Several weeks ago, I asked "What would you do if your roommate had to cancel?" The overwhelming majority (something like 88%) said that rather than ask Rose Tours to fill the spot from the wait list, they would find a replacement roomie on their own and have the name on the reservation changed. I'm right there with the 88%. There's only one safe in the cabin, and, as we've seen, there are some crazy crazy blockheads out there. I wouldn't take the chance.
Now, with the second payment date exactly three weeks away, I've started to see more than one person in a room have to drop out for financial reasons. Still, people are relying on Twitter and message boards to find replacements rather than the wait list. Can you blame them? The cancellation policy is such that they have to pay a much steeper penalty to play by the rules.
Here's how it works: switch a name on the reservation and pay a $100 name change fee. In most cases, the person canceling asks the new booker to pay the fee, leaving the original cruiser out $0. With such a demand for rooms, they can easily find takers under these conditions. Name changes are an option as long as just one person from the original reservation remains in the room.
On the other hand, call Rose Tours to cancel your reservation (thus freeing a spot for the next person on the wait list) and pay between $225-600, depending on the cost of your room, as a penalty. After January 2, that will jump to 50% - which ranges from $450 to $1200 - of the room cost. Decide to cancel after April 9, and you lose every cent: $850-2300. (Let's just assume the girls in the Owner's Suite aren't going to cancel.)
I'm not saying Rose Tours shouldn't impose cancellation fees. Can you imagine if they didn't? That could open up a whole messy scalping situation. Buy a ticket even if you can't go, try to sell it for buttloads of money, walk away scot-free if it doesn't work out. (Let's hope people aren't trying to do that already.)
So what's the answer? Raise the name change fee? Those desperate to cruise will undoubtedly still pay it. Make the fees for canceling and changing equal? If it's $300 to cancel, maybe it should also be $300 to change a name. But then what do you do closer to sail date when the cancellation penalties are 50%+? And why should someone in a suite pay more for a name change than someone in an interior room?
I don't have an answer to this. Maybe one of you brilliant readers will.