RCI-Royal Caribbean International cancels Rhapsody OTS' Panama Canal season

   August 10, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

RCI-Royal Caribbean has introduced a significant alteration to its cruise offerings on Rhapsody of the Seas ship for the winter 2023-2024 season. Instead of full transits of the Panama Canal, the ship will now offer Southern Caribbean voyages. Originally, the plan was for the Rhapsody OTS to conduct 7-night sailings from Colon in Panama to Panama City on the opposite end of the canal. However, the revised plan entails all sailings originating from Colon.

The updated itineraries have incorporated Cartagena Colombia from the initial plans, while also encompassing new destinations like the Netherlands' ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao).

This news might disappoint travelers, as the Panama Canal is a unique destination for cruising, and many travelers might have specifically booked the voyage to experience the transit.

In light of this change, the cruise line has presented 3 options to its guests:

  • Accept the new itinerary, with a refund of the price difference if the cruise cost decreases.
  • Opt for a different RCI cruise on any ship, without incurring the usual deposit change fees.
  • Receive a full refund to the original payment method, with any utilized FCC/Future Cruise Credit being reinstated.

For the first two choices, RCI will provide up to $200 per US passenger and $400 for international passengers to cover non-refundable travel expenses resulting from the alteration. Any additional expenses beyond this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

It's worth noting that no supplementary compensation has been extended to guests. Typically, major cruise shipping companies tend to offer additional gestures of goodwill in situations involving substantial itinerary changes like this.