Celebrity rescheduled my cruise but left me holding a bill

When Celebrity changes Issam Manna’s itinerary, he’s left holding a big bill for airline tickets. Should the cruise line take some responsibility for the extra costs?

Question

We booked a trip about a month ago on a repositioning cruise leaving Istanbul on Nov. 14. We booked two cabins as my girlfriend’s parents were joining us. It was a great deal, and we were able to find inexpensive flights which we thought would be difficult to do since it is not a round-trip flight.

We were scheduled to fly into Paris and spend the weekend (we are with Air France so a stopover was no charge). Then we were supposed to travel to Istanbul on Nov. 14, and then home from Abu Dhabi at the end of the cruise.

We were notified over the weekend that Celebrity was canceling all Istanbul port of calls for security issues due to the recent bombing. Celebrity rescheduled the cruise to leave from Athens. Celebrity has offered a credit of $250 per passenger to cover the change fee.

“I should have purchased trip insurance”

I know we should have purchased insurance, but like many people, we opted for the lowest price and got non-refundable airline tickets. The cost to change our airfare is $400 plus $250 for the fare difference.

As you can see, we are out a considerable amount of money on what we thought would be an inexpensive trip. The cruise was about $1,100, and our flights were only $872, but now they have jumped up to $1,522. We are still in the refundable stage for the cruise, but once we purchased our airfare, we were committed.

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Air France will not reduce their fee as the flights are not until November, and they commenced flights to Istanbul July 5. Celebrity is not budging on their offer of $250 per person. I asked for onboard credits, a drink package — even just a bottle of wine to say “sorry” — but there was nothing.

Canceling is not an option at this point. It seems that Celebrity is punishing us for being proactive and planning ahead. We feel like we are starting this trip with a bad taste in our mouth. — Issam Manna, Whitby, Canada

Answer

I’m sorry to hear about your experience. Celebrity created this mess when it rescheduled your cruise. Maybe it should help you un-create it.

If you’d purchased an air-inclusive cruise, you might have been protected. Celebrity’s program, called ChoiceAir, even guarantees you’ll pay the lowest fare — so you would be both protected, and you won’t have to worry about shelling out too much money.

Celebrity rescheduled the cruise — who pays?

At the same time, Celebrity made a significant change to its schedule after you booked your cruise. It knew you would have to pay to change your ticket, and a $250 credit doesn’t really cut it.

Would travel insurance have covered you? Maybe. If your rescheduled cruise qualified as a covered event, you might have been able to file a successful claim. You’re right; you should have considered insurance. But now it’s too late.

You could have appealed Celebrity’s decision to one of its customer service executives. We list the names, numbers and email address in our customer service database.

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Celebrity responds 

Our advocacy team contacted Celebrity on your behalf, and separately, you also reached out to the cruise line’s contacts. It offered you $650 in additional onboard credits, which made up for the fare difference and penalties you had to pay.

I hope you have a great vacation.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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