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Missed cruise departure due to airline delay - required to attempt to join cruise?
We booked our 14 day Star Clipper cruise over a year ago and purchased trip insurance (Travel Guard) at that time, departing from Panama City. We booked our airfare to arrive the night before, with ship embarkation starting at 4:00 pm to as late as 9:00 pm.
Our current flights on Delta from Spokane to Panama City puts us in before 9:00 pm the night prior to embarkation. So, I thought all was good and we'd given ourselves more than enough lead time....... until I began seeing that one of the legs of our flight, from SLC to ATL, is consistently (78% of the time) extremely late - too late to make our connection to Panama.
I have looked for changes to our flights that would alleviate this problem, but cannot find any without having to leave an additional day early which is not feasible with my DH's work schedule. If we miss our connection, the only subsequent Delta flights would make us miss our embarkation.
I have found that there are a couple of flights that could get us into Panama City on other carriers, should the flight in question be late. That is, assuming that there are still seats available. We would certainly attempt to get on those flights. But, if we can't and we still miss embarkation?
My question with regard to our travel insurance is "if we miss our embarkation and sailing, are we required to make attempts to meet up with the our ship later in the cruise?" Or, can we simply cancel completely and make an insurance claim? The reason we would want to do this is that the first day of the trip is the Panama Canal transit which was the entire reason for booking this cruise. The rest of the cruise, while looking fun, is not the primary draw for us going on this trip.
If we miss our embarkation, the first port after the Panama Canal transit, is the San Blas Islands, then a day at sea, then Cartegna, Columbia. Neither of those places seems to be very conducive to wanting to fly into. Then there are 2 additional days at sea before Aruba (if we wait until Aruba, we've missed 1/2 the cruise and had to find something else to do for 7 days). Also, I can foresee a luggage fiasco under most of these scenarios, as well.
If we miss the Panama Canal part of the cruise, we'd actually prefer to just fly into Panama and do some land-based touring (and Canal touring), rather than run around and try to meet up with our ship. But, we'd need to make sure that our travel insurance would pay in that event and not deny our claim because we didn't meet back up with the cruise.
I've read through the Schedule of Benefits from Travel Guard and done lots of web searching and I've not found anything that addresses this type of situation specifically. I apologize for the length of this post, but wanted to give a full explanation to see if anyone here has had experience along these lines. Thank you to anyone who made it through this long post. I'm hoping that, by thinking through all the various "what-ifs", we'll avoid Murphy's Law and actually have everything go as planned.
Last edited by LakeRooseveltBrews; March 9th, 2013 at 11:02 PM.
Call Travel Guard and explain your situation. I talked to them a couple of times when I was booking insurance and found the representatives very helpful. Hopefully, your flight will be one of the 22% that does not get in very late.
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My question with regard to our travel insurance is "if we miss our embarkation and sailing, are we required to make attempts to meet up with the our ship later in the cruise?" .
Most travel insurers will require that you make a good faith effort to catch up with the ship. The general rule of thumb is that in order for a delay to turn into a cancellation you must have lost at least 50% of the trip length. Here's a snippet from one Travel Guard plan:
"(n) mechanical/equipment failure of a Common Carrier that occurs on a scheduled Trip and causes complete cessation of the Insured’s travel and results of a Loss of 50% of the Insured’s Trip length;"
I have no idea what Travel Guard plan you've got (they have a bunch of them) and I see you're from WA (the Travel Guard plans for WA residents are way different) so be sure to read your plan documents and contact Travel Guard directly with any questions.
While you'd have to ask TravelGuard to confirm, but I believe that if the delay was due to a Covered Reason, your Trip Interruption coverage should be more than ample to help you either make the sailing or catch up to the ship. Certainly if your original carrier can get you there on-time, you should do so, but otherwise you would likely end up calling the TravelGuard assistance line, and they'd help you book the appropriate travel to get you where you need to be. (You'll have to front the cost, but a successful claim will reimburse you.)
One thing you are required to do is tell the insurance company as soon as anything bad happens. That gives them the chance to make arrangements. If you don't tell them, they would be potentially able to tell you that there was an alternative option to what you do, and because you didn't give them the chance to do it, they won't pay up. I'm not saying they would do it, as I know nothing about this particular company, but they would have the option.