Celebrity Cruises is rolling out a policy that requires passengers to cancel shore tours earlier if they want to be refunded.
The letter to travel agencies reads, “Beginning January 1, they’ll have up to 48 hours prior to arriving in port to cancel their shore excursion. This update applies to all new and existing bookings.”
It adds that “excursions with flights, trains, special events, overnight stays, hotel stays, or Private Journeys” will have a separate deadline for cancellations.
Originally, shore excursions with the cruise line could be canceled up to 24 hours before their tours departed. Instead of using the tour’s departure time as the basis for the validity of a refundable cancellation, the new policy relies on the ship’s time of arrival at respective ports.
More elaborate tours must be canceled a month before
Celebrity also imposes a smaller cancellation window for tours that require more elaborate itineraries, such as those involving trains, flights, and land accommodations.
In these cases, passengers must request their cancellations at least 30 days before their cruise or embarkation date, regardless of when the tour is scheduled or the length of their voyages.
The revised policy will force passengers to decide a lot sooner if they want to push through with their scheduled tours while effectively getting rid of last-minute cancellations and giving other passengers a chance to book excursions that were previously full.
Of course, the new cancellation policy only applies to shore tours offered by Celebrity Cruises.
Shore tours by cruises are still preferable
Despite the smaller window for cancellations, cruise line-affiliated tours remain highly preferable to tours that passengers might research and avail of on their own. Aside from being easier to book and coordinate, the tour providers have been vetted by the cruise operator for safety and efficiency.
Most importantly, accredited tour operators know they should contact the cruise ship if there are any accidents or delays, minimizing the chances that passengers might get left behind in any unforeseen events.
Last September, 2 Tampa-based passengers found themselves stranded in Mexico after renting scooters from a third-party provider and getting into a traffic accident that left them hospitalized.
If you must book independent tour operators, do some research beforehand to make sure that you’ll be in good hands.