It happened all over America. People who had booked a cruise went to the airport, only to learn that their flight to the embarkation city had been cancelled--and no alternative flight was listed. A week or so ago, in some of the most bitter winter weather conditions on record, air transportation to the cities where cruises depart had simply disappeared.
What to do? There was no problem in recovering the money you had paid to the airline--that carrier obviously refunded the fare for a cancelled flight. But what about the several thousand dollars you had earlier paid for a cruise--a cruise which had later departed from the port city without you and gone sailing happily into the tropics?
Some cruise passengers had anticipated that air service might be disrupted by winter blizzards, and had therefore prudently booked a flight on the day before the day when the cruise had been scheduled to leave. Smart, right? But suppose--as actually happened--all fights had been cancelled for two days in a row, so severe were the adverse weather conditions.
This was the predicament faced by a gentleman who had phoned in his sad story to the radio broadcast I conduct every week. Did you book your flight directly from the cruise line, I asked (if he had, the cruise line would have refunded the entire cost of the cruise)? No, he responded, He had booked his air tickets directly from an airline, thus removing the cruise line as a guarantor of the successful operation of air flights.
Did you buy an insurance policy, I then asked, especially one that allowed you to cancel the trip for any reason whatever? No, he responded, that type of insurance costs from $450 to $650 per person for a few thousands of dollars of protection per person (which is the price asked by most travel insurance companies for protection in that amount for any reason whatever).
Well, did your policy cover an inability to board the cruise because of weather conditions, I then asked? I've never read it, he responded. When he did, he discovered his insurance policy contained no such specific provision.
You're out of luck, I reluctantly stated. And from that unfortunate gentleman's misfortune, several lessons emerge.
First, for any sort of cruise in whatever season, it's wise to fly to the departure port on the day before the cruise is scheduled to leave. In a wide range of instances, such care will insure that you do not miss the cruise's departure because of a delay in your air transportation.
Second, you will often be wise to book your airfare directly from the cruise line, even though that fare will be somewhat higher than what you yourself could have arranged directly with the airline. If the cruse line is providing the air transportation, and the flight is delayed, then it will be responsible if you miss the cruise's departure because of an air transportation problem, and it will either fly you to the next port on the ship's itinerary or refund to you the cost of the cruise.
And if you're unwilling to buy your airfare directly from the cruise line, then at least consider taking out a comprehensive insurance policy. Go to InsureMyTrip.com or to SquareMouth.com, and either book a policy that covers cancellation of the cruise for any reason whatever or at least covers you if you miss the cruise because of weather conditions. Read the small print and buy the policy that will protect you.
To the gentleman who missed his cruise, and now will not be able to recoup a penny of its cost, our sympathy, and our thanks for bringing this recurring situation to our attention.
Photo credit: sgvisuals