I have nothing but bad news for tourists who've booked upcoming cruises to Mexico, unless Carnival Cruise Lines changes its travel policy soon (see link below).
According to my consumer protection and legal sources, there is virtually no recourse to either get your money back or avoid cancellation penalties if you try to cancel your Carnival cruise to Mexico because of the swine flu scare.
I know that's not the answer "Thomas" of Southeast Memphis wanted to hear. His family is supposed to cruise on Carnival to Cozumel, Mexico, in June:
"We have the option to cancel before May 2nd, but we will forfeit $200 per person...I was hoping you would have some advice on how we can reduce or eliminate the forfeiture charges."
Thomas, short of an official government action restricting travel to Mexico, there's nothing to stop Carnival from levying forfeiture charges.
It all comes down to your travel contract.
Consumer Reports and several of my legal sources say the terms of your contract trump any government "warning." One lawyer says a warning is just that -- a warning. The U.S. State Department has issued a warning about non-essential travel to Mexico, but it is not an edict or command.
But my sources say a government "action" - such as an official travel restriction to Mexico - would trump your contract, up to and possibly including a full reimbursement of your trip. As of this writing, the government has not ordered such an action.
So try to negotiate a break with your cruise line. Use your clout if you are either a frequent traveler or member of the cruise line's affinity club.
Lean on your travel agent if you used one to book your trip. Cruise lines count on travel agents for tons of business. Your agent might have an inside source that can cut you some slack in these circumstances.
If you bought a travel insurance policy, it would have to be a "termination-at-will" policy or have a "termination-at-will" clause to cancel the trip without penalties.
Carnival Cruise Lines is regularly updating its policy on scheduled cruises to Mexico as it communicates with government health groups. Here's the link to its swine flu policy, subject to change: