Cruise customers grow frustrated over delayed refunds

VIDEO: Cruise customers grow frustrated over delayed refunds

Three months after the federal government ordered cruise lines to shut down, thousands of customers can’t get their money back for canceled trips.

Some families contacted Action 9 fearing they could lose $10,000 or more.

“How long has this taken, your refund?” asked consumer investigator Todd Ulrich.

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“Over two months now,” Victoria Lopiparo said.

Lopiparo lost her patience weeks ago. She had planned the first land and sea cruise to Alaska with her husband this summer on the Holland America Line.

They had paid more than $14,000. The cruise was canceled by Holland America 10 weeks ago.

“No cruise to go on, so I was expecting my refund immediately. I didn't think I was going to have to wait and wait,” Lopiparo said.

She said Holland America promised a full refund in 60 days. That came and went.

When she calls, she can’t get any answers.

“I got an automated message saying we're in the queue​ to get a refund,” Lopiparo said,

At least 30 consumers contacted Action 9 in the past two months claiming their refunds from major cruise lines are missing.

Salvatore Sigillo and his wife paid close to $10,000 to Princess Cruises for a big summer vacation. That's been canceled by the pandemic.

Sigillo said it’s been 40 days since he was promised a refund, and counting.

“With any other company I deal with on a refund or a return, within three days it’s posted,” Sigillo said.

Action 9 first tried to help Karen Miceli claim her $9,000 refund from Carnival Cruises a month ago.

“You can't even get in touch with anybody,” Miceli said.

Since then, Miceli said she had to dispute the charge with the credit card company, and now she’s getting her money back.

Action 9 contacted all three cruise lines about refund complaints.

Carnival told Ulrich it’s handling 1 million guests who were impacted, and it’s paying overtime to resolve refunds.​

Consumer experts say to keep contacting the cruise lines by email so there's a written record and a credit card dispute is a good option.

“Give them an opportunity to respond. If they are not responsive or can’t give you answers, it may be time to contact your credit card to file a dispute,” said Better Business Bureau president Holly Salmons.

Just a few days after we contacted Holland America, Lopiparo got a full refund after a frustrating 10 weeks.​

“All I want is my refund back,” Lopiparo said.

Cruise lines are trying to persuade customers to accept future cruise credits instead of cash refunds, but families Action 9 talked to say they need the money now and aren’t sure when they can cruise again.

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WFTV is committed to bringing you the most accurate information about the coronavirus pandemic in Central Florida. (Cindy Kelly)