The pandemic created a number of new marketing slogans and products to ease the mind of potential passengers hesitant to book a suite.
Cruising with confidence was one of them.

According to Royal Caribbean, one of the lines using this or similar promises, it means: “Select cruises booked on or before March 31, 2022, enjoy the protections of the Cruise with Confidence program, including the option to cancel your cruise close in or get an adjustment if you spot a better price.”

Cruise Passenger reader Tash Currie, a loyal Royal cruiser, was certainly reassured by that last pledge. She booked an eight-night itinerary on Ovation of the Seas for three people in a balcony cabin in February 2021. The journey was for February 2023 and she paid $4,000.

“We booked a cruise with Royal Caribbean in 2021 for February 2023 as a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ move and to support Royal Caribbean returning to our waters.”

But then she noticed a dramatic drop in the price of her cruise.

She says: “We contacted them for the price adjustment through the Cruise with Confidence clause – but they pointed out in the terms and conditions that it was only for sailings that happened on or before September 2022.

“This meant it didn’t apply to Australian cruises as the ships won’t arrive until at least October 2022.”

She repeatedly pointed that out to their representatives, but was told to wait and see if they extended the dates or changed the clause.

Ms Currie had read in Facebook groups that people had been able to secure the Cruise with Confidence reprice by calling at different times.

A strange idea – but she decided to try it.

She made two calls to Royal Caribbean where they told her that it did not apply to Australian cruisers regardless of how unfair it was that it was offered to the European and American cruise markets.

She then noticed another reduction of almost $1,000 in the price of the cruise. That was pretty galling.

“Through another Australian Facebook group, we got word that Royal has a clause in their base terms and conditions not attached to any promotion. It’s clause 30 in their own terms and conditions of booking with Royal and refers to the ‘Price Protection Clause’ where they will price match any lower advertised fare for your booked cruise.”

She called again. Royal Caribbean said that it was unaware of the clause. Now feeling very disappointed because of her previously positive experiences as a customer of the line – she runs a face and body painting company, and was invited onboard to face paint kids during sea days – she gave it one last try.

She spoke to another representative who finally agreed to apply a “special clause”. She didn’t tell him that she knew about that clause.

Before reaching an agreement with the cruise line, they gave her the option to transfer the balance to another booking. If she had taken that option, she would have been charged a change fee of $100 per person.

Overall, Ms Currie is disappointed. “I see some posts from people who did receive a price reduction without an argument, most posts will say they needed to call a few times.”

Another poster, Karen Michael, said on Facebook: “In my experience with all the fully paid travel I have done, companies usually will not refund a discounted price once paid in full.”

But Andrew Papadopoulos wrote: “I’ve had two repriced to 50 per cent discount. Both times lost onboard credit.”

Ms Currie has since been to the Australian website for Royal Caribbean and noticed that the Cruise with Confidence advertising is no longer on the home page. The lesson from her story: persistence pays.

Royal Caribbean told Cruise Passenger: “Our Cruise with Confidence program has given peace of mind to our guests globally, offering flexible cancellations and a best price guarantee. We will be investigating the guest’s issues raised.”