We know that many cruise travellers have questions about their future cruise credits and how they work, so we've put together this handy guide…
What is a future cruise credit?
Put simply, it is a voucher for future travel with a monetary amount allocated, that can be used to book a future cruise with the issuing cruise line.
When are they issued?
Future cruise credits are normally issued when a cruise line cancels one of its voyages or makes significant changes to the itinerary. The recent suspension of cruise operations due to the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased their use.
Should I accept a future cruise credit?
Unlike many other types of travel operator, the vast majority of cruise lines have offered guests whose cruise has been cancelled the choice between a full refund or a future cruise credit, so it's really up to you.
To encourage guests to accept a credit over a refund, most cruises lines have offered a credit worth more than the cost of the cancelled cruise - generally between 115% and 125% of monies received - and some have also offered other incentives such as onboard credit. This additional credit is a tempting offer, and could allow you to afford an accommodation upgrade or the chance to take a longer cruise that might have been just out of reach before.
How is the amount calculated?
This can be surprisingly complicated, and is dependent on the cruise line. Whether or not taxes, flights and pre- or post-cruise land arrangements are covered will all need to be checked (and in some cases double-checked). It will also depend on the circumstances of the cancellation, as many cruise lines' policies on future cruise credits have changed several times as the coronavirus pandemic has developed. Which brings us nicely on to…
Why can't I find the terms and conditions online?
As the pandemic escalated, cruise lines had to react quickly, basing their policies on a situation that was often changing by the hour. Standard cancellation terms were enhanced to offer better consumer protection, but this was done reactively, and some cruise lines went through several changes of policy. Detailing this concisely online is difficult and could lead to more confusion, so most have not, though you should have received full terms and conditions when details of your credit were sent to you.
What can I apply my future cruise credit to?
Although each cruise line is different, most have allowed a substantial travel window of at least a year in which to use your future cruise credit, with little or no restriction on which cruises can be booked.
When cruise lines resume operations, we expect to see reduced passenger capacity at first, so popular sailings such as UK round-trips are likely to sell out quickly. It's better not to delay applying your credit if you have a particular itinerary in mind.
If you already have a future booking in place it may be possible to apply a future cruise credit to this, although this will need to be checked with the cruise line.
If the new cruise is more expensive than the original cancelled sailing, and not covered by the credit offered, then the additional cost will of course need to be paid. If the new cruise is less expensive then the excess credit will usually be carried over for you and can then be applied to another booking, although this is dependent on the cruise line.
Can I change my mind and request a refund instead?
Again, this depends on the cruise line and would need to be checked. One thing that has become apparent is that cruise lines are less willing (and less able) to make exceptions to their terms and conditions than before the pandemic.
Can I transfer my future cruise credit to someone else?
Some cruise lines do allow for the credit to be redeemed by a family member or a friend - you will need to check with your specific cruise line.
Is a future cruise credit financially protected?
Currently it's unclear whether a future cruise credit is covered in the event that a cruise line becomes insolvent. Some cruise lines have been issuing a refund credit note for the original monies paid and a future cruise credit for the additional amount offered.
ABTA has modified its protection scheme to allow the issuing of protected refund credit notes, and the UK government has recently confirmed that these will be financially protected by the ATOL scheme provided that the credit note has been issued for a package that includes flights. We have also had assurances from some cruise lines that the monies paid are protected. Recently several of the cruise lines we work with have secured financing deals to enable them to cope with a prolonged period of subdued bookings.
However, this remains a legal grey area, and our advice is to allocate your future cruise credit to a booking sooner rather than later to be absolutely sure your money is safe.
Do I have to book direct with the cruise line, or with the same agent again?
Who you decide to book with is entirely up to you, even if you're using a future cruise credit. There are huge advantages to using an agent such as Mundy Cruising - we are currently dealing with many other credits, and are very familiar with their rules of use. We can help you navigate what can often turn out to be a complicated process, especially when there are other promotions or booking privileges that can be combined with the credit.
If you booked through a different agent but you don't want to use them again, or they are no longer trading, we will still be able to handle your new booking. Your future cruise credit is issued to you individually, not your agency.