Royal Caribbean Canceled Alaska Cruise With People Already On The Ship

by SharonKurheg

Unless you’re in the position to do a last-minute cruise, like if you’re on Holland America’s new standby list, chances are you’ve planned your cruise months, if not years ahead of time. Those plans often include a flight, transportation to and from the port, as well as possibly a hotel for the night(s) before and/or the end of your cruise.

Can you imagine this situation?

Say you’re scheduled for a 7-day cruise of Alaska on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas.

Ports of call include:

April 26: Day 1 – Embarkation in Vancouver
April 27: Day 2 – Juneau
April 28: Day 3 – Icy Strait Point
April 29: Day 4 – Sitka
April 30: Day 5 – Skagway
May 1: Day 6 – Hubbard Glacier
May 2: Day 7 – Disembarkation in Seward

Your plans are to fly to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and stay in Vancouver overnight, so you can board the ship the next morning.

And then you get an email from Royal Caribbean – the ship has a “technical issue with its propulsion system.” However, they expect the problem to be fixed quickly enough, and passengers can still board on April 26th, as planned.

You get to the ship and finally board. You’re so excited! You’ve been waiting for this cruise for TWO YEARS!

While you’re milling about the ship, still at the port in Vancouver, one of the managers made an announcement that the repairs were taking longer than intended and might not be finished that day. Hmmm…

Two-day delay

And then the announcement comes – the ship wouldn’t be leaving yet and would remain in Vancouver for 2 days. You wouldn’t leave port until the 28th.

“While repairs for the technical issue that we encountered on our previous sailing are still underway, we discovered that we’re going to need some extra time to get the ship in tip-top shape for you,” the cruise line shared with passengers in letters in their staterooms. “Although we’ll conduct our boarding as planned for our April 26th, 2024, Radiance of the Seas sailing, we’ll now set sail on April 28, 2024.”

“We’re terrible sorry for this last-minute change,” the letter continued. “We understand this news is disappointing, but we hope you’ll join us on the alternate itinerary planned.” (because Juneau now wasn’t going to happen).

And worse yet? Even though the ship would remain in Vancouver for two days, no one could leave because of customs regulations.

According to USA Today, this is exactly what happened to a ship full of unlucky passengers late last month.

True, Royal Caribbean did their best – they gave passengers onboard credit worth the two days of their fare, a future cruise credit of the same amount, free bar and Wi-Fi, and other compensations. But still…

Only kidding!

On Saturday the 27th, the ship managed to sail towards the nearby cargo port. But then the captain announced that afternoon that the sail couldn’t proceed. The cruise was canceled and everyone would need to disembark by Sunday the 28th at 4 pm.

“As you are aware, our teams have been vigorously working to have Radiance of the Seas prepared to set sail on our shortened April 26th sailing,” said the letter given to passengers in their staterooms read.

“Despite our best efforts, circumstances beyond our control have delayed our sailing further. As a result, we’ll regrettably have to cancel our April 26th, 2024 cruise.

“We understand the disappointment due to this unfortunate turn of events.” the letter continued. “We truly extend our sincerest apologies for the continued unforeseen disruptions to your vacation.”

Compensation up the ying yang

Joe and I have been on 2 cruises that were canceled – both on Virgin Voyages, both due to Covid. Our July 2020 cruise was canceled and rescheduled to July 2021. That one was also canceled and was rescheduled to July, 2022 (we were able to go on that one). So we can tell you from experience that canceled cruises are sad and frustrating and annoying, but to their credit, cruise companies make good – VERY good – when they happen.

Passengers scheduled for the April 26th cruise will receive:

  • A 100% refund for the cost of the cruise (including any taxes and fees incurred for the cruise).
  • A Future Cruise Credit (FCC) worth 100% of what they paid for their cruise. This can be used towards a future sailing. (Royal Caribbean has stated guests will receive this FCC by May 10th).
  • Anyone who booked their flights through the cruise line will have their flight arrangements automatically re-scheduled.
  • Royal Caribbean will reimburse any travel change fees (up to $250 for domestic travel and $400 for international travel).
  • The cruise line will also reimburse up to $250 for hotel costs, per stateroom, per night, for two nights.

No offense to all involved, but I’m glad I wasn’t on that cruise. It’s one thing to be told X number of weeks or months ahead of time that the cruise is canceled…but to be told “She’s broken; get off the ship?” Ugh. Especially when airfare reimbursement may or may not cover what you paid (and definitely won’t cover last-minute airfare home), and your PTO is already used.

According to CruiseMapper, the ship resumed service on May 3rd.

Feature Photo: RCI

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