TAMPA BAY - Before you book a cruise, a Tampa travel agent is offering advice on how passengers can protect their money in case their ship encounters problems.
In the past month, two Carnival cruise ships have broken down forcing passengers to cut their vacations short and deal with overflowing toilets and no power.
Binnie Coppersmith, an international travel specialist with Travelword in New Tampa, says passengers must first do their homework before opening up their pocketbooks.
"They can be selective about the cruise lines [they take]," explained Coppersmith who has 44 years experience booking cruises and other trips.
Coppersmith recommends passengers call a travel agent for advise on what cruise lines are best to take. If they don't want to do that, she recommends asking people who have traveled on different cruise lines about their experiences.
Always keep mind, according to Coppersmith, you get what you pay for. Pricier cruises likely come with better amenities and upgrades.
Once you book a cruise, Coppersmith said travelers should immediately purchase travel insurance from a third party provider. Cruise lines do offer travel insurance but it is often secondary, very limited and does not protect against the cruise line financially defaulting and ceasing operation.
"[Third party insurance] Is a far better buy in terms of your safety and security because it offers more protection than the cruise line will offer," Coppersmith explained.
Third party travel insurance allows a passenger to cancel for any reason. It also ensures your refund will be in cash and not in the form of redeemable travel vouchers from the cruise line.
Insurance of this type costs anywhere from $30 to $150 depending on age.