The news about the Carnival Dream (and the fact that this was the second Carnival ship to have troubles in the past 60 days) sparked an entertaining debate here at Travel Insurance Services HQ. Linda (our customer service manager), Gwen (associate blog editor) and myself all began debating the future of cruise ships in the United States. More importantly, we discussed how this would change cruise preparation for the end user, and how this could change the planning and expected experience for those going on a cruise ship.
Gwen and Linda made a convincing argument that this season does put a bad taste in peoples’ mouths, and illustrates all that can go wrong as a result of cruise ship malfunction. In the unlikely event that something were to go bad, you’ve now wasted vacation time that you won’t be able to get back, have a horrible experience from what was supposed to be a great memory and a voucher for a discounted cruise that you may never use. Furthermore, with the same cruise line having publicized issues twice in a short amount of time you may reconsider whether or not traveling with that carrier is the best use of time and money.
I understand where they are coming from. But from my position, this is an isolated rash of highly publicized situations that have resulted in passenger discomfort. But these discomforts (aside from the lack of indoor plumbing) are not unlike any other situation you may come up against while traveling on vacation. Trip delay, cancellation and baggage loss are all risks that one assumes when they get in the car, step on a train or go through airport security – and can be reasonably planned for while traveling.
In addition, looking back at 2012, mechanical failure was an uncommon experience. Of all cruise ship incidents in 2012 (as reported by CruiseFever.net), only four cruises originating from the United States suffered a mechanical failure. And only one of those ships was forced to return to port after the incident – the rest were able to carry on. The bigger issues that posed a threat to travelers were: legal issues, human error and norovirus.
As I wrote in my last blog post about cruises, mechanical failure is a part of traveling. Remember the 787 Dreamliner debacle? With a new plan for battery management, the 787 could be back in the air soon. The troubles that the Dreamliner had won’t stop me from booking my ticket. The only major difference between the airplane and a cruise liner is that I won’t be on the airplane for 7 days.
So should you reconsider your cruise vacation as a result of these incidents? Or should you move forward and let things happen as they will? Before considering a cruise vacation, there are steps you can take to make sure you are best prepared for the seas:
1. Learn more about the ship
Before you book the cruise, learn more about the ship and what others have to say about it. Sites like CruiseFever and Cruise Critic have detailed reviews about each ship and offer forums where you can ask questions from people who have vacationed on those ships. By learning the ups and downs from other people (as opposed to the cruise operator website), you can get a better glimpse of what to expect while on your vacation. Additionally, you’ll get a better idea of what to pack, what the customs are on the boat and how much to budget.
2. Have an emergency plan
If you decide after your research, that cruising is still an option for you, then go prepared with an emergency plan. If something happens, do you know who to contact? Do you know how to get important documents, such as your passport and credit cards replaced? Keep a list of important contacts and numbers with you wherever you go – this way, when you travel, you’ll always be able to contact those who can assist you in the event of an emergency.
3. Don’t forget to pack travel insurance
So what happens if you have a trip delay because of a mechanical failure? Or you come down with something on the ship and need to see the doctor? Travel insurance, in this situation, can become a huge benefit for you when you go on the boat. With a travel insurance plan, everything from rebooking and rearrangement costs to medical evacuation and doctors fees can be covered. If you’re going on a cruise, packing travel insurance is a key item to ensuring your safety.
Where do you stand on this issue? Are you going to more carefully plan your cruise, and even reconsider going on the boat? Or do you plan on cruising the high seas anyways? I’d love to hear your side of this issue. Let me know where you stand in the comments below!