August 1, 2018.
Royal Caribbean fans listen up: Effective November 1, 2018, the cruise line will end the current practice of offering an onboard credit for new cruises booked with the non-refundable deposit option. Onboard credits for cruises booked prior to that date will still be honored. This new policy does not affect onboard credit for refundable deposits (at least not yet).
Royal Caribbean made the announcement in a letter to travel partners. The salient part of the letter states:
“We would like to inform you of an upcoming change to our Non-Refundable Deposit Program, resulting from a review of booking analytics over the past year. Based on this research, the onboard credit earned when booking six months or more prior to sailing will no longer apply. This update will take effect on all new bookings made on or after November 1st, 2018.
We are confident that this change will not impact your business. The Non-Refundable Deposit Program continues to offer the best pricing available — and will always be priced lower than the standard fare during brand promotions.”
Typically this credit has been $100 for a 7-night cruise, $50 for shorter cruises. But it will soon be history. Refundable bookings typically have an onboard credit of half that amount. The non-refundable cruise pricing is lower than prices for cruises booked with a refundable deposit. I would not be surprised if another “review of booking analytics” eventually gives them justification to end the credit for the refundable deposits as well.
I think refundable deposits will eventually go the way of the dodo bird and cruises will only come with a no-refund requirement for the deposit and change fees that are heftier than the current $100 per person. This has long been the policy for people living in the UK, Australia, and other regions. It’s only a matter of time before it comes to America.