Is this enough compensation for an interrupted Windstar cruise?

By | November 17th, 2015

I feel partially responsible for what happened to Linda and James Keberle.

A few months ago, they contacted me with a question about travel insurance. I referred them to our forum advocates for help, since I was out of the country on assignment.

The next time I heard from the Keberles, they’d run into trouble with their Windstar cruise. Turns out a deckhand on their ship got a mooring line caught in the ship’s propeller, which caused a significant delay.

“We missed a big private event and the sail into Monte Carlo,” she says. “We missed Cannes.”

The cancellation created a ripple effect of other problems, including a canceled shore excursion in Portofino and missing a planned visit to Cinque Terre. There was also an overnight stay at a “substandard” hotel in Rome, unrelated to the mechanical failure.

Would insurance have covered these interruptions? It really depends on the circumstances and the policy. But Windstar’s passage contract leaves no doubt about the cruise line’s responsibility. Specifically, it has none.

[W]e may adjust itineraries and schedules, delay departures or arrivals, or cancel a Cruise due to casualty, weather, labor problems, the need to render assistance to others, governmental or insurer directives, passenger or employee injury or illness, schedule delays or changes by third parties, repair and maintenance requirements, fuel or other shortages, or damage to the Ship, other means of transportation, roads, tracks, bridges, docks, equipment or machinery.


You get the idea.

Windstar offered a $200 onboard cruise credit on the final day of sailing for her party, so technically, it had already exceeded its nonexistent requirement to compensate.

Linda Keberle followed all the steps to a resolution outlined in our cruise FAQ. She sent a brief email to Windstar, letting it know how disappointed she was with her experience.

“I just received an offer of $500 total,” she says. “So basically, we are being offered 10 percent of the cost of our cruise as compensation.”

Is that enough? She doesn’t think so.

After some back-and-forth, Windstar sweetened the offer to $1,300.

“We had surely expected a figure closer to 50 percent,” she says.

Hmm. Half the money back for missing a few ports of call? That’s not unprecedented, but it would be a generous compensation offer. Certainly, Windstar should have done everything it could to prevent a mooring line from tying up the rest of the Keberle’s vacation. But its adhesion contract protects it from having to offer her any additional money.

Is that fair? I don’t think so. It sold her a cruise she didn’t get. But does it have to refund her more? Not according to the passage contract and, I’m sure, not according to the “rules are rules” readers who like to poke fun of people like Keberle for expecting too much.

But I’m not one of those. This wasn’t the cruise she signed up for. Is a 10 percent refund enough? Or just a start toward enough?

Did Windstar offer the Keberles enough compensation?

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  • Stuart Falk

    You indicate that some travel insurance policies would have in some way compensated this couple for having missed a few ports on their cruise due to an accidental accident effecting the vessels propellor system, but I’m not aware on any such policies. Could you be more specific? As to compensation, I don’t feel that the Keberle’s should be treated any differently than all the passengers, but agree that 10% of the fare is somewhat stingy and that a fare amount would be a choice of a 25% rebate or 50% off the brochure fare of a future cruise.

  • RichardII

    If the delay was caused by negligence on the part of Windstar, they might be accountable for doing something more than they propose in their contract. That was not addressed in your snippet from the contract. However, typically the bar is set as “gross negligence.” Not just making a mistake, but knowing you are making a mistake when you do it. That is hard to prove, and probably not the case with this accident, unless it had happened several times before.

    By the way, a lot of that contract actually makes sense. For example, what is more important, a day in Cannes, or saving a boatload of drowing refugees?

    But, to the question at hand. I think a 25% refund is pretty good. Really, people can make their own luck. Some people might dwell,on what they missed, others might have found some way to enjoy the extra quiet time, and probably free booze.

  • RichardII

    BTW. If the there was supposed to be a poll on the article, it is not working.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Thanks, Richard. I’ll report the problem to Chris.

  • Flywisely

    Windstar Nice to Rome 7 day cruise is currently sold for about USD 2799 per person.
    If you look at the itinerary http://www.windstarcruises.com/Cruise/Italy/Yachting-the-Riviera/?id=55&sid=18957 and compare with what the OP said they missed, it seems like the had a uninspiring cruise vacation. If you cannot visit the main destinations or do the planned events, then why take this cruise at all?
    I think the proper compensation is a redo of the things they missed.
    This itinerary is easy to do by road and rail, and imo better.

  • Flywisely

    Re: saving a boatload of refugees …
    It did happen. http://www.usnews.com/news/newsgram/articles/2014/09/26/rescued-refugees-refuse-to-leave-cruise-ship-in-cyprus
    But I don’t think the OP’s cruise was anywhere close to Lampedusa, the destination for refugees to Italy.

  • Jim Zakany

    Due to the nature of sailing, cruise line cannot and do not guarantee any particular port of call or travel itinerary.

  • AJPeabody

    This is more an argument against over-expecting a cruise experience rather than a failure of Windstar. They sell a moving luxury hotel, with port activities added. People buy the port activities, with a floating hotel included. Windstart provided the hotel. The optionals failed in part. Therefore, the compensation was more than generous.

    The travelers did not get the perfect combination of cruise and land that they expected. That is an unfortunate complication of expecting the puffery and not the reality of any cruise. The only type of cruise that is not subject to this dichotomy is the “cruise to nowhere.”

  • Mel65

    Use the compensation offered to engage in some of the missed activities or to take another vacation on land. Sh*t happens. This was disappointing, but disappointment is fleeting. Dwelling on it and kvetching beyond a reasonable amount of time is just going to make them bitter and miserable. Time to accept that they got more than probably anyone else on that cruise and make the best of it.

  • Pegtoo

    Exactly… a person considering a cruise really needs to face reality… also known as the cruise contract. When planning a cruise of any type, you really should enjoy the cruise experience itself, and consider the port stops as bonus. If you can’t see it that way, better keep your feet on the ground so you have more options if there’s a kink in the plans.

  • Alan Gore

    The $1300 seems reasonable, so long as it’s not funny money, but it took some doing for the line to make things right, didn’t it?

    Windstar is pitched to high-end cruisers, so this is another demonstration that paying for the premium experience is no guarantee of decent customer service. It does bring in a class of people who are more effective complainers, though.

  • pauletteb

    One of the many reasons I don’t cruise.

  • judyserienagy

    It may be because I’m a business owner, but I see situations like this as bad luck and Windstar doing the best it could. I don’t think Windstar needs to compensate all the passengers because they missed some ports. Yeah, they expected a certain itinerary, but it didn’t happen. People who cruise should understand the concept before they board the ship; many factors will affect your itinerary and the ship has little control over them. It’s much like missing your flight connection and having to spend the night in Detroit. Nobody wants this kind of thing to happen, but it does. I think the phrase “Suck it up” is rather appropriate here. Windstar offered a generous future credit, why not just take another cruise and enjoy yourself?

  • judyserienagy

    Thank you so much for sharing your view of this cruise. People who are determined to be upset will always find reasons, the rest of us enjoy what we have.

  • Lindabator

    but the cruise lines ALL clearly state in their T&C that there is no guarantee of the itinerary, and can change at any time they need to. They offered you a nice amount at $1300.00

  • Lindabator

    I love cruising, but never set my heart on the ports as being written in stone – then just relax and enjoy what’s available.

  • Lindabator

    accidents do happen, and when you book with such a small cruise line, they do not have the deep pockets you seem to assume they have to pay for a new trip – accept their generosity, and go back for a redo.

  • Lindabator

    good – go again and see what was missed!

  • Linda Keberle

    Yes contracts for cruises pretty much absolve them from any scenario. When you spend in excess of $8,000.00 for 7 days and miss 3 of those we felt credit was warranted. The final amount is a nice gesture but we would of course, as most travelers, have appreciated a bit more to soothe the “sting”!

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