Given the incidence of hurricanes and other natural weather formations over the last few years, many travelers wonder what would happen if a scheduled cruise were canceled due to possibly dangerous weather conditions. Specifically, potential passengers often wonder if they will get a refund for their tickets. In order to find out whether or not a refund is possible, you should consult the terms of the passage contract that is part of the transaction. Most will include a section that specifically outlines what takes place if the cruise is canceled because of weather.
In some cases, a canceled cruise is subject to a partial or complete refund. Conditions vary from one cruise line to another, however, so there is no hard and fast answer that will apply to all canceled cruises.
Many cruise lines will offer a full refund if the cruise is canceled because of bad weather, providing the cruise has not already gotten underway. Generally, the full refund is given by processing a credit to whatever credit card was used to book the cruise, or by refunding the full amount via a check within 60 to 90 days of the canceled cruise. The cruise line may also offer incentives to use the refund to book another cruise for a future date. In this instance, there may be complimentary upgrades that go with the rebooking, such as a larger room or some sort of credit that can be used at one of the onboard stores. Getting passengers to use cruise refunds to book future trips helps to retain a client, makes it unnecessary to process credits, and eliminates the need to process and cut a check.
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If the cruise is canceled because of weather after the trip has already begun, many cruise lines will offer partial credits. This is often based on the number of ports of call that were scheduled for the cruise, but could not be completed due to the weather. It should be noted that, in most passage contracts, the cruise line does not make a firm commitment to do this. Often, the cruise line uses wording that allows it to issue credits as it sees fit after a weather-related cancellation. For example, if the trip was planned with five ports of call and three were completed, the line may opt to not issue any credits and still be well within the terms of the passage contract.
The bottom line is that passengers should read the terms of the contract before ever booking a cruise. While it is possible to get a refund, this is not a universal standard among cruise lines. Make sure you understand what the line will and will not commit to in terms of refunds, and then you can make an informed decision of whether or not you want to do business with that particular cruise line.