Cruise line falls short after trip canceled

  • Friday, February 1, 2013 2:33pm
  • Life

Question: We booked a cruise to Alaska on Norwegian Cruise Line last summer. NCL notified us that we would be sailing a day after our scheduled departure because they had to fix a propeller on the ship. This meant that the ship would not be stopping in Juneau for an originally scheduled excursion.

Then we had to cancel the cruise because of a hurricane that made it impossible to fly. All the airlines canceled their flights, and we had no way of reaching Seattle. We had purchased a travel insurance policy through the cruise line.

Our airline gave us a full refund on our tickets, but NCL said we were only entitled to a 75 percent insurance credit that could be used for a future cruise. That isn’t in line with what other cruise lines did.

For example, Princess offered a 75 percent credit for passengers who had insurance and an additional 25 percent credit that could be used for a future cruise.

NCL says I should have taken the 90 percent insurance plan. But the representative never offered a choice of insurance plans when I originally booked the cruise. If I had known about the 90 percent plan, I would have bought it. I would so appreciate anything you could do to help me with this situation.

Debra Weissman, Hartford, Conn.

Answer: If you booked your vacation directly through the cruise line, I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t offer a full credit.

But that’s not how it works; Cruise lines sell expensive, and often highly restrictive insurance policies as add-ons that give you a credit if you have to cancel a cruise, and only under certain circumstances.

I think special conditions applied to your cruise. First of all, NCL already inconvenienced you by changing the date of your sailing. And you were very understanding of that and didn’t ask for any consideration in return.

Second, you booked this cruise directly with NCL. You bought the only insurance it offered. For future reference, I would recommend shopping around instead of buying the first policy you’re offered. You could have found insurance that covered your entire cruise through another company.

And finally, this event had nothing to do with you — it was a natural disaster that affected a lot of NCL passengers. While it may be true that NCL only had to offer you a 75 percent credit, I think they could have done a little better.

Your case shows how careful you have to be when you’re shopping for cruise insurance, but it also shows how vigilantly cruise lines are protecting their revenues. If it had been my cruise, I would have asked for a full refund, since I booked my vacation directly.

I contacted NCL on your behalf. As a “special courtesy” it extended an additional 25 percent of your cruise fare as a credit.

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “Scammed.” Read more travel tips on his blog, www.elliott.org or email him at celliott@ngs.org.

© 2012 Christopher Elliott/ Tribune Media Services, Inc.

More in Life

The ‘Whimsical Woman’ shares what she learns on the trail

Jennifer Mabus came here from Nevada and Hawaii. She leads hikes and blogs about them.

Branch out: ‘Tasting Cider’ recipes call for hard apple cider

Top cider makers share how they like to make hush puppies, bread pudding and the pear-fect cocktail.

‘Tasting Cider’ a sweet resource for hard apple cider fans

Erin James, the editor-in-chief of Cidercraft magazine, wrote a book all about the fermented drink.

For Texas BBQ, look for the school bus at the reptile museum

This husband-and-wife team has been serving up brisket and more for a decade in Monroe.

You won’t be able to stop eating this colorful chicken salad

The slaw of bell pepper, cabbage and carrot holds up well overnight in the refrigerator.

Raising grandkids can feel like the second time around

The responsiblities of serving as a parent can compete with the joys of being a grandparent.

Commentary: Community Transit to keep up with regional growth

Snohomish County’s bus system prepares for more people — including more older residents.

Fur & Feathers with energetic Lincoln and big-attitude Chase

One dog is not a fan of cats or men. The other definitely prefers adults only.

Almost everyone has questions about Social Security

The most frequent guestion about retirement benefits: ‘When can I start receiving them?’

Most Read