ST. PETERSBURG, FL August 27, 2012 – As Tropical Storm Isaac barrels across the Caribbean, many cruises have adjusted itineraries in order to avoid the storm’s path. Alterations in departure times, routes, and ports of call have been made in order to avoid cancellations.
Unfortunately, this means that a traveler may end up taking a cruise that is completely different from what they purchased. When this happens, can travelers request refunds since the cruise is no longer what they paid for?
According to travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth, traveler recourse for such itinerary changes may be very small. If a ship must make route alterations due to weather, the cruise line is only required to refund or credit travelers for days the cruise is shortened by.
For example, Royal Caribbean’s Fort Lauderdale-based ship, Allure, has delayed Sunday’s scheduled departure until Tuesday. Because of this, Allure’s original seven day sailing will be shortened to five days. In addition, the ship’s planned stops in Jamaica and Haiti will be replaced by a call in Nassau. Royal Caribbean will credit travelers for the two days and provide a 10% cruise voucher; however, they will not compensate travelers for destination changes or the two-day delay, which may require rescheduled flights or hotel stays.
This is when travel insurance can assist. “Most travel insurance policies include benefits that reimburse for travel delay costs,” explains Chris Harvey, CEO of Squaremouth. In the previous example, insured travelers who flew to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday for a Sunday cruise departure could claim food, accommodations, and local transportation costs associated with the two-day wait for Allure’s rescheduled departure.
In another scenario, a weather-delayed flight could cause a traveler to miss a cruise departure. “The ‘missed connection’ benefit of many travel insurance policies provides reimbursement for these situations,” says Harvey. “This allows travelers to claim expenses incurred to help them catch up to a cruise if a common carrier delay causes a missed departure.”
If a cruise is cancelled due to inclement weather and a traveler has a policy that includes hurricane and weather benefits, the insured may be able to claim the cost of the trip under the policy’s trip cancellation or interruption benefits. Typically, cruise lines will offer vouchers for future cruises but will not provide the reimbursement that travel insurance does. Further, cruise lines will not reimburse for other travel expenses, such as airline tickets or cancelled accommodations.
For further information regarding cruise changes or cancellations, Squaremouth recommends that travelers contact tour operators directly. At this point, it is too late to purchase travel insurance for Isaac, but those who bought travel insurance before the storm was named should check policy details and contact their provider if they need to make a claim.
Squaremouth is America’s fastest growing travel insurance comparison site, helping customers instantly quote, compare and buy policies from every major provider. Squaremouth has an extensive network of partner sites worldwide. The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg, FL., with offices in Fort Wayne, IN. For more information, visit www.squaremouth.com.
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