That’s just splendid! Carnival refunds dead passenger’s fare

splendorNow there’s a headline I thought I’d never write. But it’s true: Carnival has refunded a passenger’s cruise fare after a last-minute cancellation.

A few special circumstances apply to her Mexico itinerary on the Carnival Splendor, though.

Mara Adelman, her daughter, picks up the story.

Over three months now I have been unable to recover my refund with Carnival. On June 21st, Carnival canceled our cruise to Mexico due to an approaching hurricane.

Due to the economy, Carnival canceled all ships until September – or so we were told.

My 95-year-old mom lived in Puerto Vallarta and I had to get her back to the USA for medical check-ups. Since she needed oxygen and suffered from altitude problems, we had to take the boat.

Carnival never notified me or my travel agent of the cancellation, although they had all my contact information and email. Thus, at great risk to my mother, we flew home.

The stress of this trip without oxygen and the altitude problems resulted in such stress to her body that she suffered greatly upon our arrival home. She died two months later.

Although we had trip insurance and I emailed the earlier hospice letter, her doctor’s letter, and finally her death certificate to Carnival, we have not received either a response nor refund from this cruise line. My AAA travel agent has worked hard on our behalf to obtain the refund.

Do you think people who have been through so much grief, anxiety, and great effort have to endure this insult from Carnival Cruise?

A few notes about Adelman’s experience: Carnival should have notified her travel agent about the cancellation, and her agent should have told her. Under its cruise contract, it should offer a full refund for a canceled voyage. But as I read the fine print, I’m not entirely sure. Section 7 reads:

(d) If the performance of the proposed voyage is hindered or prevented … [by] any other cause whatsoever or if Carnival or the Master considers that for any reason whatsoever, proceeding to, attempting to enter, or entering or remaining at the port of Guest’s destination may expose the Vessel to risk or loss or damage or be likely to delay her, the Guest and his baggage may be landed at the port of embarkation or at any port or place at which the Vessel may call, at which time the responsibility of Carnival shall cease and this contract shall be deemed to have been fully performed, or if the Guest has not embarked, Carnival may cancel the proposed voyage without liability to refund passage money or fares paid in advance.

The way I see it, Carnival is saying that if a hurricane threatened Puerto Vallarta, it could keep Adelman’s money. (I’m not a lawyer, so maybe I’m missing something.)

I checked with Carnival. Here’s what it told me:

As Ms. Adelman indicates, her mother took the Carnival Splendor as a means of transportation between Puerto Vallarta and Los Angeles. Carnival changed the itinerary of the Carnival Splendor’s June 21 cruise due to weather. Ms. Adelman and her mother were unable to return to Los Angeles via the ship and, per her doctor’s instructions, were advised to fly.

Ms. Adelman submitted a claim to her insurance and it was denied.

We understand that Ms. Adelman’s mother subsequently passed away and, as a gesture of goodwill, it was determined last week that we will be providing Ms. Adelman a refund in the amount of $1,288.

How interesting. So Adelman had insurance, but her claim was denied (probably because of a pre-existing condition). For three months, Carnival didn’t communicate with Adelman or her agent. And then, after I inquired about her case, Carnival says it made a decision to refund her fare a week earlier, but that it hadn’t told her yet.

OK, then.

Here’s my takeaway from cases like this: Once you pay for a cruise, kiss the money good-bye. Your insurance company and cruise line will do everything in their power to keep the money — whether you sail or not.

(Photo: Miss Shari/Flickr Creative Commons)

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