This is what happens when a cruise line forgets your amenity

This is what happens when a cruise line forgets your amenity.

What happens when a cruise line forgets your amenity? That’s the question facing Carol McHale, who ordered a birthday gift for her father from MSC Cruises, who was on his first solo trip since his wife’s death.

His present got lost at sea.

For MSC Cruises, the answer is not much. And that’s what brought McHale to our world headquarters. She thought that was the wrong answer, and my intrepid team of consumer advocates agreed. When a cruise line forgets your amenity, it can’t just sail off into the sunset, free of all responsibility.

There’s also a broader issue of cruise line amenities that is worth exploring here. What kind of special services do companies offer? Are they worth it? What if they’re not delivered as promised?

McHale’s case has a resolution, though it’s not as swell as she’d hoped. I’ll get to that in just a second.

What to do when a cruise line forgets your amenity

Here’s what happened to McHale’s father, Ralph Duttweiler. He and his late wife had been on 62 cruises together, but this was his first cruise since her death.

“His birthday was during that cruise,” McHale explains. “I ordered a bottle of Prosecco and canapes for $32 to be delivered to his room during the cruise. I have a copy of my American Express bill showing the charge. He never received that gift.”

For McHale, this was about more than a cruise line forgetting an amenity. It had let her — and her father — down during a difficult time. “This is inexcusable,” she told me.

McHale followed the appropriate steps to resolve her problem. She contacted the cruise line but received no response. Then she appealed to Adam Snitzer, MSC’s senior vice president of guest relations, by email. (We publish all the MSC executive contacts on this site.)

“I have not received any replies,” she says.

Cruise amenities: here’s what you need to know

MSC’s cruise amenities, described in its service packages offerings, range from shore excursions to spa treatment. The one McHale had chosen was called the “romantic package”:

A sparkling way to indulge your loved one

Nothing says ‘amore’ like an MSC cruise, especially when you add one of our romantic packages to pamper the one you love. From sparkling wine and canapés to champagne and strawberries dipped in chocolate, choose from a sumptuous selection of tempting treats to share in the comfort of your stateroom. When you awake, before you go to bed, or anytime you like, they’ll make a special moment even more magical.

Interestingly, there are no provisions in MSC’s terms and conditions for a refund, if the cruise line fails to deliver the items as promised. So MSC could have kept the $32 it took from her if it wanted to. And that’s precisely what it looked like it was doing.

There’s a bigger issue here, which is that the cruise contract doesn’t specifically address which cruise amenities must be refunded — and when. Sure, there are provisions for a ticket refund and there’s an industry-friendly cruise line passenger’s bill of rights.

But amenities? Not so much.

One other note on cruise packages and amenities. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making money, amenities sold on a cruise ship are incredibly profitable. For example, shore excursions have 50 percent profit margins for a cruise line. At wholesale prices, a bottle of Prosecco costs less than $10. Even if you pay another $10 for the canapes and labor, there’s still a 30 percent profit. A quick refund wouldn’t hurt MSC Cruises.

What happened to his canapes?

This we know for sure: The sparkling wine and canapes never made it to Ralph Duttweiler’s cabin. MSC ignored several requests for a refund. Had our proven resolution tactics not worked, then McHale should have initiated a credit card dispute. She would have easily won.

Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary.

My advocacy team suggested McHale send a brief, polite email to Lisa Auguste, MSC’s senior operations leader. She’s listed as the primary contact on this site, but McHale had skipped her and taken her case straight to Auguste’s boss. You want to start at the bottom and work your way up the chain — not the other way around.

In response, MSC sent McHale a $50 Visa gift card, which MSC claimed was her compensation “as promised.” McHale had received no previous promises from the cruise line, so this was probably just a form letter.

The takeaway? When a cruise line forgets your amenity, you may not have any promises in writing, but you have options. Contact the executives in writing, remembering to work your way up the chain, and if that doesn’t work, initiate a credit card dispute.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend