Q: We took a cruise recently and our luggage was misdirected by the cruise company between the plane and the ship. So we had one change of clothes for most of the 10-day cruise. The cruise line gave us a small shipboard allowance to buy clothes and toiletries, but it hardly made up for our inconvenience. They say that they weren't required by any regulation to do even that. Is that true and what could we have done to prevent this from happening or what should we do now?

A: Cruise lines are notorious for not taking full responsibility in instances like this. Airlines actually do a much better job, since there's a Federal law requiring that an airline that loses or damages your luggage is liable for up to $2500 per passenger. On your next cruise, pack lightly and don't check your luggage at all (I've never checked luggage, and I don't feel comfortable leaving it in the hallway on the last night of the cruise, as is required if you do check, because you never know if some unscrupulous passenger might ransack it, and the cruise line will take no responsibility if this happens). Or if you do check it with the cruise line, never let it out of your sight (make sure you identify it at baggage claim and see it loaded onto your bus). If that's not an option, buy travel insurance that includes lost, damaged, or delayed baggage protection.

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