Can this trip be saved? Carnival won’t cover mileage expenses for Splendor victims

Remember the Carnival Splendor, the ship that was marooned 200 miles south of San Diego for several days last year after a fire knocked out its power? Robert and Beverly Howell won’t ever forget it, because they were on the ship.

The cruise line claims it went to great lengths to make things right for the Howells, and other 2,300 passengers who were adrift four days and had to subsist on spam.

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But Carnival didn’t go far enough, says Robert Howell.

The couple submitted its expenses to the cruise line after their ill-fated vacation.

Howell writes,

Our travel itinerary included travel via our personal vehicle to and from Long Beach, CA and motel accommodations the night prior to the cruise (parking for seven days was included).

The motel accommodations included the additional four persons who joined us on the cruise, the entire amount was charged to our American Express account as reflected on the attached USAA American Express Account Summary.

The total amount? $904 — which includes 792 miles at 50 cents per mile, hotel expenses and unused dinner vouchers worth $105.

Howell says Carnival told him it would cover these expenses.

If Carnival promised to make things right, then $904 seems like a reasonable amount. But not to the cruise line.

Here’s how it responded to his claim:

A Carnival check in the amount of $105.00, representing a reimbursement of your out of pocket dinner expense will be sent to your address on file via regular U.S. mail. If you should require further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our Guest Care Department at [email protected]

While we would love to assist you with your request, we will not be able to reimburse you for the pre cruise hotel and mileage expenses you have submitted.

Regrettably, the hotel stay does not fall under the parameters for which Carnival is extending compensation.

Additionally, receipts for gas are the only forms of proof that will be accepted. We cannot use mile estimations as a determining factor for reimbursement. We apologize for any disappointment this may cause.

Howell responded with the following argument:

Would you only reimburse the fuel costs if we flew? You would not pay the taxes, security fees, baggage fees, or the maintenance and depreciation of the aircraft which are included in the ticket price?

These costs are all included in the amount you reimbursed your customers who chose to fly!

But Carnival is unmoved.

While we certainly understand your position, it is Carnival’s position that the offer extended was generous and appropriate and has been well received by most guests. Therefore, we must respectfully decline your request for additional compensation.

We hope you will accept our invitation to sail with us once again. We’d love the opportunity to welcome you aboard.

Something tells me the Howells won’t be booking a Carnival cruise in the near future. But should they expect the company to cover their mileage and hotel expenses?

I realize this column is called “Can this trip be saved?” but the answer to that question is painfully obvious: it can’t.

You can’t make up for a four-day Spamfest at sea, but Carnival could certainly make things a little better by making good on its verbal promises to take care of their expenses — as long as those expenses are reasonable.

According to Carnival, other guests have happily accepted its meal voucher/gas mileage compensation. Should the Howells, too?

Or should I ask Carnival to take a second look at how it handled their request?

We had more than 800 responses to the survey. It was a close one.

Update: (1/6) Here’s what Carnival had to say:

Initially we were not reimbursing for gas, just air, but after reviewing further, we made the decision to reimburse for the cost of gas for those that drove to Long Beach.

In order to be reimbursed, we asked guests to send us gas receipts or bank statements that would detail the cost of the gas they purchased for this trip.

If a guest is unable to provide receipts, then the maximum refund for gas is $100.

Upon reviewing Mr. Howell’s situation, he apparently does not have receipts indicating how much he paid for gas so we will be providing him with a $100 reimbursement. We also provided him with reimbursement of $105 for dinner prior to his cruise.

Like other guests on the Carnival Splendor, Mr. Howell received a complimentary future cruise, a full refund of his cruise fare and reimbursement for all onboard purchases.

As for hotel expenses, we are not refunding hotel stays for those who opted to stay at a hotel the night prior to the cruise.

(Photo: Ray’s c ruise blog)