Sunday, April 17, 2016

In Praise of Travel Insurance

This is the first time we decided to buy travel insurance for our cruise. Even though we hope not to use it, I have to admit it gives me real peace of mind. Especially after what happened this morning...

We've been at sea for a number of days (Read: Since we left Kona, Hawai'i and breezed past Fanning Island without stopping, I don't remember the last time the floor wasn't rocking under my feet!) But as we came alongside the windward side of the beautiful island of Rarotonga, I didn't hold out much hope. There's no pier here, so the cruise ship has to drop anchor, lower the tenders (which double as life boats) and ferry passengers to shore in groups of 120 or so.

The captain did his best. He tried several different times to situate the Westerdam so she wouldn't drift in the rolling swells. The anchor wouldn't hold. The tenders were pitching so violently alongside, there was no way they could allow non-crew members to make the leap from the platform near the waterline into the open tender hatch. One misstep and someone could be crushed between the tender and the ship. So the captain cancelled the port of call.

However, the crew of the Westerdam put half a dozen tenders into the water to ferry in the donations the ship had intended to leave at Fanning Island. The Red Cross on Rarotonga was happy to meet them at the dock to receive the goods and promised to try to send some of it to Fanning. Then one of the passengers, who's medical situation was more than the ship's infirmary could deal with, was lifted carefully on a gurney and taken by tender to the waiting ambulance, and an emergency medical airlift to Australia. 

Let me be quick to say that cruising is one of the best ways for someone with health challenges to travel. There are a number of guests who, like me, require supplemental O2. There are many wheelchairs and motorized scooters on board. There are even a few blind passengers. The crew bends over backward to help. And the fact that there is a fully staffed medical center with doctors and nurses, x-ray machines and all sorts of bells and whistles, means they can take care of lots of things that come up.

But when they can't, the Holland American line moves heaven and earth to get their guests to on shore help. And that's where travel insurance comes in. 

If, God forbid, something happened that required Brian or I to need to be airlifted home, the insurance we bought will spend up to a million dollars to get us there. Since we're sort of in the middle of nowhere, (the Pacific Ocean is the largest geographic feature on the planet, after all!) emergency medical flights from here might just run up to that. It's comforting to know we've got it covered just in case.

So now we're on our way to Raiatea and real pier. It's almost time for another splendid supper in the Vista dining room and the show tonight is an Elton John impersonator. We should recognize a lot of the songs. 

Even if we haven't been able to walk the beaches on Rarotonga, life is good. And we feel very safe on the Westerdam. 

No day at the Raratongan beach

But it's all good. After missing two ports in succession, Holland America has offered us all a credit toward a future cruise equal to 15% of what we paid for this trip! The cruise line can't be held responsible for poor weather conditions, but they want to keep their passengers happy and loyal. So we're splurging on a Signature Suite for our September 2017 Alaskan cruise on the Eurodam

Hope you'll check out my North to Alaska! blog.

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