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Compensation for sick cruise passengers

Dear Anita,

What compensation is owed to a passenger who gets sick on a cruise ship?

Thank You,

G. Ellis, Ithaca, New York

Dear G. Ellis

Given the current outbreak of the Norwalk Virus on cruise ships, this is certainly an important question to ask.

Most cruise lines offer some sort of compensation if a group of passengers becomes ill onboard. Passengers aboard Holland America's Amsterdam who became sick were given a full refund and a 25 percent credit on a future cruise. In addition, the cruise line paid for their travel expenses to return home. Also, sick passengers aboard the Disney Magic were offered compensation. In addition, passengers scheduled to depart on the Magic Saturday (11/30) will be offered a full refund or alternate vacation since the sailing was canceled.

While the aforementioned compensation is a gesture of good will from the cruise lines, it's no guarantee that you would receive the same compensation. As with any big-ticket item like a cruise, I highly recommend purchasing a travel insurance package which includes trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance. Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance typically covers deposits and nonrefundable payments (up to the stated benefit amount) if a trip is canceled or interrupted. This coverage can include pre-departure cancellation, travel delays, and interrupted trips.

Pricing for policies is typically based on the cost of your trip, how old you are, and how long you're going to be traveling. As a rough guideline, expect to pay between eight and 10 percent of the cost of your trip. Not all travel insurance companies offer this protection, so it is necessary to read the fine print carefully. Understanding the components in travel insurance is essential for making sure that you are not caught off-guard, thinking you have protection when you actually don't.

For more information about travel insurance, please read my column Why Travel Insurance.


I hope I've been helpful. Happy travels!

Anita Dunham-Potter

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