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