Cancellation policies, the small print everyone once ignored, have suddenly become a major tool to woo cruisers back onto ships. In a new age of insecurity, making travellers feel comfortable that they can pull out if external forces make journey impossible is critical.

But how do you work out which is best for you?

Weighing up the value of a cruise cancellation policy means you need to consider the length of time you are given to book against how late in the day you can pull out. So a policy that gives you, say, six weeks to book but allows you to switch in 48 hours is great value.

The lines are eager to retain your money so they can pay their crews and keep cruising when the time comes. So you will probably be offered a “Future Cruise Credit”.  So the next thing you need to consider is:  on what cruises can it be used and when will it expire?

Some lines are offering bookings up to 2022. Others require you use your cruise credit one year after issue.

Carnival Australia, Ponant and Dream Cruises have recently released new cancellation policies, while lines like Holland America Line and Seabourn have expanded theirs.

New bookings are also able to benefit from the relaxed cancellation options.

Cancellation policies are as complex as telephone plans. So we’ve created a chart to help you compare your cancellation timeframe, how long the offer is valid for, what you get back and how you’re expected to use Future Cruise Credits.

Most lines are offering 100 per cent Future Cruise Credits to guests who choose to cancel. Where things get complicated is in the fine print.

“Many of our clients are using their future cruise credits on a particular departure. If it’s cruises from Australia they will consider 2020, if overseas they are swaying towards deferring to 2021,” says Barry Downs, Sales and Marketing Manager of Bicton Travel, a leading agency with years of expertise.

“Given today’s DFAT recommendation not to travel, my recommendation would be to just pause for a moment. But don’t stop dreaming and don’t stop planning for the future.

“Once this settles down, there will be a lot of pent up demand to book the holidays. Plan that bucket list trip in the coming weeks, whilst your advisor has the time and tools to find you the right holiday of a lifetime. And if you have the ability and resources to travel in 2020, do so here in Australia or on a cruise from Australia, lets support local where we can.”

Lines like Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Hurtigruten and Ponant are also offering incentives like reduced deposits, full refund of deposits and later final payments for new bookings.

See how to make the most out of cruise cancellation policies below:

Cancellation timeframe

Viking takes the lead for the shortest cancellation timeframe of 24 hours before departure. However, most other lines are offering cancellations of up to 48 hours prior at the moment.

Meanwhile, Crystal Cruises is offering cancellations up to seven days prior, while Ponant is offering cancellation up to 30 days prior. And on other lines, like Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, it depends on when you’re sailing.

Both Seabourn and Holland America Line offer 48-hour and 30-day prior cancellation depending on departure dates, while Princess Cruises has up to 72-hour on some sailings and on others, guests have to cancel by March 31.


The cruise lines are making very generous offers which are valid for different amounts of time.

Book fast with lines such as Viking, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Hurtigruten as their offer is only valid for all reservations made through April 30, 2020. And among them, the offer is valid on cruises departing in different periods of 2020. For example, Viking’s offer is valid for any of their cruises, but on Oceania, the offer is only valid for cruises through September 2020.

Norwegian Cruise Line and Cunard are offering among the longest on validity. On NCL, guests can book up to September 30, 2020 to enjoy cancellation 48-hour prior. And Cunard’s offer is valid on all existing and new booking departing before August 31, 2020.

Not all Future Cruise Credits are the same

Some lines require guests to use the Future Cruise Credits on either 2020, 2021 or even up to 2022 sailings. However, guests need to take note of when the credits must be used by, or it will be forfeited. For example on Oceania and Regent Seven Seas, the line allows the credit to be used on 2022 sailings but the credit must be used within one year from date of issue.

Lines that allow you to rebook up to 2021 sailings include: Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, Silversea, Seabourn, Hurtigruten, Princess Cruises.

Lines that allow you to rebook up to 2022 sailings include: Viking, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Norwegian Cruise Line, Cunard, Crystal Cruises.

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