Travel law: Empty buffet and wrong cabin: How to complain about cruise trips correctly

In January 2017, the storm "Egon" with wind force ten caused waves seven meters high in the North Sea.

Travel law: Empty buffet and wrong cabin: How to complain about cruise trips correctly

In January 2017, the storm "Egon" with wind force ten caused waves seven meters high in the North Sea. Right in the middle was the "Aida Prima", the flagship of Aida Cruises. Due to the heavy seas, the pool spilled over on deck 15, dishes broke in the restaurant and several people were injured when they fell. Are those affected entitled to a travel price reduction?

"Claims for damages after such incidents are usually excluded. Falls in heavy seas fall into the category of general life risk," writes the magazine "Finanztest". Under the title "This is how the dream trip works", the editors have dealt with typical complaints about ship trips. The cruise industry is booming. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of Germans who booked an ocean cruise almost tripled to 1.8 million customers.

Passengers have no chance of a refund if they complain about what is considered an inconvenience under travel law. The lawyer Kay Rodegra, who specializes in travel law, is specific: "Cruises include port noise, the smell of diesel on deck, noise when mooring and disembarking, waves during the journey or fellow passengers who misbehave."

According to his "Würzburg table", which lists numerous cases, guests have better cards if they were assigned an inside cabin instead of the booked balcony cabin. A case is mentioned in which a guest canceled his cruise because of this, sued the shipping company and was right: he was awarded 80 percent of the travel price due to the "lost joy of vacation".

If the route is changed at short notice and a port is not called, which is the highlight of the cruise, 50 percent of the cruise price can be refunded. However, the discount will not be granted if the ship is unable to call at the announced port due to a storm.

Another annoyance is the issue of tipping, which is treated very differently by the shipping companies: with some tour operators it is already included in the travel price, with others it is not and in some cases it is automatically debited from the on-board account, also for children traveling with you. Medium three-digit sums can quickly come together. "If tips are only mentioned in the footnotes or the terms and conditions of your booking, you can defend yourself against automatic debiting," write the testers.

The district court of Rostock had granted a five percent price reduction to a plaintiff who had complained that the buffet in the self-service restaurant was worse and emptier than he was used to on other cruises.

If defects occur during a cruise, "Finanztest" advises to complain immediately on board. If the deficits are not remedied, they can be documented with photos and witness statements.

But the bottom line is that the trouble on ships is limited. "Around 80 percent of German crusaders are repeat offenders," concludes Finanztest magazine. "Once you've had the ocean air blow your nose, you'll obviously like to come back."

You can obtain the entire "Cruise: This is how the dream trip works" test for a fee at www.test.de.

Also read:

- Nabu cruise ranking: environmental and climate protection often remain lip service

- MS Roald Amundsen: This is what the world's first hybrid expedition ship looks like

- On a cruise despite Corona? What you need to consider now

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