An engine explosion on a cruise touring the Baltic sea on May 13, 2011, caused a ship-wide power failure. While tug boats were sent to rescue the MSC Opera, and the cruise company gave the passengers credit vouchers for the amount they paid, we wondered how often the power goes out on cruise ships and what happens when it occurs?
So, we poked around in the Cruise Critic boards and found numerous discussions posted by cruisers about when the power goes out. Some of the more problematic situations cruise passengers encountered were:
- All the lights go out (in one passenger report, the emergency lights did not come on either)
- The air ventilation systems shut off (one passenger claimed her room got uncomfortably warm)
- The elevators were inoperable (causing big problems for one disabled passenger)
- The kitchens were inoperable (resulting in a limited food menu for a family)
- The ship loses it’s time slot to leave the harbor (the delayed departure didn’t cause too much trouble)
Floating adrift in the ocean with no lights, inoperable bathrooms, and little information is bad enough, but if you are on a cruise where this happens, what about the pre-paid scuba trip or Cathedral tour or the chance to swim with dolphins? The cruise operator is only responsible for repaying the payments you made to them, and not everyone else.
In this situation, unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that travel insurance can help you either. We reviewed a number of descriptions of coverage and even called one travel insurance provider to verify, but if your cruise ship’s power goes out and you miss a planned on-shore excursion as a result, you could be out of luck. Our recommendation is to work with travel suppliers that let you cancel your excursion if something happens, or let you reserve it for a small fee and pay the remainder when you arrive. That way, you’ll be protected in case you can’t get there.
Be sure to see our latest cell phone tips for cruise ships too – just in case you have to make that phone call.