The ultimate guide to planning a cruise, expert cruise guidance, what cruisers need to know about planning a cruise, taking a cruise guide, Michelle Couch-Friedman cruise fiasco expert

Planning a cruise this year? Here’s your guide to avoiding common mistakes

Over the years, I’ve mediated hundreds of requests for help from distressed cruise line passengers. Many of these cruise fiascos were the result of passenger mistakes and could have been avoided by following some simple guidelines. With wave season just beginning, now is the perfect time to review Consumer Rescue’s ultimate guide to planning a cruise.

Here’s all the information you need to know about planning and taking a cruise.

cruise mistakes, Flying on same day as cruise and packing passport in luggage, cruise ship sailing away, missed cruise

How two little mistakes can end in tears at the cruise terminal

Two mistakes – and one delayed flight – led Tom Watson to arrive at the Miami cruise terminal without his passport. With just minutes to look for the document, time ran out. He and his wife were denied boarding the cruise, and the ship sailed without them.

Watson places the blame on Viking for their missed cruise, and wants a full refund. But who is really responsible here?

This tale highlights the danger of flying on the same day as your cruise is set to begin. Although it may seem convenient to fly into your embarkation city and transfer straight to the ship, even a slight flight delay can have devastating consequences.

Norwegian Cruise Line Joy, a cruise ship in the Caribbean, NCL cruise ship

Norwegian Cruise Line received a refund for our canceled flight. Is that fair?

Norwegian Cruise Line handled all the details of Caleb and Karyssa Deslich’s honeymoon trip. So when American Airlines canceled their outbound flight, they expected NCL to come to the rescue. That didn’t happen, and the couple almost missed their Caribbean cruise.

Almost.

The Desliches came to their own rescue and spent an additional $700 on a replacement flight. They flew to Miami and arrived just in time to board Norwegian Joy before it set sail. 

The couple assumed Norwegian Cruise Line would automatically refund either their canceled flight or the replacement one. But that didn’t happen.

Now Deslich is asking the Consumer Rescue team to intervene and get their money back. He says an NCL agent promised to send the $700 refund and then reneged on the deal.  

So what does the cruise line have to say about the missing refund for the canceled flight? The answer will probably surprise you.

Holland America cruise ship Volendam

Holland America put our luggage on the wrong cruise ship! Now what?

Kin Wong planned a special Holland America cruise to celebrate his wife’s 61st birthday. Unfortunately, things went awry on Day 1 of the trip when the cruise line delivered the couple’s luggage to the wrong ship. Soon, the Wongs were cruising to Alaska on HAL’s Volendam, but their clothes were sailing on the Sapphire Princess instead.

Despite repeated assurances from Holland America that the cruise line would quickly correct its mistake, it didn’t. In the end, the couple cruised for six days without their clothes. 

Now, Wong is asking for Consumer Rescue’s help. He says Holland America ruined the birthday cruise meant to celebrate his wife’s birthday – and he wants compensation. Wong figures Holland America should refund $2,000 to make up for their unpleasant experience.

But what does a cruise line really owe a passenger if it loads their luggage onto the wrong ship?

The answer will likely surprise you.

Vantage Travel ship called Ocean Explorer.

Vantage Travel assets sold to Pacific Travel Partners. Here’s what customers can expect

The remnants of Vantage Deluxe World Travel have been sold to Pacific Travel Partners, a subsidiary of Aurora Expeditions, for $2 million. 

Pacific Travel Partners will operate the new company as Vantage Explorations.

This outcome has surprised many following the Vantage Travel bankruptcy proceedings since late June, as competing bidder United Travel was widely expected to emerge as the winner. 

And there were more surprises when the purchase agreement details were revealed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on August 9. For Vantage customers, who are collectively owed $108 million, the offer from Pacific Travel Partners is considerably better than the initial sale proposal from United Travel.  

Now that the assets of Vantage Travel have been sold to Pacific Travel Partners, here’s what customers should know.

Carnival Cruise Line ship, cruise ship on the ocean.

We had our Real ID! Why couldn’t we board our Carnival Cruise?

Although a Real ID and an Enhanced ID look nearly identical, there are critical differences between the two identifications. Diane Dipalma recently received a rapid and painful education on the topic while attempting to board Carnival Cruise Line’s Legend. 

She and her new husband believed they could use their Real ID driver’s licenses to take the cruise. But the Carnival Cruise Line staff quickly clarified that they couldn’t, and the shocked newlyweds missed their honeymoon. 

Here’s their story and what you need to know about the differences between a Real ID and an Enhanced ID.