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(Update, 2:48 p.m. EDT) -- Carnival Cruise Lines has announced compensation for passengers affected by itinerary changes and missed ports of call as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The line has refunded port fees for missed ports, offered discounts on future cruises and even given pro-rata refunds for any missed cruise days.
Sandy has already caused devastation across the Caribbean and disrupted a large number of cruise ship itineraries. It's currently bearing down on the heavily-populated U.S. Eastern Seaboard, causing huge swells and driving rain.
Cruise lines are not obliged to refund passengers for weather-related occurrences, and compensation is determined solely at the line's discretion. In the rare instance of a complete cruise cancellation, however -- as has happened this week with Carnival Glory and Carnival Pride -- most lines typically reimburse passengers.
Carnival has the most cruise ships affected by the storm -- eight in total -- with two cancellations.
A spokesman for the line said: "Carnival Cruise Lines has made a number of itinerary modifications as a result of Hurricane Sandy, including altering routes, keeping ships at sea an extra day, delaying embarkation days and cancelling two voyages. In the case of the Carnival Miracle, the ship arrived in New York a day early and departed that same afternoon to stay ahead of the storm.
"For those guests whose cruises were delayed one day due to Hurricane Sandy, Carnival is providing pro-rated refunds equal to one day of their cruise fare. Guests whose cruises were cancelled may choose between a full refund or a credit for a future voyage equal to the amount they paid for the cruise."
Members have been discussing compensation on the Cruise Critic message boards.
According to member familycruzer:
"We went from a 6 night to 5 night and 3 days in port to one. We got just shy of $17 back in port fees from a change in itinerary. Instead of two days in Nassau and one in Freeport we got 7 hours in Nassau. 20% off another 2 to 6 night cruise that must be taken by October 2014. One day credit of gratuities. One day cruise fare refunded back to us within a couple of weeks to the credit card on file."
"Just off the Pride last night and we got $29.04 per person refunded for the two ports we missed. Supposed to have three stops, managed to get one of them in. And we also got 50% off of a future 2 to 7 night cruise. Our cruise wasn't shortened per se." He added: "I thought the compensation was more than fair considering I know the ports are never a guarantee."
Here's a round up of what the other lines are doing for compensation:
Norwegian Cruise Line is still determining whether to pay compensation for Norwegian Gem guests as it is not clear when the Port of New York will be open. For passengers currently onboard the ship, Norwegian has opened up the phone lines and Internet so passengers can call home and make alternate travel arrangements free of charge.
A Disney Cruise spokesperson told Cruise Critic in an e-mail: "As a goodwill gesture we have provided guests on the October 20 Disney Fantasy sailing with a choice of a 25 per cent discount on a future cruise or a 25 per cent discount at a Walt Disney World resort."
Royal Caribbean is not compensating passengers for itinerary modifications, as they were all due to weather; however, it's making an exception for Enchantment of the Seas. In an e-mail, a spokesperson told Cruise Critic that Enchantment was "unable to go to Bermuda and ended up with a cruise to nowhere. Guests that chose not to sail received a letter of credit for the amount of their cruise. The guests that did sail received an onboard credit (amount varied depending on their stateroom category)."
We will update this story as we get further information in from other affected cruise lines.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor