I have been on 20 cruises to date and would say that around 5 have had an itinerary change. I’ve had itinerary changes both prior to the cruise and during the cruise itself for a variety of reasons. During this post, we will discuss by this happens, and how you may be able to get compensation.
Do You Get Compensation For Missed Cruise Ports?
No. The cruise lines don’t have to give you anything (in most circumstances). It is written into almost all cruise contracts that the cruise line reserves the right to change the itinerary at any time.
There are however some situations in which you can receive compensation. The reason behind the cancellation is often a factor along with other things like when it was cancelled and how much was cancelled.
Below is a section of Princess Cruises passenger contract:
After departure, Princess does not guarantee that the ship will call at every port on the itinerary or follow every part of the advertised route or schedule or that every part of the Package will be provided. Princess reserves the absolute right to decide whether or not to omit any such port(s) and/or to call at additional ports and/or to change the advertised route, schedule or Package.
Does your travel insurance provide compensation if your cruise itinerary changes?
In some cases yes! If you have bought an insurance policy which specifically includes ‘missed port’ cover then you may be entitled to payments if your ports are missed. It is important to always make sure you buy travel insurance which includes cruise cover. I usually do this to make sure that I am covered in the event that I am injured onboard but the missed port cover is a bonus too!
You do not have to include missed port cover when purchasing cruise cover.
Claiming for compensation from travel insurance
In order to claim compensation from travel insurance, you will need to have it in writing from the cruise line that the port was cancelled and the reason of the cancellation will usually be required. Some travel insurance policies will only pay out in certain circumstances.
Why would a cruise itinerary change?
There are a number of reasons why a cruise itinerary could change. These can either happen before a cruise or during. Cruise itinerary changes could be made with as little as a few hours notice.
Why would a cruise itinerary change prior to a cruise?
One reason why your cruise itinerary could change is because of political unrest.
I cruised with Cunard in 2016 and we were expecting several stops in Turkey including Istanbul. These were all replaced with ports on various Greek islands. Cruise lines do have to put the safety of passengers first.
If a port is going to be cancelled/substituted due to political unrest you will usually be told months in advance, apart from if it is due to an unpredictable event like a terror attack.
Why would a cruise itinerary change during a cruise?
The main cause of last-minute itinerary changes is bad weather. This has happened to me on a number of occasions, and although somewhat annoying I do understand the motives behind the change. Cruise lines may change the itinerary because:
- They need to avoid a storm
- They need to tender into port (smaller tender boats cannot operate in bad weather)
- The rough seas would make for a less than ideal onboard experience
Bad weather may mean that a ship has to change a port (either for a substitute port or a sea day). It is also possible to have a cruise cut short due to bad weather.
In exceptional circumstances, your itinerary can change completely. It happened to me!
Recently on board an NCL cruise, I booked my next cruise with a travel agent that they had onboard. Their representatives told me that the cruise would be going to the Bahamas and NCL’s private island. When I got home and looked on the NCL website I quickly realised that this itinerary didn’t exist on that date and ship that I had booked. It turned out the cruise I was going on was one around Mexico, Honduras and Belize!
This is a very rare occurrence and I would have been entitled to a refund if I wanted one (but I didn’t).
Are cruise lines able to change the itinerary without a reason?
The last reason why your itinerary may change is quite simply because the cruise line decided that they wanted to. There doesn’t have to be any reason for the switch!
I’ve heard rumours of cruise lines picking different ports which have cheaper taxes or having to change port because there were too many cruise ships in the original port.
What you see is not always what you get with cruise itineraries but please don’t let this put you off cruising. Think of it as a magical mystery tour!
What happens if my cruise is cancelled completely?
If your cruise is cancelled completely (usually due to bad weather) you will be issued a full refund. You may also be given ‘credit’ to spend on your next cruise with the cruise line. This really is a last resort and happens very rarely.
Can I get compensation for missed excursions on a cruise?
If you’ve booked your excursion with the cruise line this will be automatically refunded to you. Cruise lines do not have to refund you anything for other missed excursions.
If you’ve booked a tour in advance through an independent agent you may lose your money. This would be up to the tour operator that you’ve booked with. I wouldn’t usually book tours like this in advance, I usually book tours when I get to land (just in case!)