Getting bumped off your cruise is both terrifying and disappointing and though it’s rare, it does happen.

Getting ‘bumped’ means that passengers were removed from the cruise they booked regardless of a reservation and even a full payment. 

Cruise lines are fully entitled to bump passengers off their cruise for a number of reasons. Instances of overbooking, ship chartering, or vessel redeployment could force cruise lines to remove passengers after offering them forms of compensation such as full refund, rebooking options and onboard credits. 

Reasons for being bumped from cruise


Cruise lines usually want capacity on a sail, so overbook to cover last-minute cancellations. Though it rarely happens, when fewer than the expected numbers of passengers cancel, it results in cabins being overbooked. Hence, the cruise line is forced to bump some people from their cruise.

As the cruise industry enjoys a rise in demand for 2024 sailings onwards – resulting in a higher percentage of sales and thus overselling – more overbooking is likely to occur with more passengers being bumped. 

As a matter of fact, in late November last year, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas left several guests stuck at Brisbane port because of overbooking. 

Ship chartering

One possible reason behind passengers being bumped from their cruise is when the ship is chartered or leased for a private event. Consequently, all reservations and bookings for that particular date are deemed to have been cancelled. In addition, guests will find themselves being informed by email that they are being bumped off their cruise. 

Just last year, would-be passengers of Norwegian Cruise Line-owned ship Norwegian Spirit were informed of the cancellation of their Alaska voyage from July 3 through September 18, 2024 because the ship was privately chartered.

Vessel redeployment

There are also instances when cruise ships are redeployed to another country or region, which also results in guests being bumped from their cruise. 

Technically, when a particular cruise ship is redeployed by a line, it means that the cruise itinerary that cruisers originally booked is deemed to have been cancelled. Though cruise lines will most likely offer options for rebooking to a similar itinerary, it is always a possibility the revised port will not be as convenient or there will be an added cost or the a different time of the season. 

How to avoid getting bumped off an overbooked cruise

While it’s a given that cruise lines oversell accommodations to buffer expected cancellations, there’s still a risk that guests will be denied boarding if cabins are full. Here are some ways to minimise chances of getting bumped. 

Book early

Cruisers are advised to book early or have a cruise reservation in advance, ideally a year or so prior to their journey. Cruises are rarely overbooked on initial release of cabins. It’s later on, when staterooms start to fill up, that the cruise line starts overselling in anticipation of future cancellations. 

Book during off-peak season

It’s best to be aware of peak-season for your particular cruise and book in the off-peak season. Apart from fewer people looking for cruise options, booking off-peak means passengers will also find better rates than booking during peak season.

Arrive early on embarkation day

They say the early bird catches the worm and it’s never truer when it comes to securing your spot on a cruise. On the departure date, get to your port of embarkation as early as possible as, in the event your cruise is filled to capacity and you cabin is double-booked, you will be first to secure the room. 

Check-in early online

Guests are advised to take note of the exact date for their online check-in. Sometimes, cruisers may check in online at least several days before their departure.

While rarely foolproof, these are just some of the methods that will reduce your odds of being disappointed with the heartbreaking news that you have been bumped from your oversold cruise. 

What to do when getting bumped

Keep calm

No matter how upsetting and disappointing the situation is, as a bumped cruisers, you must keep calm and maintain your composure. This way, you will be able to think clearly on what to do next especially if you are travelling in the near future with the members of your family. 

Weigh your options

Cruise lines will definitely offer a refund, a cruise credit, reimbursement for incurred expenses and other compensation. They will also offer options for rebooking and even go as far as upgrading future accommodation. Cruisers are then advised to weigh their options thoughtfully before deciding which option to choose. 

Negotiate politely but firmly

No matter how difficult and stressful the situation is, a bumped passenger is advised to negotiate with the cruise line politely but firmly. Getting upset or annoyed will not help anyone, in fact it might do the opposite.

In addition, an impacted guest must liaise with the cruise line with details regarding compensating them for any disruption to existing accommodation, or any expenses incurred by the bumping incident.

Moreover, bumped guests may still negotiate with the cruise line even though they may have been bumped by a non-refundable cruise. It may come down to who you booked through. A travel agency for example, may have different insurances or compensation coverage in the event of cancellation.

And make sure you have the agreed compensation set out in writing to serve as proof of your successful negotiation.