Q – I guess you could say we are a couple of “cautious Canadians”. We are looking at re-booking a Sea Dream cruise because we feel that with fewer fellow passengers than a typical riverboat in Europe, they are the most yacht-like experience available. We loved our first cruise with them out of Barbados. 

We were going to call you to book but we thought we would catch up first on cruisetruth topics and we see lots of concern about several of the major lines. I can obviously read the papers and go online, but I love the insights you provide so am wondering where “insider’s” go for financial information about whether or not a cruise line is close to declaring bankruptcy or similar. Thanks so much and keep up the good work. Trudeau sends his best and, no, you can’t rent him for a month or two. 

A – So nice to hear from the folks up in the attic. Let us know when we can come back up to visit. And do you seriously believe that Tim Horton’s coffee is better than Starbuck’s? 

You have raised an excellent point – at present, there is no proper clearinghouse the cruise consumer can use to ascertain the financial standing of a major cruise line. You obviously would want to read the financial press but, as you know, there is a built-in reluctance among business journalists to do stories warning of the possible economic collapse of a specific product as the very reporting of the possibility could create the kind of panic that would cause the company to fail and stocks to plummet. No journalist or reputable publication wants to be responsible for that. 

The best route to take as an “Insider” is to have your consultant find out if the cruise line under consideration has been “red-flagged” by any of the major travel insurance providers. Insurance underwriters must be concerned with risk and their desks are the real financial battleground in terms of the consumer having an understanding of likely risk when booking a specific line. Again, you don’t need any consultant’s “opinion” as good and as trustworthy as they may be. You need hard facts – is this cruise line still insurable or not. If it isn’t – get out the large size red flags.