He wants a refund instead of a Royal Caribbean cruise credit

When Royal Caribbean cancels Rich Kanuchok’s cruise to New England and Canada, he asks for a 125% cruise credit. Then he changes his mind. Is that allowed?

  • Sunday, April 18, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

Q: In 2019, my wife Sandy and I booked a Royal Caribbean cruise to New England and Canada. This plan was to celebrate a special occasion, our upcoming 50th wedding anniversary. We were scheduled to leave in May, but Royal Caribbean canceled the cruise and offered us either a refund or a 125% cruise credit. We asked for the credit.

In May, Royal Caribbean issued a cruise credit for just $1,260 — $841 less than the $2,101 the cruise line had promised. I called and spoke to representatives on three different days to request a refund and obtain an explanation for how our cruise credit had been miscalculated. Shortly after ending the phone conversation with the last representative, I received an email notification from Royal Caribbean showing a new credit of $1,681 (that’s a 100% cruise credit).

Royal Caribbean refuses to explain the miscalculation of the cruise credit and will not refund our cruise. We feel that a refund from Royal Caribbean is justified. Can you help us get a refund?

— Rich Kanuchok, Baltimore

A: Like most other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean offered a full refund or a 125% cruise credit after the pandemic. You chose the 125% cruise credit. Now, in a perfect world, Royal Caribbean would have allowed you to change your mind and get a full refund. But once you decided to take the credit, the usual terms would have applied. The most important of the terms is the expiration: You have two years to use the cruise credit. Here are the other rules: www.royalcaribbean.com/faq/topics/onboard-cruise-credit-offer.

Royal Caribbean should have offered you the full 125% cruise credit quickly. But in the chaos of the mass cancellations, it did not. You asked your travel adviser, the cruise line and finally the cruise line’s executives to give you the full 125%. But the results were the same.

Should you be able to change your mind on a refund if Royal Caribbean can’t do what it promised? I think that’s debatable. One thing is for certain, though. The cruise line needs to either give you the full 125% cruise credit or a refund.

I like the way you handled your case. You started with your travel adviser but then escalated directly to the cruise line and then contacted the executives. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of Royal Caribbean’s managers on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/royal-caribbean. You also kept almost everything in writing, which allowed you to have a paper trail of the correspondence between you and the cruise line. Nice work.

In the end, granting you a refund was up to Royal Caribbean. I contacted the cruise line on your behalf. It sent you the $2,101 cruise credit it promised via your travel agent.

Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. His latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.

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