Cameras, cell Phones, iPads, jewelry, shoes, dresses…
With everything that we pack into our luggage these days, would you guess that your bag is worth less than $50?
In all likelihood, that wouldn’t even cover the cost of the bag itself.
But if your luggage is lost or damaged on a cruise, $50 is all that you could be entitled to, depending on your cruise line.
To be sure, the vast majority of people have no issue with their luggage during a cruise. Losing your bags is fairly rare. If you are one of the unfortunate few that experience lost/damaged luggage, however, your anger at losing your belongings is just the start.
Here’s How Much The Cruise Lines Pay
Most people have no idea what would happen if the cruise line lost their bag on the ship. It usually doesn’t come to mind. The cruise lines, however, are prepared for this and limit their liability within the passenger contract.
The passenger contract lays out the rules between the cruise line and the passenger. It’s all the fine print you agree to when you purchase your ticket. Most people don’t bother reading the contract, and we don’t blame them. It’s dense and boring legal language. But the contract does lay out some pretty important ground rules for the cruise.
Every cruise line will have a section within this contract that outlines specifically their liability for lost or damaged bags. What it says might shock you.
Here’s Carnival’s policy:
“It is stipulated and agreed that the aggregate value of Guest’s property, does not exceed $50 USD per guest or bag with a maximum value of $100 USD per stateroom regardless of the number of occupants or bags…”
In other words, Carnival will only pay you $50 per guest, or $100 per stateroom if your bag is lost or damaged while in their care (assuming you don’t purchase their insurance).
Other cruise lines have similar policies. Here’s what Royal Caribbean says in their passenger contract:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law or this Agreement, Carrier’s liability for loss or damage to property for the cruise (or for the cruise only portion of a CruiseTour) shall be limited to $300.00 per Passenger…”
That’s a lot more generous than $50 per person, but these days we doubt many people have bags worth less than $300.
Needless to say, the stories of passengers losing their luggage and receiving only a little compensation are sad to hear.
There is a way to get to the cruise lines to pony up more money, but it involves some planning. Cruise lines often have clauses in their contract that state they will pay more for your bag if you declare the value of its contents ahead of time and also pay a fee.
Here’s the legal language from Carnival:
…and any liability of Carnival for any cause whatsoever with respect to said property shall not exceed such sum, unless the Guest shall in writing, delivered to Carnival, prior to embarkation, declare the true value thereof and pay to Carnival prior to embarkation a sum equal to 5% of the excess of such value.
So if you declare in writing before your cruise that the contents of your bag to be $1,000 and you pay Carnival 5% of that value ($50), then it’s our understanding they will cover your bag up to $1,000.
How to Avoid the Situation (Or Get Better Compensation)
The truth is, no one wants to lose a bag — cruise lines included. It’s a bad situation all around. That’s why we have some tips to help you out to either avoid this situation or to better resolve it should the unfortunate happen to you.
Always Carry Valuables in Your Carry-On — Jewelry, cameras, phones, cash? Never put them in a bag that you will be checking. Always keep them in your carry-on. Try to keep the value of your checked luggage as low as possible so that if it should go missing, you won’t be out as much money.
If Your Bag Is Lost, Continue to Escalate The Situation — Say you do lose your bag and you are offered an amount that’s much less than the actual value. We suggest continuing to escalate your situation. That means speaking with supervisors and contacting the cruise line through social media to explain the problem. There is a possibility that the cruise line would offer more compensation to make your happy.
Buy Travel Insurance — All travel insurance will cover lost/damaged bags and will do so at much better rates than the cruise lines offer. Best of all, travel insurance will also cover your luggage throughout the entire trip, including any flights you take to reach your cruise port. Click here to read more about travel insurance.
Have you ever dealt with a lost bag on a cruise? What happened in your case? Let us know in the comments below…