Disney Cruises Europe

June 24, 2017
Barcelona, Spain Highlights
Would you gamble with your vacation investment? Some passengers like to play the odds, plunking down thousands on cruises and foregoing the extra few hundred dollars in insurance. After all, healthy, predictably employed individuals rarely have to cancel cruises, right?

But even with positive odds, not everyone wins. Peruse Cruise Critic's forums, and you'll find plenty of sad stories about an unexpected cancer diagnosis, a parent suddenly hospitalized or a cruise partner who drops out of the trip. These unanticipated situations send uninsured, would-be passengers scurrying to their cruise cancellation policies to see if they can salvage their vacation funds.

What they find are contracts that are rarely forgiving, even in the most heartstring-rending circumstances, to travelers who did not buy vacation insurance. To make matters worse, the policies are complex and inconsistent, even among cruise lines that are owned by the same parent company. Read the fine print, and all sorts of variables pop out. For example, many lines, including most in the Carnival family of brands (Princess, Carnival, Cunard and Holland America), have policies that lump the actual cruise in with every other aspect of the trip that has been pre-booked - shore excursions, airfare, and pre- and post-hotel stays, for instance. (Penalties charged on these extras are often more costly because the actual providers may also ding you.)

Some lines, such as Holland America and Norwegian, treat name changes the same as cancellations. Then there's the ubiquitous "cancellation policy exception, " which warns that a specially priced promotion is totally nonrefundable as soon as it's paid. And don't think the cancellation fees will be waived if the line resells the cabin: Penalties are charged regardless.

Even careful reading doesn't promise full understanding. For example, most lines, including Carnival and Royal Caribbean, start the countdown on the day prior to sailing. In other words, if the policy reads 120 days before sailing, the cancellation has to be made 121 days before the ship leaves the dock.

Even for those who are comfortable with legal jargon, the playing field often changes, and rules frequently morph. Just because a cruise line was benevolent in doling out a voucher a few years ago does not mean the same procedure is followed today. Cruise lines came under serious scrutiny for harsh cancellation policies immediately following 9/11, but did an about face the following year, easing up on penalties and launching generous insurance options. The pendulum, however, has since swung back. In the past few years, most of the major lines have instituted the strictest cancellation policies in cruise history - charging higher penalties farther out and adding new penalty levels (like Norwegian tacking on a 75 percent penalty level between the 50 percent window and the 100 percent window).

Our advice: Find out your line's cancellation policy early on, and make an informed decision about whether you should buy travel insurance or not. To help you out, Cruise Critic has taken a close look at the cancellation policies for 16 of the world's top cruise lines.

Azamara Club Cruises

Overview: Azamara has straightforward, middle-of-the-road penalties that apply to all its sailings. Cancellations may be made via telephone. It has very liberal cancellation policies for shore excursions, which are refunded if cancelled 48 hours in advance of tour. Hotel costs are refunded if cancelled at least 31 days prior to departure.

For All Cruises
91 days or longer prior to sailing: $25
90-60 days: 20 percent of cruise fare
59-30 days: 50 percent
29-15 days: 75 percent
14 days or less: 100 percent

Carnival

Overview: Carnival's cancellation policies apply to all associated cruise bookings, including transfers and airfare. "Pack & Go" cruises, which are typically offered close to sailing dates, are subject to a 100 percent penalty from the time of booking. Early Saver fares, which apply to cruises booked far in advance, are also subject to a nonrefundable deposit, regardless of cancellation date. Cruises to nowhere (roundtrip sailings with no port calls) follow the penalty schedule of two- to five-night cruises, but also incur a fee of 25 percent of the cruise fare when cancelled 61 or more days out. Per-person deposits range from to 0, depending on cruise length. Also, when the required deposit is greater than the required penalty, the entire deposit is forfeited. Cancellations may be made via telephone.

For Europe, Panama Canal and Transpacific Cruises of Seven Nights or Longer
90-56 days prior to sailing: deposit
55-30 days: 50 percent of the cruise fare
29-15 days: 75 percent
14 days or less: 100 percent

For All Other Cruises of Six Nights or Longer
75-56 days: deposit
55-30 days: 50 percent
29-15 days: 75 percent
14 days or less: 100 percent

For Cruises of Two to Five Nights
60-46 days: deposit
45-30 days: 50 percent
29-15 days: 75 percent
14 days or less: 100 percent

Celebrity Cruises

Overview: Per-person deposits are $100 for up to five nights, $250 for six to eight nights and $450 for nine nights or longer. Cruise cancellation requests may be made via telephone. Celebrity has separate cancellation policies for other pre-booked items, such as lodging and shore excursions.

For Holiday and Galapagos Cruises of Six Nights or Longer
89-64 days prior to sailing: deposit
63-43 days: 50 percent of the cruise fare
42-22 days: 75 percent
21 days or less: 100 percent

For Holiday and Galapagos Cruises of Five Nights or Less
89-64 days: deposit
63-43 days: 50 percent
42-15 days: 75 percent
14 days or less: 100 percent

For All Other Cruises of Six Nights or Longer
74-57 days: deposit
56-29 days: 50 percent
28-15 days: 75 percent
14 days or less: 100 percent

For All Other Cruises of Five Nights or Less
59-43 days: deposit
42-29 days: 50 percent
28-15 days: 75 percent
14 days or less: 100 percent

Costa

Overview: Unlike most cruise lines, Costa bases its penalties on itinerary alone. Cancellation requests must be made in writing. Airfare cancellations incur a $50 penalty during the first penalty phase. After that, regular cancellation fees apply to airfare and hotels booked in conjunction with the cruise. Shore excursions can be cancelled without penalty up to five days out. Per-person deposits are $250 for Caribbean cruises and $400 for non-Caribbean itineraries.

For World or Grand Cruises
90 days or longer prior to sailing: 15 percent of the cruise fare
89-57 days: 25 percent
56-45 days: 50 percent
44-30 days: 75 percent
29 days or less: 100 percent

For Caribbean Cruises
75-57 days: deposit
56-30 days: 50 percent
29-15 days: 75 percent
14 days or less: 100 percent

For All Other Cruises
89-57 days: deposit
56-30 days: 50 percent
29-15 days: 75 percent
14 days or less: 100 percent

Crystal Cruises

Overview: Like all luxury lines, Crystal has tougher cancellation penalties for its World Cruise and World Cruise segments, but its policies are generally among the most lenient. Associated bookings (shore excursions, hotel stays, etc.) are included under the cruise cancellation policies. Cancellation requests are accepted by telephone or in writing.

For World Cruises of 53 Nights or Longer
150-76 days prior to sailing: 20 percent of the cruise fare
75-45 days: 50 percent
44 days or less: 100 percent

For World Cruises of 52 Nights or Less

Source: www.cruisecritic.com
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