as possible, or better yet, have your travel agent do the talking for you if you booked with an agent. Don’t forget to bring up any non-refundable charges you may incur such as airline change fees (I know, mostly a thing of the past now) or hotel rooms.

In the end, I say take the deal that is best for you, and that may include doing nothing. Most of us that are still working do not have the flexibility to reschedule our precious vacation time. The end result is that you are almost certainly going to get to sail on your originally scheduled cruise, even if it is oversold. For those with very flexible schedules, I say take the money and run….well….don’t run, but rebook with your future cruise credit and enjoy your essentially “free” cruise if you can find something that works within the same price range.

This is a situation I hope none of us ever face, especially very close to cruise time. But stay focused and calm, and you’ll likely find an amicable solution, and perhaps even be happy with the outcome. – MJ

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Like overbooking with airlines it should be illegal. They are selling something they don’t have and with known issues.

    • DaninMCI – I don’t agree. Most cruises over-sell by a fair margin prior to final payment knowing that a number of pax cancel at that time. Once payments are made in full, they still may be slightly over-sold as a number of pax cancel last minute (after all cancellation grace periods) due to any number of reasons on every sailing. It’s reasonable to over-sell by a certain amount in anticipation of these common patterns, otherwise the lines are leaving money on the table. In this case, it sounds like it’s more than a typical over-sell situation.

  2. Sounds like a “bump-ortunity” that if your circumstances allow for you to take advantage of the cruise line’s mistake – GREAT! If not, as noted in the article, do nothing and take the cruise you planned to take while others benefit from the error. Unless they oversold more than 10-20% I think there will be plenty of willing participants to take the extra incentives to jump ship. I for one hope this keeps happening.

  3. Our May 27th for five nights out of Bayonne to Bermuda on the Liberty of the Seas is oversold too. Royal is making similar offers to those you list to some of the passengers on the ship, though interestingly they may not be doing so to people sailing with casino offers as evidenced by a definitely unscientific sampling of my spouse’s Facebook groups. People are uploading emails they started receiving last week, but nobody doing so said they’re on a casino offer. Probably because most of us are sailing for free or heavily discounted. They know we won’t bite.

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