The airport chaos in Europe has many cruisers worried about lost luggage, cancelled and delayed flights.
With airlines slashing thousands of routes over the next few months, what happens if I miss my cruise because of a cancelled or delayed flight?
Expert cruise agent and owner of iTravel Penrith Belle Goldie has had this happen to clients just recently. Why these particular cruisers missed their flight, rather than having it cancelled, they found themselves in the same dilemma.
“I had some clients who missed their flight from Brisbane to Sydney, that’s why we never recommend flying in the same day the cruise leaves, things can always happen with the weather, airports, aircrafts and flights are being cancelled a lot at the moment.
“These particular clients were flying from Brisbane to Sydney and we tried to get them on another flight but it just wasn’t going to happen.”
The cruisers were supposed to get on Pacific Explorer’s first voyage back out of Sydney but sadly missed the historic sailing.
If you’ve never been in this situation but always dreaded it, there are a lot of unanswered questions. Can you get your cruise refunded? Can you get on at a future port? Will you insurance help you?
Here’s all you need to know about what happens next if something goes wrong and you miss your cruise.
Is a refund or future credit possible?
Ms Goldie says that her clients who missed Pacific Explorer ended up having a happy ending, but there’s no guarantee others will have the same fate.
“Lucky they booked with an agent, I called P&O directly, they were fantastic to deal with and they’ve given them a credit for a future sailing.
“However, it’s a case-by-case basis. It’s probably not going to be a refund, because at the end of the day, them missing their flight or the cruise is not the cruise lines fault, even if it’s not the clients fault either.
“There is flexibility there with the cruise lines, they have been really good with changes and cancellations.”
Will insurance cover you?
Essentially, missing your cruise is a grey area in the world of travel insurance and Ms Goldie advises reading your policy carefully and checking with the insurer beforehand.
“It’s a grey area. I’ve had it covered in the past for clients and then another instance which was very similar, they said no.
“It’s really up to the discretion of the insurer as to what policy wording that particular claim would fall under, whether it be amendment or cancellation or something else.
“It’s a grey area with the policy wordings, there’s always provision to claim for that particular incident or that particular policy wording, but it’s always going to come down to their claim process.”
Can you get to the next port?
Ms Goldie says generally cruise lines will try and help you, but there’s no guarantee.
“Generally the cruise lines are really good, we advise them and let them know that the passengers have missed the check-in and try and get them to the next port.
“Again, that’s at the cruise lines discretion whether they allow that as well, especially during COVID it’s a bit more strict. I wouldn’t know if it would be possible in the post-COVID travel world.”
Another issue comes down to the viability of actually being able to fly where the ships going.
“You have to factor in whether there’s even an airport at the next port, it’s very common for cruises to go to these unique secluded places that don’t have airports.
“So you have to factor in, can I fly there, how much is it going to cost me, how many days am I going to lose from the cruise and if I can’t get to the next port, what is the next port I can get to after that?”
You’ve missed your cruise, what’s next?
Ms Goldie says if you have an agent to call your agent straight away or if you’ve booked direct, to call the emergency numbers for the lines.
“On all the documentation the cruise lines always have their after hours or emergency contact details, you’d call your agent first or if you booked direct you’d be calling the cruise line directly on that emergency contact number to advise them that you’re probably going to miss your cruise.
“The further in advance the better. Then they can give you the process of what happens next.”
Ms Goldie says the emergency centres are generally reliable.
“The cruise lines in Australia have really good emergency contact centres, they know all the protocols in that place. It happens often enough that they have policies and procedures in place”
How can you avoid this happening in the first place?
Flying in the night before is always the way to go says Ms Goldie.
“Book a night down at the port or close to the port where you’re travelling to, whether it’s domestic or international, flying the night before is less stressful for everyone involved.”
Also critical at the moment to avoid trouble at the airport is making sure you have all the right documents and papers for post-COVID travel.
“I would say, make sure you have all your documentation, check in with the restrictions and make sure you have all the documentation required so you’re not fumbling at airports. Otherwise you might miss check-in because you don’t have the right documentation.
“ A lot of the delays here in Sydney at the moment are because people don’t have the right documentation or aren’t sure what they need to have.”