What Happens To Cruise Passengers When A Port Of Call Is Cancelled?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

When it comes to cruise travel, authorities have a responsibility to make sure that all who are traveling onboard remain safe from harm. Each cruise ship accident attorney at our firm can tell you that both passengers and crewmembers can get hurt while in port or at sea for several reasons. Regardless of the individual circumstances surrounding each case, it is important for cruise authorities to do everything possible to avoid any accident whatsoever, which sometimes includes cancelling calls on a particular port.

Due to the disputes in Argentina regarding the Falkland Islands, many cruise ships have cancelled calls on one or both of the regions. There have been several riots in the area, with many threatening the cruise industry. Although Argentina, especially the city of Ushuaia, is a popular cruise destination, tensions between the country and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands has recently heated up, leading several cruise lines to avoid the areas completely in order to prevent any accidents that might ensue.

One cruise company, Holland America, issued a statement regarding one of their vessels, the Veendam, which was scheduled to call on Argentina. The line cancelled the call in order to avoid any maritime accidents and injuries that could have resulted from the protests.

“Information had come to our attention that demonstrations may have occurred in Ushuaia that could have impacted the ability of Veendam to enter and leave the port in accordance with accepted maritime practices,” said Sally Andrews, a spokesperson for Holland America, in a TravelPulse report.

However, despite having cruise passengers’ best interest in mind when avoiding troubled waters, what happens to the passengers themselves after they expect (and pay) to visit a particular area and the itinerary is cancelled?

Sometimes, cruise lines compensate passengers for missing a port that is deemed unsafe, and often substitute the visit by calling on another port or adding an extra day at sea. There are also times in which companies issue refunds for shore excursions or offer credit for the particular fees incurred if the vessel would have called on the cancelled port – which is what Holland America did in this case.

“As a result of this change, guests onboard were refunded for any shore excursions booked in Ushuaia and the government taxes and fees for the canceled port,” explained Andrews.

However, not all cruise companies are willing to reimburse passengers for missed ports. If a particular port is cancelled, passengers have several options to choose from. If news regarding a cancelled port happens before the vessel is scheduled to set sail, passengers can call the cruise company directly to see if they can transfer the booking to a future sailing or get any onboard credit for their inconvenience.

Depending on the reasons for a port cancellation, a full or partial refund may also be issued. Passengers can check their cruise documents or travel insurance papers to determine if there are any specific limitations listed regarding reimbursement for cancelled ports. Passengers who take out cruise insurance have a better chance of being reimbursed, especially when a cruise company will not issue a complete refund.

There might also be a way for passengers to negotiate with the cruise line and see if they can’t come up with any compensation for the missed port. Many times, cruise companies are willing to offer upgrades or discounts for a future cruise vacation when passengers are unsatisfied with their experience.

In the event that a passenger believes they have been completely wronged by the cruise line and company authorities refuse to cooperate, the passenger may consult with a cruise attorney to see if they can file a case to recover a portion or the complete costs of the cruise vacation, and possibly extra damages for pain and suffering.

Photo Credit: victory-cruises.com