Travel Insurance: Passenger rights if cruise is canceled

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Swine flu continues to impact people's lives, this time, as it relates to trip cancellation insurance. Should passengers get a refund if the cruise line changes the itinerary, to someplace you don't want to go? It happened to a husband and wife couple.

You get what you pay for, when it comes to trip cancellation insurance. When there's an outbreak, like the swine flu,

What's written, in the contract, determines who gets the money - the passenger or the cruise line.

Before the outbreak, the couple paid $1,800, for back-to-back cruises on Carnival's "Splendor".

"We were going to hang out in two weeks, going to Mexico and having fun with our friends," they said.

Swine flu fears prompted Carnival, and other cruise lines, to cancel stops at Mexican ports. Their May trip did not get canceled but, Carnival changed the port. They would cruise up towards Canada, instead of down to the Caribbean and Mexico. The couple didn't want to go to Canada. They requested a refund.

"Give us back the money we paid Carnival and then we can decide what to do with that," they said.

Carnival said no, and stated its policy - if Carnival knows in advance, that it cannot follow the original schedule; passengers get the option to cancel, without penalty.

"When it comes to a pandemic or epidemic such as the swine flu, it is not covered, a lot of times it is not covered with your typical travel insurance," said Windy Van Curen, AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The passengers have no recourse.

"The cruise line is doing everything to accommodate the people in terms of not giving a full refund, in which they don't have to," Van Curen.

Know what you're getting; before you buy. There are policies that cover cancellations for any reason.

"If you have a hang nail and don't feel like going, you can cancel, but again, talk to an expert and have them go through the fine line details," said Van Curen.

Carnival has resumed port calls in Mexico. The couple will try their luck in small claims court. Meantime, Triple A says, you have a right to ask for their money back, but, travelers should be well-advised before, taking the trip.

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