On 5/29/2017 my friend contacted her travel agent to book a cruise with Royal Caribbean. We received an email showing the initial deposits paid to book a cruise from Tampa, FL to Cuba and Mexico leaving 5/23/18. In this email it references having a Birth Certificate and Marriage License available if you do not have a passport. It also references the drink package being refunded if the trip is cancelled. The drink package was $540.00.
In September 2017 I contacted Royal Caribbean and paid for the full amount of the cruise. On the receipt issued it states, “Guests should check with their travel agent and/or government authority to determine the travel documents needed for each destination, including the port of embarkation.” I confirmed multiple times with Royal Caribbean representatives at 800-327-6700 that a passport card would be acceptable as this was a closed-loop cruise to the Caribbean and Mexico.
In March 2018 my fiancée and I went to the local passport agency and ordered passport cards. We paid $175.00 to obtain the cards and confirmed with the passport officials at that time that a passport card was acceptable documentation for a closed-loop cruise to Cuba.
On May 15, 2018 I called Royal Caribbean and spoke to Kate. I spent over an hour on the phone with her as I had been receiving conflicting information from other friends that have travelled on RC cruises stating a passport book would be required to board. While working with Kate she referenced several documents stating a passport card is acceptable documentation to travel but when I requested copies of those documents I was told they were for internal use only. I asked to speak to a supervisor who could provide written documentation as I was now concerned we would show up at the port in Tampa on 5/23 and not be allowed to board. I was transferred to a supervisor, September Swank, ph#800-327-6700 x27079. I was again advised that RC would be
required to accept any documentation that was accepted by the US Government. When
I requested something in writing from September she stated she would need to contact
her supervisor and would call me back on 5/16. At this time, I reminded September that
the longer we waiting the more it would cost for my fiancée and I to request rushed
passport books, if required, and I would expect RC to refund those charges. I was
continuously reassured that would not be necessary as the passport cards would be
My fiancée and I had reached out to the US Passport Agency, the US State Department,
UC Customs and the US Embassy in Cuba. All of this documentation also confirms travel to Cuba on a closed-loop cruise can be completed with a passport card and a passport book is not required.
I did not receive a return call from September. I contacted RU again and spoke to
another “supervisor.” I was informed that September had made a notation – she had
contacted the port supervisor and was advised we would not be allowed to board
without a passport book. This supervisor also mentioned that no notations had been
made about my previous phone calls prior to the 5/15 call with Kate and September. I
again asked that my concerns be escalated to another supervisor as we were expected
to board in less than 1 week. I was advised I would receive a call back but never did.
My fiancée and I both submitted rush requests through rushmypassport.com for
$600.00 each. My fiancée received his passport book on 5/22. Mine did not arrive until
5/24, therefore, we were unable to board. Had RC advised us correctly in the beginning
that the passport book would be required by the cruise line we would have ordered
them in March. As advised, the US Government would have accepted our passport
cards but it is a restriction from RC to only accept the book. Because this is clearly a RC
rule it should have been simple to communicate their requirements to us.
Product or Service Mentioned: Royal Caribbean Cruise.
Reason of review: Return, Exchange or Cancellation Policy.
Monetary Loss: $2400.
Preferred solution: Full refund.