A flight cancellation sinks a Princess cruise

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By Christopher Elliott

When Joan Judice’s flight to her cruise was canceled, it created a domino effect. Every supplier involved — her airline, Princess cruise line and travel agent — took a half-step back during the resolution.

Question is: Did they step too far back?

First, let’s set the scene. Judice and her husband made reservations through an American Automobile Club (AAA) agency for a Princess Alaska cruise this summer. They took every possible precaution to make sure they arrived on time, including booking their flights a day early.

But when their 6:15 a.m. Air Canada flight to Vancouver was canceled, it threw their schedule into disarray. They ended up missing their departure. Catching up to the ship proved to be problematic.

“We had been told to get ourselves to and from the hotel and airport in Vancouver to catch up with the ship at whatever port could be arranged,” she says. “Princess agents had given us conflicting information as to how that may or may not happen.”

Eventually, they gave up.

“Given our total inexperience with cruises and the lack of faith our agent had in Princess employees whom she had spoken to, we decided to cancel our trip,” she says.

Was this an air-inclusive cruise?

Now, a cruise can be a complicated thing. There’s ground transportation, air transportation and hotel arrangements. And the inevitable questions from the commenters. Was this an air-inclusive cruise? Did they have insurance, which would have covered a trip interruption?

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Her agency secured a partial refund for the canceled cruise, consisting of a $908 refund, two cruise vouchers for $2,865 and a 20 percent off coupon for Air Canada.

Her reimbursement of $6,640 leaves her with a loss of $2,409, she says.

Is that enough?

To find out, we asked her travel agency for its take on what happened.

The travel agency’s response:

AAA researched this matter and Princess Cruises verified that Ms. Judice was refunded according to the Standard Princess Vacation Protection plan she had purchased.

Mr. and Ms. Judice experienced a weather-related flight cancellation at the start of their 11-day cruise tour. During the members’ communication with Princess …, Mr. and Ms. Judice chose to cancel their booking.

Princess Cruises is not able to provide the same cruise in 2017 for the rate the member paid in 2016. However, Ms. Judice was refunded 75% of her fare and received a future cruise credit, in accordance with the Standard Princess Vacation Protection plan.

Princess Cruises has asked to be notified when Mr. and Ms. Judice book again so the cruise line can enhance their experience in some way. AAA appreciates the opportunity to review this matter and assist our members with this and future travels.

So now we have the answer to several questions. She had trip “protection” and the air inclusive thing didn’t really matter, because the couple received a full refund after the weather cancellation plus a 20 percent coupon.

Not bad. But they still lost money.

Should they have? One look at the (PDF) policy, with its assurances that you can “put your mind at ease,” would leave you with the impression that someone like Judice is fully covered. But no, she wasn’t.

Both her agent and cruise line are right, and her request for a $2,409 refund is not in line with the terms of the policy. (Here’s what you need to know before booking your next cruise.)

So what’s the right move here? Should AAA step up and make her whole? Should Princess? Or did Judice receive enough compensation for her canceled cruise?

We have recently released an article detailing Julie Schumer’s unfortunate experience of having her return flight canceled amidst the Southwest Airlines meltdown in December. Despite Southwest Airlines refunding the money to her cruise line, Julie has encountered difficulty in obtaining a refund from the cruise line itself. This situation raises questions about the circumstances surrounding this issue. For more in-depth information on this story and other similar accounts, we invite you to explore our advocacy site.

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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. He is based in Panamá City.

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