Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Once again - travel protection saves the day

Many people decide not to take the travel protection (cancellation and medical insurance) to protect the investment they make for their long awaited and deserved I might add vacation. "I've never needed it before" is something I have heard many times over the 8 years working as a cruise specialist.

But things happen! Just this week (Sunday night to be exact), I received a call from a client scheduled to fly to Rome on Monday at 5:30 PM to get on the new Carnival Dream for a Med and transatlantic cruise to NY. Sunday morning the wife is walking down the steps, falls, and breaks her ankle severely. Severe enough that she was admitted to the hospital and was scheduled for surgery at 5 PM Monday - when she should have been boarding the plane to Rome.

Did she plan to break her ankle? Especially one day before leaving for this cruise! These folks do not normally take the travel insurance but did in this case. As their agent, I was sure glad they did since they were in 100% cancellation penalty and without this protection, there was nothing I could do.

But, because they had taken our travel protection, I was able to cancel the cruise for them with one call, and start the claim with another.

I digress, but this is another reason for working with a professional travel agent who is paid by the cruise line but works for the client. The cruise line would simply have told them to contact the insurance company themselves. That would work fine but these people have "enough on their plate" right now with everything else. And they had pre-paid for excursions (over $700 worth) which had to be cancelled more than 72 hours prior to the start of the cruise and they were less than 48 hours away so the only other option was to cancel on board the ship at the shore excursion desk. Needless to say, that was not possible. Would the cruise line tell them how to cancel these tours and get their money back? I have no idea but I would guess that unless the person asked, they would not have.

But I did ask and it took sending an e-mail to the proper department. As a footnote and a compliment to Carnival cruise line, my e-mail was read at 8:13 AM and answered at 8:19 AM and the clients are receiving a full refund on the tours.

Back to the main topic. The $230 cost of the travel protection will get them a 100% refund of the over $3000 spent for this trip (less the 230 of course.)

I will concede that of the millions of travelers on cruises, most do not have to cancel. But when you are the one who does, it is a sure nice to know you are protected! I learned the hard way years ago before becoming an agent. It hurt then as it cost me over $3400 penalty with the cruise plus related expenses and it was my Dad, not me who had the problem. With the travel protection though, I would have been covered - immediate family and travel companion.

A side note. There was another client traveling with this client and if they decided to cancel (they didn't and actually should be on the ship as I write this) they would also have been covered since they would be classified as traveling companion.

My advice is simply this: you should never just say "No, I don't need travel protection" but think about it number one, and make sure the policy offerred is worthwhile number two. Many companies who offer "FREE" insurance, have policies with very limited benefits. "FREE" is not always the cheapest.

You have home insurance, car insurance etc. and don't really want to have a situation where you need to file a claim. But you have the insurance just in case. When you travel and especially purchase a cruise, this extra few dollars may be the best investment you make.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We're back - for real this time!

It's been a crazy 2 months with several cruises, driving trips (yes, we've even done things on land) and some cruises but now we are back and settled in once again for a long while before any more extended trips away.

So much happening in the cruise world right now with the long anticipated arrival of Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. We plan to get to the Port Everglades area (actually the park accross from the port) early in the morning to be there for the arrival of this totally unique 220,000 GT vessell.

With a good location planned, we should be able to get some interesting pictures of her arrival. Unfortunately, at least at this time, we have not gotten an invitation to do a ship tour but I am still working on that.

Next year, NCL has a new build - the Epic - which we will be sailing on for our National Conference in Oct 2010. That should be a blast. We did just return from our 2009 conference on the Carnival Pride last week.

That also included driving from FL to Baltimore and back (well part way up since we took the AutoTrain up). Prior to that was a trip to TX for a granddaughters wedding celebration and visiting the kids, grandkids and yes, even a couple of great grandkids (we're not that old but we have them).

But it's back to work now. One new addition to our provided cruise specialty service is the addition of some preferred land suppliers for those clients who are looking for tours, resorts, etc. More to come on this as we begin learning more about land based vacations.

That's it for tonight.