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The answer to every commitment-phobe’s prayers, Holland America Line’s new cruise and CruiseTour cancellation policy promises the unthinkable – at least 80 percent cruise cost reimbursement on cancellations up to 24 hours before the sail date, for any reason. Since cruise bookings range from weeks to months, and sometimes years, in advance, consumers are left in an uneasy position, essentially putting all their eggs in one, somewhat precarious, basket, in hopes that factors beyond their control don’t interfere with what is essentially a long-term financial obligation.
One of the first (if not the very first) big-name carriers to offer this unprecedented, yet gigantic perk, Holland America described the two-tier refund program in its news release, hot off the presses on September 13. The Cancellation Protection Plan (CPP) Standard level guarantees an 80 percent refund “of the eligible amounts paid” (e.g., $559 on a $699 cruise fare), plus $600 for lost, damaged, or delayed luggage. The CPP Platinum level stipulates a 90 percent refund (or, a whopping $629 on a $699 paid fare) on cancellations; up to $1,600 lost or damaged baggage protection; up to $1,100 delayed baggage security; and trip-interruption protection. As expected, this added benefit isn’t free, but at a sample cost of $79 for CPP Standard and $99 for Platinum (on cruises under $1,000), it beats the worst-case-scenario alternative – especially for those of us afraid to take the plunge.