My sister and mother recently purchased a cruise on Royal Caribbean. On the way to the pier last Friday, they received a call that their auntie and sister, respectively, was dying. So they called Royal Caribbean and the customer service representative (CSR) said that they would be able to get a refund or a travel certificate towards future travel. The CSR also told them to call back on Monday to get more information. With this information, they decided to not go on the trip and get a refund or certificate.
However, when they called Royal Caribbean back, they were first told that the CSR doesn't recall telling them that they were going to get a refund or travel certificate. When we asked them to play back their phone recording ("for quality assurance"), they switched tactics and told us that this was against policy since we hadn't taken out travel insurance. They basically lied to us so that we would be no-shows for the cruise and then pretended like it was our fault. They're penalizing us for (a) an incompetent CSR and (b) lying. This is a company that lacks any compassion and can't be trusted at all.
My advice to you if you're going on a cruise is to find another cruiseliner, because Royal Caribbean lies and steals your money!
I'm sorry about your auntie/sister. Too bad the customer service agent gave you the wrong information. Unless it is the cruise lines fault that you missed a booking, it is unlikely you will can a refund or credit from Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Holland America or any other cruise line.
We always get travel insurance when we cruise. One main consideration is the cost of an emergency evacuation for medical reasons. This could cost you many time what you paid for a cruise. If you don't have the money in your bank account to cover it, you could be stuck in a foreign country without medical help.
Holly200 - did your sister and aunt purchase trip insurance? If they didn't, I feel badly about telling you that it's not just Royal Caribbean. Most cruise lines have a "cancellation" policy in which the cruise line keeps more of your money the closer to the date of sailing that you cancel. If they don't have trip insurance, they are bound by the cruise line's cancellation policy. Who did they book their cruise through? They should have been given this information when they made a deposit.
I have a slightly different situation, but I think the answer will be the same.
We booked a cruise for early Janauary 2004, within the 70 day timelimit we told Royal Caribbean we couldn't go because of my wife having back problems. We asked to rebook the cruise for a later date. RC just refused. There response is you didn't tell us until day 66 not day 70 therefore you lose your deposit. DO I HAVE ANY RECOURSE?
Check the cancellation policy in the back of your cruise brochure. (I don't have one handy or I'd look) The policy is clearly spelled out as to how much notice you have to give in order to qualify for a full, partial, or no refund. 70 days should be just inside the penalty period, but I'm thinking you may qualify for a partial refund. I just can't remember off the top of my head. Everyone else remember these words:
Also - ask to speak to a supervisor. And write a letter to the RCL company explaining your situation. Include names and dates involved in the initial conversation. Ask for specific things when writing your letter. Do not ask for a refund if you didn't take the insurance as in your documents it clearly states you will not get the refund. Instead, request that your money be put toward a future cruise and book that cruise ASAP if they allow this. Be sure when you write the letter, you send it to a specific person who CAN help you. Go on thier web site to get names of the people in charge.
You just never know!
Yes, as several have said, get Travel Insurance. That is the only way. I have been on 8 cruises, and could probably write a book of the problems we have had. If we hadn't had travel insurance, we would have been at a loss. One time they LOSTour luggage for 4 days.
Your title is deceptive at best and false at worst. They don't lie, and don't steal your money. The cancellation policy is spelled out in detail if you read it, and I knew on my very first cruise that once inside the 30 day window, you're out of luck if you don't have insurance, you're going to lose some money. I knew this because I read the contract. It's not the company's fault if you can't hold up your end of the bargain. Sorry, you lost your money, but ignorance is not bliss. What you don't know will hurt you, I made mistakes on my recent Celebrity cruise, I believe that the line could have fixed it, but the initial fault is mine and mine alone. That doesn't mean that Celebrity lied. Royal Caribbean's FAQ clearly spells out the cancellation policy, as do the documents they send you.
well maybe also at fault here is the CSR who answered the call and told them that they will get a refund/travel certificate. But let this be a lesson for all of us to get insurance prior to traveling/paying for any travel packages or cruises.
As a travel agent I strongly recommend to my clients to buy the insurance!! You never know when something is going to happen to either yourself or a loved one....Age means nothing!! An accident like slipping or falling on the ship or just getting sick can happen to any of us...there are too many things that are out of our control and unless you have an unlimited bank account..you should consider insurance. I had a couple that had to cancel 3 days before our Feb cruise, wife was put in the hospital, and it was a very nice feeling when they called me two weeks later with their check in hand for their cruise. At that point, they think you are wonderful because you offered them the protection. Saving money by not taking the insurance is not always the "cheapest" way to go!!!!
I work with incoming tour operators who provide shore excursions and see time after time the anger that builds from cancellation policies of ships and tour operators. Both have real out of pocket expenses based on the passenger's promise to abide by their side of the contract. But things happen, they always do to some. With a ship full of 300 people,mostly retirees we can predict how many people will fall and break something in the shower, how many get ill and cancel at the last minute and how many die. Someone dies on every cruise. Usually is it a long planned last real vacation a an elderly couple plans to take and the husband dies of a heart attack on the 4th day.
This happens, maybe not to you but when the standard well known protection from sudden unplanned interruptions or expenses, travel insurance is designed exactly for this common situation.
When someone just does not show for for a shore excursion without notifying anyone, the tour operator might be out hundreds of nonrefundable expenses made on the party's behalf. Yet time after time the complaint is heard "I got sick, it was not my fault so how could you not give me a full refund?" Yes, the losses to the tour operator or to the ship are real, in out of pocket payments for such things as entry tickets for museums bought in the passenger's name, driver, car, guide costs that are paid if they show up regardless of whether the passenger shows up.
If you get sick or break a bone tripping over something while ashore who is at fault and who should pay for services to get you healthy enough to rejoin the cruise or be medically evacuated? The cruise line covers you with their liability insurance if they are involved in the loss...while on board ship. But you are not covered while ashore even if on a ship sold shore excursion. The port agent that provides the tours sold is required to have insurance but it might be one local to that country's laws and getting claims paid might require returning to that country.
An evacuation is very expensive, $25,000 would be normal for a medically supported evacuation. The policies of the ship are pretty specific, if you are injured or become ill while ashore, the ship's doctor is not supposed to allow you back on the ship until you are stabilized and no longer a threat of infecting others or no longer require more medical intervention. They do not want to be liable if things turn out badly after you return to the ship. So insurance for the trip and insurance that is internationally recognized for claims needs to be ascertained to be held by the tour operator when you book.
Most developing countries have a different view of accidents and injuries than Americans who believe it is someone else's fault regardless. That does not work in 99% of the rest of the world, it is your fault if you fall down and break your leg. Be sure your tour operator has insurance that is accredited in the US or you will be out of luck in most cases. The cruise industry is self insured. They created a large insurance pool the member cruise lines participate in. That is a good thing and it has worked out well for all concerned. A few tour operators in foreign countries have been invited to join that pool so seek those out if possible because it means while ashore you would be covered at the same level as the ship covers you while you are aboard the ship.
The OP's bitter lesson should be heeded by all, read and understand the cancellation policy, it is a contract. Most are quite reasonable and fair when looked at objectively but when someone feels cheated because they did not read the contact.
That said, although the cruise line is not obligated to refund some will on a case by case bases. If the problem with the wife's back was chronic it is unlikely but if it was a sudden undiagnosed malady they might agree to a full refund or one pro-rated based on the actual losses incurred by the ship. If it was eventually fully booked the losses would be low, only the selling costs finding new cruisers for the cabin. Tour operators might charge only for the non-recoverable tickets for example. Museum tickets are dated so they are stuck with worthless paper that probably cost them $20 each when the client cancels late. The out of pocket non-recoverable expenses might be $100 a person for a tour with 5 ticketed entrances.
It is a contract, read it and understand it. Mark the important date on a wall calendar such as the dates of graduated refund levels kick in. The closer to the cruise date the less is refunded.
The cruise industry is really growing because they have a good reputation for value for the money, it would be hard to visit any of the ports featured for what the whole cruise cost. But you have to be a wise consumer, and know what you are buying, spend more time reading the small print and less time looking at the colorful ads of smiling people in exotic scenes.
I think the issue is Royal Caribbean has lousy Customer Service Reps. I have just had a similar "bait and switch" occur with the representative. I am not sure if this is just a RC issue, or one of lousy business practices in general. I can say I have received FANTASTIC Customer Service thru NCL. Carnival was barely acceptable. Princess was acceptable. Costa was neutral.
Copyright 1995 - 2014, The Independent Traveler, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
This file may be downloaded for personal use only.
Other copying or reproduction is expressly prohibited.
The information in The Independent Traveler is protected under copyright. None of the material may be reproduced without our written permission, with the exception of downloading or printing a single copy for yourself.