Smart Money: Compensation claim for lost luggage on cruise may involve a trip to the courts - Jenny Ross

Question: My luggage was lost on a cruise for five days. Although we eventually got our things back, it significantly put a dampener on the trip as we had to wear the same clothes or buy some new ones. As we got it back, we are not being offered compensation, just an apology. Is this right?

Answer: Going on holiday is supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable time. Finding out that your luggage has been lost is every traveller’s worst nightmare – and I’m sorry this happened to you.

The first thing I’d recommend doing is to go through the cruise company’s terms and conditions carefully to check its procedures for making a claim for reimbursement and resolving disputes.

If you can’t find a satisfactory solution with the company (it sounds like it is intent on not issuing compensation), then it may be that you can claim on your travel insurance – assuming you bought it before your trip.

Finding out that your luggage has been lost is every traveller's worst nightmare.

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Travel insurance normally covers you up to a certain limit for lost or stolen baggage and belongings so take a look at your policy documents to see if you might be able to claim in this situation.

Delayed baggage cover will pay a financial contribution towards the cost of things like essential toiletries, medication and delayed clothing if your baggage is lost for longer than a specific period of time (often 12 hours) after your arrival.

If that yields no joy, there are laws which may allow travellers to bring a claim through the courts against the provider for damages (compensation) arising from the loss of luggage. Which law applies would depend on your exact situation.

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Luggage lost at sea is typically covered by the Athens Convention 1974, a UN treaty. However, whether passengers can claim compensation depends on a range of factors, including where the cruise departed and stopped off (not all countries are signatories), and where – and in what circumstances – the luggage was lost.

Lost luggage situations may also be covered by the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 (PTRs).

For the avoidance of doubt, it’s probably a package holiday if it was advertised as a package or all-inclusive deal, you bought the holiday for an inclusive or total price or you bought more than one part of your holiday from one company with one payment.

It’s probably a linked travel arrangement if you buy one service from a tour operator and are then prompted to buy another – but your information and payment details aren’t transferred.

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Cruises are usually covered by the PTRs, which contain duties for providers to put things right if something goes wrong on the holiday.

Where applicable, the PTRs provide for travellers to be reimbursed for necessary expenses, and to receive compensation, depending on the exact circumstances..

I’m afraid as this isn’t a straightforward area of law, it would be worth seeking legal advice before taking action under either the Athens Convention or the PTRs.

Jenny Ross is editor of Which? Money

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