Royal Caribbean have always been known as a market leader, introducing many new and innovative features to cruising, from Rock Climbing walls to Ice Rinks, to Surf machines and Sky diving machines on board various of their ships. You could say they have their name in the History books for many reasons from new features at sea to having the biggest ships afloat with the Oasis Class.
On Thursday the 9th May, Royal Caribbean hit the history books again for all the wrong reasons. Some are calling it the new Independence Day! However, it certainly is not something to be celebrated.
It all started from about 10 in the morning when we opened our emails to find a email saying that the Independence of the Seas would not be returning to Southampton in 2020. It is normal for ships to come and go and not return to a port for many years however I should mention that she has been selling the 2020 Cruises from Southampton since last Autumn so we are now in the predicament that you have 1000’s of people booked on Cruises that are no longer going ahead so we had the un-delightful job of phoning everyone to tell them there cruises had been cancelled.
Royal Caribbean had said that the booking interest in their new private Island – Coco Cay in the Bahamas had warranted removing Independence of the Seas from Southampton and leaving her from Fort Lauderdale for the 2020 summer season. They would not be replacing her with anything and therefore Anthem of the Seas would sail from Southampton alone. It is the first time in many years that Royal Caribbean have based just the one ship from Southampton.
So, what happens now? We’ll the cruises are automatically cancelled and deposit returned which one would expect, Royal Caribbean also has given a 25% Future Cruise Voucher to be used on another Royal Caribbean Cruise – Which ties you to Royal Caribbean so all those that are that unhappy and do not want to return to Royal Caribbean have no choice if they want to cash in on the compensation and in some cases it can be worth £1,000’s.
Some have been very understanding, and loyal to the brand and said what will be, will be. Whereas others, especially families that booked early for 2020 and got the low prices and the drinks packages will suffer significantly. We have seen over the past couple of days – those that want Royal Caribbean book on Anthem and pay over £1500-£2000 per family more and not getting the drinks included.
Is this fair? Some have said they feel that alternatives on Anthem should have been offered and prices and promotions protected? What do you think?
I just hope Royal Caribbean know what they are doing – as they are risking losing lots of very loyal customers by taking one of the most popular ships out of Europe? Or is the American Market more important to them!?