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Become familiar with your passenger rights when cruising

This past week, I was fortunate enough to be traveling with my family and friends for Spring Break here in South Florida. During our week long cruise, our ship, which will remain anonymous, was unable to make its scheduled stop at one of the ports of calls. This port of call required that the ship tender the passengers to a private island using either life boats or private tender boats. Because of high winds (weather conditions), the captain and crew announced that the port of call was cancelled. This caused quite an uproar among some of the passengers, especially those who neglected to read their passenger contract. These passengers congregated at the customer service desk demanding answers. F bombs were flying and tensions were high.

I strongly recommend that you take the time to read your passenger contract which is provided to you by each individual cruise line at the time that your boarding passes are issued. The contract is full of information ranging from travel insurance, cancellation/delays and refunds, travel document requirements, liability requirements, cabin occupancy and so much more. It is truly a wealth of information at your fingertips.

The uncomfortable scene at the customer service desk on our ship during Spring Break could have easily been avoided if those passengers would have taken the time to read their passenger contracts. The contract clearly stated:

(A) The Cruise Ship's operation is subject to weather conditions, mechanical problems, vessel traffic, government intervention, duty to assist other vessels or persons in distress, availability of berth facilities, and other factors beyond the Company's control. (B) The Company does not guarantee that the Cruise Ship will call at every advertised port or follow any particular route or time schedule. The Master and the Company shall have an absolute right to cancel, change or substitute the advertised schedule, ports, itinerary or route, or substitute other ships, without notice. If a scheduled port of embarkation is substituted, the Company shall determine and arrange transportation to the substituted port at no expense to the Passenger. (C) No part of the Fare is refundable, except as specifically provided as follows: (i) Before the Voyage begins, the Company has the right to cancel the Voyage for any reason without notice. The Company shall refund the full amount of the Fare received, and the Company shall have no further liability whatsoever. (ii) If the scheduled Voyage embarkation is delayed more than six (6) hours, the Company may arrange at no additional expense to the Passenger, such hotel accommodations as the Company deems appropriate until the Cruise Ship is ready to board. In this event, The Company shall have no further liability or obligation to the Passenger. (iii) After the Voyage begins, the Master may terminate the Voyage at any nearest port or at the next port of the itinerary. In such cases, the Company's sole liability shall be to make a pro-rata refund of the Fare received for any unused cruise days. The pro-rata refund will be calculated based on the number of whole days of twenty-four (24) hours that the Voyage is reduced. No pro-rata refund will be made for part of a day. The Company shall provide substitute transportation of its choice to the point of disembarkation. (iv) If the scheduled duration of the Voyage is extended, the Company shall have no liability to the Passenger, and the Passenger shall not be liable to pay any extra Fare. (v) If the duration of the Voyage is reduced, then the Company's sole liability shall be to make a pro-rata refund based on the number of whole days the Voyage is shortened by more than twenty-four (24) hours.

Do yourself and your family a favor and read what is provided to you. There is no excuse for ignorance.

Fair winds and following seas to you all!

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