Three Things to Do If Your Cruise is Cancelled

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Frequent travelers likely think nothing of a flight being cancelled. Sure, it’s inconvenient, but you’ll almost certainly be able to find another flight to your destination in a reasonable amount of time. But what if your cruise is cancelled? It’s rare, but cruises are sometimes cancelled. Recently, Royal Caribbean International cancelled 13 sailings of Empress of the Seas due to some technical issues identified during a major renovation of the ship. (Disclosure: the author of this article was one of those impacted by the Empress of the Seas cancellations.) So just how do you deal with a cancelled cruise?

First – Don’t Panic

Cruises aren’t like flights as thousands of them don’t depart each day. Not to mention, a cruise is likely a major vacation expense that could have been planned for a year or more. If you cruise is cancelled, research your options and see if another cruise is available that will work for you. You’re more likely to be successful in finding a workable alternative if you’re sailing from a big cruise port like Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Contact your cruise line or travel agent and ask them to assist you in finding a workable alternative. This is a case where an experienced travel agent can be a blessing as they may have insights into not only other alternatives with your original cruise line, but can also assist in finding something with another line.

cancelled cruise, booking a cruise, cruises, first time cruise tips

Second – File a Travel Insurance Claim for Expenses

Travel insurance is something you should consider buying for expensive cruises, not only for covering losses from an unplanned cancellation, but for unanticipated medical expenses while on your trip. Of course, this depends on your personal situation regarding medical coverage out of country, but it’s usually wise to at least consider travel insurance. Regarding cancelled cruises, if the cruise line doesn’t make you completely whole by reimbursing airline change fees and additional airfare, file a claim with your travel insurance company. If you’re flying to your embarkation port, and can’t switch to another cruise, you’ll be stuck with airplane tickets you can’t use. Travel insurance may reimburse you for this. Further, if your cruise is cancelled after you arrive at the embarkation port, you could be stuck with hotel expenses for a day or two as you make arrangements to get home. Again, travel insurance could help cover this. It’s worth noting that your credit card could help cover some of these expenses, so consider the trip protection offered by your credit card, if any, as you evaluation a travel insurance purchase.

Finally – Be Flexible and Imagine

It’s awful to face the cancellation of a much-anticipated cruise vacation. That said, if you’ve got the time off, consider other options if you can’t find a new cruise itinerary that works for you. In my own case, I was not able to find a desirable cruise itinerary to replace the cancelled Empress of the Seas cruise. Considering that the primary reason we booked the cruise was that it featured a longer than usual day in Key West, I decided to rent a car in Miami and drive down to Key West for a few days, then return to Miami for a few fun nights there. A lemons to lemonade solution for a long weekend getaway.

Have you ever faced a cancelled cruise? How did you deal with it?


  1. John says

    We got cancelled on that same Empress ship. It was a really good deal. We thought it would be fun to try a smaller ship that had been completely redone.

    My wife is a school teacher and we planned this for her spring break. She needed the cruise.

    RCL was very cavallier about this cancellation. It will be a while before spending our money there. Having worked in manufacturing all my life, I would have been fired to not have a new plant or production line startup on time. A ship is probably more complicated, but deadlines are deadlines.

    • Marshall Jackson says


      I can’t disagree about how the cancellation was handled. Personally, they shorted me $50 when they refunded the cruise, and I’ve yet to get it back after multiple calls from my travel agent, and their own staff agreeing that they owed me the additional money. I would love to know what really happened, but I understand they are completely gutting the galley area and reinstalling a brand new one, much of which has to be manufactured.

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