Should I Take a Future Cruise Credit or a Refund for My Cancelled Cruise?

Should I Take a Future Cruise Credit or a Refund? We weigh the pros and cons of each option for those with cruises cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Should I take a Future Cruise Credit or a Refund

The COVID-19 global health crisis has put a halt on all cruising from early March to (at least) mid May. If you are like many, including us, you may have had a cruise that was impacted by these travel suspensions. For voyages affected by these changes, most cruise lines are offering passengers one of two refund options. Thus, the big question cruisers keep asking, “Should I take a future cruise credit or a refund?. In this appraisal, we break down the pros and cons of each option. Plus, we share what we decided to do for our trip.

Should I Take a Future Cruise Credit or a Refund?

Comparing a Future Cruise Credit to a Refund

Most cruise lines are offering individuals the option to receive a refund to their original form of payment for the cruise fare plus taxes and port fees. In addition, cruise lines will refund all payments made towards other purchases, including add-ons like shore excursions, drink packages, specialty dining, etc.

The alternative form of reimbursement is a future cruise credit. Essentially, a future cruise credit is like a gift certificate. The cruise line will issue you this credit, plus bonus funds as an added incentive, to use towards the purchase of a future cruise. The amount of the future cruise credit will be based on the cruise fare only. All other taxes and fees will be refunded to cruisers.

Cruise Ships Located During Cruise Suspension

You must use these credits to sail on a future trip with that line by the published expiration date. Currently, most cruise lines’ FCC’s have expiration dates through the end of 2021. Some cruise lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Line, are extending the application of these funds to sailings through the end of 2022. 

As a bonus for choosing this method of compensation, most cruise lines are offering a cruise credit of 125% of total cost paid or onboard credit. In addition, some brands, like Celebrity Cruises, are even giving individuals the option to transfer monies paid for pre-cruise purchases into onboard credit at 125% value.

The cruise cancellations and refund policies for all cruise lines do differ slightly by brand. So, we recommend you refer to our guide for your cruise line’s current options.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Select a Future Cruise Credit or a Refund

Before you decide which option you want to select for your cancelled cruise, there are several variables you should consider.

Some of the questions you should ask yourself when debating these offers include:

  • How much did I spend on the current trip?
  • How often do I cruise?
  • Do I plan to cruise again with this cruise line?
  • Do I anticipate any job loss or other economic impacts due to the virus?
  • Will I feel comfortable traveling once the health crisis is over?
  • Will I be able to get time off for a vacation in the near future?
  • Do I believe the cruise lines will be up and running when I am ready to travel?

The answers to these questions are personal. So, be honest with yourself when thinking about all of the potential outcomes. We all hope that the current conditions improve sooner rather than later, so we can get back to our regular routines, which include cruising of course.

Cruise Ships Located During Cruise Suspension

However, each individual’s circumstances can be different. Given these unprecedented times, you need to carefully consider whether choosing the future cruise credit or the refund is right for you. 

Pros of a Future Cruise Credit

As stated above, a future cruise credit acts like a gift card that you can redeem with the cruise line for the purchase of a future trip.

One benefit of this option is that you will automatically receive this credit. Most major cruise lines are issuing these credits as a default. So, there is nothing you need to do.

Also, most cruise lines are giving cruisers incentives to opt for these credits. Almost every cruise line is offering cruisers a 125% future cruise credit based on the fare. When you select this form of reimbursement, you are getting 25% extra funds to apply to your next trip.

Navigator of the Seas Bahamas Cruise Review

These additional funds might allow you to upgrade your stateroom category or purchase a beverage package or other cruise planner item. Perhaps, depending on your cancelled trip (or trips), you could even book multiple cruises or a longer voyage for no additional cost.

If you are very confident that you will cruise again within the specified time frame, getting an extra 25% is a great option. Some cruise lines are also offering perks such as onboard credit for those using future cruise credits. This additional perk is essentially even more free money for you to use towards your cruise addiction.

Further, having the future cruise credit gives you some incentive to cruise again. Not that you needed an excuse! Many of us take comfort in knowing that we have a vacation to look forward to in the future. This also allows you to start planning this next trip during all of the current downtime.

Most cruise lines are giving you some time to decide. Refer to your cruise line’s policy for details, but many are allowing you to request to change your FCC into a refund at any time up until the expiration date.

Pros of Getting a Cruise Refund

If you opt for a full refund now, you are getting your money back. If you are not sure when you will cruise again, taking the cash now is probably the best option. 

This is especially true if this was supposed to be your first cruise or if you have health concerns that might leave you questioning your willingness to travel again once the ban is lifted. While this is not the case for us, we know that many individuals will be skeptical about taking a cruise vacation in the near future. The question also remains if the recently implemented policy for travelers over 70 years old will still require those individuals to provide documentation of health prior to sailing.

Cruising During the Coronavirus

If you are worried about the possibility of going on a cruise in the next 18 months, possibly for job related or financial reasons, the refund is probably the best option for you as well.

If you have a job where it is difficult to get vacation time, it might be challenging to find an option that fits your schedule. Or, if you are concerned about financial stability given the current economic situation, having the additional funds now also makes sense. Further, other questions still remain like whether some jobs will still require quarantines after taking a cruise vacation even once cruising resumes.

Another point to consider as well is the price which you paid for your trip versus current pricing for a similar cruise. While it would be nice to get two cruises for the price of one, some individuals might not be able to use the full FCC in the required time frames.

For our situation, we had a rather expensive cruise planned in April on the new Virgin Voyages. When comparing the future cruise credit (200%) to the refund, we both decided it made sense to get our money back. While having some additional cruise credit was tempting, we did not think we would use all the credit. Specifically, the prices had significantly dropped since we purchased our trip, and we were not sure if and/or when we would sail with the line again given this would have been our first sailing with the brand.


Did you have a cruise cancelled due to the coronavirus? What were your considerations when deciding whether to take the future cruise credit or a refund? Drop us an anchor below to let us know which option you chose and why.

Should I Take a Future Cruise Credit or Refund
Don Bucolo, or “DB”, loves everything about cruising- the ocean, the food, and the atmosphere. While he may be obsessed with doing extensive amounts of research on ships and all elements of a cruise, Don enjoys sharing his new found knowledge with fellow cruisers. When he is not sailing the high seas, he does whatever his wife tells him to do-it only took 10 years to realize this.
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9 comments on Should I Take a Future Cruise Credit or a Refund for My Cancelled Cruise?

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  1. We were to sail on Apr. 04 out of Tampa on Rhapsody of the Seas. When they canceled, we were thrilled to learn we would receive 125%. We booked our original cruise over Spring Break, which is typically a higher rate. WE WILL CRUISE once this is all over and they resume cruising. We suspect, going forward, booking will be down, causing rates to be down, and we could potentially end up with enough FCC to get a suite, and/or go on a bigger and better ship for less than what we paid initially. If rates are significantly lower, and we do this right, we might actually end up getting two cruises out of it!

      We were taking the kids and grandchildren on a once in a lifetime opportunity cruise where we could all be together scheduled in April on the Independence of the Sea. When the Corona Virus made it obvious that we would not travel and the cruise line offered a credit, we saw no alternative but to accept it rather than lose the money altogether. Approximately two weeks later the cruise was cancelled and RCL offered a refund or 125% refund. We were told we were not eligible for the refund or additional credit as we had already cancelled on our own. In addition, despite the fact that all funds were paid on our credit card, we were told that each individual would get the credit and therefore, anyone who could not or would not chose to take a cruise within their restricted time frame, would lose the money. Do we have any recourse? The cruise was purchased through a travel agent and paid in full.

        I was told the same as above and told I could not get a refund. What recourse do I have now for any refund .

    We were booked on 14 March on the NCL Breakaway. We were officially notified by NCL of the cruise cancelling on 13 March at 11:48 pm – while we were already staying at a Port Canaveral hotel. This was a higher fare week during Spring Break and we got a Large Balcony Cabin so we had invested in a rather high cruise fare.
    We were offered a 150% Future Cruise Credit. We were also given a 30% and another 20% off the new cruise fare. We want to cruise more and we can get time off and we don’t need these monies to support other areas, so we took the deal.
    We booked a 12 day sailing to Hawaii from Vancouver departing in September 2020, with round trip air and pre/post hotels packages at both ports. We reinvested all of the FCC plus more.
    THEN – we kept researching and listening to the news and we understood that:
    1.) NCL has financial issues and might go bankrupt.
    2.) That international routes might be reworked and might not be sailing in September.
    3.) Ships could be reassigned and some routes dropped moving forward.
    While we were willing to take an initial gamble to get the most bang for our bucks toward something we thought would be a definite sailing – we found out that the future of Cruise Lines, their ships and their sailings itineraries – just can’t be predicted.
    With the deadline to request a 100% cash refund is fast approach and so many unknowns of the future of cruising – I was able to cancel the entire new reservation without any cancellation penalty and then filed the online form for the full 100% cash refund.
    While we are disappointed – we are sure that we made the best choice in safeguarding our original investment. We look forward to taking advantage of lower cruise fares with incentives to get cruisers back on the high seas!

    Norwegian Cruise Lines has financial problems, perhaps considering whether to continue in business or declaring bankruptcy according to some published reports. Wife and I used credits for cancelled cruises to book Hawaii 4/2021 and Alaska 6/2021 cruises. We got good deals but should we get refund instead.

    Please respond. Thanks.

    I have agreed to take an FCC for a rescheduled cruise (now for May 2021) with Cunard and have had about 50% of the fully paidup fare already refunded just leaving the FCC balance on our account (125%).
    We also had to pay £1191 ‘new’ deposit.
    My question is, if I now decide I do not want this ‘future’ cruise, (proposed restrictions make a cruise not very attractive!) can I get a refund (less the 25%)? I accept I would lose my ‘new’ deposit.

      Hi Rick. Great question. Once you take the FCC, most cruise lines do not allow you to get a refund of that amount. You should check with Cunard about that policy. If it is within the company’s cancellation period, your new deposit should be refundable. Let us know how you make out.

    We’re actually booked with a group on Virgin Voyages for October. We definitely intend on going on a future cruise if the cruise we are currently booked on gets cancelled. The possible 200% credit means we might even upgrade to one of the suites so, for us, we’ll very likely take the credit so we can cruise with our friends in the future in (maybe) high style. Thanks for the pros and cons lesson, however. This was exactly the type of information I was looking for.

      Thanks for the feedback. Fingers crossed that the cruise sails in October. Happy cruising!