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What if you booked a $32,000 cruise before coronavirus hit and the cruise line refused to let you cancel it? That’s exactly what’s happening to one Hawaiian family.

When they contacted Norwegian out of COVID-19 fear and said they wanted out of the trip, the cruise line said no. Even worse? They aren’t the only ones.

The silver lining is, in the wake of this viral pandemic, many travel companies are modifying their cancellation policies. This is an effort to cope with the influx of claims from passengers concerned with the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Learn here what you should look for in the bylines of your current travel documents as well as the latest cancellation policy changes among major cruise lines in the US.

What to Look for in the Fine Print

When the Hawaiian family tried to cancel their Norwegian cruise, they found out the fine print strictly listed epidemics as one of many things that would not merit a refund. This isn’t the only cruise line to hold this policy. Many companies have some variation of it.

For those interested in taking advantage of rock-bottom cruise rates right now, we recommend before booking your sail dates, take these things into consideration:

  • Whether the cruise line offers open cancellation or only within a specific window
  • Cancellation policy specifically due to illness
  • Any other limitations explained within the agreement

If you’ve already booked, now’s the time to review (and then read on). The COVID-19 virus outbreak has many companies quickly adapting — good news for those who’ve already purchased tickets.

Current Cruise Line Policy Changes

American Cruise Line

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: Cancellations allowed up to 24 hours before sail dates before June 30, 2020

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: 100-percent future cruise credit only

Azamara Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: Yes, from March 15 – April 11, 2020 (end date may change)

CANCELLATIONS: Cancellations allowed for sail dates before July 31, 2020

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: 100-percent cruise credit; Certain circumstances call for full-cash refund.

Carnival Cruise Line

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: Yes, in North America until April 9, 2020 (end date may change)

CANCELLATIONS: Sail dates before April 9 only may cancel. Departures before March 31, 2020, may be rescheduled only. Cruises booked in April and May may be changed before the sail date or before the end of May, whichever comes first.  

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Sail dates before April 9 have a choice between a full refund and 100-percent future cruise credit. Those choosing credit will also receive an additional $300-$600 cabin credit.

Celebrity Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: Yes, March 15 – April 15, 2020

CANCELLATIONS: Cancellations allowed for sail dates before July 31, 2020

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Sail dates before April 15 qualify for 125-percent cruise credit; sail dates before July 31 qualify for 100-percent cruise credit; Certain circumstances qualify for full-cash refund.

Celestyal Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: Yes, from March 19 – April 30, 2020

CANCELLATIONS: Cruises through April are postponed. Cancellations allowed up to seven days ahead of sail dates before June 30, 2020.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Departures before April 30 can choose between a full refund or cruise credit worth 120 percent of the original fare. All others, 100-percent cruise credit.

Crystal Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: All river cruises between March 15 and April 11, 2020, are cancelled.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Affected passengers are eligible for a full refund plus reimbursement for port fees OR 125-percent cruise credit plus a refund of air and hotel charges booked through the cruise line.

Cunard Line

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: Cruises between March and July 31, 2020, can be cancelled up to 48-hours before departure.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Cruise credit only.

Disney Cruise Line

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: All voyages between March 14 and March 30 cancelled. All other bookings may be rescheduled for a future date within 12 months of the original departure date.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Cruise credit only*

*Details of the compensation plan for March bookings have not been released to the media yet. The company is contacting all affected passengers first.

Holland America

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: All voyages between March 14 and April 14, 2020, are cancelled. Passengers on later bookings will be directly contacted about refund options.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Full refund plus 100-percent cruise credit.

Lindblad Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: Those with bookings between April and December have until April 30 to cancel their cruises. The end date for cancellations may change.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: 100-percent cruise credit only

MSC Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: MSC is canceling cruises in select regions. Check their website for a complete listing of the affected cruises.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: All cruises cancelled by the company to receive 100-percent cruise credit plus an additional benefit which varies by booking. When you cancel personally, you may receive cruise credit.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian has changed their cancellation policy since February when the family noted above made their claim. All voyages worldwide have been suspended until April 11th.

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: All bookings through September 30, 2020, may cancel.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Those with bookings through April 11 can choose between a full refund or 125-percent cruise credit. Cancellations on bookings through September will receive 100-percent cruise credit only.

Oceania Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: Yes, through April 11, 2020

CANCELLATIONS: All current bookings through September 30, 2020, and any reservations made before April 30 may cancel up to 48 hours prior to departure.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Passengers with sail dates through April 11 will receive either a full refund or cruise credit of 120 percent. All others will receive 100-percent cruise credit only.

Princess Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: Princess Cruises has cancelled all sailings up to the beginning of May.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Full refund or future cruise credit. Those who choose credit will receive bonus credit (amount TBD).

Also note, departures in June may make final payments up to 60 days prior (instead of 90 days).

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: All cruises are cancelled between March 15 and April 15, 2020. Passengers may cancel sail dates prior to September 30.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Sail dates prior to April 15 are eligible for a full refund or 125-percent cruise credit. All others will receive 100-percent cruise credit only.

Royal Caribbean

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: All cruises between March 13 and April 13, 2020, are cancelled. Royal Caribbean has also put into place a 48-hour cancellation policy.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Sail dates prior to April 13 are eligible for a full refund or 125-percent cruise credit. Cancellations on cruise dates before July 31, 2020, may receive 100-percent cruise credit.

Seabourn Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: Yes, March 13 – April 13, 2020

CANCELLATIONS: All cruises during suspension are cancelled. Cancellations allowed for sail dates between April 13 and October 15, 2020.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Sail dates before April 13 qualify for 125-percent cruise credit; sail dates before October 15 qualify for 100-percent cruise credit; Cancellations must be made 30 days before the sail date.

Silversea Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: All sail dates before July 31, 2020, are eligible for cancellation.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Passengers with cruises cancelled by Silversea may choose a full refund or 125-percent cruise credit. Passengers personally canceling departures before July 31 may receive cruise credit only.

Viking Line

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: All Viking cruises between March and April are cancelled.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Affected passengers have the option of a full refund or 125-percent cruise credit.

Windstar Cruises

OPERATIONS SUSPENDED: No

CANCELLATIONS: All Windstar cruises between March 12 and April 30, 2020, are cancelled. All other bookings through December 2021 may be cancelled.

PENALTIES: None

REFUND/CREDIT: Cancellations for departures in March and April will receive either a full refund or 125-percent cruise credit. All others may receive cruise credit only.

Regularly Check Your Cruise Line’s Cancellation Policies for Now

Regularly Check Your Cruise Line’s Cancellation Policies for Now

We have three last pieces of advice to you, as you continue adjusting your plans in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • It is up to you as the passenger to check a cruise line’s cancellation policy. In events like this, cancellation policies change quickly.
  • Read the fine print of both the cruise line and any supplementary insurance
  • If you feel that you are being treated unfairly by a cruise line by canceling or rescheduling your bookings for the safety and well-being of your family, reach out to an experienced cruise claims attorney.

Good luck, stay safe, and happy sailing!

 

About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.

 

 

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