Royal Caribbean International has shortened the amount of time guests booking longer sailings have to pay off their cruises by adjusting the final payment due date to 120 days before sailing. This only impacts longer cruises, and guests who already have bookings reserved will have no changes to their payment schedule, as only new cruise bookings are affected.

Guests who book a longer voyage with Royal Caribbean International will now need to have their cruise fully paid four months before they set sail. The cruise line has implemented the new policy immediately for all sailings of 15 nights or longer, and has reached out to guests booked on longer sailings to notify them of the change.

“As of today, guests will now have up until 120 days prior to sailing to make their final payment for sailings that are 15 nights or greater,” the notification read.

It must be noted, however, that guests who already have confirmed bookings with the cruise line – with their deposits already paid – are not impacted by this change, regardless of when their cruise sets sail. The new final payment date is only in effect for new bookings moving forward.

Independence of the Seas in Labadee, Haiti (Photo by NAN728 / Shutterstock)

Previously, final payment for longer cruises was due 90 days prior to sailing. This applied to all sailings of five nights or longer, while shorter 1-4 night cruises had to make final payment no later than 75 days before setting sail.

At this time, there is no change to final payment dates for any shorter sailings – only cruises of 15 nights or longer are affected.

Unlike luxury or expedition cruise lines that regularly offer lengthy sailings, Royal Caribbean does not offer such long sailings frequently. When 15+ night cruises are on offer, they are often repositioning sailings between cruise season, such as Brilliance of the Seas‘ current voyage, a 17-night transpacific cruise as the ship moves from Alaska to Australia.

Similarly, Radiance of the Seas is currently sailing a 16-night Panama Canal cruise as part of her repositioning from Alaska to Florida. That cruise has been affected by poor weather, tidal schedules, and other factors that have already cancelled a port of call.

Radiance of the Seas Ship (Photo Credit: Vytautas Kielaitis / Shutterstock)

On October 15, Anthem of the Seas will set sail on a 15-night transatlantic cruise from Southampton to New York as the ship finishes her European season and moves to the Big Apple to offer winter cruises to the Bahamas.

There has been no explanation given about why Royal Caribbean has adjusted final payment dates, but it may be a deterrent for last-minute cruise cancellations.

Because these longer sailings are offered less frequently, they often sell out quickly as bookings fill up a year or more before the ship sets sail. Some travelers, however, may hold off on final payment until the last minute in case their plans change or they find a better option.

If those individuals do end up cancelling just 90 days before the departure date, it can be difficult for the cruise line to sell those cabins at such relatively short notice. Most travelers booking last-minute cruises are booking shorter sailings such as weekend getaways, not cruises that require two weeks or more off work and away from other commitments.

Along with the change in timing for the final payment date, Royal Caribbean is also increasing the per person deposit amounts necessary to reserve a booking on these longer sailings.

Photo Credit: RomanR / Shutterstock

Depending on the type of reservation made and any special deals applied to the fare price, deposits may be non-refundable. Higher deposit requirements, therefore, could be yet another type of deterrent against bookings being cancelled.

Currently, the deposit required for cruises of 10 nights or longer is $450 per traveler, and while the notification sent to guests does state “there will be a higher deposit amount required, per person, for new bookings made for sailings that are 15 nights or greater after today,” the amount of that new deposit has not been disclosed.

Any cruise traveler interested in a longer sailing with Royal Caribbean should carefully note the terms and conditions of their booking to be sure they understand these updated deposit amounts, when final payment is due, and potential cancellation penalties.

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