2020, and now 2021, have brought a lot of cancellations in the travel world due to the pandemic. Travel Restrictions, CDC No-Sail Orders, and the virus itself have forced tour companies to outright cancel thousands of trips, and even more cruise ship sailings.
Even before the companies have outright cancelled (aka “suspended”) a cruise or vacation, many nervous travelers have canceled in advance of that, and due to cancellation policies, may have lost a lot of money.
The travel industry has learned that flexibility is key, and so most operators now offer some type of “Cruise with Confidence” or “Peace of Mind” policy so folks can cancel on their own without waiting to see if there will be a suspension.
Since the coronavirus has lasted longer than anyone predicted, now people have rebooked a second or even third time. Some have lost their patience and just want a refund. What are the options?
If you are booked on a trip and have not made any changes, first check your cancellation options. You may be able to get a full refund or pay only a small penalty. But be aware, you may have to wait a while for your refund! These companies are not only managing cash flow, they do not have the logistics for processing so many cancellations at once. In this regard, some companies are doing a really poor job – like Crystal. Others are doing a great job – like Tauck.
However, once you have accepted a Future Cruise Credit “FCC” or some variation of that “letter of credit,” in most cases you give up the option for a cash refund moving forward. Even if you selected a new cruise, rebooked and applied your FCC…and then THAT cruise was cancelled. Your only option will likely be to get a new FCC. There are a few exceptions to this, check with one of our agents for your particular case.
If you are on the first round and your trip is cancelled by the cruise line or tour company, you may be offered a choice of something along the lines of:
The 125% FCC is a generous offer, and if you know you are going to travel again with that provider, it can be a good return on your money.
Here are the policies and current cancellation schedule of many travel companies.
But if you didn’t wait for the travel company to suspend, when YOU cancel the trip or cruise, either under normal cancellation policies or a peace of mind type of policy, you will almost always get a Future Credit.
And regardless of how you obtain a Future Travel Credit, it cannot be converted to cash. Even once applied to a new trip and the new trip is canceled by you or the operator, in most cases you will only have the option of getting another FCC. Some operators may allow you to transfer the FCC to someone else, especially if you have an advocate.
In some cases, canceling the trip will get a cash refund for certain items, such as taxes and fees, and an FCC for the tour or cruise fare. Also keep in mind, that in some circumstances the FCC can only be applied to certain portions of a new trip: there could be exclusions such as insurance, air, or a land component.
What most people also do not know about these FCC’s is that they live with the individual. In other words they don’t have to be rebooked using the same way it was originally. You booked online? You booked direct? You booked with a Travel Agent? Doesn’t matter, it is YOUR credit, and you can ask another company to assist you with your booking if you choose!
So, what ARE you going to do with those travel credits?
Photo: The author on the tiny island featured in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Petit Tabac (during a trip that he received an FCC!)
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