With so many cruises continuing to be cancelled due to the ongoing global health pandemic, it can be difficult to know whether taking a cruise credit or requesting a full refund is the way to go.
For many cruisers, the choice of whether to take a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) or request a refund is a personal one. There are a number of pros and cons for each that should be considered before making a decision.
You plan to book another cruise with the same line in the future
You do not need the extra funds refunded to your credit card
You want to take advantage of the bonus amounts each cruise line offers
You want your money back in full
You prefer to book with another line or choose a new style of vacation
Future Cruise Credits typically come with a bonus amount that varies from line to line but typically rests at around 25 percent of the fare (or deposit) already paid. This is handy, as it provides extra cash to put towards the balance of a new cruise and can be used to upgrade to a better stateroom category.
On the downside, many cruise lines do not allow FCC's to be used as a deposit -- meaning you could have to fork out more money to rebook on a different voyage.
Future Cruise Credits also have a date they need to be applied to a new booking by, and it is good to be aware of this. Most cruise lines, however, will give you at least a year to use your FCC and apply it against a new booking.
You would rather have the refund back on your credit card
You plan to book a cruise with a different line
You are no longer interested in sailing with the line for the foreseeable future
You plan on rebooking a new cruise with the same line in the next year or two
You're just looking for quick cash; refunds can take weeks or months to process
First and foremost, note that a refund will never be offered without any action. In nearly all cases, you'll have to register for this using a dedicated website specified in any communications to you from the line. Otherwise, a Future Cruise Credit will be applied by default.
With refunds, it is important to keep in mind that each cruise line has its own processing times for refunds and guidelines around how they are handled. While many cruisers may see refunds posted back to their credit cards within a few business days, others may need to wait weeks or even months before a refund is issued.
Refunds may be particularly delayed following the public announcement of mass cancellations, as thousands of customer accounts need to be dealt with all at once.
If your sole reason for requesting the refund is to free up some quick cash, requesting a refund may not satisfy this need.
Requesting refunds are a good idea, however, if you no longer intend to sail with the line; wish to sail with another line; or are planning to book a different sort of vacation entirely.
At the end of the day, there isn't a right or wrong decision. Choosing between a Future Cruise Credit and a full refund of monies paid will typically come down to personal preference, spending habits, and vacation plans.
It is always best to read over all of the options presented to you by your cruise line if your voyage ends up being cancelled. If you booked through a travel agent, they can go over terms and conditions with you.
Independent cruisers might want to reach out to the cruise line on social media for assistance; most lines will request that you not ring the call center following a period of mass cancellations, due to high call volumes.