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Cruise Line Cancellation Policies: A Closer Look
Norwegian Breakaway (Photo: Cruise Critic)

Cruise Line Cancellation Policies: A Closer Look

Cruise Line Cancellation Policies: A Closer Look
Norwegian Breakaway (Photo: Cruise Critic)
Carol Sottili
Contributor
Elissa Garay
Contributor
Sue Bryant
Contributor
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No one wants to imagine that they might need to cancel their much-anticipated cruise. To make matters worse, reading the fine print can make you cross-eyed. Cruise line cancellation policies are complex and inconsistent industrywide, and not always forgiving to travelers who need to abandon their vacation plans at the last minute.

Yet, understanding your line's cancellation policy and penalty schedule will allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not you should buy travel insurance -- the one thing that will protect you if an unexpected event necessitates you cancel your planned sailing.

To help you out, Cruise Critic has taken a close look at the cancellation policies and penalties for 18 of the world's top cruise lines. As you peruse them, it's wise to keep the following in mind:

  • A general rule of thumb is the longer the cruise, the tougher the cancellation penalties.
  • While airfare, land packages, hotel stays and transfers booked through the cruise lines are sometimes included in the cruise cancellation policies, other prebooked incidentals, like shore excursions, spa treatments and specialty dining, are almost always dealt with under separate cancellation terms and conditions.
  • Some specially priced promotional fares are totally nonrefundable as soon as they're purchased.
  • While most cruise lines will accept notifications of cancellation by phone, several companies require written documentation; be sure to ask your line or travel agent if you are unsure of proper protocol.

Azamara Quest

Azamara

Special Notes: For cruise cancellations less than 90 days out, the penalties outlined below are likewise applied for hotel, transfers and standard air that are booked through the cruise line.

For All Cruises:

121 days or longer prior to sailing: $50 (increasing to $75 for sailings in 2020)

120–91 days: 25 percent of the fare

90–61 days: 50 percent

31–60 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent


Carnival Cruise Line

Special Notes: Carnival's cancellation policies apply to the cruise and any other related travel purchases through the line, such as transfers, standard airfare and pre-/post-cruise packages. "Pack & Go" cruises, which are typically offered close to sailing dates; "Super Saver" fares, for guarantee cabins; and "Early Saver" fares, which apply to cruises booked far in advance, are subject to a nonrefundable deposit, regardless of cancellation date (though Early Saver fare holders will get a future cruise credit, minus a $50 per person service fee).

For Cruises of Two to Five Nights (Excluding all Alaska, Europe, Transatlantic & Panama Canal Cruises):

60–46 days prior to sailing: Deposit

45–30 days: Deposit or 50 percent of the fare (whichever is greater)

29–15 days: Deposit or 75 percent (whichever is greater)

14 days or less: 100 percent

For Cruises of Six to Nine Nights (Excluding all Alaska, Europe, Transatlantic & Panama Canal Cruises):

75–56 days prior to sailing: Deposit

55–30 days: Deposit or 50 percent of the fare (whichever is greater)

29–15 days: Deposit or 75 percent (whichever is greater)

14 days or less: 100 percent

For Cruises of 10 Nights or Longer & All Alaska, Europe, Transatlantic & Panama Canal Cruises:

90–56 days prior to sailing: Deposit

55–30 days: Deposit or 50 percent of the fare (whichever is greater)

29–15 days: Deposit or 75 percent (whichever is greater)

14 days or less: 100 percent


Celebrity Cruises

Note: The cruise cancellation penalties outlined below are defined for cruises purchased on or after April 18, 2018; for cruises booked prior to that date, refer to the Celebrity Cruises website for older policies.

For All Cruises of Four Nights or Less:

74–61 days prior to sailing: 50 percent of the fare

60–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent

For All Cruises of Five Nights or Longer:

89–75 days prior to sailing: 25 percent of the fare

74–61 days: 50 percent

60–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent


Costa Cruises

Note: Unlike most cruise lines, Costa bases its penalties on its unique tiered fare system, with one bracket for "Basic" fares, and another one for "Comfort" and "Deluxe" fares. Airfare cancellations incur a $50 penalty during the first penalty phase. After that, regular cancellation fees apply to airfare and hotels booked in conjunction with the cruise. Separate cancellation policies are in place for world or grand cruises.

For All Basic Fares (Excluding World/Grand Cruises):

90 days or longer prior to sailing: 15 percent of the fare

89–57 days: 25 percent

56–30 days: 50 percent

29–15 days: 75 percent

14 days or less: 100 percent

For All Comfort & Deluxe Fares (Excluding World/Grand Cruises):

75–57 days prior to sailing: Deposit

56–30 days: 50 percent of the fare

29–15 days: 75 percent

14 days or less: 100 percent


Cruise & Maritime Voyages

CMV's cancellation penalties are less generous than some; note the 100 percent charge for cruises cancelled within 28 days of departure, when 14 days is more common. If the deposit paid was higher than the percentage charged, that amount would be retained.

90 days or more Loss of deposit

81-71 days 30 percent

70-50 days 50 percent

49-29 days 75 percent

28 days or less 100 percent


Crystal Serenity

Crystal Cruises

Note: The line maintains separate cancellation penalties for its three arms: Crystal Cruises (which will introduce new cancellation terms for 2020 voyages, as outlined below), Crystal Yacht and Crystal River (the latter not included here). Associated bookings, including airfare, hotel stays and land-based vacation extensions, are included under the cruise cancellation policies. Separate cancellation policies apply for world cruises, world cruise segments and cruise combinations (which allow cruisers to combine two or more itineraries).

For All Crystal Cruises in 2018 & 2019 (Excluding World Cruises, World Cruise Segments & Cruise Combinations):

90–46 days prior to sailing: 20 percent of the fare

45–31 days: 50 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent

For All Crystal Cruises Voyages of 13 Nights or Less in 2020:

120–91 days prior to sailing: 25 percent of the fare

90–61 days: 50 percent

60–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent

For All Crystal Cruises Voyages of 14 to 21 Nights in 2020:

150–121 days prior to sailing: 25 percent of the fare

120–91 days: 50 percent

90–61 days: 75 percent

60 days or less: 100 percent

For All Crystal Cruises Voyages of 22 Nights or Longer in 2020 (Excluding World Cruises, World Cruise Segments & Cruise Combinations):

180–151 days prior to sailing: 25 percent of the fare

150–121 days: 50 percent

120–91 days: 75 percent

90 days or less: 100 percent

For All Crystal Yacht Voyages in 2018 & 2019:

90–46 days prior to sailing: 20 percent of the fare

45–31 days: 50 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent

For All Crystal Yacht Voyages in 2020:

120–91 days prior to sailing: 25 percent of the fare

90–61 days: 50 percent

60–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent


Cunard Line

Note: Cancellation penalties also apply to advance bookings made in conjunction with the cruise, such as airfare, hotel stays, pre- and post-voyage packages and shore excursions.

For All Cruises of 30 Nights or Less:

120–91 days prior to sailing: 25 percent of the fare (or the deposit amount, if less than that, in the case of a reduced deposit promotion)

90–61 days: 40 percent

60–31 days: 50 percent

30–15 days: 75 percent

14 days or less: 100 percent

For All Cruises of 30 Nights or Longer:

150–121 nights: 30 percent of the fare (or the deposit amount, if less than that, in the case of a reduced deposit promotion)

120–91 days prior to sailing: 40 percent

90–64 days: 50 percent

63–43 days: 75 percent

42 days or less: 100 percent


Disney Cruise Line

Note: Disney bases its cancellation fees not only on the length of the cruise, but also on whether the itinerary departs from a U.S. or foreign port. Separate cancellation fee schedules apply to holiday sailings (of nine nights or less) or "Flexible Fares."

For Cruises of Four Nights or Less That Embark or Debark in the United States (Excluding Suites & Concierge Staterooms):

75–45 days prior to sailing: Deposit

44–30 days: 50 percent of the fare

29–15 days: 75 percent

14 days or less: 100 percent

For Cruises of Five to Nine Nights That Embark or Debark in the United States (Excluding Suites & Concierge Staterooms):

89–56 days prior to sailing: Deposit

55–30 days: 50 percent of the fare

29–15 days: 75 percent

14 days or less: 100 percent

For All Cruises That Embark and Debark Outside the United States (Excluding Suites & Concierge Staterooms):

119–56 days prior to sailing: Deposit

55–30 days: 50 percent of the fare

29–15 days: 75 percent

14 days or less: 100 percent

For All Cruises in Suites & Concierge Staterooms:

90 days or more prior to sailing: Deposit

89–56 days: 50 percent of the fare

55–30 days: 75 percent

29 days or less: 100 percent


Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines states in its small print that if you cancel and it is able to resell all the elements of your holiday it may, at its reasonable discretion, refund all or part of the price you've paid. Special promotional fares may be subject to a 100 percent cancellation fee, so read the small print at the time of booking. Pre- and post-cruise land tours are subject to 100 percent cancellation if you cancel within 90 days. Outside 91 days, you would lose your deposit on these.

Otherwise, terms are:

91 days or more Loss of deposit

90-57 days 60 percent

56-42 days 75 percent

41-16 days 85 percent

15 days or less 100 percent


Holland America Line

Note: Holland America's cancellation penalties vary by itinerary. Outlined cancellation penalties also apply to airfare, hotel stays, ground transfers and pre- and post-cruise land packages booked through Holland America.

For Grand World and Grand Voyages (or Segments Thereof); 29- to 50-Night Hawaii, Tahiti & Marquesas Voyages; Incan Empires or Amazon Explorer Cruises; 30-Night-Plus Transatlantic Europe Cruises (or Segment Thereof); and Africa Explorer or Far East Explorer Cruises:

120–91 days prior to sailing: Deposit

90–76 days: 60 percent of the fare

75 days or less: 100 percent

For All Holiday; Australia/New Zealand; Other South Pacific; Asia; Prinsendam (in Europe); and Other South America/Antarctica Cruises:

90–64 days prior to sailing: Deposit

63–43 days: 50 percent of the fare

42–22 days: 75 percent

21 days or less: 100 percent

For All Other Cruises:

75–57 days prior to sailing: Deposit

56–29 days: 50 percent of the fare

28–16 days: 75 percent

15 days or less: 100 percent


Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten's cancellation policies depend on whether you have booked a Norwegian coastal voyage or an expedition, which the company calls Explorer voyages.

For Norwegian coastal voyages:

More than 60 days from date of travel – Loss of deposit

59-42 days 30 percent

41-28 days 60 percent

27-14 days 90 percent

Less than 14 days 100 percent

Explorer voyages

More than 90 days 20 percent

89-60 days 40 percent

59-28 days 70 percent

27-14 days 90 percent

Less than 14 days 100 percent


Marella Cruises

Marella is part of TUI and its cruises are generally sold as package holidays with TUI flights. These are the amounts you would lose for cancelling. Deposits are non-refundable, even if the cancellation charge is lower than the deposit. If extra items have been added to the booking that are non-refundable, you would be charged for those in full.

For all cruises:

70 days or more Loss of deposit

69-63 days 30 percent

62-49 days 50 percent

48-29 days 70 percent

28-15 days 90 percent

14 days to date of travel 100 percent


MSC Divina

MSC Cruises

Note: Cruise cancellation charges also apply to airfare, hotels and other services arranged through MSC Cruises.

For All Cruises of 15 Nights or Less:

89–61 days prior to sailing: Deposit

60–46 days: 50 percent of the fare

45–16 days: 75 percent

15 days or less: 100 percent

For All Cruises of 15 Nights or Longer:

109–61 days prior to sailing: Deposit

60–46 days: 50 percent of the fare

45–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent


Norwegian Cruise Line

Notes: Norwegian bases cancellation penalties on both cruise length and cabin category. Cruise cancellation policies also apply to airfare, hotel stays and certain other advance bookings made through Norwegian.

For All Cruises of Six Nights or Less (Excluding Suites):

86–76 days prior to sailing: Deposit or 25 percent of the fare (whichever is higher)

75–61 days: Deposit or 50 percent (whichever is higher)

60–31 days: Deposit or 75 percent (whichever is higher)

30 days or less: 100 percent

For All Cruises of Seven Nights or Longer (Excluding Suites):

119–91 days prior to sailing: 25 percent of the fare

90–61 days: 50 percent

60–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent

For Suites (Excluding Mini-Suites) and Holiday Bookings on All Cruises (Excluding Norwegian Sky):

119–106 days prior to sailing: Deposit or 25 percent of the fare (whichever is higher)

105–91 days: Deposit or 50 percent (whichever is higher)

90–61 days: 75 percent

60 days or less: 100 percent


Oceania Cruises

Note: Fare penalties are inclusive of airfare purchased through the line, as well. Separate fee policies are in place for the line's world cruises.

For All Cruises of 15 Nights or Less:

120–91 days prior to sailing: $250 plus administrative fee, which vary and can be converted to a future cruise credit (alternatively, for suites, the penalty is 10 percent of the cruise fare)

90–76 days: 25 percent of the fare

75–61 days: 50 percent

60–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent

For All Cruises of 15 Nights or Longer (Excluding World Cruises):

180–151 days prior to sailing: $250 plus administrative fee, which vary and can be converted to a future cruise credit (alternatively, for suites, the penalty is 10 percent of the cruise fare)

150–121 days: 25 percent of the fare

120–91 days: 50 percent

90–61 days: 75 percent

60 days or less: 100 percent


P&O Cruises

Note that P&O Cruises' Saver fares, which you pay in full at the time of booking, are subject to 100 percent cancellation fees from the date of booking.

Otherwise, charges for cancellation by the passenger are as follows:

Outside 91 days Loss of deposit

90-57 days 50 percent

56-42 days 60 percent

41-16 days 75 percent

15-6 days 90 percent

Less than 6 days before departure or failure to embark (note that for fly-cruises, departure day counts as the date of the flight departure) 100 percent


Princess Cruises

Note: Note that fares for cruise tours and fees for pre-purchased gifts and special services are also subject to the below cancellation penalties when canceled 56 or fewer days out (for sailings of 30 nights or less), or 89 or fewer days (for cruises 30 nights or longer). Different cancellation policies apply for hotels, shore excursions and airfare booked through Princess.

For All Cruises of 30 Nights or Less:

74–57 days prior to sailing: Deposit

56–29 days: 50 percent of the fare

28–15 days: 75 percent

14 days or less: 100 percent

For All Cruises of 30 Nights or Longer (Including World Cruises):

119–90 days prior to sailing: Deposit

89–64 days: 50 percent of the fare

63–43 days: 75 percent

42 days or less: 100 percent


Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Note: Regent's cancellation policy is one of the industry's strictest, with its penalties extending farther out than most other lines. Note that separate cancellation policies are in place for the highest level suites (like Master Suites); for bookings aboard the new Seven Seas Splendor, debuting in 2020; and for voyages of 100 nights or longer.

For Cruises of 14 Nights or Less:

121 days or longer prior to sailing: 25 percent of the fare

120–91 days: 50 percent

90–61 days: 75 percent

60 or days or less: 100 percent

For Cruises of 15 Nights or Longer (Excluding Voyages of 100 Nights or Longer):

151 days or longer prior to sailing: 25 percent of the fare

150–121 days: 50 percent

120–91 days: 75 percent

90 days or less: 100 percent


Grandeur of the Seas (Photo: Royal Caribbean International)

Royal Caribbean International

Note: The outlined cancellation fees for cruises of five nights and longer are also applicable toward Royal Caribbean cruisetours.

For All Cruises of Four Nights or Less:

74–61 days prior to sailing: 50 percent of the fare

60–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent

For All Cruises of Five Nights or Longer:

89-75 days prior to sailing: 25 percent of the fare

74–61 days: 50 percent

60–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent


Saga Cruises

Saga has different cancellation policies for different types of holiday. Where the amount charged is less than the deposit, you would lose the amount equivalent to your deposit. Some holidays incur a 100 percent cancellation charge, in which case you are informed at the time of booking. Saga pays out small amounts of compensation if it makes 'significant' changes to your booking -- up to £50 for changes made within 14 days of travel

This category applies to river cruises booked through Saga and ocean cruises with third party cruise lines:

75 days or more Loss of deposit

43-74 days 50 percent

29-42 days 70 percent

15-28 days 90 percent

14 days or less 100 percent

For all Saga ocean cruises aboard Saga Sapphire, Spirit of Discovery and Spirit of Adventure

90 days or more Loss of deposit

56-89 days 60 percent

29-55 days 75 percent

15-28 days 90 percent

14 days or less 100 percent


Seabourn Cruise Line

Note: Outlined cruise cancellation fees are likewise applicable to airfare and land arrangements made through the line.

For All Cruises of 25 Nights or Less:

121–91 days prior to sailing: 15 percent of the fare

90–46 days: 50 percent

45–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent

For All Cruises of 26 Nights or Longer:

150–121 days prior to sailing: 15 percent of the fare

120–91 days: 50 percent

90–76 days: 75 percent

75 days or less: 100 percent


Silversea Cruises

Note: Separate cancellation fees apply for Silversea world cruise and world cruise segments.

For All Cruises (Excluding World Cruises & World Cruise Segments):

121 days or longer prior to sailing: $200 administrative fee (may be converted to a future cruise credit)

120–91 days: 15 percent of the fare

90–61 days: 50 percent

60–31 days: 75 percent

30 days or less: 100 percent


Viking Ocean Cruises

Note: Viking fare cancellation policies are inclusive of any land or air component booked through Viking. Note that world and grand cruises (more than 25 days long) carry separate cancellation policies.

For All Cruises (Excluding World and Grand Cruises):

120 days or longer prior to sailing: $100 administrative fee

119–90 days: 20 percent of the fare

89–70 days: 35 percent

69–50 days: 50 percent

49–30 days: 75 percent

29 days or less: 100 percent


Windstar Cruises

Note: Airfare booked through the cruise line is nonrefundable once purchased.

For All Cruises:

121 days or longer prior to sailing: $50 fee

120–90 days: 15 percent of the fare

89–60 days: 35 percent

59–30 days: 50 percent

29 days or less: 100 percent

Updated March 27, 2020

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