After graduating from college in 2022 and working for a year, I used my bonus and some of my savings to book a nine-day Mediterranean cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line for my partner and I. Our $7,657 cruise package included airfare from Atlanta to Barcelona, Spain, via Newark, and Norwegian's own BookSafe Travel Protection Plan, which included travel insurance and also allowed me to “cancel for any reason.” ” with a 75 percent credit. The weather delayed our first flight, we missed the connection, and United Airlines couldn't get us to Barcelona in time to board. I called Norwegian and the agents suggested I buy last minute tickets on another airline, but I don't have that kind of money. And even if I did, there were no direct flights to subsequent ports and I wasn't willing to risk missing another connecting flight. So we spent the night at Newark Airport, paid for a return flight to Atlanta the next morning, and canceled the cruise and remaining air legs. I received $1,184 immediately from Norwegian, and then an additional $232 (for my return flight) from travel insurance when I filed a trip delay claim, but a trip cancellation claim for the cruise was flatly denied. I feel like I should at least get 75 percent credit; Otherwise, what was the protection plan for? Can you help? ivy, atlanta
He's not the first traveler to write Tripped Up after missing a cruise due to flight delays on the same itinerary the cruise company booked for them.
He also tried his best to resolve this issue on his own, first by filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the Georgia Attorney General, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (where Norwegian is headquartered), but everything was in vain. leverage. Even when I offered to help, you didn't stop, and before I could do anything, you urged Norwegian to give you a credit of just over 75 percent, or $5,420, toward a future cruise “as a gesture of good.” willpower”. will.” Impressive.
I would have moved on to help another Tripped Up reader, but the Norwegian's use of the phrase to avoid responsibility “as a gesture of goodwill” bothered me. I wanted to know why BookSafe didn't cover it and what other cruise customers can do to protect themselves.
The BookSafe plan actually has two main parts: a travel insurance policy, administered by Aon Affinity and underwritten by Nationwide, and a “cancel for any reason credit feature,” provided by Norwegian itself.
I read the fine print and it turns out (and Aon confirms) that the travel insurance portion does not provide reimbursement for a cruise if problems with the airline cause a traveler to miss it. But on the Cancel for Any Reason component, it seems to me that Norwegian should have given you that credit without a problem.
I tried to confirm this with Norwegian, but the company refused to answer most of my questions and instead responded with vague statements via email.
“Although Norwegian Cruise Line offers flight arrangements as part of its cruise offering,” the first email said, “we have no control over airline operations and are not responsible for any flight modifications or cancellations.”
“It is due to the very nature of unexpected situations like this, that we strongly recommend all guests purchase travel insurance,” the statement continued.
But again, he bought the travel protection plan and the insurance portion didn't cover it. Regarding the Cancel for any reason credit component, Norwegian sent another email, which you forwarded, that said: “We are unable to issue credits for the penalties applied to your reservation, as this does not qualify under Cancel for any reason before the exit. “
When you initially complained to the Better Business Bureau, Norwegian doubled down and gave you the same wording.
I can't understand why. For the credit to be activated, BookSafe clearly states that you only need to cancel “before the ship departs,” not before your flight departs. He sent me a cancellation document, dated the day he flew back to Atlanta, which was also the day the cruise sailed. That would seem to qualify, unless Norwegian determines that the cancellation took place minutes or hours after the ship departed. That would be pretty disingenuous of them, considering you had been on the phone with them since the night before, asking them about your options.
When I asked Norwegian about the original denial, I received a statement saying that “you had incorrectly submitted a trip delay claim instead of a trip cancellation claim” and that the credit was “later added” to your account.
To me, that's somewhere between confusing and false. What really happened was that she filed a “travel delay” claim with Aon that turned out to only cover her return flight to Atlanta. (That's what trip delay coverage does, cover unexpected expenses.) Then he filed a “trip cancellation” claim, also with Aon, but that was never going to work: The trip cancellation coverage expired once he got on the plane and then some. In the case of coverage, “trip interruption” comes into play. But requesting that would have done you no good: Norwegian's trip interruption policy doesn't cover airline delays.
So after some blood, sweat and tears, you ended up with Norwegian's 75 percent credit.
It's confusing, no doubt. You fell into a common trap regarding trip cancellation, delay and interruption policies: assuming this coverage will pay for anything that really isn't your fault. But claims adjusters tend to be extremely literal in interpreting the fine print list of “perils” or “perils” your policy covers.
“If it's there, you're good, and if it's not there, you're no good,” said Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com, a site that aggregates policies from different companies and provides convenient direct links to specific state policies.
I was curious and decided to compare BookSafe's fine print to the default travel protection plans of cruise operators like Carnival, Disney, MSC, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Viking. I used the New York versions for consistency and looked specifically at how well they covered problems caused by delays and cancellations from “common carriers”: airlines, trains, and the like.
All plans have “travel delay,” “trip cancellation,” and “trip interruption” coverage administered by insurance companies. Most include a separate “cancel for any reason” credit portion that the cruise lines themselves administer. (Only MSC does not).
I focused on trip interruption, which typically provides a maximum benefit of 125 or 150 percent of the trip value. That means that, in theory, a traveler could receive a refund for the full cost of the cruise, plus any additional expenses incurred due to the disruption.
Three of the seven plans I analyzed (Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Princess) leave airline issues out of trip interruption benefits entirely, making it impossible, in a situation like yours, to claim the value of a cruise. lost in its entirety. “That's shocking,” said Jason Schreier, CEO of Aegis General Insurance's travel division.
“Ninety-five percent of the travel insurance plans you'll find have issues with common carriers on both trip cancellation and trip interruption benefits,” he said.
The other four cover delays to varying degrees. The carnival only mentions meteorological issues. MSC and Viking cover mechanical issues, weather delays and strikes – pretty standard language, but not all-encompassing. Only Disney's plan allows trip interruption to occur for “any common carrier delay,” as long as it causes you to miss at least half of the trip.
Aegis' Schreier told me that cruise lines themselves often eliminate common pitfalls from custom plans to reduce liability. When I asked Norwegian about this, the company recommended Aon Affinity. But Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice, wrote that Aon “works with many different cruise lines” and customizes plans “to meet the needs of the cruise line.”
Finally, there's that cancel-for-any-reason-partial-cruise-credit element. As we learned, Norwegian's plan, as well as those of Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess and Disney, do include flight problems by allowing travelers to cancel until the ship leaves. Only Viking's is different: it ends once you board your first flight. (Again, MSC does not offer this benefit at all.)
I would caution against choosing a cruise line based solely on whether its protection plan covers common carrier delays; I would simply be asking for something different to go wrong. But Ivy, as you use your credit, I would consider spending time purchasing a separate insurance plan, using comparison sites like TravelInsurance.com or Squaremouth, or going directly to companies like Aegis, which Mr. Schreier points out. It has a specific package for cruises and a “Stress Less” feature that could have paid on the spot for a flight from another airline to get to Barcelona on time.
Whatever you do, I hope you have a great cruise and that you can, at least temporarily, forgive Norwegian for what happened, as a gesture of goodwill.
If you need advice on the best travel plan gone wrong, email TrippedUp@nytimes.com.
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