Cruise Celebrity Cruises onboard with nonrefundable-deposit fares By Tom Stieghorst / November 12, 2017 Share 1 -- Celebrity Cruises will become the latest brand to adopt a fare with a nonrefundable deposit, underscoring efforts by cruise lines to stop booking practices that they don't like. Starting Nov. 29, Celebrity will offer the nonrefundable option with lower fares. As is the case with other cruise lines, passengers will still be able to book trips with refundable deposits, but at a higher fare.The move comes six months after a similar decision by Royal Caribbean International, which, like Celebrity, is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.On a recent cruise onboard the Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean president Michael Bayley told travel agents that efforts to load ships early in the booking cycle with a base of confirmed business have been stymied by refundable deposits."Some of our more loyal customers were not too in love with it in the beginning," Bayley said of the nonrefundable idea. "But to be honest, in some cases the system was being gamed a lot by some of our customers who would take out multiple, multiple, multiple bookings, and then we would have a challenge with the base-loading."Bayley said base-loading is the pricing strategy that enables Royal Caribbean to reward early bookings with lower prices and have the confidence to raise prices to premium levels closer to the ship's departure.Bayley said nonrefundable deposits help agents by reducing the amount of repricing and rebooking they do."You work hard to get these bookings," Bayley said. "And then a week or some weeks later, all of a sudden that booking's going away. You've got to get back into the discussion. You've got to rebook or reprice, and that's a lot of work. We think nonrefundable is a little nudge to get customers to commit."The fare has been a success since Royal launched it in June, Bayley said. "So, we think it's the right way forward."One agent said she approved of Royal's new policy. "Your clients aren't so wishy-washy, they're more committed," said Susan Pretkus-Combs, owner of Combs, Catalina & Associates, a Dream Vacations outlet in Orange County, Calif.Carnival Cruise Line has had a nonrefundable feature since at least 2009 with its Early Saver fare, said Adolfo Perez, vice president of sales and trade marketing. "We started Early Saver years ago. They have been working for us," Perez said.Early Saver fares are up to 25% lower, but canceling before final payment triggers a $50 change fee. Perez said there hasn't been any increase in their use.