Do I deserve a refund for a closed pool?

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By Christopher Elliott

As a silver-level Latitude program member, Judith Pearlstein counts herself among NCL’s top customers. So when her Presidents’s Day weekend cruise to the Bahamas didn’t go as planned, she expected the company to step up and make things right.

It hasn’t — at least not yet. She’s hoping I can nudge it into action.

I’m not sure what to do.

At the center of Pearlstein’s grievance is a pool; a closed pool, to be exact.

For two out of four days, the pool on the NCL Sky was closed. NCL tried to minimize the impact to passengers by waiting until the ship was in port in Nassau, but that didn’t make any difference to Pearlstein and her family of six, because they decided to stay on board.

She feels the work was unnecessary.

“It consisted of sanding a bench,” she recalls. “It was routine.”

The Sky has another pool, but it’s only for adults and doesn’t have any handicapped access — both of which Pearlstein and her family required.

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She says the closure was arbitrary and unfair.

“It was unnecessary and mindless, with little thought given to the passengers,” she told me.

Pearlstein spoke with a manager about the closure, and received an apology and a total of $100 in room credits — $50 to each cabin. But she feels she deserves more.

“Passengers paid for the use of all facilities, including the pool,” she says. “It would seem that a full refund is in order or a replacement cruise in the future.”

Lost in limbo

NCL has refused to sweeten its compensation offer, despite letters and photos sent to its CEO threatening to take this case to the media. Now Pearlstein wants me to get her money back from NCL.

I’m not sure if my advocacy team and I can — or should.

A ship needs constant maintenance, as anyone who has ever owned a boat can attest to. Some of it can wait, but I don’t know when they might have done these repairs. Had they waited until after hours to sand the benches, even more customer might have complained. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

How could NCL have known that the pool was the most important amenity to her and her family?

NCL might have let Pearlstein and her travel agent know about the pool closure before her departure, if possible. But a $100 credit should go a long way toward making up for a missing amenity. (Related: Here’s how to make your NCL complaint get lost at sea.)

At the same time, I’m sympathetic to these passengers. And I’m tired of the complaints about travel companies that don’t deliver the products they promise, but force their customers to agree to onerous, one-sided “adhesion” contracts that sometimes result in the loss of their entire cruise, flight or hotel stay.

Just for once, I’d like to see a company like NCL cough up a full refund because they failed to deliver a product they promised.

I’m not sure this is the time. In fact, I have a feeling it’s going to be a long wait.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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