Royal Caribbean makes it easier to use future cruise credits

Got a future cruise credit from a canceled cruise with Royal Caribbean that you’re having trouble spending? The cruise line just made it easier to recoup the entire credit amount by letting travelers use any leftover credit to pay for onboard expenses on their cruise.

The cruise line announced its updated policy to travel agents on Wednesday, as first reported on the RoyalCaribbeanBlog.

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Many travelers still hold future cruise credit, which they received when their booked cruises were canceled during the pandemic when the cruise industry shut down for more than a year.

They soon discovered that it was not always a simple matter to find a replacement cruise priced the same, down to the penny, as the original booking and credit amount. Some cruisers had to pay the balance in cash; others booked a cruise for less than the amount of the credit, ending up with a small remainder.

Prior to this week, Royal Caribbean would reissue the leftover amount as new future cruise credit. Travelers would have to book a second cruise (and pay the majority out of pocket) or forfeit some of the money they paid. Neither option was ideal for Royal Caribbean’s customers.

Now with the change in policy, when cruisers use their future cruise credits to book sailings, any remaining credit will be transferred into onboard credit.

“Starting today, for qualifying bookings and certificates, Royal Caribbean will convert any remaining balance from Future Cruise Credit into Onboard Credits instantly,” the company said in a statement emailed to TPG. “This means that any value left at the time of redemption is automatically added as a refundable onboard credit for FCCs redeemed in full.”

This new credit can be used to pay for onboard purchases, such as drinks, spa treatments, shore excursions and meals in extra-fee restaurants. (Future cruise credits historically could only be used to pay cruise fares and nothing else.)

This is a much better option for cruisers. It gives them the flexibility to cover a variety of purchases with the unused credit, so it’s easier to use up the total amount. Plus, the onboard credit is refundable, according to Royal Caribbean, so should travelers manage not to spend it all, they’ll get the remainder back.

The line notes that this policy change applies only to bookings originally made in U.S. dollars and for Cruise with Confidence or Global Suspension certificates of credit.

Related: Cruise onboard credit: What it is, where to get it and how to spend it

Earlier in the industry’s post-pandemic recovery, future cruise credits caused much grumbling among cruise fans. They felt forced to use the credit before they felt comfortable traveling again (or before they could cruise again, if they were not vaccinated) — or lose it. Also, if they rebooked a cruise using the credit and the second cruise was canceled, they were no longer able to request a refund in cash.

Earlier this year, according to the RoyalCaribbeanBlog, the cruise line made another passenger-friendly change. It got rid of expiration dates on all future credits offered under its Cruise With Confidence program. This now-defunct program allowed passengers to cancel cruises at the last minute without penalty when the line first returned to cruising after the pandemic-induced shutdown.

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Featured photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean.