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Free cruises for job losers?
Job loss insurance has been around in some form or another for many years, but some interesting moves have come about in the past week.
First, Norwegian Cruise Line announced its "BookSafe" program, which can be bought from $29 per person depending on cruise fare paid and the US's largest cruise retailer Cruiseone and Cruises Inc. announced its own "Cruise Assurance" program, which is offering job loss insurance free of charge (although guests must buy their insurance package).
While in some ways similar to "cancel for any reason" plans that have been available at small extra cost in the past, let's have a look at these two plans as more are likely to follow.
On Wednesday last week, Norwegian Cruise Line introduced its "BookSafe" travel protection program, which offers a full refund to passengers having to cancel because of losing their job prior to their cruise. Andy Stuart, executive vice president of global sales and passenger services, in outlining this program, said that "In this challenging economic environment, we are offering a safety net for guests who want to book a cruise, but are uncertain about what the future holds in terms of their employment."
Administered by BerkleyCare and underwritten by the National Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, BookSafe will cover bookings made on any departure after May 1, 2009, and will cover any cancellation fees that might be incurred. The main requirement is that the person who booked had held his or her present job for a minimum of one year.
As far as the cost goes, the $29 quoted by NCL is the cheapest available for a 3-day cruise and the cost per person could be between $150 and $200 per person depending on the cruise and the fare paid.
Cruiseone and Cruises Inc's CruiseAssurance
No sooner had NCL done that than on the Friday Cruiseone and Cruises Inc., with more than 1,000 outlets, announced "CruiseAssurance," a program that will apply on any cruise on any line, even if that line is not offering similar cover to NCL's.
Dwain Wall, Cruiseone and Cruises Inc general manager said "Our 'CruiseAssurance' policy takes the concept of job loss insurance to a new level, easing the concerns of consumers at no charge and on any cruise line of their choice."
Clients booking with Cruiseone and Cruises Inc. can cancel their cruise any time up to departure or even during the cruise itself. However, clients are required to buy basic "Travel Guard" travel and cancellation insurance from Cruiseone, who will add the job loss cover free of charge. A minimum of one year's employment and a termination letter are all that is required to collect a full refund and the offer is time limited as it only applies from today until May 2.
Again, there is a cost to the Travel Guard insurance but the peculiar thing about both the NCL and the Cruiseone and Cruises Inc web sites is that it is difficult to find out what the premiums are, whereas NCL's UK site actually has a travel insurance calculator that will give you a quote.
In fact, what both these programs offer is a complete travel insurance package, on which the job loss is a free add-on.
NCL say you have to pay and Cruiseone and Cruises Inc's claim to be offering the extra cover free is only true if you buy their complete insurance package, to which they will add the job loss cover. Depending on the premiums, this really amounts to pretty well the same thing. The customer must still buy the cover, whatever bit is free.
While both companies should be commended for taking some of the uncertainty out of booking a cruise for many people in these uncertain times, we should remember that commissions paid on the sale of travel insurance packages can often be in the order of 50%. While not saying that this is an extra money-maker, on the other hand, it is probably costing neither company anything out of pocket to offer these products.
To Look at it Another Way
The interesting point here is that if someone loses their job then surely they have all the time in the world to take the cruise that they had planned anyway. This might even be a way to reinvigorate oneself in anticipation of that big job hunt!
What we are suggesting is that for those where the insurance company refunds the full fare (and that really means those after final payment as deposits are usually refundable before then), the cruise line keeps the money that has already been paid anyway. And if that is the case, and the cruise line has been paid for the cruise, why not reward the job loser and his or her family by giving them that cruise free of charge? This may sound a bit like a bet or a lottery but why not give the unfortunate the opportunity in times that may well be getting harder?
For those unlucky enough to lose their jobs, cruise lines could even organise on board courses in how to cope with job loss, how to network, how to go about career change, how to write a good resume, how to impress in a job interview and how to find that new job?
There might even be a reason here for the unemployed to go cruising, especially if their redundancy packages mean they can still afford it!
(Source: By Mark Tré - Cybercruises.com)