Stranded on a Cruise Ship

Published by November 9, 2010

If a cruise ship breaks down at sea, what travel insurance coverage is available? This question is being asked more frequently after the recent news of a Carnival ship experiencing mechanical failure en route to Mexico.  The following is from an MSNBC article about an engine room fire causing the ship to be stranded.

The 3,299 passengers and 1,167 crew members were not hurt and the fire was put out, but the 952-foot ship had no air conditioning, hot water or telephone service. Auxiliary power allowed toilets and cold running water to be restored Monday night.

“The ship has been operating on auxiliary generators and engineers have been unable to restore additional power to the vessel,” Carnival Cruise Lines said in a news release.

The Mexican Riviera-bound ship, which was drifting about 55 miles off the northern Baja California coast, was in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard, which deployed aircraft and ships along with the U.S. Navy and Mexican Navy.

Coast Guard Lt. Khris Johns, who was on a cutter at the scene, told NBC’s TODAY show that it will take two tugboats about 24 hours to bring the ship to port.

Travel insurance can provide relief when travel plans are affected by mechanical failure of a common carrier, such as a cruise ship.  Look closely at a policy’s language for trip cancellation and trip interruption to make sure mechanical breakdown is covered, not all policies cover this.  Also, the benefits payable through a travel insurance claim for a situation like this would be secondary to any compensation provided by the cruise company.  MSNBC addressed compensation from Carnival later in the article.

The Splendor’s seven-day voyage, which began in Long Beach, was canceled and guests will get refunds, reimbursement for transportation costs and a free future cruise of equal value, the cruise line said.

In this instance, the cruise company provided full refund and restitution for additional expenses.  If there were additional expenses for food, lodging or transportation, a travel delay claim could be filed.  Always refer to the certificate of insurance for details.

Source: Nearly 4,500 stranded on cruise ship off Mexico