Secrets at Sea: What Cruise Lines Don’t Want You to Know About Your Itinerary (Part 2)

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

cruise line itinerary secretsLast time, we discussed the secrets cruise lines don’t want you to know about your itinerary. Though passengers may think their itinerary is locked in, truth is, cruise lines can make changes any time they want and without any viable explanation, and sometimes, at the expense of the passenger. Passengers may lose tons of money because of an itinerary change, but that doesn’t mean the cruise line will take that fact into consideration and offer their guests compensation for the changes.

Each cruise lawyer at our firm knows just how difficult it can be for a passenger who has suffered an injury or for those who have lost loved ones due to tragic cruise ship accidents to obtain compensation from cruise lines. If cruise lines will fight tooth and nail to avoid responsibility for an accident caused by their own failure to maintain a safe shipboard environment, and which led to serious or even fatal injuries, you can imagine that the cruise lines will likely not even take a complaint about an itinerary change seriously.

Listed in the fine print of a cruise ticket contract, you’ll find a disclaimer on itinerary changes. The disclaimer will say something along the lines of the cruise line reserving the right to cancel, postpone or substitute a port at any minute and without prior notice. It will also say something to the effect that the cruise line will not be responsible for such itinerary changes and will not be held liable for any losses a passenger may suffer as a result of said itinerary change.

Two Lakeland families who had booked a Western Caribbean cruise onboard the Carnival Ecstasy unfortunately experienced the harsh reality of an itinerary change firsthand. The families, who both had small children, booked the trip specifically because they wanted to go to Mexico and had even planned out their shore excursions. But then the unexpected occurred. The port was cancelled because the ship went on a rescue mission to save 41 Cuban migrant. Sure, the families were glad the ship tried to help, but then the captain announced the stop at Cozumel was cancelled because of the rescue, and instead, the ship would visit the Bahamas.

Both families were upset because they booked the cruise with the intention of visiting Mexico, which was a much more expensive vacation than one to the Bahamas. They were also upset because they felt the Bahamas was less “kid friendly”. Everyone was disappointed about the change, but what was even more disappointing was the fact that because the stop in Cozumel was substituted for the Bahamas, no one was reimbursed.

Sadly, this happens all the time, and for far less important reasons than a rescue mission. But hey, there might be a silver lining after all. Some cruise lines will actually have the courtesy to refund port fees and taxes to passengers if a destination is cancelled. Still, that doesn’t compare to actually being able to visit the port you had your heart set on.

At the same time, while cruise lines may not be apt to offer any compensation for itinerary changes, there might still be a way to obtain compensation. It all depends on how significant the changes in the itinerary really are. For example, you can’t expect much if the change resulted in one cancelled or substituted port. However, if the change was significant enough that it altered a large portion of the cruise, then you may have a case.

A significant portion of your itinerary must be changed in order to have a valid case for compensation. If 2 ports in a 3 port itinerary are cancelled, or 3 out of 5, then that means the services you paid for and expected were not provided by the cruise line. If the cruise company cannot provide reasonable substitution for the change or refuses to compensate you for the disruption in your voyage, then you have a right to turn to a cruise lawyer for assistance in filing a claim. An experienced cruise lawyer who knows maritime regulations and how cruise line ticket contracts work may be able to recover significant compensation for the disrupted itinerary.

If you think these “secrets” are bad, just wait until we let a few more out of the bag.