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Cruise Line to Compensate Passengers After Ill-Fated Voyage

Now that a nightmarish Royal Caribbean cruise is over, many passengers will turn their attention from how to deal with a bug that cut the voyage short to how much money they’ll get back from the cruise line.

Admitting that it was “unable to deliver the vacation our guests were expecting,” Royal Caribbean has announced it will compensate travelers for part of the fare.

The company said all passengers would receive a 50 percent refund, plus a 50 percent credit on a future voyage.

Customers who “had to be confined to staterooms by illness,” as Royal Caribbean politely put it, will receive an additional credit of one future cruise day for each day they were ill on this trip.

Since the Explorer of the Seas had to return to port in New Jersey two days early because of the widespread illness, possibly caused by norovirus, Royal Caribbean says it will also reimburse airline change fees and accommodations for passengers whose journey home will be affected by the shortened itinerary.

By contract, the cruise line is not responsible for offering any credit in such situations, said Colleen McDaniel, managing editor of CruiseCritic.com. But cruise lines do tend to offer some sort of compensation anyway, she added.

“With onboard illness, specifically norovirus, there really isn’t any typical compensation that we’ve seen or come to expect,” McDaniel said. “The amount is always on a case-by-case basis.”

The cruising industry remains strong despite bad publicity from such incidents, as well as last year’s infamous Carnival Triumph fire.

Some 21.7 million passengers are expected to take a cruise this year, up from 21.3 million who cruised in 2013, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean on Monday reported a profit of $7 million in the fourth quarter of last year.