Companies such as Scenic, Avalon, and Viking have teamed up with travel insurance companies to create specialist cruise insurance which will now be sold as part of your holiday.
From 2017 any cruise booked with Scenic will include a River Cruise Guarantee which will cover you for any delays, diversions, or cancellations whilst cruising.
The move comes after a class action lawsuit against Scenic from a group of disgruntled passengers who were unable to cruise during the European floods in May and June 2013. Over 1,200 passengers on 13 cruises with Scenic and sister company Evergreen Tours were taken to low budget hotels and on lengthy bus tours as an alternative to their planned luxury cruise. They were not warned about the disruption, nor offered the chance to reschedule their cruise. At the time Scenic’s terms and conditions stipulated that they could change itineraries due to weather, passengers were not offered the chance to cancel and therefore could not claim on their travel insurance policies, leading to the legal complaint against the cruise company.
The Scenic River Cruise Guarantee doesn’t replace travel insurance, but is designed to cover you if your claim is only paid in part, or is declined by your travel insurance company. As well as the cover being included in the price of your holiday, the benefit of the River Cruise Guarantee is that you are covered for river specific incidents such as high water or flooding severely disrupting your itinerary.
One of the biggest differences in the insurance offered from 2017 as part of your cruise with Scenic is that they will refund you in cash rather than future cruising credit, should any major incidents occur. Events covered by the new policy include delays of over 24 hours; the ship being unable to sail due to mechanical fault, weather, or strikes; if you have to get to a shore excursion by bus (more than 3 hours each way); if you have to be swapped to a new ship and it takes more than 6 hours; or you have to be diverted to a port of call more than 100kms away from your scheduled port.
Similarly, Viking and Avalon both offer a cruise insurance policy through Trip Mate, which is an extra cost but does also cover flights booked with your cruise, baggage, medical, and cancellations both related and unrelated to cruising being disrupted by weather. Having travel insurance is always a good idea for international travel, and especially important for cruising as there are so many parts of your trip that need to slot together perfectly such as connecting flights and transfers in order for you to embark with the ship.
This emerging partnership between cruise companies and insurance providers is great news for passengers, as it will help make sure they are fully covered if the unexpected should happen.