Where is the 125 percent cruise credit Royal Caribbean promised me?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Royal Caribbean cancels Rich Kanuchok’s voyage to New England and Canada, it promises him a 125 percent cruise credit. But when the voucher arrives, it’s clear that the cruise line’s math is way off. Now Kanuchok just wants a full refund instead. Is that allowed?


In 2019, my wife Sandy and I booked a Royal Caribbean cruise to celebrate 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 percent 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 percent 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? — Rich Kanuchok, Baltimore


Like most other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean offered a full refund or a 125 percent cruise credit after the pandemic. You chose the voucher. 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.

Royal Caribbean should have offered you the full voucher quickly. But in the chaos of the mass cancellations, it did not. You asked your travel advisor, the cruise line, and finally the cruise line’s executives to give you the full 125 percent. 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 percent cruise credit or a refund. (Related: Where is the refund for my upgrade that never happened?)

The good news: Here’s your full Royal Caribbean cruise credit

I like the way you handled your case. You started with your travel advisor but then escalated directly to the cruise line and then contacted the executives. The Elliott Advocacy research team lists the names, numbers and email addresses of Royal Caribbean’s executives in our database. 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. (Here’s how to use your cruise credit.)

Hurtigruten Group is the undisputed global leader in sustainable cruising. Building on 130 years of Norwegian pioneering heritage, the Group’s storied Coastal Express has been carrying travelers, locals, and goods along Norway’s coast since 1893. When the operator initiated its first cruise to the Arctic in 1896, it founded expedition cruising. Today, Hurtigruten Expeditions is the world’s largest expedition cruise line, offering big adventures on small, custom-built ships – including the world’s first battery hybrid-powered cruise ship – to over 250 destinations from Pole to Pole, including the Galapagos and West Africa. Hurtigruten Group is revolutionizing the travel industry’s approach to sustainability (more about Hurtigruten's sustainability efforts here).

As we’ve reported previously, it isn’t currently possible to convert a cruise voucher to a cash refund on any cruise line. But I contacted Royal Caribbean on your behalf and asked about your missing 125 future cruise credit. It sent you the $2,101 voucher it promised via your travel agent.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Los Angeles.

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