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Can I get a refund on my expensive cruise?

I'm planning an exciting but expensive cruise and I want to make sure I can get a refund if anything - including my grown child's health problems - stops me from going.

TRAVEL CONCIERGE: Jury duty. Medical emergencies. Missed connections. Trip cancellation and interruption insurance is a worrier's delight. Such coverage is the best way to protect the investment you've made in the trip, says Tim Bzowey, vice-president of travel insurance with RBC Insurance, which lists, count 'em, 46 "covered risks" in its deluxe package.

But where health issues are concerned, watch out for pre-existing exclusions.

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If it's a known or related health condition for you or your family member – typically anything that has required medication, treatment or tests in a certain time period – then that reason for missing the trip may not be covered, Bzowey says. "Some will cover pre-existing conditions if they're stable for a certain period of time.… And some insurers will exclude those pre-existing conditions all together."

So the most important thing to do, once you've figured out the refund policies of your cruise line, is to cozy up with all that fine print and call your insurer to figure out just what's covered – and what's not – in your situation.

My husband and I want to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary with a trip. We've been skiing and to Disney a few times, but have not taken an adult vacation out of the province since we had kids. I want Italy or Paris, he wants a warm climate, a stable government and no poverty – maybe Hawaii. Where should we go?

TRAVEL CONCIERGE: Every woman – especially one who has spent multiple vacations with Mickey Mouse and Co. – deserves a romantic getaway to Paris. But with the recent travel warnings over potential terrorist activity in Europe, it won't be fun if your beloved is anxiously reading the headlines and scanning the crowds. So, Hawaii it is.

And it's not like settling for second best. While you may not be wandering the Louvre or sipping espresso in front of the Pantheon, here the treasures are nature-made: black-sand beaches, coral reefs, lush rain forest and simmering volcanoes.

Choose the Big Island (a.k.a. Hawaii Island) for its diverse attractions and sunny coastline. Splurge on accommodation, such as the posh Four Seasons Hualalai, or save on your bill at the recently renovated King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel.

And then the itinerary is up to you. Get busy with surfing, a boat ride to see lava flowing into the ocean or a night dive with manta rays. Or just bury your feet in the warm sand and reconnect sans enfants against the backdrop of gentle Pacific waves and the strumming of ukuleles.

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And maybe all this adventure and break from routine will whet your husband's appetite for more travel for your big 3-0.

Send your Travel Concierge your questions.

Karan Smith is a former Globe Travel editor. Special to The Globe and Mail.

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