Costa Concordia - no rights to cancel cruisesNo refunds for cruise-goers with safety concerns

16 January 2012

Costa Concordia

Consumers who decide to cancel cruises because of safety concerns after the Costa Concordia  disaster in Italy are unlikely to get a refund.

After last Friday’s tragic Costa Concordia cruise ship accident, in which at least six people died, thousands of people booked to sail on that ship are waiting to find out about their options.

Costa Concordia customers

Costa Cruises, which is owned by the Carnival Corporation, has yet to release much information about what will be offered to customers who had future bookings on Costa Concordia or its sister ships.

Those clients who had booked to travel on the ship on any date up until 25 February will get a full refund and a 30% credit on a future Costa Cruises trip. 

People who were due to travel within the next couple of weeks are likely to be contacted more quickly than others.

Package Travel Regulations

There's no decision yet about what options are available to clients booked on the Concordia after that date. 

Under the Package Travel Regulations, in normal circumstances – usually when a company cancels a cruise - you would be entitled to choose between a refund or taking a cruise of lower quality (with a price adjustment) or one of higher quality. You would also be able to claim compensation where appropriate.

However, compensation may not be payable if the cancellation is due to circumstances beyond the cruise line's control, and so compensation could be delayed until it's confirmed which parties are to blame.

In any case, compensation doesn’t apply if you've booked your flights separately and they're not part of the package. For the flight to be included in the cruise package, it must have been bought as part of the inclusive price for the overall trip, flight and cruise. You should check that the holiday is covered by an Atol.

It's likely that Concordia clients will be invited to swap to a sister ship with similar décor and facilities, and so the enjoyment of the cruise ship should not be significantly affected. There are no plans yet to allow customers to switch to a different Carnival line such as with Cunard or P&O Cruises.

No refunds likely for cruise clients

Clients who have booked on another cruise ship and no longer want to take the cruise because of safety concerns are unlikely to get money back. They must abide by the standard terms and conditions, and refunds are usually only possible if there's a 'significant change' to the holiday or the contract includes a right to cancel.

Travel insurance policies are unlikely to pay out on a claim for cancelling a cruise on the basis of only one safety incident with a different ship.

If you are considering booking a cruise, know your rights if something changes or goes wrong.

Cruise ships safety record

Accidents at sea are very rare, and safety check regulations are strict. 

Costa Cruises said: ‘We're committed to ensuring that no such incident ever occurs again. Our number one priority is always the safety and security of our guests and crew and we comply with all safety regulations.’

The Passenger Shipping Association added: ‘We would like to reassure other cruise ship passengers that all our member lines are subject to the highest safety standards around the world according to international maritime requirements. 

'Accidents such as this one are an extremely rare occurrence in the cruise industry, and cruising continues to be one of safest means of travel among all types of vacationing.’

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