Sunday, July 8, 2007

From the live and learn department:

CND subscribers know that Celebrity's Millennium has had a mechanical problem that's kept it docked near Rome for the last few days. The delay just keeps getting a little longer and a little longer as a normally-minor problem keeps refusing to be fixed.

The specifics aside, we're hearing from passengers who arranged their own shore excursions in ports that are going to be missed, and the operators are refusing to give them refunds.

Arranging independent shore excursions is not a bad thing. There are pros and cons which we've discussed in past CND articles. One positive aspect of booking through the cruise line is that if your ship doesn't go to the port, the cruise line refunds the excursion, no questions asked. But many local operators who accept direct bookings also offer the same guarantee. (Many do not, however.) The trick is to either read the conditions upfront (on their website) before you make the booking, or make sure it's agreed to in writing (e-mail) at the time you make your booking. (If they don't agree to that stipulation, then either don't book it, or don't complain later.)

If you do have to negotiate it separately, be sure they understand that you aren't looking for a complete waiver of their cancellation policy, only if the ship should not be able to call at the port as scheduled.

Since you spend a lot of time researching to find the right tour and the right operator, be sure to spend a little more and make sure you can live with their cancellation policy.