On July 9th, 2020 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued a statement advising British holidaymakers to avoid travelling on cruise ships.
The statement came shortly after the foreign travel ban was lifted for 59 destinations and is a massive blow to the severely-hit cruise industry.
Cruises have become increasingly popular in the last few years, but with no end date given by the FCO, there are fears that British tourists may be discouraged from booking future cruise holidays or that cruise providers could financially collapse altogether.
So, what does this advice mean for those with an upcoming cruise holiday?
While the Foreign Office has said that this restriction will be under constant review, the FCO has advised customers with future cruise travel plans to get in contact with their tour operator or travel agent to discuss their options.
Fortunately, most Brits with cruise holidays should be entitled to a cash refund under the Package Regulations Act. However, it’s worth checking your rights with the provider you booked through and remembering that refunds are taking a little longer to process during the current crisis.
Can I claim through my travel insurance?
Those with cancelled cruise holidays will be able to claim through their travel insurance policy, provided they have exhausted all other avenues in the first instance, and have the relevant cruise cover in their policy.
Holidaymakers must first try to get their money back through the tour operator or travel agent they booked their cruise with. This is because these providers have been unable to provide the holiday that the customer paid for.
If, for whatever reason, you are unable to get your money back through these providers, you will need to submit a claim through your credit card company under ‘Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act’. If you booked with a debit card you may also be able to claim costs back through your bank under a voluntary scheme called ‘Chargeback’.
The reason travel insurers will ask that you try and recover costs via these avenues before claiming is because there are laws in place which protect customers and their money in these circumstances.
Of course, once you have tried to get your money back through the above providers then you would be able to submit a claim to your travel insurance provider for consideration.
What if I am offered to re-booked my cruise for a later date?
Whether customers decide to accept an offer to re-book their cruise for a later date is completely down to the individual and their circumstances.
Cruise operators will only allow trips to go ahead when it is safe to do so, and in line with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice.
If you choose to move your cruise to a later date, then you should contact your travel insurer to see if they are able to change your travel insurance dates to suit your new holiday. However, it’s worth knowing that if the new holiday is more than 12 months away, you might have to pay a little extra to amend your policy.
It’s also worth being aware that travel insurance policies are designed to put you back in the same financial position as you were before a loss. Therefore, if you are able to move your holiday, or attain vouchers to book your cruise at a later date, you most likely won’t be able to claim any costs back through your travel insurer.
If you do not wish to be reimbursed by vouchers, you will need to go directly to your tour operator or travel agent and ask for this in monetary form.
We would always recommend that if you have any concerns to contact your tour operator in the first instance. Also, to check that you have the relevant ‘cruise cover’ or ‘cruise extension’ in your travel insurance policy before submitting a claim.