I got the worst view on the cruise! I want a refund

Will a terrible view on this cruise lead to a refund?

Sevil Macmot found the view from her guaranteed oceanview cabin aboard Costa Cruises’ Mediterranea stunningly terrible. She says her dream vacation was ruined when the cruise line assigned her to the cabin with the worst view. Instead of Norwegian fjords and the deep blue sea, she saw hanging lifeboats and technical equipment out her window.

Now Macmot wants to know who selected her for this disappointing cabin with the terrible view — and why.

Oh, and she wants a refund, too. But is that a reasonable request?

Macmot’s tale is one that should give pause to anyone currently planning a cruise and looking for a good deal. Although there are plenty of bargains available, it’s imperative to make sure you understand precisely what you’re booking. Otherwise, you, too, might be setting yourself up for a giant letdown when you open the door to your cabin.

Booking a Guarantee Oceanview cabin on a cruise through picturesque Norway

Early last year, Macmot began planning for her summer vacation. She had decided to take a cruise through Northern Europe.

A search on the internet brought up a company called American Discount Cruises. Browsing through the offerings, she found a nine-day cruise leaving from Amsterdam on Costa Cruises. The price for a Basic inside cabin fell within her budget and, after a little deliberation, she decided to book.

But as Macmot scrolled through the various screens, a pop-up advised her of a great opportunity. If she paid just $600 more, she could upgrade to the Guarantee Oceanview cabin category.

Mulling it over, Macmot thought about gazing out her cabin window as the ship navigated the narrow waterways between the picturesque mountains of Norway. That vision made her decision easy: The oceanview cabin would be well worth the extra money. She clicked on the button for the upgrade to the Guarantee Oceanview cabin category and completed the booking.

Soon Macmot received all the documents for her journey, and she eagerly anticipated the upcoming adventure.

The view from this cabin is terrible! Where is my guaranteed oceanview?!

Did she get the cabin with the worst view on the cruise ship?
The path of the cruise through Norway’s fjords. Macmot thought she had booked a guaranteed oceanview cabin

Several months later, Macmot flew to the Netherlands to begin her journey through Norway.

Checking in for the cruise was a breeze, and Macmot followed the ship’s map to her room. She was looking forward to settling into the cozy cabin — the one with the front seat view of Norway’s fjords.

And then Macmot opened the door to her assigned room.

As she peered into her cabin for the first time, her eyes focused immediately on the window. There, on display was rusted equipment — she couldn’t see even a sliver of ocean. What she saw was nothing like the view she had, for months envisioned her guaranteed oceanview cabin would offer. In fact, she could not have imagined a more unappealing view for her dream cruise.

“I could only see a piece of ocean to the far right,” Macmot recalled. “And that was only if I climbed on the bed, crooked my head and smashed it against the windowpane.”

Macmot was sure there was a mistake with her cabin assignment and quickly made her way to guest services. She explained to the Costa representative that her reservation was for an oceanview cabin — guaranteed.

The Costa Cruises’ representative sympathized but explained that there was no error. According to the agent, Macmot’s assigned cabin was considered an oceanview room.

Macmot was stunned.

There was no possible way for Macmot to enjoy the terrible view from her cabin on this cruise. The turn of events crushed all of her expectations.

Surprise! Here's your Oceanview cabin!!
The terrible view that confronted Macmot when she opened the door to her cabin

“Why did you assign me to the cabin with the worst view on the ship?”

Now instead of relaxing aboard the Mediterranea, Macmot was filled with anger. She turned her sights on the online booking agent she used to reserve the cruise.

Macmot hoped the company could quickly correct its error before she spent even one night in the unacceptable accommodations. She asked that they reverse their mistake and to move her out of the cabin that had, what she believed to be, the worst view of the entire ship.

Unfortunately, the response from American Discount Cruises soon dashed Macmot’s hopes for an easy fix. There was no error. Costa Cruises had assigned Macmot to the cabin with the obstructed view because of the terms of her contract.

Based on the description of the room assignment that you chose to book, Costa chose to assign a room that has an obstruction. Since you booked a Guarantee Basic Stateroom, and [the instructions on our site] advised you there was a chance that you could be assigned a cabin with an obstruction, there is no service failure that has occurred here. The stateroom you were assigned was within the description of the room type you selected. We hope despite the obstruction, you are still enjoying the light coming into your room, and the many other features that Costa Mediterranea has to offer. (American Discount Cruises)

Macmot’s dream cruise was off to an unpleasant start, and she definitely was not enjoying it.

Many travel fiascos can be avoided by reading the contract

Now Macmot went through all the terms and conditions of her cruise contract and her reservation with American Discount Cruises. She realized that it was a critical error not to have read the documents before she booked the trip.

Of course, Macmot certainly is not the first traveler to overlook all the terms of a confirmed booking. Unfortunately, the Elliott Advocacy team receives many requests for help from consumers caught in similar situations. These distressed travelers all have one thing in common: They neglected to read the contract — until it was too late.

What is a Guarantee Basic Oceanview cabin anyway?

With growing anger, Macmot read the information about the Guarantee Oceanview room category. She suddenly felt duped.

It would seem like common sense to assume that if your contract says you’ve booked a Guarantee Oceanview cabin category that you’ll be staring at the ocean from your cabin. But as Macmot found out, that is not necessarily the case.

A Guarantee Oceanview cabin is simply a guarantee that the passenger will receive a cabin in the oceanview category or above. In exchange for a slightly lower price or the lure of a potential upgrade, the cruiser agrees to allow the cruise line to select their cabin. This scheme allows the cruise line flexibility to fill cabins at its discretion.

The Guarantee cabin assignments are usually doled out a few days or occasionally a few weeks before the cruise. And part of the agreement when a cruiser books a Guarantee stateroom is: You get what you get within your chosen category or above — and you don’t complain.

Save money booking a Guarantee Stateroom, but it’s a gamble

Unfortunately, there are almost always undesirable cabins within each category on every ship.

Among other things, the cabins that may be assigned to passengers booked in the Guarantee category may:

  • Have an obstructed view
  • Be near noisy equipment or an elevator
  • Be in the vicinity of a late-night disco or restaurant
  • Have an unusual shape or configuration because of the structure of the ship

Many cruisers book a Guarantee Stateroom in the hopes that, in the end, they will receive an upgrade to a higher category. Others book this category to save a bit of money. The passengers who reserve this category always have a chance of getting a zonk for a cabin. But on the other hand, they also have a chance of the cruise line upgrading them to a higher level category if the lower level category becomes filled.

Booking a Guarantee category on a cruise is always a gamble. But it’s one that many seasoned cruisers who understand all the risks love to take.

However, it was a gamble that Macmot had no idea she was taking. She only wanted an oceanview cabin and she thought that is what American Discount Cruises guaranteed her when she booked the Guarantee category.

But throughout the cruise, each time Macmot peered out at her terrible view, she was reminded of what she now knew: Booking a Guarantee Oceanview category doesn’t mean a guaranteed unobstructed oceanview cabin.

Here is your Guarantee Oceanview cabin!! Really?
Does this cabin have the worst view on the cruise? Macmot believes so

And once Macmot returned home, she focused all of her fury on the online booking agent.

Did the booking agent select this cruise cabin with the terrible view?

Somewhere along the line in this fiasco, Macmot became convinced that the booking agent chose this cabin with the terrible view for her. This belief is what led her to demand a refund from the company.

I paid extra $600 for literally “a hole in the wall.” I understood that the cabin could be anywhere on the ship and any size within the category. But you guaranteed me an “oceanview” cabin. It was you that took this cabin, not Costa Cruises.

You ruined my once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy the fjords coming and going. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Hiding behind EV description, which did not say a word about obstructed view.

Macmot ended her letter with a demand for a refund of the $600 that she paid for the “upgrade.”

If you lose the Guarantee cabin gamble, you aren’t owed a refund

In its response to Macmot, American Discount Cruises (ADC) explained that passengers who select the Guarantee category are agreeing to let the cruise line choose their cabin. ADC does not choose a cabin for any traveler. The company’s online booking form details this information during various steps that Macmot took while self-booking her cruise.

[A pop-up occurs] when you select a rate that has specific restrictions, such as a guarantee cabin or a non-refundable rate. In your case, your rate was a non-refundable Guarantee Oceanview. Within the pop-up, it states that location [of your cabin] is determined at the cruise line’s discretion. You can’t proceed with booking your reservation until you select “Continue,” thus confirming that you have reviewed any important information included in the pop-up. (American Discount Cruises)

Later pop-ups in the reservation process instruct the traveler to read through the terms and conditions. There is no way to proceed to the next screen until the customer clicks the box that indicates they’ve read and agree to the terms.

“Within the terms and conditions, there is a specific section about Guarantee categories,” the ADC representative explained. “It states, “Please note that depending on the category you end up assigned to, some accommodations may have obstructed views.”

The bottom line: A Guarantee Oceanview category is not the same as a guaranteed unobstructed oceanview

ADC ended their correspondence with Macmot by reiterating that she received a cabin, selected by Costa Cruises in its oceanview category. Regrettably, the cruise line assigned her to a cabin with an obstructed oceanview, but that was part of the gamble of the lower price cabin. The ability to select a specific cabin comes at a higher cost.

American Discount Cruises turned down Macmot’s demand for a refund. The representative suggested that in the future, she not use the Guarantee category feature if she would like a specific type of room.

And although Macmot requested that our team ask American Discount Cruises to refund the cost of the upgrade to the cabin with the worst view on this cruise, we’re unable to do so based on the terms and conditions of her contract. What we can do is use her unpleasant experience to help others avoid the same disappointing cruise fiasco.

Here is how you can avoid getting the cabin with the worst view on your cruise

  • Read all the terms of the booking and your contract: As previously mentioned, it’s critical to read through all of the terms of your booking, especially warning pop-ups. The information that Macmot needed to know about her cruise category was contained in those documents. Unfortunately, she hadn’t taken the time to go through the lengthy terms and conditions.
  • Use a travel advisor: Because Macmot had booked her cruise online, she never actually spoke to anyone about the details. This lack of guidance led to the unfortunate cruise fiasco that followed. Macmot had a specific vision in mind for this journey and a professional travel advisor could have made it happen. Using a travel agent who has experience with your particular destination or mode of travel can minimize vacation disappointments — including unwanted terrible views. Consumers can find recommendations for skilled agents who specialize in cruises through the American Society of Travel Advisors‘ (ASTA) website.
  • Don’t book a Guarantee or Basic category cabin: If a specific view, location or style of cabin is a critical component to the enjoyment of your cruise, don’t book the Guarantee (mystery) cabin category. Pay for the category in which you can select your exact cabin before your cruise begins.
  • Visit cruise forums: Visiting forums, such as Cruise Critic, where experienced cruisers share their insights into various ships and specific cabins, can provide valuable information to travelers, especially to novice cruisers.
  • Google your intended cruise: In today’s internet-obsessed world, everyone loves to review everything. Travelers can use this to their advantage by using their computer’s search engine. Type your intended cruise into your browser, and you’re certain to find lots of helpful and interesting details from fellow travelers. (Michelle Couch-Friedman, Elliott Advocacy)

Does American Discount Cruises owe Macmot a refund?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

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 Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

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

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

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