Now that a nightmarish Royal Caribbean cruise is over, many passengers will turn their attention from how to deal with an illness outbreak 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 for what was supposed to be an idyllic 10-day cruise.
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 — in other words, those who had to stay put because of vomiting and diarrhea — 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.”
Members of the CruiseCritic.com community have noted that while becoming sick on vacation is not ideal, “these things can happen” and feel that Royal Caribbean’s compensation is fair, she noted.
The cruising industry remains strong despite bad publicity from such incidents of gastrointestinal illness, as well as last year’s infamous Carnival Triumph fire that left the ship without power and functional plumbing.
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, noting that "ticket revenue outperformed expectations."