Cruise Line Covid-19 Cancellation Policies?

The cruise industry has been hit especially hard by the worldwide spread of Covid-19. With an estimated 30 million annual cruisers there is definitely a segment of travelers that can’t wait to set sail again. Let’s find out what’s going on in the cruise industry and with the cruise cancellation policies.

I would like to preface this article by saying that I do not support traveling until it is safe. The following information is to show what changes cruise lines have made to support guests that were booked and continue to postpone their travel plans.

The logos for Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. appear as 2 girls look out from the back of a cruise ship.
Comparing the Covid-19 Cancellation policies for Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. to see who is offering the best support for guests.

A Little Background

The CDC lifted the “No Sail Order” on October 30, 2020, replacing it with a “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order”. The framework’s initial phases focus on the cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate the risk of spreading Covid-19. They must demonstrate adherence to testing, quarantine, isolation, and social distancing requirements to protect crew members before passenger travel will be allowed to resume in later phases.

The Government of Canada announced on February 4th, 2021 that it is prohibiting all cruise vessels from entering Canadian waters through February 28, 2022. They also stated that “To limit the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada continues to advise Canadian citizens and permanent residents to avoid all travel on cruise ships outside Canada until further notice.”

What’s the earliest date I can sail?

Simply put, there is no exact departure date for the next cruise ship operating in U.S. waters. The cruise ship operators’ aren’t even sure when passengers will be allowed to sail again. Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have all canceled their sailings through the end of April 2021. 

What does this mean for cruisers?

For cruisers that were scheduled and had their sailings canceled; the cruise lines have offered a combination of future cruise credits, the ability to change sailing dates or refunds. Going forward, the cruise industry has been forced to adapt. They have put in place temporary policies to accommodate the current uncertainty around sailing. Disney Cruise Line is promoting Book with Confidence. Royal Caribbean International is touting Cruise with Confidence. Norwegian Cruise Line is offering Peace of Mind. Let’s break them down and see if they stand up to their names.

What can travelers expect when it comes to cruise cancellation policies right now?

Let’s compare the standard cancellation policies versus the Covid-19 temporary cancellation policies for 3 of the most popular cruise lines.

Captain Minnie Mouse on the deck of a Disney Cruise Line ship with the details of the Book with Confidence policy
For full details of the Disney Cruise Line Book with Confidence cancellation policy visit the Disney Cruise Line website.

Disney Cruise Line

The standard cruise cancellation policy for standard staterooms starts to impose cancellation fees for :

  • 1 to 5-night cruises at 89 days prior to sailing
  • 6 or more night cruises at 119 days prior to sailing

The temporary Book with Confidence cancellation policy is currently applicable for sailings through August 2021, and cancellation fees start 59 days prior to embarkation for all sailings. All final payments are due 60 days prior to embarkation, this is down from 90 days for 1 to 5-night sailings and down from 120 days for 6 or more night sailings. All of the above does not apply to stateroom categories with restrictions, as they remain nonrefundable.

The Disney difference comes with the added flexibility and refund policies. Guests can change their sail date with no penalties up to 15 days prior to embarkation. Guests must select a sailing that commences prior to May 31, 2022. Standard prevailing rates apply.

Within 14 days prior to embarkation if you experience one or more of the following conditions. You may either change your sail date to a future sailing that commences prior to May 31, 2022, or receive a full refund without Disney-imposed cancellation fees. The conditions are for Guests who have:

  • symptoms of COVID-19
  • a temperature of 100.4°F or greater
  • had known exposure to a person with COVID-19 within the previous 14 days
  • tested positive for COVID-19

What if I am denied boarding due to Covid-19?

The biggest relief is for guests who experience one of the above conditions on the day of embarkation. Guests will be unable to sail however Disney Cruise Line will provide a full refund without Disney-imposed cancellation fees.

The above is why I Specialize in selling Disney Vacations. Disney continues to prove that its #1 priority is the health and safety of its guests and crewmembers.

The Royal Caribbean International Cruise with Confidence summary.
For full details of the Royal Caribbean International Cruise with Confidence cancellation policy visit the Royal Caribbean International website.

Royal Caribbean Cruises

The standard cruise cancellation policy for standard staterooms starts to impose cancellation fees for:

  • 1 to 4-night cruises at 74 days prior to sailing
  • 5 or more night cruises at 89 days prior to sailing

The temporary Cruise with Confidence cancellation policy is applicable for sailings through April 30, 2022, but must be booked before April 30, 2021. You can cancel up to 48 hours before your sail date to receive a future cruise credit. The full payment date has not changed from the previous 75 days. If you do not cancel your cruise before the final payment date you are no longer eligible for a refund. You can get a Future Cruise Credit if you book by April 30th, 2022, and sail by September 30, 2022.

The flexibility of being able to cancel up to 48 hours before your sail date is nice but being unable to receive a refund might be a little too risky for some passengers.

What if I am denied boarding due to Covid-19?

Royal Caribbean does not mention what happens if you arrive at embarkation and are denied boarding due to Covid-19. This is not a good sign for guests.

The Norwegian's Peace of Mind - Sail Safe | Flexible Booking summary page.
For full details of the Norwegian Cruise Line Peace of Mind cancellation policy visit the Norwegian Cruise Line website.

Norwegian Cruise Line

The standard cruise cancellation policy for standard staterooms starts to impose cancellation fees for:

  • 1 to 6 day cruises at 89 days prior to sailing
  • 7 or more day cruises at 119 days prior to sailing

The temporary Peace of Mind cancellation policy is currently applicable for cruises departing through June 30, 2021. You can cancel up to 60 days prior for a full refund or 15 days prior for a Future Cruise Credit. For sailings between July 1 – October 31, 2021, you can cancel for a full refund up to 120 days prior or 15 days prior for a Future Cruise Credit.

What if I am denied boarding due to Covid-19?

Norwegian’s policy does not mention what happens if you arrive at embarkation and are denied boarding due to Covid-19. This is undoubtedly a bad sign for guests.

Verdict

Disney Cruise Line continues to show why it is the gold standard in customer service. They are putting the guest first with the most flexible and friendly cancellation/refund policy. Royal Caribbean International definitely provides some comfort in knowing you can cancel up to 48 hours without losing everything. Unfortunately, Norwegian’s Peace of Mind offers anything but, offering the least flexible cancellation policy of the three cruise lines.

Now that you know about the various cancellation policies. You can complete a quote request if you are hopeful and want to look forward toa magical vacation.

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