Thanks to Cruise Line Flexibility, We’ve Changed our Plans for 2013

Thanks to Cruise Line Flexibility, We’ve Changed our Plans for 2013

(Photo Courtesy of Andreas Depping at Cruiseship-Gallery.de)

About 10 months ago we booked our cruise for 2013. It was to be a dream 20th anniversary cruise for my husband and I featuring a spectacular itinerary from Sydney, Au, to French Polynesia ending in Hawaii. However, we had been looking for a way to take the kids on a vacation too, since we haven’t had a true family vacation since 2009. With the kids’ high school schedule and extra curricular activities, we came to the conclusion that the best option was to cancel the dream cruise and book something that we could do during their two week spring break.

Cancelling a Cruise

One of the nice things about cruise vacation deposits, is that they are generally fully refundable outside a particular time frame. In most cases the deposit is fully refundable before the final payment is due. Usually, final payment is due 90 days before the cruise. One exception to this rule falls under Carnivals price protection program. Carnival offers cruisers the opportunity to book at a lower price and guarantee that price or lower, if they put $50 of their deposit at risk per passenger.

In my case, I had the first cruise booked with Celebrity. I simply requested in writing that my TA cancel the first cruise and then book me onto the new cruise. No fees or charges were involved.

My New Cruise

The new cruise will actually be back to back cruises on the Celebrity Silhouette. This brand new ship is the latest in the Solstice class of ships. It will feature many of the amenities offered on the original Solstice ship, with a few changes, particularly the Q-zine specialty restaurant and the out door steak grill specialty restaurant on the lawn club instead of the Hot Glass Show. The BTB itinerary will allow us the opportunity to visit both the Eastern Caribbean in the first week, and the Western Caribbean in the second week. This will be our first Western Caribbean cruise for all four of us and first Eastern Caribbean for the kids.

Cabin Selection

Cabin selection was one of the most difficult decisions. We had been wondering if we should book a less expensive inside or ocean view cabin, but ultimately decided to book a standard balcony. On the Solstice class ships the outside cabins are only 177 sq ft, while the balcony cabins are 195 sq ft. The obstructed balcony cabins might also be an option, but Celebrity only offered them for a few hundred less than the full balcony. We will be watching to see if if they go on sale. If we could save more than $1000 over our current price we might consider moving our cabin. We would have to take advantage of a price change before the 90 day window. After 90 days cruise lines often offer nice discount in order to sell out remaining cabins, but those discounts are not offered to previously booked passengers. Sometimes booked passenger could upgrade and keep their same price.

We wanted to reserve a cabin that had both an upper bunk and sofa bed in addition to the king bed. That way each of the kids gets his or her own bed. We also preferred to get the same cabin for the two consecutive cruises. It is simply more convenient not have to move on the turn around day. We were pleased that our TA was able to get us a cabin that met both criteria.

Compromise

We did have to make some compromises in order to fit a cruise into the kids spring break. First, we had to pay the premium price for two 7 day cruises instead of one 14 day, plus we also had to pay a premium holiday price for the second cruise as it falls during Easter week. Second we had to choose a standard balcony rather than the premium family cabins that we have enjoyed on many other cruises. The costs of the family cabins, with all the pricing associated with BTB and Holiday cruising, were just too high for us to consider. The itinerary will be nice, but certainly not as spectacular as our previously planned Australia to Hawaii cruise. However, the compromises are well worth it in order for us to spend quality family time together.