Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Superstorm Sandy Sunk Their Cruise

The video below will surely tug at your heart. It’s meant to and the unfortunate family of Joanne Keating will without a doubt enjoy the cruise they’ve been given in a very generous move by Royal Caribbean as a result of their complaint to ABC News’ “7 On Your Side.”

You see, their plans for a cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line were sunk when “Superstorm” Hurricane Sandy washed away Keating’s home less than a week before the family was to set sail for the Caribbean last November. Even though their local ABC television station appears to have a letter from Norwegian explaining the cruise line’s policy regarding last-minute cancellations and their inability to “make any exceptions,” the reporting is pretty one-sided. The reporters in the video story attempt to shame Norwegian for not refunding Keating’s cruise fare or allowing the family to reschedule the cruise at a later date. The reporter says she ran into a “stone wall of silence” by Norwegian, despite displaying a letter from the line that clearly displays the Norwegian letterhead. The reporter also mentions that the situation would have been different if the family had purchased trip insurance to cover such a contingency, which she says would have only cost them $250. But they didn’t buy insurance and that’s the catch to their tale of woe.

Cruise lines and numerous third-party insurers sell coverage for just such emergencies and savvy travelers don’t leave home without it. Many travel sellers even ask their clients to sign a waiver if insurance is offered to them and they refuse it. As my colleague Alan Wilson of Cruise New Daily advises, without that coverage, travelers are “self-insuring” their trips. If it sounds uncaring that Norwegian wouldn’t give the family a refund or reschedule their $4,000 cruise, think of this… you wouldn’t go to Ford Motor Company and ask for your money back or for a replacement vehicle if you totaled your Ford automobile and didn’t have insurance to cover the loss.

I know I may sound like Cruella DeVil, but I question whether ABC News did the right thing by pitting Royal Caribbean against Norwegian Cruise Line, even though the family is delighted with the outcome. Taking the automobile example above a step further, when Ford refused a request for a replacement vehicle, would the television station have then gone to General Motors to plead the owner’s case? I don’t think so, but they had no qualms about pitting cruise lines against one another.

It isn’t up to me to be an arbiter in this situation, but I find it distasteful. In the end it sort of makes those who do the responsible thing and purchase travel insurance look like chumps. Watch the video, think of the automobile example I offered above, and make up your own mind. If you click on that link above to “7 On Your Side,” you will see comments that do not support the family’s refusal to purchase insurance.

No comments: