You hop off the plane ready to cruise away on that vacation you’ve been waiting for, and it happens: The airline loses your luggage. All of your thoughtfully packed outfits are somewhere en route, and you’re forced to board the ship with your carry-on and just the clothes on your back.
Each cruise line has its own policy when it comes to responding to this predicament. Once you inform the staff of the situation, the ship will stay in communication with the airline — and with port agents. If your luggage is located, ship employees will make arrangements for pickup at the next port.
Free laundry service is the most standard compensation offered until any lost suitcases are recovered. Some cruise lines give guests shipboard credit to purchase necessities in onboard stores, while most hand out “emergency kits” stocked with toiletries like a razor, shaving cream, deodorant, a toothbrush, and toothpaste; employees may even loan out staff uniforms or other clothing they have available.
Unfortunately, you can’t prevent this situation from occurring, but you can take precautions to protect yourself. Here are five ways to be ready if the airline loses your luggage on the way to the ship:
Pack 24 hours worth of clothing in your carry-on.
Look at your itinerary and decide what items you would need for the entire first day of your cruise. Pack a bathing suit if you’re heading to a warm destination, formal attire for dinner the first night, something to sleep in, and a daytime outfit for onboard activities or a port visit. You won’t know how long it’ll take for your luggage to arrive, but you can make yourself comfortable for a while.
Keep hard-to-replace items on hand.
Until your suitcases make their way to the ship, you’ll want to have the most necessary items within reach. Prescriptions, contacts/glasses, makeup, identification, and yes, extra undergarments — anything you couldn’t live without day to day or can’t replace onboard — should be included in your carry-on.
Know what you can buy on the ship.
Remember when we suggested packing the most essential items, down to undergarments? That’s because ships don’t typically sell them. Sure, you can purchase logo wear, but who wants to be a walking billboard on vacation? And while lines such as Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises do have more expansive shopping malls, it’s rare to find everything you need in your size or style. Every now and then, you might luck out and find specialty products, though. For example, Crystal Cruises’ ships sell Spanx® undergarments.
Purchase travel insurance.
For overall peace of mind, get travel insurance. Most basic plans — either through the cruise line or a third party — cover lost or stolen luggage, or offer that coverage as an add-on. Such plans usually cover $500 to $1,000, and the claims department will need several documents to process your request, including a full list of claims, your itinerary, and a letter from the airline stating that it lost your belongings.
You can’t make a claim without receipts, so keep all of them for replacement items you purchase onboard, from toiletries to clothes. To claim anything that was lost or stolen from your suitcase — often each item needs to be $150 or more — original receipts will be required.
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