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It’s safe to say that as the world watched a doctor being hauled off a United Airlines flight this week and denied boarding, we cruisers found ourselves thinking, “Thank goodness that can’t happen to us!” But… can it? Could you show up for a voyage and be told by the cruise line that you’ve been bumped from the ship because it was oversold?
We Asked An Expert
“It is extraordinarily rare for cruise lines to be in oversold situations,” says Stewart Chiron of CruiseGuy.com. “Cruise lines have long sold cabin guarantees, which allows passengers to take advantage of additional discounts by booking a cabin type but not a specific cabin selection. Cruise lines would assign these cabins closer to sailing.”
It’s also worth noting that one of the reasons airlines oversell flights is because they anticipate a certain number of no-shows. Airlines also offer wait lists, allowing passengers to take advantage of no-shows by boarding at the last minute, something that cruise lines are restricted from doing so as they must submit a passenger manifest to homeland security several days before sailing.
Only Under Extreme Circumstance
So while you are incredibly unlikely to be bumped from a cruise ship once you’ve boarded, there are rare situations in which the trip might be canceled on short notice. For example, booking the first cruise immediately after a ship’s slated dry dock can be risky in that if things take longer than planned, the sailing could be canceled.
And there have been occasions on which a ship is chartered by a private organization or a company, resulting in passengers who’d previously booked passage being bumped. But these circumstances are relatively rare.
But as Chiron points out, when the above-mentioned types of situations arise, “cruise lines would work with any impacted passengers in advance of sailing.”
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, cruise lines — like airlines — do have the last say with regards to pretty much every detail of your sailing, as spelled out in the cruise contract each passenger signs off on. For example, Royal Caribbean’s contract states, in part, “Carrier may for any reason at any time and without prior notice cancel, advance, postpone or deviate from any scheduled sailing, port of call, destination, lodging or any activity on or off the Vessel, or substitute another vessel or port of call, destination, lodging or activity.”
For example, Royal Caribbean’s contract states, in part, “Carrier may for any reason at any time and without prior notice cancel, advance, postpone or deviate from any scheduled sailing, port of call, destination, lodging or any activity on or off the Vessel, or substitute another vessel or port of call, destination, lodging or activity.”
But the odds of you showing up at the port and being told that you were bumped from a sailing are so low as to be categorized as “slim-to-none.”
Have you ever found yourself booked on a sailing that eventually was canceled?