This is how to miss your Carnival cruise and lose your money too

If you miss your Carnival cruise but have no trip insurance in place, you may be out of luck.

After unexpected knee surgery, Alijahnea Cooley and her mother missed their Carnival cruise to the Bahamas. Although Cooley neglected to insure this “dream” vacation, she wants our advocacy team to help retrieve her lost money. Is that possible?

Cooley’s story underscores two points when planning a cruise or special trip. One is to check your travel company’s contracts to determine what obligations the company owes you. You might not be able to get a refund for your expenses if you aren’t able to travel. The second point is the importance of travel insurance for expensive trips. Not having it means that lost travel expenses may be sunk costs — and any attempt to recover them will run aground.

Don’t miss your Carnival cruise with no trip insurance in place

Cooley wanted to fulfill her mother’s dream of flying on an airplane and cruising outside the U.S. She booked a cruise to the Bahamas on Carnival through a third party, which she didn’t identify, for herself and her mother. She paid $1,060 for the cruise, which included $355 to the third party. We don’t know whether the third party suggested Cooley purchase travel insurance coverage, but Cooley didn’t do so.

As things turned out, this was a serious omission. Two weeks before the cruise departure date, Cooley’s mother needed surgery on her knee. She would not be able to travel. Cooley then canceled their trip. The third party credited Cooley its $355 payment.

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Carnival, however, issued Cooley a credit of only $200. The cruise line later offered her a credit of $268. But Cooley feels that Carnival let her down.

“This simply wasn’t our fault,” says Cooley. “I refuse to lose out on money I work hard to get over something that was out of our control.”

Miss your Carnival cruise — lose your money

Sadly for Cooley, the credit she received, which probably represents port fees and taxes, is all she can expect from Carnival. When passengers cancel their cruises within 14 days of the departure dates, Carnival assesses a cancellation charge of “100% of Total Fare.” The cruise line’s ticket contract indicates that this charge applies to all cruises, regardless of the reasons for canceling.

Had Cooley purchased travel insurance with trip cancellation coverage, she could have requested that her insurance carrier reimburse the cruise fares. Then she could have purchased tickets for herself and her mother for a future cruise.

A canceled cruise under these circumstances won’t lead to a refund

Cooley asked us to help her get a credit for the full $1,060 she paid for the cruise. But our advocate, Dwayne Coward, told her that she isn’t entitled to a refund:

Unfortunately, if you canceled the cruise within the penalty period as stipulated on your confirmation, then the cruise line does not have to provide a refund. This is why it is important to have a good travel insurance policy to provide coverage for unexpected events such as this.

Cooley responded: “Well, I got some legal advice and was told if they raised it up once [then] they’ll do it again, so I guess I’ll keep trying on my own.”

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Dwayne suggested that if Cooley writes to Carnival executives, following our recommendations for fixing consumer problems, Carnival might offer her a goodwill gesture. He also invited Cooley to post in our forum about her case.

If Cooley observes the three P’s of consumer advocacy — patience, politeness, and persistence — maybe she and her mother will embark on the cruise of her dreams.

But her response to Dwayne’s suggestions suggests that it’s doubtful that Carnival will give her the resolution she wants:

Maybe you’re misunderstanding me. All I want is a refund in a credit form to put towards another cruise. That’s it, that’s all!! But I want the refund amount that I paid to them; it’s not like they’ll be losing money because it’ll still go to them. I’m not getting the help I thought was going to get, so I’ll just continue on my own like I said before!

Meanwhile, we’re weighing anchor and adding her story to our Case Dismissed collection.

Should cruise lines be required to issue at least partial refunds even when passengers cancel within two weeks of a departure date?

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Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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