She had planned to enjoy her long-awaited family vacation on a cruise for the coming Chinese New Year celebrations.
However, her plans went up in smoke just two weeks before the trip, when a representative from Royal Caribbean Cruises called to inform her that due to the cruise being overbooked, one of her four rooms had to be cancelled.
"Everything was planned months back and two weeks before the sailing date, they cancelled without any notice," wrote the disgruntled customer Low Jia Hui on Wednesday (Jan 19) via Facebook page Complaint Singapore Facebook.
In her post, Low described how she had made the booking on Nov 25 last year for the Jan 31, 2022 sail date.
But on Jan 7, she received an email from the company stating that the cruise was "oversold".
In the correspondence shown to Chinese news outlet 8World, Royal Caribbean indicated that the Covid-19 pandemic and the spread of Omicron cases had limited the ship's operational capacity, and Low's cruise was one of those affected.
In the email, Royal Caribbean gave customers two options — to rebook the cruise or to cancel it. The letter also indicated that if they chose to ignore the email, their reservation would remain unchanged.
Thinking that everything could still go on as planned, Low was taken aback when she received a phone call on Monday (Jan 17), informing her that her booking for one of the rooms had to be cancelled.
When asked if they had a choice in the cancellation, Low was told that "they are calling to inform and not calling to ask for our opinions".
She was also dissatisfied with the reason that the customer service representative provided for the cancellation.
"When asked how did they choose whom to cancel on, they informed that they are reserving the bookings to [sic] those who had booked earlier. Those who booked in Sept, Oct, Nov, and Dec will not be affected," Low wrote.
The woman noted that she had made the booking last November for four rooms for a total of 10 guests. But only one of the rooms intended for four passengers was cancelled.
Low added: "I believe that it might be due to them being able to have a better profit with a room of 2s instead of a room of 4s."
Within an hour of the call, Low received the cancellation notice through email.
She told 8World that as her family was looking forward to going on the cruise together, they decided to cancel the other three rooms as well.
In her post, Low stated that she was told her refund was being processed, but she has yet to receive the money till date.
Low noted that hers was not the only case of tickets being oversold after she did a search through Royal Caribbean's online reviews.
One Facebook reviewer posted a comment on Dec 24, saying that he was "bumped" from his booking for Jan 3 "that was made months ago".
'Nothing is confirmed'
As for Low, the entire experience has left a sour taste in her mouth. She warned: "Not till the very last minute when you have boarded the cruise, nothing is confirmed."
In a subsequent update to her post, Low stated that Royal Caribbean has been in touch with her and told her that they were "trying to reinstate my booking by placing me on the waitlist".
"Let's see how it goes as there's still 11 days before the cruise date."
In response to AsiaOne's queries, a spokesperson from Royal Caribbean Cruises said that the health and safety of all guests and crew remain a top priority as they work with authorities to adhere to prevailing measures.
The cruise operator acknowledged that "the new Covid-19 Omicron variant has put a damper on industry-wide plans to increase cruises' operating capacity, and as a result, some of our Chinese New Year sailings on Quantum of the Seas are overbooked".
The spokesperson added that Royal Caribbean has offered guests on overbooked sailings "attractive offers for later cruises" if they were to postpone their Chinese New Year sailings, which include receiving a full refund "plus a 100 per cent future cruise credit".
"We apologise for the inconvenience and understand that our guests are excited to cruise with us, and we hope to welcome them on board soon."