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EDITORIAL

Why Cruise Lines Should Change Their Cancellation Policies

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There are two dates every cruiser knows when it comes to their upcoming trips: Embarkation day, and final payment day. The first because, obviously, it’s what we all set our countdown clocks to as we eagerly anticipate it. The second, however, is less fun. Not only is it the day we finally have to cough up the money to pay for our trip, but it is also, generally speaking, the last chance to cancel without losing our deposit. Although even that’s not as bad as canceling closer to the actual sail date and having to eat the entire cost of the trip you can’t, for whatever unforeseen reason, go on! But a recent article about travel fees in USA Today got us thinking that perhaps it is time for the travel industry to rethink the way they handle cancellations.

Our Win/Win Solution!

Rather than automatically charging those who cancel at the last minute the full cost of the cruise, wouldn’t it make more sense for there to be a sliding scale in effect? Say, for example, after you cancelled the room, the cruise line was able to book another passenger into that stateroom. If they manage to do so at the same price you paid, there is no fee levied against you other than a reasonable administrative fee. And if they book someone into the room at a cheaper rate, you would be required to pay the difference between your fare and the one ultimately charged by the cruise line to the new passenger.

Sure, we’d love a scenario in which the cruise line actually paid passengers the difference if they managed to sell the room at a higher rate than the original booking, but we’d also like to eat everything we want on vacation and not have the calories count! We’d settle for those circumstances resulting in a wash, with the canceling cruiser walking away cost-free.

Your Best Bet

Of course, the best way to safeguard not only your vacation, but the costs surrounding it is to purchase travel insurance and be very aware of the cancellation circumstances which are and aren’t covered by it. While many see travel insurance as an “unnecessary” expense, those who have had cause to use it will tell you otherwise! But that’s a topic for another day… so let’s put this one out to the jury, meaning you!

What are your thoughts on the fees charged by a cruise line when you cancel? Is it time for their policies to be re-examined?

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