What can you do if your cruise gets cancelled?

Imagine a scenario where you have booked your cruise, and maybe even flights and accommodation amounting to the holiday of a lifetime. Then in a move straight from your worst nightmares, the cruise line goes and cancels your cruise.

Cruises can get cancelled for any number of reasons, sometimes completely outside the control of the line itself. It might be due to a particularly bad weather pattern which has delayed the previous voyage or caused some damage to the ship. It could be due to a mechanical problem onboard which urgently needs to be fixed. You most certainly will be disappointed, maybe even angry and upset, however the cruise line cancelling your cruise can have an enormous up-side if you play your cards right.

Firstly, your cruise isn’t cancelled until you hear it officially from your travel agent or cruise line. Social media such as Facebook, cruise forums and other online message board are not the most reliable sources of accurate information, especially when it’s posted by someone who isn’t even on the same cruise as you. Keep in mind it may take some time for the cruise line to contact you as they will be attempting to contact thousands of people who quite literally are (or were) in the same boat as you.

Being proactive in this type of situation can prove helpful. If you have already been contacted by the cruise line advising you of the cancellation, mention you are travelling with friends and family and the cruise line will generally ensure they are also contacted as soon as possible. This will assist in rebooking options if you are all travelling together as a group as it will be more difficult to accommodate groups on the new sailings.

Cruise lines can cancel voyages, so make sure your holiday plans aren't totally ruined.
Make sure you are adequately compensated if your cruise line keeps you at home.

When advised by the cruise line or agent of the cancellation, it is advisable to get in writing any offers of compensation they may make as you never know when that may be handy!

Once the cruise line has presented you with options, take some time to think about what you want to do, because as soon as you lock in your new option, the normal cancellation terms and conditions apply once again and any penalties for making further changes fall on you. Additionally if none of the options offered suit, ask for what you want – the worst the cruise line can say is no!

One key thing to consider in regards to compensation – if you think travel insurance covers you for this scenario, you are most likely wrong! Read the fine print on your policy. Generally, travel insurance only covers you for “Transport provider cancellations caused by strikes” so you will be at the mercy of the cruise line for ensuring that any out of pocket expenses, such as flights or accommodation are covered by them.

Additionally, ensure you are adequately compensated by the cruise line for your travel insurance policy if this can’t be changed to cover you for your revised holiday. Why should you pay for something you can no longer use?

All these guiding points also apply to guests who accept what the industry calls “Move Over” Offers. This is where the cruise line oversells the voyage you are booked on and doesn’t have enough cabins to accommodate the number of guests. As this places the cruise line in a very awkward situation, cruise lines offer generous compensation in order to incentivise enough passengers to accept and shift to an alternative voyage.

Generally, a standard “Move Over” offer encompasses a full refund of the amount you’ve paid for your cabin to begin with, a second cruise, often free, with a cabin upgrade, onboard credit to the value of the fare paid on this free cruise and reimbursement for any flights or accommodation you may need to change. However this is all dependant on how desperate the cruise line is, so asking them for something more can also help you out in this situation as they may do anything to get you off that ship!

The Cancelled sign is the last thing you want to see on your cruise itinerary.
It’s the last thing you want to see on your cruise itinerary page.

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