Cancel anytime, for any reason

By Wayne Wirtanen
This item appears on page 50 of the June 2003 issue.

Relaxed cancellation policies

Reacting to the current uncertain travel conditions, airlines and tour companies have adopted (probably temporarily) flexible terms and conditions that will allow travelers to cancel or reschedule trips easily and with little or no penalty.

Often the relaxed cancellation policy applies only to new bookings. Travelers who had booked prior to these effective dates of these changes may or may not be covered by the new terms and conditions. Airfare may or may not be covered by cruise/tour company relaxed terms and conditions. Flexibility of use of frequent-flyer miles varies from airline to airline. These are issues to inquire about before booking a trip.

The travel industry is in a constant state of short-term change. As you read this, modifications are sure to have been made to the following information. 

Presently, the “cancel anytime/any reason” clauses are provided only by tour and/or cruise operators — sometimes with and sometimes without extra cost. Refunds are made with a variety of combinations of vouchers and cash. Vouchers generally can be used anytime within a year of the previous departure date but are not transferable and are nonrefundable.

From what I have been able to determine, no regular travel insurance company is likely to offer a fully refundable “cancel anytime/any reason” trip cancellation option in their policies.

Cruise lines

The following cruise lines are among those that have adopted relaxed cancellation policies. For more information, contact them at the provided phone numbers and websites. Other cruise lines may have similar new terms and conditions. Check with your travel agent or the cruise line directly.

Seabourn Cruise Line charges a premium of $295 per person (in addition to their normal travel insurance policy). The voucher will be for “90% of the paid fare.” (Miami, FL; phone 800/929-9391 or visit

Royal Olympia Cruises provides full credit vouchers for no additional charge. (Piraeus, Greece; 800/872-6400,

French Country Waterways “for the next few months” will protect all fully paid bookings and permit passengers to “roll forward” the payment and reschedule reservations later at this year’s rate on any available barge departure in 2003 or 2004. If passengers rebook on another barge or at different rates, the company will refund or bill any difference in cost at 2003 cruise prices. (Duxbury, MA; phone 800/222-1236 or, in Massachusetts, 781/934- 2454 or visit

Tour companies

The following tour companies are among those that have relaxed cancellation policies. 

Collette Vacations has had their “cancel anytime/any reason” policy in effect for decades! They refund in cash. Their travel insurance package costs approximately 5% of the total land/air cost. (Pawtucket, RI; 800/832-4656, 

Overseas Adventure Travel’s “Guaranteed Travel Protection Plan” provides a sliding scale on cash/voucher refunds dependent on how soon before departure the cancellation is made on their 2003 European Journeys. (Cambridge, MA; 800/537-3850,

Tauck World Discovery has offered “cancel anytime/any reason” protection for 40 years! And they refund in cash. (Westport, CT; 800/468-2825,

Uniworld Cruises offers the “cancel anytime/any reason” protection in their standard travel insurance package that refunds on a sliding scale of cash/vouchers. They charge $100 for an administration fee in case of this type of claim. (Encino, CA; 800/257-2401,

Sita World Travel has a “revised cancellation and rebooking policy,” the terms and conditions of which depend on departure dates and deposit/payment amounts. (Encino, CA; call 800/421-5643, e-mail or visit

TourCrafters is offering “expanded reasons” insurance coverage for $100 extra (or 10% of the total cost for a trip costing more than $1,500) over the cost of their basic travel protection plan. (Libertyville, IL; 800/482-5995, or

American Express Vacations packages offer “Cancel for Any Reason” travel protection that provides for a full refund (minus the cost of the insurance) for cancellations at any time prior to the originating departure flight. Cost of insurance varies by vacation package. (Farmingdale, NY; phone 800/297-5490)

Grand Circle Corporation’s 100% Travel Protection Plan adds an “anytime/any reason” segment to their standard travel insurance package. If the cancellation is allowed under the defined conditions of the standard policy, a 100% refund is paid in cash. If the cancellation is not covered by the terms of the standard policy, a 100% refund is made by a combination of voucher and cash. The total travel insurance package costs approximately 5% of the price of the land tour/river cruise. The “anytime/any reason” policy does not apply to Grand Circle’s ocean cruises. (Boston, MA; phone 800/553-1129,


Domestic and international airlines are making it easier for passengers to change tickets. Changes announced by American, Delta, United, Northwest, Continental, US Airways and other airlines generally are allowing passengers to avoid penalties if flights are rescheduled or destinations changed.

Restricted tickets are generally nonrefundable, and passengers who switch to higher-priced flights will have to pay the difference. All these conditions vary from airline to airline. Contact your travel agent or the airline directly for details.

Happy trails.