Royal Caribbean Changes Itinerary AFTER Final Payment Date

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#1
Just a head's up as I hope others will be writing to you for assistance. In my case, I booked a cruise with RCL a year ago that was billed as the BEST of CUBA. It included stops in Havana, Cienfuego and Santiago de Cuba. After final payment and without notifying cruisers OR their travel agents, RCL changed the itinerary and eliminated the port stop in Santiago de Cuba. According to them this was due to construction still on going at the port. Construction has been going on at the Santiago port for 5 months so surely RCL knew about it and more than likely KNEW that the project would not be completed by the March 17th sail date on Empress. Instead of taking the high road and notifying those involved, and giving them options to cancel, should they so desire, RCL collected excursion $ and final payment in mid Dec only to change (on their web site ONLY) the name of the cruise and show the port change (Grand Cayman subbed for Santiago de Cuba). They are offering NO recompense for this. I have been in touch with my Travel Agent who tells me RCL won't budge on this matter (of offering nothing) This despite the fact that they could tender to the port (as Azamara did so recently)

I have since written to RCL's President (his contact info is on your site-thank you) and await his reply; if he deigns to. And YES I am aware that the contract of carriage allows them to do this. But given what has been cited above, I find RCL's actions to be untenable; akin to bait and switch. And as for the cruise I booked for 2020, that is being cancelled.

Traveler17
 
Aug 29, 2015
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#2
The only guarantee with a cruise is that they will do their best to leave port with you in the ship and stop at one foreign port. Nothing else is certain. Their contract of carriage gives them the right to change all the ports.

Azamara has way smaller ships, with fewer than 700 passengers compared to the Royal ships. They can tender with their own life boats easily, but the Royal ships don’t generally tender unless they are in a port with commercial tenders that hold many more passengers.

The construction was due to be completed sooner. It isn’t finished yet. Islands happen.
Go enjoy the stops you have. Enjoy the cruise. If you specifically want to see a place though, cruises make no guarantee.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#3
Just a head's up as I hope others will be writing to you for assistance. In my case, I booked a cruise with RCL a year ago that was billed as the BEST of CUBA. It included stops in Havana, Cienfuego and Santiago de Cuba. After final payment and without notifying cruisers OR their travel agents, RCL changed the itinerary and eliminated the port stop in Santiago de Cuba. According to them this was due to construction still on going at the port. Construction has been going on at the Santiago port for 5 months so surely RCL knew about it and more than likely KNEW that the project would not be completed by the March 17th sail date on Empress. Instead of taking the high road and notifying those involved, and giving them options to cancel, should they so desire, RCL collected excursion $ and final payment in mid Dec only to change (on their web site ONLY) the name of the cruise and show the port change (Grand Cayman subbed for Santiago de Cuba). They are offering NO recompense for this. I have been in touch with my Travel Agent who tells me RCL won't budge on this matter (of offering nothing) This despite the fact that they could tender to the port (as Azamara did so recently)

I have since written to RCL's President (his contact info is on your site-thank you) and await his reply; if he deigns to. And YES I am aware that the contract of carriage allows them to do this. But given what has been cited above, I find RCL's actions to be untenable; akin to bait and switch. And as for the cruise I booked for 2020, that is being cancelled.

Traveler17
The construction project was started in 2015 and was due to be completed this past summer (ie June 2018). It was a joint venture between a Chinese company and Cuba.

I am not a cruise person and have no interest in cruising; but is it not possible that RCL was kept in the dark about the delays after the construction did not finish by the deadline?
 
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Neil Maley

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#4
What probably happened is because the port isn’t finished Cuba has likely limited the number of ships they are allowing in the port. Royal might have had to wait until the government decided which ships they’d allow to port.

Unfortunately the cruise documents you agree to state ports can be changed. Is Royal offering any credits for this?
 
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#5
What probably happened is because the port isn’t finished Cuba has likely limited the number of ships they are allowing in the port. Royal might have had to wait until the government decided which ships they’d allow to port.

Unfortunately the cruise documents you agree to state ports can be changed. Is Royal offering any credits for this?
RCL is offering NOTHING other than the substit6ute port of Grand Cayman
 

Neil Maley

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#6
If you’ve already written to the President of Royal Caribbean there is not much more we can advise you in. Our process is for you to write starting at the bottom of the executive chain and move up one by one.

What would you have done if there was a weather incident that prevented the ship from docking in that port? That happens frequently (I have yet to step on Coco Cay- every cruise we have been on that was supposed to dock there never did because of wind ).

I’m willing to be this was not done by Royal, it was done by the Cuban government. There have been several cruise ships that have had to cancel stops in Cuba at the last minute, even in Havana, because the Cuban government canceled the stops. It happens occasionally and the cruise line can’t do a thing about it.
 

Neil Maley

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#8
Do you mean they all said that the cruise contract allows them to change? That is probably what the President is going to say as well.

I know it’s disappointing but the rest of the cruise will be amazing.
 
#9
Inclement weather has occurred on several voyages I have taken...in one instance the ship didnt make the port stop and gave each cruiser a (small) refund. To me that shows good faith. Perhaps it was the port fees. I would like to know if there is a difference in fees between Santiago and GC and if GC is less, why RCL hasnt at LEAST refunded that part of our fare
 
#10
Here is one WRITTEN reply:

Dear Travel Partner,

We are excited to welcome your clients on board for their March 17th, 2019 Empress of the Seas sailing. Please share the below update to their itinerary, so they can plan their vacation accordingly.

Dear Guest,

We hope you're ready for your upcoming March 17th cruise onboard Empress of the Seas and have a quick update to share with you about our itinerary.

We've modified our arrival and departure time in Cienfuegos, Cuba, to satisfy the daylight port restrictions. We'll now be in Cienfuegos from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, instead of 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM. Also, on March 21st we'll visit George Town, Grand Cayman, instead of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, as a result of pier construction delays.

For your convenience, the updated itinerary is outlined below.

Any pre-paid shore excursions scheduled for Santiago de Cuba will be refunded to your original form of payment and any affected shore excursions scheduled for Cienfuegos will be rescheduled for you. Within the next 3 business days, you'll receive an email from our Shore Excursions Department advising of your updated excursion details. Lastly, feel free to browse through the excursions we offer online via our Cruise Planner here.

Thank you for understanding. We are confident that George Town's crystal-clear waters and picture-perfect sunsets, along with Cienfuegos' energetic culture and captivating charm, will enchant you with their beauty! We look forward to exploring these beautiful ports with you!

Sincerely,

Aurora Yera-Rodriguez

Director of Guest Service

Royal Caribbean International
 
Apr 3, 2016
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#11
Enjoy the other stops in Cuba. The reality is Cuba is one of the most volatile places to arrange a trip to (and maybe Russia) with the delicate relationship between the US and Cuba. I have a cruise to Cuba planned January 2020 and I am hoping that US does not change the rules so that I can go to Cuba. If you want to see more of Cuba, there are land tours that qualify under the different visa reasons allowed for US Citizens. They would probably be more expensive than a cruise.
 

Neil Maley

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#12
You are refunded the port fees which are negligible. But Royal has to pay port fees for the stop in Grand Cayman too so one will likely offset the other.

Here is an article from last June about the plans being too ambitious. Cuba has no money to expand the port so they are going to be very reliant on someone else doing it for them. Remember this is a Communist country and the country is in terrible shape- they’d buildings are crumbling, their residents still have food rationing and they are not prepared for the number of passengers that are arriving from the US.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/skift....ise-ambitions-could-be-too-much-too-fast/amp/
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#13
RCL is offering NOTHING other than the substit6ute port of Grand Cayman
I just checked some online Cuban news sites in Spanish. The port opened a few days ago and the traffic is limited, focusing on cargo.

Do you think the port fees of Cuba would be more than Grand Cayman? I found the Caymans to be an expensive place to visit.

International travel to places that have strained relationships with the US are always uncertain; add in a massive renovation of the port and it is hard to guarantee anything. Think of the recent US-Turkey diplomatic break down in 2017 -- many people had to cancel travel.

I am not sure that the cruise line was dishonest,
 
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Neil Maley

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#14
I just checked some online Cuban news sites in Spanish. The port opened a few days ago and the traffic is limited, focusing on cargo.

Do you think the port fees of Cuba would be more than Grand Cayman? I found the Caymans to be an expensive place to visit.

International travel to places that have strained relationships with the US are always uncertain; add in a massive renovation of the port and it is hard to guarantee anything. Think of the recent US-Turkey diplomatic break down in 2017 -- many people had to cancel travel.

I am not sure that the cruise line was dishonest,
I’m positive the cruise line wasn’t dishonest. This is how Cuna works- THEY determine which ships are porting, not the cruise line.
 
Feb 21, 2018
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#15
The fact of the matter is that most, if not all, cruise lines have the absolute right to change the itinerary at will. Royal Caribbean's Cruise Ticket Contract, paragraph 6 (a) and (b):

"
6. CANCELLATION, DEVIATION OR SUBSTITUTION BY CARRIER: a. 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. Except as provided in Section 6(e) below, Carrier shall not be liable for any claim whatsoever by Passenger, including but not limited to loss, compensation or refund, by reason of such cancellation, advancement, postponement, sThubstitution or deviation.

b. In connection with a CruiseTour, Carrier has the same right to cancel, advance, postpone or deviate from any scheduled activity, departure or destination, or substitute another railcar, bus, destination or lodging or other component of the CruiseTour. Except as provided in Section 6(e) below, Carrier shall not be liable for any claim by Passenger whatsoever, including but not limited to loss, compensation or refund, by reason of such cancellation, advancement, postponement, substitution or deviation."

6(e) carries the exception which is if a cruise component or the cruise itself is cancelled due to a mechanical failure, there is some compensation that may be paid to the passengers.

Itinerary changes are a fact of life in cruising (think hurricane season - there have been cruises where passengers were expecting to go to Bermuda for three days and instead ended up in Canada because of a storm). If you have your heart set on a destination - if getting there is a primary reason for your trip and would ruin your vacation if you don't get there, then take a land vacation and don't depend on a cruise to get you there.
 

jsn55

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#16
A little reality check here. The cruise line doesn't "owe" its guests anything for changing a port. Grand Cayman is a marvelous place. Cruisers are on a ship to relax, enjoy, sightsee, dine, be entertained ... among other things. A cruise ship should not be thought of as "transportation", it's much more than that. Someone who wants to visit a particular location is much better off booking a hotel and flying there. My colleagues have outlined all the myriad reasons for the port change. I'm sorry this happened and you're so disappointed, but you should be able to enjoy the "cruise experience" very much.
 

Neil Maley

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#17
A little reality check here. The cruise line doesn't "owe" its guests anything for changing a port. Grand Cayman is a marvelous place. Cruisers are on a ship to relax, enjoy, sightsee, dine, be entertained ... among other things. A cruise ship should not be thought of as "transportation", it's much more than that. Someone who wants to visit a particular location is much better off booking a hotel and flying there. My colleagues have outlined all the myriad reasons for the port change. I'm sorry this happened and you're so disappointed, but you should be able to enjoy the "cruise experience" very much.
Except you can’t just book a hotel and fly to Cuba- you must be on a people to people tour or one that falls into one of the 12 authorized travel types.
 
Feb 21, 2018
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#18
Except you can’t just book a hotel and fly to Cuba- you must be on a people to people tour or one that falls into one of the 12 authorized travel types.
Very true Neil. But the fact of the matter is regardless of the ultimate itinerary, cruise port stops are never guaranteed. Cruises seem to be the best way to get and see parts of Cuba, but it is still somewhat of a dice roll to actually get there.

If travelers are looking for a guarantee, they'll likely need to be patient and wait until better travel options become available.
 

Neil Maley

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#19
Very true Neil. But the fact of the matter is regardless of the ultimate itinerary, cruise port stops are never guaranteed. Cruises seem to be the best way to get and see parts of Cuba, but it is still somewhat of a dice roll to actually get there.

If travelers are looking for a guarantee, they'll likely need to be patient and wait until better travel options become available.
I was responding to jsn55 who said “Someone who wants to visit a particular location is much better off booking a hotel and flying there.” You can’t do that in Cuba- it’s still people to people tours.