Would-be cruisers often worry about the worst-case scenarios. But what about the lesser annoyances and difficult situations that are more likely to happen?

Consumers are becoming more educated about the types of problems that can happen when you take a cruise, says Dwain Wall, senior vice president and manager at CruiseOne (, a company that specializes in cruise bookings.

About 60% of the people who book through the company's affiliated travel agents buy travel insurance when they purchase the cruise, up from 40% two years ago. "As people understand the risks of traveling, then they are much more willing to get it," Wall says.

Here are some common scenarios that can crop up during a cruise -- and what you can do to prevent them.

Cruise Fiasco #1: Your luggage goes missing during a transfer.

First Response:
Carnival Cruise Lines passengers should complete a lost luggage tracking form from the airline to begin the process of locating the missing item, says spokesman Vance Gulliksen. "Carnival then contacts the airlines and travel insurance carrier (if the guests purchased insurance) rather than have the guests call directly, which can be costly when traveling," Gulliksen says. Guests whose luggage did not arrive at the ship are provided with an amenity kit and a T-shirt, and can buy or rent clothing in the shipboard gift shop, he added.

Next Time: Buy travel insurance that contains baggage protection as part of its coverage, Gulliksen advises. Carnival also advises guests to retain their receipts for any purchases/expenses incurred onboard or ashore to present to the airline when they return, he says.

Cruise Fiasco #2: Your laptop is stolen out of your cabin.

First Response:
Contact the shipboard staff right away so an onboard investigation can get started, says Gulliksen of Carnival. The line will ask the passenger to complete a formal report, and -- with the guests' permission -- search the stateroom and examine lock link readings, which track every time a cabin is entered and what key card was used to access it, he says.

Next Time: Depending on your policy, travel insurance can cover theft of objects. But before you bring a laptop on any vacation, do a thorough backup on an external hard drive before you leave so all of your documents, photo, and data are in safe place.

If you need to access a document or your system on the road, you can save it in a cloud-based system such as Google Documents, or Windows Live, or purchase membership in a storage service such as Carbonite (, which costs about $55 annually.

Cruise Fiasco #3: Flight delays mean you miss the boat, or the ship returns late and you miss your flight home.

First Response: If you've booked through the cruise line or a travel agent and have what's known as a "Cruise Fare," the airline is required to get you to the next port of call, Wall says. Some travel insurance policies will also cover this; before you buy, check to make sure that it covers weather-related issues (many don't). Otherwise, you should call the airline to get yourself rebooked as soon as you suspect there might be a problem. Depending on what kind of ticket you purchased, you might have to pay a change fee.

Next Time: If you don't want to book through a travel agent or purchase a travel insurance policy, make sure you give yourself plenty of time before and after the cruise to accommodate flight problems. Many cruisers choose to fly in a day before the cruise departs and fly out the day after the ship docks. The extra time can reduce your stress level.

Cruise Fiasco #4: You get back to port, and the ship has left early.

First Response:
About 450 cruise passengers were stranded in San Juan last year, when port authorities in San Juan ordered Royal Caribbean and Carnival ships to leave the docks early in preparation of Hurricane Irene. The lines handled the situation in different ways: While Carnival paid for passengers to meet the ship at its next stop, regardless of what kind of airfare they bought, Royal Caribbean only provided airfare for those who had booked through them -- forcing the other stranded passengers to pay to get to the next stop (a move that received widespread criticism on the Internet). Luckily, this type of situation rarely happens, Wall says. "It's another reason to buy travel insurance," he says.

Next Time: Cruising the Caribbean during hurricane season, particularly August and September, comes with inherent risks. Even if you don't usually buy travel insurance, this is the one time that you should look into it. And if tropical storms loom on the horizon, it's probably not the right time to take an excursion to the opposite end of the island.

Cruise Fiasco #5: You're injured onboard.

First Response: "We have a full medical facility on board every ship in the case of an emergency," says Amanda Graham, spokeswoman for Norwegian Cruise Line. Most of the major cruise lines have similar medical services on board, which Wall discovered when errant fireworks smashed into his traveling companion's eye.

"I was amazed by the quality of the hospital services," Wall says. "Some of the larger ships even have the ability to do minor surgery on board." But if your injury is a life-threatening event, the cruise ship will arrange for a helicopter to get you to the nearest hospital (at your expense).

Next Time: Travel insurance that covers medical evacuation is perhaps the most important protection you can buy, particularly if you're traveling overseas or to remote areas. If you're a frequent traveler, look for a policy that has an annual fee.

Cruise Fiasco #6: Your ship drastically changes its itinerary.

First Response:
Of all the above scenarios, this is perhaps the most likely to occur, Wall says. "There are a lot of reasons why cruise lines make decisions," he says, including geopolitical and economic uncertainty. "It typically doesn't happen on short notice."

If a cruise line does change its itinerary, passengers are almost always given the option to either stay on the cruise or receive a credit for a future cruise, Wall says. And if they have certain travel insurance policies, they can cancel outright if the change isn't weather-related, he said.

Next Time: Keep up with current events, and you'll realize that some countries, such as Egypt or Tunisia in the Middle East or Mexico's Pacific Coast, have ongoing political or crime issues that have caused the cruise lines to make last-minute changes to planned itineraries. If your heart is set on visiting these places, you might want to consider a land-based vacation instead of a cruise.

Travel journalist Chris Gray Faust dishes up travel tips on her award-winning blog, Chris Around The World. She's also a member of the Value Luxury Network. Follow her travels in real time on