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Families await cruise line refunds months after cancelations

Posted at 4:59 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 10:04:56-04

In 2020, we have seen countless plans put on hold due to COVID-19. Everything from weddings and graduations to dream vacations have been rescheduled or outright canceled.

In many cases, the cancelations are made by companies keeping up with the latest government recommendations. But, who is ensuring they do right by their customers?

Months after canceling their 20th-anniversary cruise due to COVID-19, Frank and his wife Carol say they have yet to get their money back from Holland America.

“They’ve held our money ransom since January 16 of this year,” said Frank. “At the time we made the reservation there was no COVID, you know. We had nothing to fear at all.”

Frank says he has sent emails, made phone calls, and even filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau. He says that has only gotten him a minimal response from the company. In one instance, he received an email saying his refund was in a queue to be processed. Then, another stated that it would take at least 60 days to be issued.

It’s now been four months, more than 120 days, since Frank and his wife canceled their cruise. So far, the only money they have gotten back was for off-ship activities they paid for. They say they are still owed close to $3,000.

We know that with hundreds of cruises being canceled around the world, companies are overwhelmed, but how long is too long for people to wait for their money back? How long is too long to go without hearing from a company?

Martha has been facing a similar experience when dealing with Royal Caribbean. She says she is getting mixed messages on when she could see her money again. “They just kept sending me a form letter, 30 to 45 days,” said Martha.

In her case, the cruise line said, at first, they were processing a refund, but later, she says the cruise line told her even though they were the ones to cancel the trip, she was not getting her deposit back because she did not pay for the trip in full.

Clint Henderson, a travel expert with The Points Guy, says holding cruise lines accountable can be tough. Unlike airlines, who are regulated by the Department of Transportation, there is no agency that oversees cruise ships that are based in other countries yet make stops here in the U.S.

No matter the case Clint says, “if the company cancels it, then they have to give you a refund. That’s all there is to it.”

The Let Joe Know team reached out to both Holland America and Royal Caribbean to see when Frank and Carol, as well as Martha, could expect to see their money. The cruise lines did not respond, however, we will keep pushing for an answer.

If you are dealing with a similar situation, you do have other options. If you paid with a credit card, you can attempt to dispute the charges since you never received the service you paid for. As a last result, you could also file a claim against the company in small claims court.

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