I have to agree with Truck - these people probably purchased the cruise online and were never told about the importance of travel insurance.
This is really a tough situation. The press is always going to play up any negative story, but when it's something like Sandy, they're going to go out of their way to put anything out there like this.
While I sincerely sympathize with those who suffered through this disaster and have personally donated to the cause to help with the recovery, these things do happen all the time and people should be prepared for them just in case. They need to make sure they have all the proper insurance to cover their property in times of natural disasters, whether it be floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. Each geographical area has their own problems and insurance needs are different.
I always suggest purchasing travel insurance. This is especially true when traveling during hurricane season, traveling during Winter, traveling overseas, traveling with young children, or when traveling with seniors. And as I always say, you hope purchasing travel insurance is a waste of your money because if you need it, it's usually not for a good reason. But if you need it, you sure glad you've got it.
Personally, I do not understand the logic of someone spending $4,000 for their vacation of a lifetime, as in the case of the story, and not wanting to insure that investment by purchasing travel insurance. The average person cannot afford to lose $4,000!
While I completely understand the situation and my heart goes out to these people, you also have to ask the obvious question; what makes them any different than anyone else who has to cancel a cruise because of an emergency situation? What about the elderly lady whose husband died of a heart attack the day before their cruise? Or what about the family who whose house was blown away by a tornado? Should they also be allowed to get a full refund from the cruise line if they don't have travel insurance? What differentiates one from the other?
While I applaud RCCL for stepping up to the plate, quite frankly, if it wasn't for the press making a big deal about this, RCCL would never had offered to provide a cruise to them. They jumped at the chance to get good press, while NCL got bad press for following what all the cruise lines would have done.
So the next question is, what about all the other people who were put in the same situation? Until those who don't have insurance gets the attention of the press, we'll never hear about them and they'll never get a free cruise.
I'm glad these people got a cruise, because if anyone needed it, it was definitely this family. But they should have purchased the travel insurance and none of this press coverage would have been necessary in the first place.
Lesson learned; talk to your agent and make sure you get the travel insurance! You hope you never have to find out what it's like to go through what this family has gone through as you may not be as lucky as they are.