Read the cruise fine print

Jo Hall has some advice on what you should do to ensure trouble-free sailing.

Read the cruise fine print

A NSW couple has decided to commence a class action suit against travel company Scenic Tours after extreme rain in Europe caused their cruise to be replaced by a coach tour, which the couple says was not up to the standard they expected.

Having paid just over $26,000 for the trip of a lifetime, David Moore and Janette Howell expected a relaxing river cruise through scenic French and German countryside. Instead, they were transported by coach, missing many of the sightseeing opportunities they were promised.

Heavy rain in 2013 resulted in the cancellation or rescheduling of several cruises, with affected companies responding in different ways. While having your travel rescheduled or cancelled is incredibly disappointing, this tale serves as a timely reminder that things don’t always go as planned. So, if you have a cruise booked and are concerned about where you stand if something goes wrong, we’ve asked our cruise expert Jo Hall what you need to know and do.

Unfortunately, while the majority of cruises take place without any major events or issues, things can 'go wrong,' including bad weather, unscheduled itinerary changes due to bad weather or safety reasons, illness outbreaks (such as novo virus), and ship mechanical problems. And unlike a land-based holiday, where you might be able to leave early, on a ship this isn't always possible.

If you have concerns before booking a cruise, the best advice is to carefully read the terms and conditions of the cruise agreement for the company you’re considering cruising with. Or if you're booking through a travel agency, ask them for this information. Most companies will have booking and travel conditions available online or in a PDF document you can request, which will cover everything, including what happens if something goes wrong.

When it comes to bad weather, however, almost all companies will include a clause in these terms and conditions that allows them to make changes to an itinerary, and most will not provide compensation unless bound by local consumer laws. Whether or not you can claim any compensation will ultimately depend on this factor, and how significant the changes were to your trip. What's legal isn't always fair.

The other thing you can do is purchase quality travel insurance that may compensate for some mishaps, such as if you have to cancel your cruise close to the departure date due to illness or a death in the family, if an airline delay causes you to miss the start of your cruise, or to cover costs if you get sick or have an accident on board. However, these policies won't cover weather-related or ship mechanical problems –you’ll also need to read a policy's terms and conditions carefully to make sure you are adequately covered.

Ultimately, when mishaps strike on a cruise it's often just a case of bad luck. So, you can choose to be philosophical in bad situations you can't control – as a wise ship's captain once said: "You can row with the oars you are given".

To find out more about cruising or to find the cruise of your dreams within your budget, visit


    To make a comment, please register or login
    11th Apr 2015
    We cruised with scenic cruises in 2013 and had to coach from one ship to the other missing one stop on the way. We were more than impressed with the care taken by them to ensure our safety. Sue God, he's to blame. It's unfortunate it spoilt your holiday but good luck with your claim.
    Denis & Narelle
    11th Apr 2015
    Sorry for David and Janette that their river cruise was ruined by the weather, but to sue Scenic Tours is a bit over the top. Weather is something no tour company can foresee or can change. We were more lucky - we toured in Europe, with Scenic, just after the bad weather referred to in this article occurred and heard about the re-arrangements that had to be made, as a matter of urgency, to accommodate those affected by the disruption to the planned itinerary. Obviously it is not an easy job to completely re-arrange tour itineraries, making new arrangements for transport, accommodation and sights to visit. Months of planning thrown out the window and then a necessary reliance by the tour company on other local companies to be able to provide substitute arrangements.

    We have so far completed 12 tours/river cruises with Scenic Tours with another river cruise booked for later this year. We have also toured in overseas countries with a number of other reputable travel companies but have found Scenic Tours to be the best operators in the world. Their professionalism, standards of accommodation and transport, staffing, tour inclusions and choices of activities to undertake whilst on tour have always been of the highest quality. Cannot recommend them enough. Don't let 1 incident or court action deter you from undertaking travel with this company.
    Pass the Ductape
    12th Apr 2015
    Doesn't worry us. We're pensioners ( you know - the ones Joe Hockey is trying to worry to death by grabbing back every single dollar he can from them) and we can't afford to go on cruises anyway.

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