Why You Should Know About Cruise Line Cancellation Policies

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What You Need to Know About Cruise Line Cancellation policies

Have you been wondering if you should cancel an upcoming cruise due to the current situation?

There’s no question that this has been a tough time for both cruise lines and passengers. If you’ve been following the situation, you know that there are changes even week to week.

Due to the current worldwide situation, cruise lines have temporarily suspended their cruises for a minimum of 30 days (until April 10 or after), and in some cases, 60 days.

This may bring about some uncertainty, especially in how it relates to travel plans in the next few months.

There’s at least some good news. After all, we all want to plan and on our vacations, and cruise lines want us to sail.
Many cruise lines have put into place more flexible cruise cancellation policies, which offer cruise passengers peace of mind as they await and plan for a future cruise.

In this post, I’ll be going through the basics of how cruise line cancellation policies work, as well information about how your cruise may be affected by the current cruise cancellations.

Update: Recently Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean have both extended their expected dates to return to service. More information about dates and specific sailings can be found here: When Will Cruising Resume? Frequently Asked Questions

Please note, as always, the information provided is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but is being updated frequently. It’s important to verify information and review your own situation with your travel adviser or the cruise line.

When will cruises resume and how do cancellation policies work?

cozumel cruise port carnival ships

Cruising temporarily suspended for 30-60 days

Princess Cruises have since announced that they are voluntarily halting cruises for 60 days. Most other cruise lines including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America, Carnival, and MSC have temporarily suspended cruises for 30 days. 

Updates: Celebrity and Royal Caribbean have extended their resumption of service dates, including on Alaska sailings. A fair assumption is that can expect to hear more from other cruise lines soon.

Please see this post for current dates for major cruise lines: When Will Cruising Resume? Frequently Asked Questions

Celebrity Cruises Halt of operations letter

What happens if your cruise is cancelled by the cruise line?

If you’re sailing in the time frame, you’ll have received  information from the cruise line about refund policies and Future Cruise Credit offers.

Many cruise line offers are offering fairly generous Future Cruise Credits to those who’s cruises have been cancelled, as well as an option for a refund.

It’s a good idea to consider your options to see what’s most advantageous to your situation and future cruise travel plans.

How is the current situation affecting future cruises?

If you have a cruise booked in the future, you might be wondering what will happen in a few weeks when cruises are supposed to sail again.

Current information will be updated on your cruise line website. At the moment, cruise lines have stated that they are adjusting and evaluating and will give more information when they have it.

Since many cruise lines have implemented flexible cancellation policies, you do have more time to consider your options.

Since the situation is constantly evolving, always verify with cruise line websites for the most current and accurate information.

How do new cruise line cancellation policies work, and what do you need to be aware of?

Many major cruise lines including Carnival, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, and Norwegian Cruise Line have implemented new flexible cancellation policies.
This applies to cruises that are not cancelled by the cruise line due to the temporary suspension of sailings. Cruises that are cancelled by the cruise line have different refund policies in place. If your cruise falls within this time frame, please see your cruise line website for information pertaining to your cruise and sail date.
Cruise line policies differ slightly, but most allow guests the ability to cancel up until either 72 or 48 hours before the cruise, without the usual cancellation penalties. 
In some cases there are additional on board credits being offered to those who sail. Additionally, these new cancellation policies may be applicable to certain sail dates.
These policies will hopefully help anyone who feels that they shouldn’t cruise at this time and decides to cancel, as well as those planning for future cruise vacations.
As always, please check your cruise line web site for the most current information.

Here are some common questions and answers about cruise line cancellation policies

Norwegian escape

When the cruise line says I get 100% future cruise credit, what does this mean?

This means that most cruise lines have temporarily changed their cancellation policies, to allow cruise passengers to cancel quite close to the sail date should they decide not to cruise. In this case rather that incur the usual cancellation fees, the cruise line will issue a full 100% refund of the cruise as a Future Cruise Credit.

A Future Cruise Credit can be used on any cruise within the same cruise line. 

As always, please verify the cruise line’s cancellation policy on their website for the most accurate and up to date information.

“Will I get a refund?” 

The way these new temporary cancellation policies work is that you will receive a Future Cruise Credit in the amount of whatever the cancellation fees would normally be. The remainder would be refunded to your credit card or original method of payment.
For example, if your cancellation penalties are 50% – you’ll receive 50% of the total cruise paid as a Future Cruise Credit, and the other 50% as a refund
If your cancellation penalties are 75% – you’ll receive 75% of the total cruise paid as a Future Cruise Credit, and the other 25% as a refund
If your cancellation penalties are 100% – you’ll receive 100% of the total cruise paid as a Future Cruise Credit
You can find this information on your cruise contract or on the cruise line website, and as always, you can contact your travel agent for clarification and assistance.
Oasis of the Seas

“Until when can I use my Future Cruise Credit to book another cruise?”

Each cruise line has different terms and conditions, however in most cases it can be used for a year of more. Please check the specific policies for your cruise on your cruise line’s website.

Will I still get the perks or promotions I had on my original booking?

Unfortunately promotions and perks that were applied on your booking, are not able to be transferred over. When you book your future cruise, you’ll be subject to current pricing as well as sales and promotions.

What about canceling my air and hotels?

If you’ve purchased air independently, please verify the airline cancellation policy. Due to circumstances, some airlines are offering some assistance.

Likewise, check with the hotel or booking company to know about their cancellation policies.

If you have travel insurance, check if cancellation in these circumstances is covered by your policy.

airplane interior

What if I’ve purchased Cruise Line Air?

If you’ve purchased your flights with your cruise line, such as Princess Cruises’ EZAir or Royal Caribbean’s Air2Sea, you’re probably in luck for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, if you cancel your cruise during this exceptional time, in many cases you’ll have a “refund” for your air as a Future Cruise Credit.

However, also helpful in situations like this, is the assistance provided should you need to reschedule flights due to an unlikely cancellation (as we are seeing in the above cases)

Tip: If you have a cruise booked for the future and you have not yet purchased your flights, consider using flexible cruise line air after reviewing the pros and cons for you. 

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Final thoughts: Should You Cancel Your Cruise: Cruise Cancellation Policies

There’s no question that the current situation is causing an upset for cruising and traveling, and have an affect on the communities in which we live. By taking precautions now, we will all get through this time.
Whether you choose to cruise or not at this time, is your decision. There’s no good or bad answer, and each person’s situation and circumstance is different.
For myself, I have cruises booked in the next few months. I’m relieved to have cruise line cancellation policies in place during this time, just in case. My own perspective is that for now, our family is planning on going on our cruise.
I’ll be watching over the next few weeks to see how things evolve and unfold, and will be hopeful that cruise ships will become even safer to travel at this time.
How do you feel about the situation? Are you considering cancelling your cruise or will you be waiting and making a decision at a later date? Or, are you cruising no matter what?
Please let me know in the comments below.
Happy Cruising!
Ilana xoxo
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  1. Scott
    March 8, 2020 / 8:21 pm

    The cruise lines are doing exceptional customer service, it’s the passengers that are not heading the wSrnings and traveling while I’ll and then causing all the issues, people are just not informed correctly and not taking this seriously. We cancelled due to the people not the cruise line

    • March 10, 2020 / 2:15 am

      Hi Scott,

      I’m glad to hear that your experience was good with the cruise lines. It’s definitely a difficult situation, and I’m sure cancelling was a tough choice to make.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience.


  2. Kim Vaughan
    March 10, 2020 / 12:14 am

    Very helpful article, thank you. My husband and I have been planning (for 1 year) and have booked a cruise on HAL for mid May leaving from Seattle cruising x 1 week the inside passage of Alaska. We are both mid-fifties, very healthy individuals; we both work in health care and are highly aware of sanitation precautions. My gut tells me to go ahead and go, taking all precautions necessary; co-workers tell me I’m nuts. What’s your take/opinion? I could move it ahead 3-4 months, but would that really make a difference?
    Kim Vaughan

    • March 10, 2020 / 2:20 am

      Hi Kim,

      I hear you… It’s not easy to know what’s best. You do have some time if you want to wait and see how things are even in a week or two.

      My understanding is that cruise lines, through CLIA, will be announcing some enhanced policies and reassurances in the next day or two. Being honest, I don’t know how things will go.

      No matter what, you have to be comfortable with going and it has to be enjoyable.

      Good luck – feel free to let me know what you decide.


  3. March 10, 2020 / 3:34 pm

    Thanks for a well written article. On past cruises NCL had the Washy-Washy, Happy-Happy lady spraying your hands with sanitizer. I would joke about it and wave her off. This virus is no joke. Will not do that anymore. My wife and I have a cruise planed for Iceland in May. Followed by one to Hawaii in December. We are taking a wait and see attitude. 4 weeks before we sailing will make the decision to go or not. In my mid 60’s in good health. If I have to cancel, it is not end of my cruise world. Only been on 6 cruises sense I retired 5 years ago. But it is my favorite way to travel. Keep up good work and maybe some day will meet on a ship. Thanks for all you do.

    • March 11, 2020 / 7:06 pm

      You’re sp right Russell. I think a lot of us took those disinfectants for granted, but it’s all really important.

      I respect what you’re saying. It’s a good idea to give it thought and see how comfortable you feel, especially for the cruise that’s 4 weeks away.

      Thanks so much for reading, taking the time to comment, and of course for your kind words!


  4. Stephanie
    March 10, 2020 / 3:51 pm

    So we leave May 16 for Dublin on a 10 day cruise, we are both in our 60’s and no health concerns. so confused if we should see about moving the cruise up a year. I would hate to go then not beable to get off the ship and do the excursions. or be quanantiened. What do you think

    • March 11, 2020 / 7:01 pm

      Hi Stephanie,

      I could understand for those reasons and know it’s a difficult decision. If you have the option to wait, depending on your cruise line’s policies, to see how things play out in the next few weeks, you may feel more confident in your decision either way. You may want to consult with your travel advisor and insurance provider before you go as well.

      Wishing you the best whatever you decide. Feel free to get back in touch and let me know.


  5. Catherine O'Donnell
    March 10, 2020 / 5:24 pm

    I have had a cruise booked on RC for a year to Alaska from Seattle. The cruise is in June I am in my 60’s do you think it is wise to wait and see. Thank you

    • March 11, 2020 / 7:26 pm

      Hi Catherine,

      I understand your dilemma. Going to Alaska is a dream itinerary and I’m sure has been planned and thought out for a long time.

      For now, the Alaska season hasn’t started, and it’s still hard to say what will happen. The cruise line website and the WHO website and CDC, will have updated information as we go. I think it’s a good idea to discuss with your doctor, travel adviser and insurance provider as well.

      I’m hoping things will improve by June, but of course we just don’t know.

      Good luck with whatever you decide, and let me know if you like as we get closer.


  6. Lori
    March 11, 2020 / 10:31 am

    We have a cruise booked for march 29 out of San Juan PR-we are taking it day by day. I am less worried about getting the virus but more worried that the days in ports will be canceled. Some island are prevent entry I guess. We have been looking forward to the trip -Maine winter has been hard LOL- We have about 2 weeks before we need to pull the trigger

    • March 11, 2020 / 7:28 pm

      I hear you Lori. Our Canadian winter is brutal too and I live for heading South and getting some sun and ocean!

      I’ve actually heard things have been going well for cruises leaving out of SJ so far, but of course we never know. It sounds like you’re on top of it all.

      Wishing you the best, whatever you decide!


  7. Emily
    March 11, 2020 / 7:54 pm

    We have a cruise to Alaska scheduled for early June. I’m 66 with a chronic lung disease; my husband is 70 with a cardiovascular disease. At the moment we are in a wait and see mode, and I’m researching options. I’ve spent around sixty hours researching and planing this trip, which includes a road trip for five days post cruise; my husband may (or may not) need a lower leg amputation within the next year or two; it’s our first cruise; and I did buy trip insurance but not “cancel for any reason” insurance. And, oh my, to do everything we wanted to do (with the assumption it might be our only chance) I have spent a ton of money. Arrgh. I’m glad we have some time to make a decision but so very frustrated with this situation!

    • March 15, 2020 / 2:52 pm

      This is so difficult Emily. I’m so sorry to hear about your situation – I know a cruise like this takes a lot of planning and is an absolute dream.

      Since you have some health concerns, and there can be some potential changes to Alaska sailings due to recent government port restrictions, please consider talking with your doctor, travel adviser and insurance provider.

      I’m glad you have some time to decide as well. We will likely hear more from cruise lines soon, as they work on the logistics of Alaska sailings.

      Wishing you the best and hoping that if you decide or are unable to do this cruise, that there will be another opportunity.


  8. Eve
    March 13, 2020 / 2:59 pm

    Booked on Caribbean cruise in mid DECEMBER. Praying this will all be over by then. I am ready and waiting patiently. Best wishes to all.

    • March 15, 2020 / 2:44 pm

      I’m with you Eve! I’m in the same boat (pun intended lol). Prayers for this to be long gone by then!!

      Thanks for your best wishes and positive thoughts for all. Wishing you the best as well!


  9. Randi
    March 14, 2020 / 7:47 pm

    Hi there,
    We have our first family cruise booked out of Galveston for Mid May. We have about 3 weeks left to decide if we want to reschedule or not. Since we have never cruised before this is all new and with the all quarantines its scary. We are healthy mid 30’s and kids are healthy. One kiddo has mild ashma so always has a cough, not sick! I’m afraid if we don’t reschedule everyone will think my kid is sick if he coughs like they do now 😒 This is so hard….you cant win for losing.

    • March 15, 2020 / 2:42 pm

      Hi Randi,

      This is a difficult situation, and none of us knows how this virus will be affecting people at the time you sail. There definitely are some health restrictions at this time that you should be aware of in regards to this virus, as well as cruise line policies (please see cruise line website). If you have the opportunity to reschedule, perhaps talk with your doctor about the situation and give it some thought. You can always cruise again, so nothing lost if that’s what you decide.

      Wishing you the best – I know it’s not easy


  10. Dolores
    March 14, 2020 / 11:34 pm

    Thanks for this post I have a booked fligjt and cruise to Rome late August into September, and this whole situation was making worry, I was wondering if I should concider cancelling, not sure what will happen but this article is sure helpful and informatative

    • March 15, 2020 / 2:37 pm

      Hi Dolores,

      I understand. It’s definitely distressing, especially since there are now travel bans. However, since you’re cruising in August, you have some time to see how things unfold. This situation is changing all the time, however the restrictions (and even this virus) will not last forever. I wish I could tell you more, but none of us has that information now. I’m hopeful all the precautions and restrictions taken worldwide, will have a positive effect sooner rather than later.

      Best to you whatever you decide,


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