What the canceling of the Oasis of the Seas transatlantic sailing has taught me (about cruising, Royal Caribbean, my family and myself).
On Monday, April 1st, an accident occurred with the Oasis of the Seas while it was in dry dock in the Bahamas for some repairs. A large crane tipped over onto the ship, causing damage.
At first, I thought it was an April Fool's joke, but it wasn't. We were scheduled to be on an April 21st Oasis of the Seas transatlantic sailing, but our sailing, and two more ahead of it, are all canceled.
In fact, the ship is still in dry dock undergoing repairs and while you can book a sailing aboard the Oasis of the Seas for May of 2019, I haven't seen any specific announcement from Royal Caribbean as to when the ship will return to service.
The past week has been a huge learning experience for all of us. Myself, my wife, my boys and I all had to learn to deal with the disappointment of our trip being canceled.
My boys, especially, had to learn how to deal with the emotions that come with that disappointment. They may have thought it was the "end of the world" because our trip was canceled, but it wasn't.
Hardest of all, my wife and I would also have to learn how to allow our boys to live with that disappointment. We could "fix" it, but it would cost us a fortune to do so. I think we've grown from this experience. Here are a few ways we've grown and what we've learned.
What have I learned about myself and my family from the cancelation?
This isn't a post to bash the cruise industry or Royal Caribbean. Maybe this is a form of therapy or coping mechanism, I'm not sure.
What I do know is that the past week has been rough (in a first world problems sorta way). To say we were disappointed when we heard that our transatlantic sailing of the Oasis of the Seas was canceled would be an understatement.
That's my 9 year old, Ethan's reaction to the news.
We had been planning our 3-week vacation for over a year when we learned, 3 weeks before the trip, that we'd have to cancel it.
Last week was rough on all of us. We went from being eagerly anticipating a once-in-a-lifetime trip to losing sleep over how were were going to fix everything and try to salvage our plans.
Tensions were high in our home last week. My wife and I spent hours making phone calls to airlines, the cruise line and our credit cards, trying to sort out all the financial aspects.
Simultaneously, we were trying to plan a new trip with just a few weeks lead time. It just wasn't going to happen, though. Summer was coming up and travel prices were fluctuating wildly from day to day. A flight to Europe was $600 one day and double that the next day.
In the end, we had to decide not to try and schedule our travel for this year; there just wasn't enough time and the cost difference was too high. We still have hopes we may sail to Europe in the fall, but nothing has been booked yet.
Making this decision really took the burden off us, though. We felt disappointed, but relieved. We still check travel prices almost every day, and I think the window may still be open if we find something last-minute that works for us.
Learned today that the @RoyalCaribbean #OasisoftheSeas sailing to Barcelona was canceled. RCI has been handling it wonderfully. Not an easy circumstance and glad that no one was seriously injured. And now we go back to https://t.co/Bo9Nv7T3Ba to see where we are going instead! https://t.co/iIEAgGUOlb— Dadtography (@Dadtography) April 3, 2019
What have I learned about cruising and the cruise industry over the past week?
Travel is unpredictable and even the most thought-out vacation planning can't account for everything.
Despite recent scary events in the cruise vacation space this month, cruising is still quite safe and enjoyable.
Stories like what happened to the Viking Sky may grab attention, but I don't think they reflect the cruise industry nor passenger experience as a whole.
We've sailed almost a dozen times now, and have had a great experience almost every time. I'd definitely rather be cruising than not cruising that's for sure!
My experience over the past week having our travel plans canceled has taught me that everything can be unpredictable. Even though we planned months in advance, one event like what happened in the Bahamas can change everything.
What have I learned about Royal Caribbean after our Oasis transatlanic sailing was canceled?
We've sailed almost half a dozen times with Royal Caribbean as a family, and we will certainly sail again.
My "relationship" this week with Royal Caribbean has been a bit of a rollercoaster, though.
We went from ecstatically happy three weeks before our scheduled sailing on April 21st to crushed when we learned our sailing was canceled. My wife posted about it on Facebook a few days ago. I think her posting to our friends pretty much sums it up:
Y’all our big transatlantic cruise that we have been planning for a year has just been cancelled because a crane fell on the boat and it isn’t able to get repaired in time. We are in shock and Ethan’s reaction says it all. We planned for a week in Europe, our first time, after the cruise and are hoping to still be able to that. I really can’t believe this.
Royal Caribbean came out almost immediately and informed passengers as to our refund and future cruise certificate. But there were a lot of unanswered questions for us that we'd have to dig (and call) to find the answers to. We were still hopeful we'd be able to visit Barcelona this year, but those hopes quickly faded as we got into the details of our future cruise voucher.
I can imagine communicating to passengers during a time of crisis like this one can be difficult. That said, the communication from Royal Caribbean since the cancelation has not been the best.
They originally sent an Email informing us of the cancelation on Tuesday, April 2nd. I'm including the full text of that Email here.
As soon as we received that email, we began to look for replacement cruises to see if we could salvage our trip. We found a Mediterranean sailing aboard the Oasis that would require us to fly over and fly back, but at least we'd get to see Europe.
We waited to book that cruise, though, since we didn't yet have our future cruise credit. The next day, that sailing went up over $1000 and priced it out of our reach for this year. That may be for the best, since it was also on the Oasis, and it's not yet clear when that ship will return to service.
2/3 We were told by the @RoyalCaribbean “Resolutions Team” that we can book a cruise now and apply that credit when we receive the it (tomorrow). Had we known that, we would have booked a Barcelona sailing leaving June 2 that went up $1000 overnight last night. #OasisOfTheSeas pic.twitter.com/2Fq818iI0S— Daniel Ruyter (@DanielRuyter) April 4, 2019
On Friday, April 5th, when they sent us the email that included our future cruise certificate (they call this "FCC") information they didn't really provide all the details we required.
The email mentions a 12 month limit on the FCC. Well, did that mean we had to book within 12 months or sail within that period? I had to call in again to get that question answered.
It also provides a credit amount, per passenger, rather than a lump-sum credit. This was not expected, and may impact our ability to schedule our next cruise using the credit since we were hoping to take both of our boys when we reschedule. That may not be possible the way our credit is structured.
Lastly, it's not made clear what happens if we use the FCC to book our next cruise and there's left-over value. Does that go away? Do we get to keep that for a future booking?
I guess at least one more tweet or phone call is still in our future to figure this all out.
Important update for your Oasis of the Seas cruise
About Your Upcoming Travels
Yesterday, while undergoing repairs to the propulsion system in the Grand Bahama shipyard, there was an issue in the dry dock structure that caused considerable damage to the facility that will prevent us from completing the work on Oasis of the Seas. The incident also caused a construction crane to fall onto the ship resulting in damage to the Aqua Theatre and some suites. We are very grateful that there were no life-threatening injuries and everyone is recovering, as the safety of our crew and guests is always our number one priority.
Given the situation and our need to complete the scheduled maintenance, we now must reposition the ship to Cadiz, Spain which is the only facility with immediate availability for a ship her size. We are sad to share that as a result, we are forced to cancel our April 21st cruise, as we work to get the ship repaired.
We know this news is disappointing and we’re terribly sorry for the impact to your vacation. We understand a lot of time goes into planning and coordinating your cruise vacation. Therefore, we’ll provide you with the following:
You’ll receive a full refund to your original form of payment, including any non-refundable deposits by Monday, April 8th, 2019. Times may vary depending on your financial institution.
All pre-paid amenities, packages, and shore excursions will be refunded to your original form of payment within 7 - 10 business days.
Plus, if you reserved your air with our Air2Sea Program, we’ll provide you with a refund. If you didn’t book your air with us, we’ll reimburse you for non-refundable airline change fees (up to $200 per guest for Domestic flights and up to $400 per guest for International flights). Please email us your receipts to RoyalGuestRelations@rccl.com.
Given this late cancellation, we will also provide you with a Future Cruise Credit valued at 100% of your cruise fare paid on your cancelled sailing. You can expect to receive your Future Cruise Credit via email by Friday, April 5th, 2019. We hope you’ll come and experience everything that we have to offer at a later time.
If you have any questions or need assistance with finding a new cruise, please contact your Travel Advisor.
Thank you for understanding. We hope we have the opportunity to welcome you onboard in the near future!
Director of Guest Services
Royal Caribbean International
Here are some helpful answers to questions you may have.
Why is my sailing being cancelled?
Your sailing is being cancelled because unfortunately, a construction crane fell onto Oasis of the Seas and we now need additional time for these unforeseen repairs. We are terribly sorry. We know this is disappointing. Your safety, and that of our crew, is our number one priority and we need to ensure the ship is seaworthy. We do hope you find an alternate vacation option with us.
How much am I getting back because of this cancellation?
- We understand that this cancellation was made last minute because of this unforeseeable circumstance, so we are providing you:
- A full refund of your cruise fare paid to the original form of payment. You should see this post to your account by early next week.
- A full refund of all pre-booked Cruise Planner items to the card on file. These refunds will take about 7-10 days to post to your account.
- Future Cruise Certificates in the value of 100% of your cruise fare paid. These will be available for use by Friday, April 5th, 2019.
- And, if you booked your air with us through our Air2Sea Program, we will provide you with a full refund for your air.
- If you didn’t book your air with us, we’ll reimburse you for non-refundable airlines change fees (up to $200 per guest for Domestic flights and up to $400 per guest for International flights).
What if my reservation had FCC’s applied?
Your refund will be issued for the full value of the Cruisefare paid.
What if I booked a shore excursion?
All pre-booked shore excursions will be refunded to the original form of payment within 7- 10 business days.
What if I booked through the non-refundable program?
You will receive a full refund of your deposit, including the non-refundable program service fee.
What about my Crown & Anchor points. Will I receive all my CAS points?
Unfortunately, since the sailing was cancelled, no Crown & Anchor points will be awarded to anyone. We truly apologize for this inconvenience.
Where/how can I send my air receipts for reimbursement?
Please submit your air change receipts via email to RoyalGuestRelations@rccl.com.
Will you be refunding my Royal Caribbean Travel Protection?
We will be withholding the amount of Royal Caribbean Travel Protection, so our guests can file claims for any additional travel costs that are not covered by our compensation.
How was my refund calculated?
All monies paid to Royal Caribbean are being refunded – with the exception of Travel Protection. Please keep in mind that if you used multiple forms of payment for your cruise, each corresponding amount will be refunded to each form of payment.
I have more questions, where can I call?
Please contact your Travel Advisor.
How do I redeem my Future Cruise Credit?
Please contact your Travel Advisor directly to redeem your Future Cruise Credit. Your Future Cruise Credit is redeemable towards cruise fare only and is not valid on Complimentary cruises, Incentive bookings, or Charter sailings. All guests are responsible for taxes and fees where applicable.
Here's your Future Cruise Credit!
As promised, below please find your 100% Future Cruise Credit (FCC) to plan another cruise vacation with us! Your FCC is based on the cruise fare paid for your cancelled reservation.
|Guest Name||Certificate Number||Certificate Amount||Currency||Expiration Date|
We thank you for understanding and we are sorry the accident on Oasis of the Seas impacted your time this way. We hope you find another cruise vacation with us and we look forward to welcoming you onboard.
We know you may already be thinking about where you'll be sailing next. Before you select a ship and sail date, below please find some important information regarding FCCs. Then, to redeem your FCC, please contact your Travel Advisor.
- Future Cruise Credits are per person, per booking, and valid only for the person noted above. FCCs are redeemable towards cruise fare only and are not valid on Complimentary cruises, Incentive bookings, Charter sailings, and holiday sailings (Easter, Christmas, & New Year's).
- All guests are responsible for taxes and fees where applicable.
- Royal Caribbean International reserves the right to void the FCC Savings amount if the guest named above receives other reimbursement.
- FCCs are only valid for the cruises on Royal Caribbean International ships, are not transferable, and may not be redeemed for cash.
- Additional terms and conditions apply.
Please note: If you had a Future Cruise Credit applied to your Oasis of the Seas April 21st booking, your new FCC will be issued for the full value of the cruisefare before your original FCC was applied.
We hope to have the chance to welcome you onboard in the near future.
Royal Caribbean International