OVIEDO, Fla. — Like so many other cruise line passengers, an Oviedo woman claims she will lose thousands because of a COVID-19 cancellation trap. The company cancelled her cruise, then denied her a refund.
Nathalie Charles and her two children planned their Bahamas cruise for months. Then before her Royal Caribbean sail date, COVID-19 headlines turned chilling. There were infected passengers trapped on cruise ships.
“It was the governor who came out and said it wasn’t really good for anyone to go right now,” Charles said.
Governor DeSantis warned the elderly and anyone with serious underlying medical conditions not to cruise.
Charles' daughter has asthma, and she cancelled the cruise March 12th, three days before departure.
“I was getting nervous. I was worried,” Charles said.
Just one day after she cancelled, the CDC ordered all cruise ships to stop sailing. But weeks later Royal Caribbean denied her $2,000 refund since she cancelled a day before the shutdown.
“Your cruise ship never sailed?” Todd Ulrich asked.
“Nope,” Charles responded.
“Yet their keeping your money?” Ulrich asked.
She responded, “Yes they have.”
“Are you being penalized for doing the right thing?” Ulrich asked.
“Yes, I feel I am. They knew they were going to cancel,” Charles replied.
A dozen Royal Caribbean customers contacted Action 9 since March claiming they too were denied refunds for cruises that the company cancelled. One family lost nearly $9,000.
The company did offer Charles and others, future travel credits. But the families who contacted Action 9 said they won’t feel safe on a cruise next year.
“I am really disappointed to be honest,” Charles said.
Ulrich spoke with Susan Grant from the Consumer Federation of America.
“Is there something drastically unfair about that?” Ulrich asked. "
“I agree. The cruise lines didn’t provide a service for them so there’s no rational for keeping their money,” Grant said.
Grant says cruise passenger contracts include standard no refund policies. But she feels while refund denials may be legal, during a pandemic the policy lacks common sense.
“It’s really short sighted on the cruise company’s part,” Grant said.
Royal Caribbean maintains an A plus rating at the BBB since it responds to consumer complaints.
Action 9 contacted the cruise line; a manager said the company refunded Charles her fees and taxes but since she cancelled the trip, by contract there’s no cruise refund.
“I need my money back,” Charles said.
Natalie Charles' credit card dispute was denied, since she waited more than 60 days. You can appeal those denials.
The Consumer Federation has lobbied to include cruise refunds in the COVID-19 relief bill.
Cox Media Group