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Cruise vacations: preparing for the worst case scenarios at sea

5:59 PM, Jul 1, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Your bags are packed and you're ready for that long-awaited cruise, but what happens when your dream vacation becomes a nightmare?

Food, entertainment, and amazing destinations. There are plenty of reasons why cruise vacations are so popular, but anyone watching the news this year knows cruises are anything but disaster proof.

"Cruising is a wonderful vacation these days and things do tend to happen from time to time," said Suzanne Fisher, Co-owner Cruise Center World Travel.

One of the most recent incidents occurred in February when the Carnival Triumph's power outage at sea stranded over 3,000 passengers for five days. But even though cruise ships face malfunctions, millions still choose to cruise.

Suzanne Fisher books thousands of cruises every year through her local travel agency. She has seen ships get re-routed, entire trips cancelled and itinerary changes due to severe weather.

"All of these extreme circumstances that don't come up all the time," said Fisher.

Sometimes, cruisers even get left behind. 

Carnival left 300 passengers in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Irene was approaching in 2011, but arranged hotels and flights to the next port for all of them. 

Not all cruises will accommodate passengers so having your passport when you're on shore is important. If you miss your own flight to the ship's port of origin, it gets more complicated.

"Well trip insurance is really valuable it's just like any other insurance you don't know how valuable it is until you need it simply for missing the ship," said Fisher.

But be sure to read your insurance plan closely. You may only be covered if you miss an original departure because of a flight day of more than three hours due to severe weather. 

Most cruise lines such as Carnival do not refund unused tickets, lost tickets, interruptions or partially used tickets. Rod Sullivan, professor of law at Florida Coastal, said make sure you read the fine print.

"You know there's really not much a lawyer can do for you. The terms and conditions in the ticket clearly spell out that if you miss the initial departure of the vessel, there's no responsibility to pay you back for your flight and you'll just have to rely solely on your trip insurance," said Sullivan.

First Coast News

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