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Guide to changing or canceling a Carnival cruise


What do you do when you, unfortunately, have to cancel your upcoming Carnival cruise? As much as we want our plans to work out, life can get the better of us. Thankfully, the process for changing or canceling a Carnival cruise is straightforward. 

In general, there is no penalty to cancel if done before final payment, which is 76 days before sailing for cruises 5 nights or less and 91 days prior to sailing for cruises 6 nights or more. Some special promotions have more restrictive terms, so you must understand what each allows before booking. 

For example, the monies paid for a Pack & Go fare are non-refundable after booking, whereas the deposit on Super Saver fares is non-refundable after booking. 


If you book an Early Saver fare, the deposit is non-refundable after the booking. However, if you cancel before the final payment due date, you will receive a non-refundable and non-transferable future cruise credit in the amount of the deposit, minus a $50 service fee.

Read more: Carnival Cruise Line Cancellation Policy

After the final payment date has passed, regular fares are within Carnival's cancelation penalty period and are subject to increase as the departure date approaches 


From the final payment date to 56 days before sailing, the penalty is the standard deposit amount. After that, the penalty increases to 50% of the total fare or the standard deposit, whichever is greater, between 55 and 30 days before sailing. 

From 29 to 15 days prior to sailing, the penalty to cancel a Carnival cruise is 75% of the total fare or the standard deposit, whichever is greater. And, finally, from 14 days before sailing to the day of your cruise, the penalty amounts to 100% of the cruise fare. 

If you don't show up for your Carnival cruise or have to disembark from the cruise early once it's begun, they won't issue a refund.

Read more: Woman lost her Carnival cruise because she posted her reservation number on social media


Carnival's website defines the total fare as "Cruise Charges, Transfer Services, Pre/Post Cruise Vacation Packages and Fly2Fun Air." 

Taxes and fees, as well as prepaid gratuities, will be refunded regardless of when you cancel your Carnival cruise. Goods or services voluntarily or incidentally purchased, including alcohol, soft drinks, shore excursions, spa services, room service, and specialty dining aren't "Cruise Charges," either. 

Note that some third-party operators may have their own cancelation policies, so it's important to review their terms and conditions before booking. 

Carnival's Fly2Fun air is only refundable if you booked the flexible option

American Airlines

Flexible Fly2Fun fares are refundable up to 60 days before sailing. However, applicable penalties apply if you make any changes within 60 days of your cruise. 

Typically, flexible fares are more costly than restrictive ones, which you must consider when booking. Do you want added peace of mind knowing you can cancel or change your flight, especially if your cruise is one year away? Or would you rather risk losing the money spent on airfare and book the cheaper rate? 

There are pros and cons to booking airfare directly through your cruise line, with a major pro being that it offers you one-stop shopping. Instead of scouring the internet for good deals, the cruise line will take care of your flight arrangements, allowing you more time to focus on other items on your pre-cruise agenda. 


On the other hand, Carnival won't let you pay in credit card points or airline miles, so you'll have to shell out the extra cost to cover the flights. For some, this could cut into the add-on budget, leaving you with less money to spend on shore excursions and drink packages. 

Read more: Pros and cons: should I book my flight through my cruise line?

What about name changes?


According to Carnival's website, "An original guest must remain on the booking, otherwise, this is considered a full stateroom cancellation and applicable cancellation penalties will be assessed to the original guests; new guests will be subject to prevailing cruise and air rates."

However, there aren't any fees for name changes for bookings that don't include airfare and aren't booked under a restricted/non-refundable free, including but not limited to Early Saver, Pack & Go, and Super Saver.

If name changes are not allowed on your booking, Carnival will impose a non-refundable deposit (or full fare) penalty on the original guest, and an additional deposit will be required for the new passenger. 


Carnival states the following about cruise bookings that include Carnival's Fly2Fun air:

  • "If you have booked Fly2Fun Flexible Air and it is outside of the penalty period, there is no fee for a name change; the new guest will need to purchase a new air ticket at prevailing rates.
  • If you have booked Fly2Fun Flexible Air and it is within [the] penalty period, the original guest is subject to applicable cancellation penalties (plus a $200 service fee if within 60 days prior to sailing); the new guest will need to purchase a new air ticket at prevailing rates.
  • If you have booked Fly2Fun Restricted Air, at the time of booking, the air is non-refundable; the new guest will need to purchase a new air ticket at prevailing rates."

To check and see if your booking is subject to a cancelation penalty, call (800) 764-7419


Though Carnival's website says that you can check and see any applicable penalties online, finding the "Is there a penalty for cancelling this booking?" link is difficult. 

Instead of wasting time poking around on the website, reach out to Carnival's Customer Service team at (800) 764-7419. They will advise you on all available options regarding your sailing and help you make any changes. It's best to contact the cruise line as soon as you know you're unable to sail. If you wait and pass into a different penalty period, you will be subject to higher fees. 

Note that if you booked with a travel agent, you will have to contact them directly to discuss cancelation and change fees, including name changes. Similarly, if you booked through a third party like Expedia or, you'll have to speak to them regarding canceling your cruise. 

Benefits of purchasing travel insurance

Travel Insurance

With Carnival's Cruise With Confidence program, guests who cancel their sailing because of covered reasons—including severe weather or illnesses—will get 100% of their fare refunded in cash. 

You can cancel for reasons not listed in the plan, too; however, you'll only get 75% of the cruise's value back in the form of a Future Cruise Credit Certificate. Still, that's better than losing hundreds or thousands of dollars! 

Things can go astray even on vacation, from lost baggage to medical emergencies, so it's wise to purchase travel insurance to help provide financial protection and peace of mind. Carnival's insurance will provide Trip Interruption Protection, Baggage Protection, Medical Protection, and Emergency Evacuation. 


The latter will reimburse you up to $30,000 for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation, while you will get up to $1,500 if your luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged. 

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