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'Too Crowded': New Data Shows Cruises Are Being Overbooked at Alarming Rates Two major cruise lines have been overbooking cruises, according to a new report.

By Emily Rella

Getty Images
The Martini Bar inside the Grand Plaza onboard the Royal Caribbean Celebrity Beyond cruise ship at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

The cruise industry has made a staggering comeback after pandemic-era restrictions and distancing protocols were lifted.

But now, it appears that the industry might be too popular.

According to data obtained by the Wall Street Journal, two of the biggest cruise lines — Royal Caribbean Group (RCG) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCL) — reported over 100% occupancy rates during Q1 of 2023.

RCG saw average occupancy rates of 102.1% while NCL saw 101.5%, according to the report.

Naturally, this can lead to more disgruntled customers when things like dining, activities, and general elbow space on the ship become overcrowded.

Travel consultant Sonia Bhagwan posted a clip of an April cruise on Norwegian that showed guests walking up and down steps in a big crowd.

@dreamwithsonia ?It's true: mega cruise ships are so crowded! That is why NCL has a dedicated separate wing called the Haven! ✨This all-suite area has a private restaurant, pool, lounge, bar & elevators. PLUS- when you sail in the Haven you get your own personal 24/7 butler, get to board first and get first dibs on activities and excursions!✨ ??Curious about booking a Haven suite? DM me and we can chat!! . #travelagentsoftiktok #luxurycruising #norwegiancruise ♬ Miami - Will Smith

"We are on the Norwegian getaway right now, and I can tell you that it isn't very pleasant," one viewer commented. "They have a tiny pool for adults and kids. Too crowded."

"With 3000-4000 people on a ship, it can get very crowded in the common areas where people all go," Bhagwan wrote.

Last month, Royal Caribbean was called out for overselling its third cruise in five months, blaming it on an "unexpected inventory error."

"We're aware that this may cause disruption to your booking, so if your travel plans are flexible, you may be able to take advantage of our special offer," the company said in an email at the time.

WSJ explained that these overbookings happen when customers put more than two passengers (the expected number of passengers) per room.

Royal Caribbean did not immediately return Entrepreneur's request for comment.

However, the overbookings and mass crowds are still, at the end of the day, helping the cruise business.

As of Thursday afternoon, RCG was up over 52% year over year, and NCL was up 5% in the same time period.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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