Does the dreary winter weather have you thinking of booking a cruise? If so, you need to hear a caution from some Forest Park, Ohio, women, who couldn't get to their cruise due to bad weather, but still had to pay for the trip.
Queen Jones and Sheila Smoot had visions of sunny beaches when they each booked a $700 cruise on the Carnival Magic last fall.
Unfortunately, a hurricane had other plans.
"Hurricane Matthew came through, and it prevented us from flying down, our flights were canceled," Jones said.
They would not be able to book another flight for 2 days, after their ship departed.
No Flight, no Way to Get to Cruise
With their Allegiant Airlines flight to the port canceled (and Allegiant offering a full refund due to the hurricane) the women called about a Carnival refund.
But they were stunned what an agent told them.
"We would have to file a travel insurance claim to get our money back," Jones said.
But they couldn't, because they had not purchased Carnival's optional insurance, figuring if there was a hurricane they'd have no problem getting a refund.
"Never was it explained to me that I needed to get insurance due to weather. It was either if you got sick prior to the cruise you could file a claim, or something happened during the cruise, and we decided to risk that," Jones explained.
Unfortunately, they learned, even if there's a storm nearby or your flight to the cruise port is canceled, you are not entitled to a refund on most cruise lines if your ship sails.
We checked and found October cruise insurance policies as low as $40 on TravelInsurance.com, about half the price of Carnival's protection plan. It would cover up to $700 if you cannot make the cruise for almost any reason, including weather, injury, illness, or even job loss.
As Jones and Smoot, we contacted Carnival, which will now offer them a credit toward a future cruise.
They are still hoping for a refund, however, since they don't know when they can get away again. "To hold my money, after a hurricane canceled our fight, I think that's unfair," Jones said.
How to Protect Yourself
But there is a lesson here to all cruise travelers:
1. Always spend extra for trip cancelation insurance. Shop around at the sites listed above, if your travel agent or cruise line price seems too high.
2. Always allow an extra day for airline delays. If you have a 4 pm cruise departure, do not try to catch a morning flight to the port. Instead, fly the day before, book a room at an inexpensive hotel, and enjoy your evening before the cruise.
That way you don't waste your money.
“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).
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