Day 8: Saturday
The cruise that wasn’t is over – after breakfast in the hotel, passengers are bussed to the nearby Schiphol Airport for their flights home. And I know that I would love to do this trip again, next timeon a boat!
Lessons Learned: What To Do When A Cruise Goes Wrong
1. Make sure you are booked with a reputable cruise line. Emerald Waterways did everything possible to overcome the obstacles thrown in the way by an unpredictable Mother Nature. In point of fact, they went well beyond their contractual obligations.
Look closely at any passenger contract you sign when you buy a ticket for a cruise. You will find a standard clause, something like this:
Force Majeure: Company shall not be liable in any way to Passenger for death, bodily injury, illness, damage, delay or other loss or detriment to person of property or for Company’s failure to commence, perform and/or complete any duty owed to Passenger if such death, delay, bodily injury ( including emotional distress or injury), illness, damage or other loss or detriment to person or property is caused by Act of God, war or war-like operations, terrorist activities, civil commotions, labour difficulties, whether or not Company is a party thereto, interference by authorities, requisitioning of the Vessel, political disturbance, inability to secure or failure of supplies, perils of the sea, collision, foundering of the Vessel, explosion, breakdown or failure of or damage to the Vessel or its hull, machineries or fittings, weather conditions, high or low water levels, lock malfunction, that may arise or be caused by, riots insurrection and government restraint, fire or any other cause whatsoever beyond the reasonable control of Company.
In other words, you have absolved the company of responsibility for occurrences beyond their control when you purchased your ticket.
In this case, Emerald Waterways arranged for flights home for those who desired to do so, and did its best to give the remaining passengers as enjoyable an experience as possible under the circumstances, visiting most of the ports that would have been seen on the cruise. The staff were polite, and dealt with the situation with professional attention and a remarkable degree of patience, particularly with passengers who were at times emotional.
It remains to be seen if there will be some offer of compensation from the company, but if such an offer occurs, it will be done out of a spirit of good will, not because of contractual obligations.
2. Trip Insurance: A travel insurance plan will generally cover you for extra costs incurred by a trip delay, interruption or cancellation in the event of bad weather, minus whatever compensation you may get from a cruise line or airline. If you are forced to miss a flight, miss part of a cruise, or have unplanned overnights, your travel insurance plan should compensate you. It’s a good idea to get signed up for such insurance. In this case, there were no extra costs involved for most passengers.
3. Keep your perspective and your cool when things go wrong. While it is tempting to rant at the unfortunate employee who happens to be in front of you, anger helps no one. The on-board person probably has little control over what the company can do, and no control whatsoever over Mother Nature. It is in your best interest to be reasonable, clear and firm in expressing what you want the company to do for you.
4. Be prepared to make the best of the situation. I ended up traveling with a group of people who were entertaining and loads of fun. We talked a lot, did some adventuring on our own, became good friends and enjoyed some great meals. True, we didn’t have the cruise we had signed on for, but we slept well in good hotels, ate well, saw lovely things and collected some good travel stories. As we told each other often – it could have been much worse.
5. Shoulder season can be a gamble – that’s why the prices are often more attractive, and the places you visit are less crowded. Flooding and high water levels in Spring, low water levels and unpredictable weather in the Fall – these are things that are not controllable or predictable, so if you think you can’t deal with surprises, you should book in the often more unsurprising high season. But be aware that weather, political situations, mechanical difficulties, even health problems – can and do disrupt travel for passengers, in any season, each year.
6. Lastly, don’t let the fear of something going wrong stop you from doing the cruise you have your heart set on. Life is short, and nothing is for certain, except that if you don’t leave home, you’ll never know the great joy that travel can bring.