What to do if you have booked a cruise: Q&A

 

On 13 January 2012, Costa Concordia was sailing north-west from Civitavecchia to Savona on the Italian Riviera. She struck a rock close to the Tuscan island of Giglio and capsized. At least 11 people are known to have died in the shipwreck, and more passengers and crew are still unaccounted for.

Costa Cruises is the biggest cruise company in Europe, and is part of Carnival – the largest cruise firm in the world. Even so, the company’s engagement with customers with future bookings has been minimal. Indeed, 48 hours after the disaster, it was still possible to book cruises on the stricken ship.

Despite repeated requests to the cruise line about matters concerning future customers, as of 20 January all my questions about passengers’ rights remained unanswered. In the absence of any responses to my requests for information from Costa Cruises, this is my best estimate of your rights and prospects.

Q I have a forward booking on Costa Concordia. What are my options?

A All Costa Concordia sailings up to 21 May 2012 have been cancelled. Passengers booked for voyages up to 24 March are being given full refunds plus a voucher for a 30 per cent discount on a future trip. Passenger booked between 24 March and 21 May 2012 have been transferred to what is described as the “brand new Costa neoRomantica”. In fact, she is the refurbished Costa Romantica, a ship launched 20 years ago and currently in dry dock in Genoa. The company says of the ship: “Designed to surprise, it will become a source of constant fun and excitement”.

Q That doesn’t appeal – can I have my money back?

 A Yes, but only if you cancel by 7 February. You must supply your bank account details, even if you paid by credit card.

Q What steps are being taken on Costa Concordia's sister ships following the events of Friday night and Saturday morning in terms of improving safety procedures?

A Costa Concordia has four sister ships within Costa Cruises, with a fifth due to enter service in May. A sixth ship is in service with the firm’s US parent, as the Carnival Splendor.

The company says: “Costa is committed to ensuring that no such incident ever occurs again”. Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and managing director of Costa Cruises, told an Italian newspaper “Our training courses are the best there are”.

In practice, it is likely that urgent communications are being sent out by the company to ensure that every member of crew is fully aware of standard operating procedures to try to avoid any repeat of the chaotic scenes experienced by the passengers as they tried to escape Costa Concordia.

In the longer term, Signor Foschi said he would be seeking “To replicate on land the system of sounds and signals when a ship deviates from its route: we have to know this earlier. And to work with the government so that captains no longer have absolute power. A more collegiate form of management on the bridge would be better.”

Q Until we know what went wrong I don’t want to sail on a sister ship. Can I get all my money back?

A No. You will lose at least some, and possibly all, your cash. The company says all its ships “have been built to the highest standards and technologies”, and there appears no intention to alter planned voyages by Concordia’s sister ships.

Therefore, unless Costa Cruises decides differently, normal terms apply: broadly, for cancellations three months in advance, the cancellation fee is £100. Cancel with four days or less before departure, or simply become a “no-show”, and all your money will be lost. Travel insurance will not help, since you will be deemed to be “disinclined to travel”, for which there is no compensation.

Q I understand P&O Cruises and Cunard are sister companies within the Carnival group. Can I switch my reservation from Costa to one of their ships?

A Not under current booking conditions. The only way to do it is to cancel, take the financial hit and buy a new cruise.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments