Help! My cruise is gone and so is my upgrade


Here’s an interesting question raised by what is probably an unsolvable case: When your cruise is nonrefundable, what happens to the upgrade you purchased?

That’s the problem faced by Stan Krehbiel, who booked a cruise tour through luxury tour operator Tauck earlier this year. He didn’t purchase the optional cruise protection, a decision he now regrets.

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A few days before his vacation, he began feeling sick. He visited his cardiologist, who delivered some bad news.

“After doing an echocardiogram, he discovered my ejection fraction had inexplicably dropped to 30 percent,” he says. “That, along with my arrhythmia, caused him to suggest I cancel the trip and install a defibrillator as soon as possible.”

I’m not an MD, but that sounds serious.

He contacted Tauck to find out about his options.

I asked if under the circumstances they would give any consideration to at least a partial refund, even though I had not purchased the trip insurance. I was told that it was too late on such short notice to get anybody else on the trip and that they had expenses with the ship even if no one occupied the cabin.

That’s a tough loss. But Krehbiel saw a silver lining. He’d booked the cruise with two other couples and had been talked into spending an extra $4,900 to upgrade his cabin. He decided to give his upgraded cabin to one of the couples.

“Having been told by two people prior to my cancelling my reservation that the cabin would be empty, I called back and told them that since I had paid for the cabin, I would like for them to transfer it [to my friends],” he says. “I was told that would be impossible since they had a waiting list for people to take that cruise. Of course, that came as a shock to me since I had been told by two previous people that it was too late to make any changes.”

So not only was the cabin nontransferable, but it turns out his “empty” cabin would be sailing with someone else in it. In other words, Tauck would pocket his cruise fare, even though someone else would be paying for his cabin, too. At least, that’s how Krehbiel saw it.

“My friends will be on board in their original cabins while Tauck will collect additional revenue at my misfortune,” he says.

This is interesting to me because in this day and age of unbundling, a cruise cabin and an upgrade are technically two separate products. I searched the Tauck site and couldn’t find any disclaimers that upgrades weren’t transferrable. So if a member of Krehbiel’s party couldn’t use it, then should he get his $4,900 back?

Tauck says “no.” Here’s the form letter it sent him:

Tauck’s cancellation policy does stand, and we cannot refund you for your river cruise. We have a policy and procedure in place for all upgrades and as much as we would have loved to put your friends in your upgraded cabin, that is not our reservations process and we must follow our standard procedure. Tauck’s cancellation policy for our river cruises is clearly stated in our brochures below:

Guests without Cruise Protection cancelling 29-1 days before departure incur loss of 100% of cost of cruise.

Please try and understand our position, in that we cannot make an exception for you when we have others who also did not purchase the Cruise Protection Plan and incur this same penalty when they cancel with the time period listed above.

Thank you for your understanding and do not hesitate to contact us with anything we can do for you in the future.

I agree with Krehbiel that there is a difference between the cruise fare and the additional cost of an upgrade. I’m troubled by the inconsistencies in Tauck’s response to him when he tried to salvage what he could of the cost of his cruise.

Also, I’m bothered by the way they hammer away at their cruise protection plan which, by the way, wouldn’t have covered this passenger’s pre-existing condition unless he bought it within 10 days of making his reservation.

That said, I’m virtually certain Tauck will tell me the same thing. Not only can it keep his money, but it can resell the cabin and the upgrade to someone else, and it’s completely legal. But should that stop me from trying to help this customer?

Should I mediate Stan Krehbiel's case?

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Update (5 p.m.): Tauck has responded to this case on my Facebook page.

We were certainly sorry that Mr. Krehbiel became ill and wasn’t able to take his Tauck river cruise, and we hope his medical issues have been successfully resolved. We also share Mr. Krehbiel’s regret that he didn’t purchase travel insurance at the time he booked his cruise; it’s something we always advise our guests to strongly consider, for exactly the sort of situation Mr. Krehbiel experienced. Thankfully, and even though Mr. Krehbiel declined to purchase travel insurance, we still refunded him $8,600 of the $9,600 in airfare that he purchased through Tauck.

By way of review, when a guest cancels a river cruise booking (particularly just before departure as Mr. Krehbiel did), we have no way of knowing whether or not we’ll be able to successfully sell that cabin to another guest, or whether it will remain unoccupied. (Even with a waiting list, those people on the list might not be free to travel, they may have made other vacation plans, etc.)

It was therefore inappropriate (and rather surprising) for two different representatives to allegedly say that Mr. Krehbiel’s cabin would remain empty, and for a third to say the cabin would be filled simply because there was a waiting list.

In truth, we simply wouldn’t have known if his cabin would remain empty or be re-sold. Much of Mr. Krehbiel’s frustration seems to have resulted from these alleged contradictory statements, and for that we sincerely apologize. We’re reviewing the conversations that occurred with the appropriate staff members, to ensure that future communications are more consistent and better reflect the realities of such situations.

At no point are cabins and upgrades ever considered to be separate products (nor are they marketed as such), and when a guest cancels and a cabin becomes available, that cabin simply goes back into our inventory – we have no means of separating out an upgrade and applying it to another guest’s booking. Sound business practices dictate that we do our best to sell that cabin to another customer, to protect Tauck against the losses incurred when a cabin goes unoccupied. Such was the case with Mr. Krehbiel’s cabin, just as it is in all other such situations.

Once again, we apologize for any inconsistencies in our communication with Mr. Krehbiel, and we’re truly sorry that his medical issues forced him to forgo his vacation.

248 thoughts on “Help! My cruise is gone and so is my upgrade

  1. so 4,900 is just the cost of the upgrade?! wow.

    i have had instances where i had to eat 350 dollars (when i had to cancel due to due to health issue), but 4,900- that just feels wrong.

    although the OP does not legally deserve a refund i think you should try. no one deserves to loose that much for a partial fare.

    1. I believe he does legally deserve a refund…of the upgrade only. I am quite sure if he sued in small claims court, or otherwise, he would win. Apparently, the terms of the contract concerning the upgrade are unclear, and not only did Tauck pocket his money, they also resold the upgraded room and got paid twice. I think any judge would see that as unjust.

      1. You’re right morally and ethically, Legally, I’m not so sure. We’d have to read the contract carefully. Also, unlike most other areas of law, travel appears to exist in the twilight zone when it comes to legal principals. Airlines and hotels are permitted to double dip, reselling a seat or room, but not refunding the original purchasers money. In most areas of consumer law that simply is not permitted, regardless of the contract terms.

        1. This isn’t the same as upgrading a seat on a plane – this is moving up to a higher category, which is why he paid more. That’s like saying cancel the hotel, but give him the difference between a room and a suite rate, as he’d upgraded to a suite. He cancelled his CABIN, period. He is not covered.

          1. What are you talking about? Covered? Insurance? I don’t think you and I are talking about the same thing.

      2. Was his upgrade really a separate fee? When he says he “spent $4,900 to upgrade his cabin” it could be he simply selected a cabin that cost $4,900 more than he was originally planning on spending.

        In any case, non-refundable travel arrangements are quite common, and have been for decades; I don’t see that he would win in court at all.

          1. When I had a nonrefundable plane ticket and I upgraded to a better seat type then had to cancel for an unforseen illness, they refunded my seat upgrade – so the same should apply here.

    2. People – when you choose to buy first class airfare vs. coach and the price is $5000 instead of $500 round-trip, the airline doesn’t refund you the difference if you cancel. WHy is this any different?

          1. TristanMC compared airline fare to this situation. Airlines give you a voucher when you cancel a nonrefundable fare. If the fare is refundable, you get the money itself back. Either way, you get some value out of the ticket, whether that value comes in the form of cash or a voucher applicable toward a future flight.

          2. I see your point Joe and you are not incorrect in certain cases. And if you look at Tauck’s response on this thread, you’ll see that they did just that – refunded the majority of his airfare.

  2. Get them to justify pocketing 100% of the fare when they were able to rebook the room and thus not lose 100% of the revenue.

    1. They can easily justify it. The contract clearly says that a cancellation within 30 days of sailing will incur a 100% penalty and they are assessing one.

        1. I’d think if 100% cancellation penalties were unenforceable, some court or other would have ruled that way some time in the many years (decades?) that they have been in use.

          1. When I said “100%” I was referring to the amount of the penalty, not the number of companies with penalties.

          2. My mistake, and yes, innumerable courts have ruled that forfeitures and penalties are highly disfavored and must be shown to be reasonable under the totality of the circumstances.

            Travel succeeds becauseof the argument that the product is perishable and therefore the seller is unlikely to be able to resell the product and adequately mitigate its loss.

            An example: Say you have a one year residential lease which you break in month two. The landlord cannot simply sue for the remaining ten months, then turn around and re-rent the place thus double dipping. The landlord must make all commercial reasonable steps to rerent the property, and you are only liable for the landlord’s shortfall which would include additional costs in rerenting the unit such as advertisements.

  3. While not legally required to refund anything, Tauck should provide a partial refund as a moral gesture since they were able to resell the room with very little effort and probably at a higher price than the OP payed. Goodwill and good Karma go hand in hand. If you want to rebook this guest for a future cruise and get positive word of mouth from this guest with his wealthy friends that travel alot (most river cruisers), you do the right thing.

  4. So here’s my question. If you are faced with the certainty of a 100% loss, Why would you ever cancel the reservation. I assume it costs nothing to maintain the reservation and perhaps something will develop that will allow you to make some use of it, e.g. let his friends stay in his cabin.
    But if you actually cancel the reservation, any possibility of future value is permanently foreclosed.

    1. I’ve often wondered this myself… if you have insurance you are of course required to cancel, but if not, I don’t see any reason not to “stick it to the man” forcing the cabin (or a cabin, at any rate) to sail empty.

      I doubt he’d be able to “allocate” his cabin to his friends; the cruise line is going to give away the upgrade of course, but they won’t give control over the upgrade to the original purchaser.

      1. I don’t even see it as “sticking it to the man” The cabin was bought and paid for. The cruise ship got what it was contractually permitted to get from the cabin
        As far as giving it to his friends, I assume he’d probably have to do he equivalent of checking in and giving his key to his friend. I don’t cruise so I don’t know the logistics.

        1. I love your idea. Check-in and give the friends the upgraded cabin. At least he is salvaging something.

          I did that once on a flight, I was traveling with my wife and suddenly got called to work even though I was supposed to be off for a few more days. I had to fly to a different city while she flew home. My return ticket home was worth less than the change fee, so I still checked in and gave her my boarding pass so she could have 2 seats. She loved it because she was able to get a lot of work done with the extra room. However, she said she had to keep fighting off seat poachers who kept trying to take my economy plus middle seat. She finally had to tell the flight attendant and show her the boarding pass. The FA then helped defend my empty seat, the FA agreed it was a good use of a nonrefundable ticket, better than cancelling and getting no refund.

        2. And if he left the ship (which they track by card key-in and did not return, the cabin is emptied – so no, the friends could not use.

    2. I think he cancelled hoping he’d get something back.

      But once they set sail, they’d know no one was occupying that cabin and would be able to move someone else (with status, I’m guessing) into it. But at least that way, the cruise line wouldn’t be able to make any extra money.

      Although I guess once he found out he wasn’t going to get any money back, he could’ve said, “Oh, okay. Then I’ll go on the cruise” but actually not…

    3. You are correct. He would just be considered a ‘no-show’ and that would have been it! Tauck might have upgraded someone else to his cabin, such as a good past guest, or they could have let it sail empty. It was paid in full. Nowhere in the article did it mention a travel companion either! Wonder if he was a single. That would explain the higher cost of the cabin.

        1. You don’t understand the terms and conditions – you cant just give YOUR cabin to someone else – if YOU don’t use it, it is a CANCEL – when they put someone ELSE in, it is a REBOOK. This late in the game, they can’t just do so, unless off their WAITLIST. His friends obviously were not on that list.

          1. Then you have completely missed the point of my numerous posts. Of course I understand the terms of the contract. I’m putting forth that they are unconscionable in that they permit the cruise line to double dip, a result that is almost universally illegal in US law.

  5. The certain knowledge that at least some cabins for which they will not issue a refund are going to be resold at full price is part of the cruise pricing. Conversely, during slow times, they’ll be issuing at least partial refunds for cabins that cannot be resold (or resold at reduced prices.)

    If cruises were treated like apartment leases, the price would go up, period. The operator expects to make a certain amount of profit on each operating week on each ship, and if requirements change to make ticket less profitable, fares will go up to fix it. Essentially, everybody would end up paying for cancellation insurance, whether or not they wanted it.

    I’m actually kind of proud for Tauck sticking to their guns (although they shouldn’t have issued any (false) mealy-mouthed explanations for pocketing the fare); giving away refunds to people that don’t bother to purchase the insurance (and would have been covered) would mean people that were responsible and purchased the insurance would have gotten ripped off. Would those policyholders be justified in writing in and asking Chris for an insurance refund if insurance wasn’t really required to get around cancellation penalties?

    If losing your entire fare for something easily covered by insurance (and this qualifies) would really bother you, please buy the *bleeping!* insurance (or somebody’s insurance), instead of whining about what meanies they are afterwards and trying to get Chris to bail you out.

    On the upgrade: Chris, have you actually seen the invoice? Is the upgrade billed separately, or did his cabin simply cost more? (I’m not sure it makes any difference, but the whole “unbundling” idea depends on it.)

    1. Except that’s not the scenario here. The OP is complaining not so much about not getting a refund. But that he can’t let someone else use the cabin for which the cruise line has been fully paid.

      1. To prevent “fare arbitrage” (a perfectly valid concern), travel reservations on things without a permanent fixed price have generally never been transferable.

          1. That may be the case, but it makes the most sense for Tauck to treat everybody consistently. Tauck offered insurance, he didn’t buy it. They offer it so they don’t have to do any kind of investigation to decide if your circumstances warrant a refund.

          2. No free lunch. Either people decide (or not) to buy an optional product, or they throw in the equivalent for “free” for everybody by raising their prices to cover the additional cost.

          3. Its EXTREMELY rare to resell cabins on a river cruise – these are small ships with few cabins (more like 50) and the airfare is not always easy to get a last-minute deal on, so most folks (even on a waiting list) don’t choose to go when close in.

          4. It isn’t his decision to decide on this. The cruise lines have policies in place and if he cancels, others have priority. He give up rights to the cabin upon canceling. If there is no waitlist for that cabin, they might upgrade a past passenger with the company or they let it go out empty. It is their product to handle as they wish after cancelation.

          5. Of course it’s not his decision. If it were this would be easy. The ethical question of possibly selling the same cabin twice, and retaining both fees remains unanswered.

          6. As an attorney, you certainly know that time is money and charge accordingly. Many think $200-$300 an hour is a bit much for a lawyers services and it is very possible that they are double/triple dipping as they work on two or more clients at the same time. On the phone handling one client, doing paperwork for another while on hold? Waiting outside of court for one client, on the phone with another having the office work on a third? All getting charged the hourly rate?
            If these cancellation charges were not presented BEFORE a passenger booked, I could see an issue. But these are presented to a passenger before money is on a booking and at that time the passenger needs to make a decision to protect their losses, should they encounter an issue or wing it. The OP decided to wing it and just because he thinks he should be able to handle something one way, doesn’t mean the company has to do it. They have their own policies in place and I admire a company that stands behind those in this day and age of those who feel entitled to tell a company how their company should operate.

          7. The ethical attorney won’t charge two clients for the same time. period. That’s something that happens with junior associates and pond scum, bottom feeder attorneys.

            If I have to go to court and I”m handling two client matters, they each get charged 1/2 time. Incidentally, how much someone charges isn’t a meaningful discussion. My old boss charges $750 an hour and people are begging him to accept them as clients. The year he become an attorney I was learning upper case and lower case. Is he worth that? I guess so or people wouldn’t be clamoring for his assistance. He’s also the nicest guy. I learned much of my legal ethics from him.

            But the issue at hand still remains. We know what the cruise contract states. Again, that’s the easy part. The question for me though, is it right? That’s the point that’s being sidestepped.

          8. Yes. Of course. Plenty of industries rely on their customers to not actually use all the goods/services they’ve paid for in order to turn a profit. An entire profession, actuaries, even exist to figure all this out.

            – Gym contracts
            – Telecommunications
            – Airlines
            – Insurance
            – Any “unlimited” contract of any sort

            The list goes on…

          9. I didn’t say anything about not using the service. I’m talking about selling the same thing trice. Hardly comparable. For example

            In gym contracts the analogy would be selling a gym membership, charging for it, but not letting the customer use the membership
            Airlines is part of the complained about travel world with weird rules
            Insurance is highly regulated and they must pay out X% of the revenue

          10. “Selling the same thing twice”, again, is used All. The. Time. It’s the very basis of oversubscription; if resources weren’t reduced to a level where there would be some exclusion in the event of everybody using what they’ve paid for, oversubscription wouldn’t increase profit at all. There’s not enough seats for all the tickets sold on busy flights. There’s not enough rooms for all the hotel reservations. There isn’t enough money to pay for mail-in-rebates if everybody filed for them. Life Insurance companies don’t have nearly enough money on hand to pay claims if, say, smallpox were to sweep the land again. If everybody used their gym memberships, there wouldn’t be enough equipment available for everyone. If everybody tried to max out their “unlimited” internet at the same time, they’d be lucky to get dial-up speeds if they could access the internet at all. If more than a small fraction of the people with a cell phone tried to make a call at once, most would not get through.

            And not all insurance is profit-regulated; credit-life insurance and extended warranties are pretty well-known examples of this.

          11. But you’re still conflating two different issues

            Oversubscription is not part of this discussion. It is very different from double dipping. Double dipping is having sold a good or service already, the merchant resells it to the exclusion of the original purchaser without refunding the money.

            One of the numerous difference with oversubscription is the lack of an specifically identifiable item and the lack of a specifically aggrieved purchaser. Also, consider

            1. Airlines business model is not that they sell the same seat twice. Airlines will give generally give you a credit for your unused seat, so the airline is not double dipping. Further, not all airlines oversell, and when they are overbooked, there is usually generous compensation.

            2. Same with hotels. Its relatively easy to get a credit for a missed cancellation deadline, unless you actually cause the hotel to lose money. They generally aren’t trying to double dip.

            3. Life insurance, same thing. everybody dies. No double dipping.

            4. Extended warranties are not insurance. Extended warranties are also a dubious enterprise to begin with, often being pushed as aggressively as time shares, Hardly the model for ethical behavior in business.

    2. I happen to have a couple booked on a Tauck sailing next spring. Even though it is priced separately on the invoice, it is because they chose that cabin at time of booking. It is there to show the difference in the cabin prices. It’s always been that way. You book to get onboard and then, you are in whatever cabin type you choose.
      I’m very proud of Tauck! You are certainly correct. 95% of my clients take insurance or else they sign a waiver stating the obvious. Those that don’t are mostly younger and purchase trips that I guess they can stand to lose the money on.
      It wouldn’t be fair to those responsible enough to protect their investment if everyone who didn’t get a refund just because they whined to Chris! I say NO to Chris….

    3. But this is no large cruise ship – just a river cruise – around 50 cabins. So harder to resell than a big cruise.

  6. Why is their response classified a “form letter”? While it does contain some standard language, it also references his more unique circumstances.

  7. Bring on the down votes but I don’t think that Chris should take this one on. I fail to understand why anyone with an known cardiac condition would take a non-refundable vacation worth thousands of dollars and not insure it. Beyond that, I have cruised a fair amount (but not with Tauck). I have never seen an cabin upgrade listed separately. Almost always its an different fare (Cabin A is $x / Cabin B is $y) where they allow you to apply your deposit to the higher fare. So its like buying a non-refundable first class ticket and expecting the airline to refund the difference between a non-refundable economy ticket and the first class ticket. Umm…No.

    Sorry but this is a non-refundable means exactly that situation to me.

    Edit: Fixed a run on sentence

      1. “After doing an echocardiogram, he discovered my ejection fraction had inexplicably dropped to 30 percent.” The key word there is dropped. It means that he had established a baseline and they were monitoring his condition.

        “That, along with my arrhythmia, caused him to suggest I cancel the trip and install a defibrillator as soon as possible.” This suggests that his arrhythmia was known. He doesn’t say that they also found an arrhythmia.

        “A few days before his vacation, he began feeling sick. He visited his cardiologist, who delivered some bad news.” So he feels sick and he sees his cardiologist. He doesn’t say… I felt sick and my doctor after running some tests referred me to a cardiologist. He already had one.

        When taken together, all three strongly suggest that he had a known cardiac condition and was already under the care of a cardiologist before this incident occurred.

        1. That could be true, but most arrhythmias are completely benign and require no treatment whatsoever. It might just be something he is used to. Relate it to if someone is having gastrointestinal issues. Perhaps they’ve been to a gastroenterologist in the past because of symptoms, and the doctor says he has IBS or something like that. He then develops some additional symptoms and goes back to the doctor and finds out he has colorectal cancer. It doesn’t mean that it was a pre-existing condition that he should have known about.

          1. @marie3656 I might agree with you if the only thing mentioned was the arrhythmia but its the totality of the circumstance. He felt ill so he sees his cardiologist? Most people see their general practitioner first when they feel ill. It suggests that he may have had a cardiac incident in the past that caused him to feel similar and that’s why he went back to his cardiologist.

            To use your example … I would probably call my doc not my GI if I had a stomach ache. I would call my GI if I had had a significant GI issue in the past (say Crone’s disease) and was having the same symptoms again.

            Like I said, its a number of things taken together that points toward a history.

          2. Here’s where seeing a lot of patients in the ED pays off (and who their primaries are). A lot of older patients use their cardiologist as their primary if they are otherwise pretty healthy. You’d be surprised. And if you have a heart issue and your heart feels weird (you’d know that feeling right away if you’d ever had it before, believe me), you call your cardiologist, not your primary. Not to mention that is standard to have your ejection fraction checked when they do an echocardiogram as part of a routine workup when you’re diagnosed with a new arrhythmia. It’s just one of the measurements you do with an echo. If they did a repeat echo, it would be normal for them to check that again.

          3. @JewelEyedGamerGirl:disqus I think you proved my point when you said “And if you have a heart issue and your heart feels weird (you’d know that feeling right away if you’d ever had it before, believe me)” and having the work up. He had an issue. It may have been under control but he had an issue.

          4. You don’t understand the actual significance of what I’m telling you. Your failure to grasp what I’m talking about doesn’t mean I proved your point. I’m not the only one who has pointed this out, but far be it for me to suggest you listen to anyone who knows anything you don’t about medicine.

          5. No need to be so testy. What you said is people who have heart issues know when they’re having another heart issue. That is exactly what John was contending; that this gentleman had a pre-existing condition. I’m lost on why somebody like him wouldn’t go with the optional insurance. He was penny-wise and pound foolish in this case.

          6. Did you read Marie’s post about arrhythmias and how most of them are completely benign and just require occasional monitoring? You can feel an arrhythmia and you can feel if it changes. It apparently feels like there’s a fish flopping around in your chest. You can feel it even if you don’t have a history of arrhythmia, but you may not know what it is immediately. Hypothyroidism is a pre-existing condition too, but there’s no reason for your average person to believe that they’re going to be thrown into a thyroid storm if they’re managing their thyroid as instructed. It can still happen, but the odds aren’t sufficient that you should expect it. It’s in no way as if this man should have reasonably anticipated this result, especially if he has had, like many, a stable baseline arrhythmia for much of his life.

            What I WILL say, is that if I had an arrhythmia that even remotely might change and require cardioversion, even if no sane person would have a reason to think it would happen based on that kind of history, there is no way I’d want to be trapped on a cruise with an incompetent cruise doctor who won’t do anything more than give me an aspirin and pat me on the head because he apparently couldn’t hack it as a real doctor. I am sufficiently paranoid about the care one receives on cruises and the way cruiselines handle sick patients that I wouldn’t risk it if I thought I could even remotely come down with a condition that requires hospitalization.

            And lastly, I don’t think it’s testy to take umbrage when someone reads what you say selectively, doesn’t understand it, and then decides to assume you’ve made his point for him. If I were making his point for him, I’m sufficiently clever to understand that is what’s to be made of the information and then agree to begin with.

          7. I think you’re missing the forest for the trees. Insurance to protect expensive trips is a best-practice, in my opinion, even for the healthiest of people. For those with known conditions where they sometimes feel like a fish is flopping around in their chests, it should be a total no-brainer. Makes no difference how serious a condition is, as long as a flare-up at precisely the wrong time could derail your expensive trip. The OP would have recovered thousands of dollars if he’d just spent roughly an extra $500 on the insurance. (Now, as others have noted, it’s possible insurance would have declined coverage based on it being a pre-existing condition, but at least then he’d have an argument over how the insurance was defining his particular case. The way he handled things, he had no argument whatsoever and was simply out the money.)

          8. Which is then, depending on timing, considered a pre-existing condition according to the insurance companies! I’ve been through this type of cancellation before with several of my clients. It all depends on how much time has passed between Dr. visits. But I totally agree with John.

        2. If all this is true, he could have gotten nothing back even if he paid for insurance.

          The insurer could argue that he was not fit for travel when he made his payment (even if he wasn’t aware that he wasn’t fit for travel at that point).

          1. Tauck covers pre-existing conditions per Chris’s narrative so he would have been covered there.

            TG I know covers preexisting conditions if you purchase the correct policy in the first 15 days after deposit

            Edit … Just checked and Allianz would cover them too (if purchased within 14 days)

          2. No, they don’t cover pre-existing conditions if you were not fit to travel at the time you made the payment.

            You have to satisfy ALL the conditions of the pre-existing condition exclusion waiver.

          3. As long as your condition is under control when you wrote the policy and your doctor will sign a letter to that, the wavier will cover you. At least for TravelGuard in the State of OH (had to file a claim)

            Edit: You are correct that it would not cover him after he went to the doctor.

          4. Unless he saw the cardiologist at about the same time or after he made his payment, and got tested and received a clean bill of health to travel at that time, then he probably can’t prove he satisfies the requirements.

          5. Depends on the look back period. It might be different for different policies even within the same Insurance provider. One has to read the policies very carefully before deciding which one to purchase. But most say you do have to be physically OK and able to take the trip when you purchase it.

          6. Not true – as long as he was not TREATED and then turned around purchased, he is covered – have MANY clients who fall into that category, and have many successful claims in those instances.

          7. You are referring to just one criterion (out of several) for determining whether a medical condition qualifies as a pre-existing condition or not.

            I’m referring to the criteria for whether someone qualifies for the pre-existing condition waiver.

            Chris Elliott and John Baker were both positing that the OP had a pre-existing condition.

            And you are being completely disingenuous here, because even if the OP was not treated, his SYMPTOMS could very well qualify as a pre-existing condition anyway. (“symptoms which would have prompted a reasonable person to seek diagnosis” are a pre-existing condition)

            We’ve seen Chris report on claims turned down on this exact basis. And, of course, you agreed with the insurer:


          8. When are you going to stop condescending to other posters? Credentials don’t make you right. If you think I’m missing something, feel free to explain.

            Otherwise, anyone can verify what you wrote in the comments in the insurance denial story I linked to (were you licensed to sell insurance then?)

            You didn’t think it mattered then that the patient was “not treated.” You agreed that “symptoms which would have prompted a reasonable person to seek diagnosis” are a pre-existing condition.

            Anyone can also read a TG or AA (now Allianz) policy for themselves to verify the the language I’m citing re: pre-existing conditions and the waiver.

            And you don’t want anyone to point this out?

          9. You referred back to someone who HAD been treated in the preceeding dates (a specific medical treatment or new medication), however just having a heart condition in your record is NOT considered a pre-existing condition, and I have MANY clients who fall into that category who successfully purchase AND CLAIM AGAINST in this case. I think the only reason you EVER post (against me, Tony_A, etc) is to hear yourself talk, but you never listen to anyone else who has practical experience, and just keep coming up with hair-brained arguments with no basis in fact. Perhaps listen first, and stop trying to show off your LACK of experience and knowledge.

          10. You referred back to someone who HAD been treated in the preceeding date

            Read more carefully before you dig yourself deeper and engage in personal attacks to boot. The OP I referred to bought her policy on July 19, 2011. There was no treatment or appointment for her father until July 28, 2011. Access America cited the symptoms clause (“stomach pain for the past one and a half months”).

            So do you take back your opinions here or the opinions you posted on that case?

            No answer for us? Everyone makes honest mistakes. But you have a pattern of hiding behind credentials, insults, and bullying when someone points out a problem with a comment of yours. Which makes me wonder, are these really honest mistakes or you talking about of both sides of your mouth for your own self-serving purposes.

    1. I fail to understand why anyone with an known cardiac condition would take a non-refundable vacation worth thousands of dollars and not insure it.

      Which insurer covers trips over $10K?

      Tauck’s own protection plan has a limit of $10k.

      And the only Tauck cruises I can find with a $5k difference between the cheapest and costliest cabins have fares starting around $10k. Which implies that the $5k upgrade difference was uninsurable.

      1. IF he was traveling solo, i.e. without someone else in his room, Tauck’s cruises have a huge price. I just glanced at the river cruises through France they offer and the difference can be $10K between the basic single cabin and a larger one.

        1. But they also have Solo dates that are at 50% discount (not the normal single supplement). So, there isn’t enough evidence to show exactly what he booked. Should have used a reliable Travel Professional!!!

        1. You can declare that your trip costs $90,000 but that doesn’t mean that you are insured for $90,000. The premium cost will depend a great deal on your age.

          Looks like the highest tier plans will cover pre-existing conditions (if you meet the waiver criteria) for up to $50,000. I think it’s ironic that Tauck sells a policy with a $10,000 limit given the cost of many of their trips.

          1. @Michael__K:disqus All three quoted policies cover up to the amount insured for cancellation. Both were from $45,000 a person. I set the age at 40. State as OH (since polices vary by State too). Either way, there’s two insurers that will cover trips up to $45000 a person (I think they both have $50000 limits)

          2. In the case of Tauck, for post-departure issues it clearly states:

            In no event shall the amount reimbursed under Trip Interruption exceed for $5,000 for U.S./Canada Tours or $10,000 for International Tours

            For pre-departure issues, it says:

            We will reimburse you, up to the amount in the Schedule for the amount of prepaid, non-refundable and unused Payments or Deposits that you paid for our Covered Tour

            Trouble is, I don’t see any pre-departure amount on the Schedule; just a reference to airfare cost.

            For TG and Allianz, you can quote and buy policies for trips with a declared cost of $90,000 per person. But you won’t have $90,000 per person in coverage.

            Allianz Deluxe won’t cover you for pre-existing conditions *AT ALL* in this scenario, because the pre-existing medical condition waiver criteria includes this requirement:

            “the total cost of your trip is $50,000 per person or less”

            TG Platinum will cover up to $50,000:

            “The Insurer will waive the pre-existing medical condition exclusion up to a maximum of the first $50,000 of Trip Cost per person if the following conditions are met”

          3. Again – not true. Since you do not SELL travel insurance, you should at least deign to hear out those of us who do.

          4. I’m all ears — feel free to tell us precisely what isn’t true.

            Should people who don’t sell travel insurance disregard the plain language in the contracts and rely on your advice instead?

            Selling travel insurance may mean you have knowledge but it hardly makes you an objective source.

    2. I don’t see how Chris can “take this on.” THe company is only going to talk to the customer, not CHris. They have no obligation to talk to him.

  8. It looks like it was just a more expensive cabin that he was talked into not necessarily an add on to the cabin he was purchasing. Whenever I book a cruise, room or flight I am usually offered an upgrade for a certain amount of money.

    Yet another lesson in buying travel insurance if you suffer from a medical condition. You can say what you wish about cruise lines and their practices but they are very clear on their refund policies.

  9. Although the cruise line might legally have a standing, I believe that good businesses know when to make exceptions. I’m not saying that he should have his original fare refunded, but if the upgrade was a separate product and they resold it with the understanding that he would like for his friends to use it, they should most certainly refund his money or whatever the amount of the resell was–up to the amount he paid. I know that many suggest that it sets a bad precedent, but there’s no reason that this couldn’t be policy for the cruise line. This is especially true for cruises since passengers generally book specific cabins, not just travel from A to B. It would be very easy to track which cabins were resold and refunds (minus an appropriate administrative fee and the difference in fare) could be given routinely.

    1. you can’t “sell” the upgrade – he has a better cabin, that’s all – they aren’t going to refund the difference between a less expensive cabin and what he booked – nonsense!

      1. It’s not nonsense. It happens. People sometimes book travel (flight, cruise, etc.) and then later are offered an upgrade for a significantly reduced cost. Upgrade to first class for $200? Upgrade to a larger cabin for $XX? Based on the way the article described the payment, it sounds as if he had been offered an upgrade, not that he simply selected a better cabin. I don’t know if that’s the case, but it certainly happens and isn’t nonsense.

          1. I’m not sure what you mean by the bed and bathroom example, but, yes, I did mean that upgrade on a ship means a better cabin. It seems the OP paid additional money after the original booking to upgrade to a better cabin. And, if that upgrade was offered to him later for a reduced cost, then it could be considered a separate product, just like with upgrades on airlines. Here’s an example that might help. First class tickets on some airlines allow for passenger use of the airline club — but those who buy upgrades often are not allowed to use the club for free. It’s a different product that if the person bought a first class ticket outright. Regardless, the tour company should have allowed his friends to use the cabin since he had already paid for it and was not receiving a refund.

          2. Meant you can’t separate the upgrade. He purchased a cruise. Category A is the least expensive, he choose a higher category (the upgrade). Now, say he booked category F. There are people in category E who want category F, and his friends are in A – they are going to offer the cabin to the next in line, not his friends. It is the fair thing to do, and after all, the CRUISE LINE owns the cabin, not the passenger. His CABIN goes back into inventory, and is offered to the next person on the list, etc. These are ships with maybe 50 cabins, and sometimes only 2 in a particular cabin, so those who REALLY wanted that cabin might take a category lower, but if there IS a cancellation, they get first option for the upgrades.

  10. My question is …if he could afford to spent $4900 to upgrade, why didn’t he buy insurance for probably less than $400???? Makes no sense to me..especially if he had a pre existing? I voted no just because of this. If I have to buy insurance to guarantee me a refund if something happens to my diabetic husband.. then someone who could afford this costly upgrade should too. Lesson learned albeit the hard way!

    1. Tauck offers a “Travel Protection Plan” for $550 per person. In the case of the OP, if he had purchased this plan, would have received only a 50% refund for canceling so close to the cruise date. Considering how much was paid for the total cruise (Tauck cruises are not low cost!!) I fail to see why this was not purchased. Better than nothing, this is still not really insurance you can buy separately which may have given him a full refund due to the medical issue if the policy does not have pre-existing condition exclusions.

  11. I’m sorry the OP is ill, but I am so tired of reading about people who are SHOCKED, JUST SHOCKED to find out that the non-refundable fare (priced accordingly) actually means that they don’t get their $ back when LIFE happens. I’m starting to view these stories as cases of “having your cake and eating it too”. People want the cheaper fare, but still want the flexibility when the unexpected happens. Good Business/Bad Business whatever, but don’t blame the Cruise Line/Airline/Resort.

        1. That what HE asked for. Nothing wrong with asking. But he’s only asking Chris to get the Cruise line to let his friends use the cabin, not asking Chris to seucure a refund.

          1. That’s something that Chris can answer. As it stands that is not what is requested. I’ll avoid the false dichotomy fallacy.

  12. I believe what Tauck is telling him is that of the people already signed up for the cruise, there may be several who are on a list waiting for one of the cabin types the OP reserved to open up to be upgraded into, not that they have a waiting list of people for this cruise that are not already booked on it. No mention of an additional charge for the upgrade for those on the waiting list, but I’m sure there will be one. So, the OP doesn’t cruise, someone is moved into his upgraded cabin and the ship sails with an empty cabin they can’t fill.

    Are there other empty cabins on this specific cruise? Were people not purchasing the cruise because there were no cabins of this specific type available on this specific cruise? While Tauck is perfectly within its rights to not refund anything to the OP and the OP should have bought insurance, I feel it would be a nice gesture to refund the difference between the price whoever gets upgraded paid for their original cabin and the extra charge they will pay to the OP. Otherwise it sounds like unjust enrichment.

    1. I agree with you, Mark. But if I were Tauck, I would’ve just given his friends the better cabin instead of refunding him. Looks like the OP would’ve been happy with that scenario and it wouldn’t have cost Tauck anything. Of course, it wouldn’t have MADE them anything either, but just saying “no” to everything the OP asked for leaves a bad taste…

  13. The guy doesn’t deserve a refund, but it is just BS for the cruise line to totally contradict itself to act as if they can’t resell the cabin, THEN tell him there is a waiting list. No refund, but under these circcumstances, he should be allowed to let his friends use the upgrade. If only there was a way they could just “check in” for him upon arrival, get the keys to what would have been his cabin, and then just settle in. But I’m guessing that wouldn’t work. The cruise line is being very unfair with regard to the upgrade and making a “boatload” of extra money here.
    I went on one cruise during spring break in college. It was alright. Never had any real desire to go on another cruise after that and crap like this certainly doesn’t sway me.

    1. He mentioned a ‘few days prior’. It would be very difficult, even with a wait list, to re-sell that cabin on that short notice unless someone has the kind of money where they could buy air at any cost because it would be very expensive to purchase last minute flights.

      1. The cabin as bought and paid for. Under these circumstances, there is no good reason not to let his firends use it. Its too bad he couldn’t just check in and give them the keys.
        Now, the cruise line gleeful has an extra cabin that the can resell, possibly to another passenger, who is willing to pay the extra “upgrade fee”

        1. That isn’t how it works. If you cancel and someone is on a waitlist to get a similar cabin, they have priority over the friends. The waitlist is usually based on someone already booked on the same trip and pays the additional amount for the new cabin. That leaves the lesser cost cabin now open and at the last minute it may not be able to get sold.

          1. I get how it works. That’s the easy part. I’m saying that’s its wrong.
            Let me ask you this. Could the OP have checked in, given his keys to a friend, and left? Would that have worked?

          2. No, as they are not the name assigned to that cabin or paid for that cabin and they would have been told to go to their originally booked cabin and the booked passengers on the waitlist would be given a chance to move into that cabin. Pretty clear and fair policy.
            Same as if you and a friend bought airline tickets, where you upgraded but the friend didn’t. If you canceled, you can’t give your upgraded seat to your friend. The upgraded seat now goes back into inventory and a passenger on the waitlist gets it.

          3. You’re issued cards when you check in. Every time you get on / off the boat, you need to scan that card. So they would’ve flagged very soon that some ppl who had checked in were not on the cruise. So the scenario you’re asking about wouldn’t work. The friends might have been able to stay there for a few hours, but no longer than that.

          4. Easy enough to defeat depending on how comfortable you are with deception.

            The OP leaves and swipes friends card. Friend subsequently obtains new card.

          5. So unless “friend” goes in to his original cabin and messes it up a bit each day, then housekeeper reports “friend” missing, a shipwide search is carried out and “friend” is outed and charged for using a cabin that’s not his…

          6. I don’t cruise for innumerable reasons so this is outside of my experience.

            Is this universally true? Do they check the card when you leave? Seems unlikely that they would so a visual inspection for someone leaving the ship. Returning to the ship of course.

            Query. If you miss the cruise at the point of embarking, can you get on at a later place. We did that for my senior trip. The cruise was Puerto Rico to St. Thomas to elsewhere, ending in Puerto Rico. It seemed silly to fly to Puerto Rico to come right back to St. Thomas, so we arranged to embark on St. Thomas. Of course this was forever ago.

          7. Yes, on our last cruise we had to show our card to get off, that way they know to look for you to return.

          8. Both. You scan it and they look at the computer to see if you match the picture on their screen. Same on the return.

          9. Getting off a ship at a port must be a nightmare? What happens if you lose your card?

          10. They have improved the debarking procedures and it isn’t bad. Even with tendering. If you lose the card, they have your photo and they pull it up by your name and then they deal with it from there.

          11. Absolutely! Had 2 clients sail to Alaska last year, have a fight, and the one decided not to get back on – so they had to halt the sailing until she could be located (yikes!) – and that can work in some cases, but not if boarding in another US city, generally.

        2. There is no ‘upgrade fee’ explanation. You buy the cabin you prefer at time of booking. If you are booked into a lower cabin and wish to be in a larger cabin, you can be put on a waitlist hoping the cabin you want becomes available or else you sail in the one you’re booked in. If the boat is sold out, which most of them have been for months (I know this personally because I tried to get a cabin for clients this fall), someone cancels in a higher cabin than you have and you’re lucky enough to be next in the WL line, THEN you pay an upgrade fee to get into the larger cabin. We don’t know what scenario this fella had because the details are too vague!

          1. I use the term upgrade because its being bandied around. It’s in quotes because I understand that there is no upgrade fee as such. The rules and procedures are crystal clear. That’s not the issue nor the discussion. The issue is, are the rules fair and ethical? Several of us have great problems with the cruise line selling the same cabin twice. Notwithstanding the one sided contract, we see the cruise line as being unreasonable by not allowing his friends, who are also on the same cruise to use the cabin. I get the concern over fare arbitrage, but that is clearly not a realistic concern under these circumstances.

      2. I get that they might not be able to re-sell the cabin, and do not think he deserves any kind of refund. I get that part of it. But he paid for the upgrade, he should be entitled to shift it to his friends if the cruise line claims they can’t re-sell the cabin. It’s like the cruise line wants it both ways here, and that’s what is unfair. Really, he should have made his second request with the same person he spoke with that said he couldn’t cancel his cruise.

  14. Tauck made a jerk move. They were well within their right to keep all the paid fees, but to refuse to transfer the cabin to a person of his choice was petty.

    1. Were the friends on a waitlist for that type of cabin? If not, why should they get it and not another passenger who is? Sort of like cutting in line isn’t it?

      1. But if there was a line for people willing to pay a fee for the a cabin upgrade, then Tauck should have given something back to the guy.

        The reason behind refusing the refund was “We can’t sell the cabin” and now it’s “We aren’t letting you give the cabin you paid for to your friend because we have other people willing to pay for the cabin.”

        It has to be one or the other. Tauck is not being honest.

        1. No Tauck is running a business and he bought the trip knowing the terms and conditions. If there is someone on a list waiting for that type of cabin, they will pay the additional amount to get it and then their initial cabin might sit empty.
          I just paid for a nonrefundable train ticket. If I don’t travel the train company can resell my seat. I am ok with that as I knew going into the purchase what the terms and conditions were.

  15. Although I am sympathetic to Stan’s problem, this is why they have Travel Protection. Obviously he didn’t use a Travel Advisor. If everyone that had an issue and had to cancel right before they depart for a trip and didn’t bother protecting their investment, the companies they book with would go out of business returning all the monies from the cancellations. I use Travel Insurance no matter where I’m traveling because I don’t want to take any chances (had to use it three times so far). Do you have car insurance? What about homeowner’s insurance? So why not protect your investment in case of emergencies….especially if you’re traveling abroad??? HELLO, can we inquire about what would have happened to him had he had a heart attack while on the trip and he had no protection???? That would have been even more costly. Most health insurances won’t cover you once you leave the States, or they might cover part of it.
    I’ve been selling Tauck for many years and the Travel Protection has to be paid with deposit. Tauck has one of the best Travel Protection plans out there. I wouldn’t consider an upgrade a separate entity because you select the cabin you want at time of booking. Why does everyone think it should be refunded?
    If people would invest in a ‘trusted’ Travel Advisor to handle their travel instead of thinking they can do everything better themselves, this might not happen so much! I wouldn’t perform an operation on myself because I don’t know enough to do so, nor would I handle my own investments because I don’t know all the ins/outs of the business to get the best bang for my buck. Can I do so? Sure I can, but boy would I suffer the consequences! So why do people in other professions think they know enough to be a travel advisor?
    It might be too late at this point, but did anybody mention a ‘transfer of funds’? Another reason to use a Travel Advisor!
    I wish Stan the best with his surgery and recovery. I hope his heart will be OK and the very expensive lesson he learned won’t upset it any longer. Tell him not to give up on traveling the world, just get a good and trusted Travel Professional and keep him/her! They are your best friends when it comes to everything travel!
    Thank you,

      1. I didn’t put that on there & don’t know how it got there either! I don’t make a habit of posting my personal email on any blog. So much for private!

        1. Didn’t realize you could edit your posts. I haven’t posted in a long time on Elliott’s site. Been too busy, but saw his tagline on one of my social media pages and just had to read it. Got caught up in the whole thing as I am a cruise specialist and thought it would be interesting to read while on hold. Little did I know I’d be sucked into it off and on most of the day!!! That’ll teach me to pay attention to taglines!

        1. I suppose it’s just annoying that people think that every heart ailment’s worst case scenario is a heart attack. It isn’t.

          1. I think the whole point of this website is to gauge: What could I have done differently? Sometimes the answer is “nothing” and it’s just bad luck. In this case, though, I think there’s a lesson to be learned. Almost the worst thing that could’ve happened to the OP did and now he’s out a huge chunk of change. I think that’s where the “he could’ve had a heart attack” stems from.

  16. The whole resell the room bit is a red herring. The fare is non-refundable. It doesn’t matter whether they resell the room or not, its still not a refundable fare. I think the biggest issue here is the front line employee who didn’t have the guts to tell the truth and said that its too late to resell the room and it will go out empty to try and make it easier for the OP to swallow. I hate things being sugar coated, just tell the truth and move on.

    I do feel for the OP, but he also sounds pretty stand up and knows he bought a non-refundable fare and seems will to accept that. However, I also think it would have been a nice gesture of the cruise line to allow his friends to stay in his upgraded cabin under the circumstances. Do they have to? Probably not. But if I ran the company, I would make that happen.

    I know one person on here always disagrees with me, but I will say it again. They have Actuaries who do advanced-math (some say even more complicated than rocket science) and know a certain percentage of people will cancel without getting a refund. They also know they will re-sell a certain number of those rooms that have already been paid for. That all goes into the cost of the ticket which is priced accordingly. If everything was refunded, the tickets would cost substantially more for everyone.

    1. It is not technically a nonrefundable fare. Tauck charges a sliding cancellation fee based on how close to departure date you cancel. The OP was in the 100% fee window, which would have still been a 50% fee window with their protection plan. If he would have decided to cancel further in advance, he would have received some of his money back (50% to 75% depending on how many days in advance of departure without the protection policy).

      1. I should have said “Non-Refundable at the point he tried to cancel” This is still all taken into account when they price the fares, how many people will cancel within each window and such.

    2. No, the “resell the room bit” is the key. After having accepted that his room would sail empty, he “called back and told them that since I had paid for the cabin, I would like for them to transfer it [to my friends]” – only at that point was it stated that the room wasn’t actually empty. Cruise line should not be allowed to be paid twice on one cabin. Period.

    3. But he might have a top cabin on the cruise, and they the least expensive – and someone who wanted his cabin since the day he booked it has been on a waitlist to PAY for the upgrade (thats how it works). WHY should they give it away because he cn no longer go, and someone else willing to pay for it can?

      1. I’m just saying if it were my company, I would do that. I am total fine if they choose not to, and I fully support Tauck in their decision to not do that. I never said they should do that, just that it would be a nice gesture.

        1. Usually there are FEW cancellations on river cruises and HUGE waitlists for the better cabins, and they work that list versus “I think my friends shoudl take it” like here. That’s why it wouldn’t work.

  17. What a nimrod, he spends 10 grand or more on a vacation and then saves 500 bucks by not buying some Travel Guard or Access which would have covered his pre existing condition and his expenses. I said NO.
    Bet he managed to do all of this without the help of a good travel agent as well.
    Welcome to the age of I can do that: its on the internet. The travel companies love folks like this guy. He just learned the hard way about reading the disclaimers and the value of insurance. Oh and he must not read your column much, or NEVER read your column until he came whining for help, you highlight one of these bad decisions on insurance practically once a week.

  18. Wow, they’re able to resell the room and still no refund, that seems dishonest to me, despite what their policy states. I don’t usually vote yes in these instances but this seems like a case where at very least they should book him on a future cruise with a comparable room. I don’t think they deserve a refund but I think a future cruise is in order.

    1. The company knows that some people will cancel at the last minute, and that they’ll be able to re-sell the cabin for some “free” money. This is priced into the cruise fare. If they decided to either refund or issue future cruise credits for last-minute cancellations, they’d just have to raise fares to “pay” for it.

      There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

      1. Right, but unsold cabins would also be part of their pricing as well. They could easily put them in an unsold cabin or offer them on a cruise with historically low occupancy for little or no additional cost. The marginal cost of putting someone in a cabin on an undersold boat is going to be very low. I understand the company’s position entirely, but I think this is one that it might do some good if Chris mediates. Looking at their pricing we’re talking $10k-$20k cruises here and not your typical $350 carnival special.

        1. A yield manager working for a cruise line that routinely sails ships with unsold cabins will quickly be fired. It’s quite rare for a cruise ship to sail with a single habitable, yet unsold, cabin.

          1. and this being a river boat – we’re not talking about a big ship with flexibility – 50 or so cabins, and some folks on a waitlist to pay for that upgrade probably as long as he had it booked – of COURSE they’ll sell the better cabin to them.

    1. If the friends wanted that type of cabin, they could have waitlisted for it. If someone is waitlisted, then they have priority.

          1. So what.

            If a waitlisted customer “upgrades” to the OPs cabin, the cruise line has sold made three sales from two cabins. And if the waitlisted cabin is desirable, someone may “upgrade” to that as well. Thus four sales(2 straight sales, 2 “upgrades”).

            The cruise line is the big winner in this.

          2. First off, Tauck owns their own boats. Second, if passenger one cancels, passenger two, who is on the waitlist can now pay the different between the cabin they had confirmed and the one that has just opened which leaves their first cabin empty. Or they may decide not to do it. Regardless, there is one empty cabin at the last minute. Due the terms and conditions agreed to by the passengers before paying for their trip, they agreed to this.
            Keep in mind that there is more to this trip than the boat trip. Tauck has to pay vendors usually 30 days in advance, If they don’t fill that spot, they are out money. Sometimes they fill the space at the last minute, sometimes they don’t. The ‘double dip’ as you call this covers for those times they don’t. I worked for a tour company, I know how this goes down.
            Tauck has been in business for many years with a high repeat clientele. They do a good job and their policies are on par with other companies.
            I have no doubt in my mind that if you have an appointment with a lawyer and you don’t show up, you get a minimum 1 hour charge and if someone walked in the door at that time, they would be seen and charged, too.

          3. If someone cancels and gets a refund sure, I understand what you are saying.
            But this is not about a refund. This is about a cabin that was fully paid for. Thus the relevance of what you wote escapes m. Please explain how this is anything other than a windfall to the cruise ship, i.e. they are making more money.
            FYI. Your attorney analogy is incorrect. I have never encountered an attorney who charges for no shows. There may be one out there, but its the rare exception.

          4. No shows charges are happening at doctor’s offices, at restaurants and with lawyer’s who bill that client for not keeping the appointment.
            See Tauck’s response above for the rest.

          5. Are you familiar with any attorney who bills for missed appointments? I can only surmise that such an attorney is really a mill. I would avoid him or her as your case is being worked on by a paralegal, but you are paying attorney rates. I am not aware of any attorney who bills for missed appointments.

          6. We just recently started working with an attorney but his office doesn’t charge for this. However, if you look online, you will see many that do. It isn’t across the board, same as with restaurants or doctors.

          7. Even though I’m an Australian I have used Tauck for a holiday river cruise and I have to correct you in that they don’t own their own boats. Their boats are built and staffed for them by the Swiss company Scylla. Only four Tauck staff sail on the cruise. The term upgrade is misleading. Tauck sells 7 cabin categories and for this gentleman to have “upgraded” for $4500 simply means that he chose a cat 7 suite on the highest deck over a cat 1 cabin on the lowest deck which is half the size and has no window that can be opened. He would have been allocated a cabin/suite at the time of purchase and if his companions had purchased a cheaper cabin on a lower deck there was no obligation by Tauck to give them the more expensive cabin. I can’t see how it’s Tauck’s fault/responsibility to refund anything. That’s why I and most other travellers take out travel insurance. If not with Tauck then with another insurer. It was his responsibilty to be covered and I can’t see he has any right to complain.

          8. OzJohnno, as per Tauck:

            Tauck is a family-owned travel outfitter based in Norwalk, CT. Founded in 1925 by Arthur Tauck, his descendants are still very much involved in the business today. The Swiss Emerald, Tauck’s first company-owned river boat was launched in 2006. Two years later the Swiss Sapphire was launched, followed by the Swiss Jewel in 2009. The latest addition, the ms Treasures was christened by Robin Tauck who also serves as godmother of the ship, in an event held in Cologne, Germany in July 2011. The three day gala, with three generations of the Tauck family in attendance was also a celebration of Tauck’s German heritage and marked twenty years of European tour offerings.

          9. I’m sorry if this offends but you are both wrong. All Tauck river boats are owned and operated by Scylla. They are designed in partnership with Tauck but are wholly owned by Scylla and leased by Tauck. This is a fact. On the first meeting on board MS Treasures we were told by our cruise director that Tauck are a touring company not boat owners thus there are only four Tauck staff on board – a cruise director and three Tour Directors. The remaining 38 staff are supplied by and wages paid by Scylla. The Tauck/Scylla partnership is the most successful in Europe but I repeat Tauck do not own the boats. Touring with Tauck was an experience we will not forget.

          10. Tauck’s river cruise division dates back to 2001, when the company created a business development group to look into new markets. By 2004, Tauck began offering chartered river cruises, and in 2006 it launched the Swiss Emerald, which, like the Swiss Sapphire, is owned by Basel, Switzerland-based Scylla Tours AG but carries the Tauck name and is exclusive to the tour operator.

          11. I think the point is that if the OP has fully paid for that room, it is the OP, not the cruise line, who should determine how it is used. If they want to give it to their friends, they should be able to give the product that they paid for to their friends.

          12. No, they don’t determine – it is not “theirs” they merely booked space – same as a hotel or airline are not “yours” just because you booked a room or flight.

          13. Then they should have the option of how that “booked space” is used. You’re splitting hairs, but if you really want I’ll play that game back.

  19. I have taken 5 Tauck trips and am about to leave on my 6th. I have purchased insurance for every trip I’ve taken with them, even though I’ve never needed it yet. The trips are expensive, and insurance is usually ~10% or less of the total cost. He knew the risks of not purchasing insurance going in. I would actually be disappointed in Tauck if they did refund his money. Why should he be treated the same as someone who did purchase insurance? Also, there is not a separate “upgrade” charge. They simply paid for a more expensive cabin. It’s listed separately on the invoice, but it’s not actually an add-on option.

  20. Adding Tauck to the list of companies never to do business with. I can understand keeping the cost of the cruise since the guy didn’t have insurance, but the upgrade thing is totally sketchy, if not SCAMMY.

    1. I think people are getting hung up on the word, upgrade. What tour companies do, is put out pricing at the lowest category and you pay up according to better accommodation. Tauck is one the best upscale tour companies out there. I have sold them a lot with no complaints from clients or from me!

    2. I’ve travelled on 3 Tauck trips before, including a cruise. They are totally above board and I trust that they do right by their customers. You can’t judge a company’s entire existence because some guy didn’t buy insurance and is now upset that he actually needs it. Spilled milk….

    3. Wrong, Raven – he purchased an upgraded category (like versus an inside cabin you buy a suite). But there are people who booked a category below him who WANT his cabin – and are willing to pay for the difference – that is who they would sell it to. If his friends booked the least expensive and didn’t wish to pay a difference (like Premium Economy amily travellers!), why should we just assume they deserve it – they will go down the list of those who requested this to begin with. It is done all the time, and very rarely do you get lucky enough to find a last minute cancellation which gives you the opportunity.

    1. They are one of the most reputable companies out there – the fact that they follow their own terms & conditions makes it a fair company to those who DO travel with them.

  21. If a person rents an apartment for a year, but only stays 3 months is the landlord entitled to demand the remainder of rent for the year when he was able to move another renter in right away? The answer is no. Why? Because it is not a fair or reasonable practice. These company policies are in place to do one thing- to shaft the customer and line the greedy pockets of the business. If there is a waiting list and the cabin will be paid for there is no justification for taking money and providing nothing. Practices like this should be illegal.

    1. But the only reason you don’t get charged for the entire apartment lease when this happens is it is stated in the contract you sign that you will not be charged if the place gets occupied. Cruise contracts could be worded the same way, but they are not because there is no law requiring it.

      1. That’s my point earlier. Travel operates in the twilight zone of laws. Regardless of the lease wording, double dipping would be illegal. Apparantly its ok in travel.

      2. Actually I was in a similar situation in Florida. The standard state approved rental agreement stated that at the time of the agreement the renter was liable for the entire amount of the years rent, to be paid in installments monthly. There were no stipulations in that contract that changed if the house was re-rented or not. I was able to rent the house out pretty quickly, my losses were only 1 month rent and a few charges related to advertising and changing utilities. The renter balked at that and demanded I take him to court, the judge sided with me. I could not legally be entitled to the months that I had the place rented out regardless of what the legal and binding contract said (which I had not asked for anyway), but was entitled to money I would not have had to spend if the renter had not broken the contract. If a judge can over ride the contracts wording and intent in that case, why can’t they do the same to the travel industry? In other words, not let them unfairly and unjustifiably benefit from a breach of contract.

    2. Yes! Why are people such sheep when it comes to situations like this? I’d like to see a riot at an airport or a cruise-port mayor yank the docking privileges of a cruise line because one of bis city’s people got stuck by a policy like this. It only has to happen one or twice, and travel companies will start to get the message.

      1. Why do you always assume everyone is entitled to a refund on nonrefundable options, but the company can NEVER be in the right? Lala land.

        1. Because unilaterally declaring everything nonrefundable is a cancer spreading through the travel industry. It’s metastasizing because people are letting them get away with it.

  22. So he tries to cancel & they bemoan the fact his cabin will sit empty . Then he wants to give his cabin to his friends & suddenly his cabin has a waiting list of people. Does no one see the inconsistency. Remind me to NEVER book with TAUCK!

    1. Who owns the company and sets procedures? The OP?
      If the OP’s friends were on the waiting list for that type of cabin and were next on the list, Tauck might have let them, but it doesn’t appear that was the case.

  23. I’m a bit confused. How can it be possible that both: “I was told that it was too late on such short notice to get anybody
    else on the trip and that they had expenses with the ship even if no one
    occupied the cabin.” and “I was told that would be impossible since they had a waiting list for people to take that cruise.” be true? It appears that Tauck is talking out of both sides of their mouth. They appear to want to eat their cake and have it too.

    This is just another example of why I will never be taking a cruise.

  24. I’m very close to not reading this site anymore due to the volume of ‘I didn’t buy insurance but’ or ‘I bought insurance but didn’t read the coverage’ requests for help. I travel an above average volume for work and pleasure. I always use an agent when I cruise, otherwise I book travel myself (however always directly with the company and never a travel site). I don’t always get insurance. I understand what that means. When I look to buy it I read it. When I cruise I always buy the insurance through my agent, with clear instructions on what type of coverage I want. Does this make me the most amazing special person? No. But I also don’t complain if I lose money because I opted out of the insurance nor do I expect to not have the rules apply to me. Chris, I miss the articles where people were truly wronged and you were needed to fight the good fight. Now you mostly save people from the mistakes they made themselves.

      1. No Carver, it is about owning the your own decisions. Something that has all but disappeared worldwide. And no, I’m not even in my mid-40s so I’m not harking to a better time in that regard. Simply put, I have an option; buy a flight that is non-refundable or refundable. In return for taking the risk that I may not be able to go I am offered a lower price. If I opt to take it and I can go, I reep the reward of saving money. If I opt and cannot go, I took a chance and it didn’t work out this time. I don’t expect the rules to magically not apply any longer. It is risk/return and a conscience decision is made to take the low price now. A risk was taken to skip the insurance on the cruise. The reward of not needing it, and saving that money, did not happen. My point still stands; Chris has the knowledge and contacts to right many wrongs and his talents are being squandered on these complaints.

        1. Then you misunderstand the point of compassion Sometimes people make mistakes and errors. Is there no place for sympathy for the person who says,” I screwed up, please help me.”

          ” It is risk/return and a conscience decision is made”

          That’s already been proven false on this site repeatedly. We have seen people who didn’t know about travel insurance, misunderstood what was offered, were mislead into what was offered, didn’t appreciate the risks, or just didn’t even think about it,

          1. I know what compassion means, but thank you for your input, lol. I agree that people do not educate themselves properly before spending their (I assume) hard earned money. Booking travel without insurance is almost impossible since you are usually hammered with it at every stage of the booking process. But ignorance is not a defense.
            Regardless, the result is not something that ‘should’ be shifted to another. Many here appear focused on ‘should’ which is not what I believed to the be point of this site, the company did nothing wrong from that standard. Anything performed above their legal obligation is their decision.
            Now, how someone views whether to utilize this business again based upon their corporate policy and moral compass it quite another matter.

          2. You’ve stated what the purpose of the site is not. What do you see as the purpose?

            But I think you are conflating three things. Legal rights, Ethical behavior, and compassion. Legal rights is easy. If the customer has a legal right then by all means.

            The larger issue is whether the business is acting ethically in its actions. In this case, some of us feel that the travel providers act unethically by selling the same product twice and keeping the money twice. For your reading pleasure you maybe interested in checking out loss volume. The article is simplistic but illustrative.


            And we’ve already discussed compassion.

          3. I don’t assume there is any ethics in business so my bar is set low. I also attempt to not have ‘feelings’ when transacting business as that is putting me at an automatic disadvantage as well. I don’t use wikipedia for my news source so I respectfully decline your link. But it’s been an interesting discourse. Thank you.

  25. As per Chris: So if a member of Krehbiel’s party couldn’t use it, then should he get his $4,900 back?

    The OP didn’t pay an ‘upgrade’ charge, he paid for a different cabin than what is the entry level price of the tour package. Just like you see a package price, with air, hotel, transfer and taxes to Hawaii from SFO, the starting price will be at one type of room, but for additional cost, you can get another type of room, improving in location, view, amenities, etc.

  26. I voted yes on this one because of the answers he got amounted to “we’re going to keep your money and resell your cabin with absolutely no attempt to help you.” If they had transferred his upgrade to his friends, I’d have said they were OK in keeping his money. Big meanies who have forgotten they’re in the hospitality business.

  27. Honestly, I am getting so bored with same issue for complaint and mediation over and over again. It goes like this: ” I bought a vacation / cruise. I did not buy the insurance. I got a health problem. My family has a health problem. Somebody died. I cant go. I want a refund / adjustment / compensation / allowance / . Why wont they give me what I want? Chris, can you intervene? ” How many times are we going to review the same scenario with individual twists and turns. Here is the answer. “NO”. Buy a vacation / buy good and correct coverage. Dont call Chris. Or dont buy coverage and accept the consequences. Dont call Chris.

    1. Yes, thank you. I couldn’t agree more. This site is now titled ‘I didn’t take responsibility for my own action or inaction and now want the rules to not apply’. Chris has the ability to truly help others that did all they should and are being bullied. But lately he’s helping people getting back clearly labeled non-refundable airfare or hotel or cruises.

    2. If he asked for a refund, then yes, I’d be with you. But he’s only asking for his friends to use a product that he had already paid for and couldn’t use. I understand both sides, but it’s this twist that makes this case consideration-worthy.

      1. I hear you, but it is still a request for an “adjustment” due to lack of insurance. And it is not within policy. So buy the insurance. Thanks for commenting.

  28. No refund is no refund. It is the same if it is Economy, Business or First. Simply read the contract always. I just don;t understand why Chris is even posting this kind of whining. Shame. Shame. Shame.

  29. That’s a pretty blatant scam, given his finding out that the “unsellable” cabin actually could be easily resold. Tauck does big business here – I see their buses rolling through Sedona every day of the week – so they should be vulnerable to a healthy dose of Internet shaming. Get on their Twitter feed and tell the world!

    1. Then get on the horn and tell everyone about every other TO, too. They all have cancellation terms that you agree to BEFORE making a payment. If you don’t like the terms and conditions, don’t book or take out cancellation coverage to protect your trip.

      1. Note the update in the article, folks. As soon as the online light glared down on this case, the stonewall magically cracked through.

    2. It’s not Tauck’s fault that this man didn’t protect his trip! And as it is stated in many posts, he cancelled just days before the departure. IF someone on the waitlist COULD go, they would be hard pressed to find the air needed to get to/from the cities involved without paying a huge amount. Like Aaron said, those on the WL may have already made other plans or weren’t able to go on such short notice. You have to have a lot of money and spare time to make something like this happen!

      1. But that a red herring.
        We’re not talking about a refund. The only reason not to let the friends use the cabin is so that someone on the waitlist can be additional money to Tauck. I assume some of the people on the waitlist are cruisers on lower cabins who might be willing to pay additional money for a better cabin.
        Some of the people might live reasonable close by and don’t need to purchase expensive air fare.

    3. Unfortunately, this appears to be the mantra for the travel industry. I’m not sure if singling out Tauck is fair.

  30. The upgrade is only an extra cost feature. I ordered a car and for 2000.00 more got the sunroof upgrade. Why would anybody not take out emergency insurance for this amount of money? Quit crying about spilled milk….expensive milk. Go Tauck, stand your grounds.

  31. We were certainly sorry that Mr. Krehbiel became ill and wasn’t able to take his Tauck river cruise, and we hope his medical issues have been successfully resolved. We also share Mr. Krehbiel’s regret that he didn’t purchase travel insurance at the time he booked his cruise; it’s something we always advise our guests to strongly consider, for exactly the sort of situation Mr. Krehbiel experienced. Thankfully, and even though Mr. Krehbiel declined to purchase travel insurance, we still refunded him $8,600 of the $9,600 in airfare that he purchased through Tauck.

    By way of review, when a guest cancels a river cruise booking (particularly just before departure as Mr. Krehbiel did), we have no way of knowing whether or not we’ll be able to successfully sell that cabin to another guest, or whether it will remain unoccupied. (Even with a waiting list, those people on the list might not be free to travel, they may have made other vacation plans, etc.)

    It was therefore inappropriate (and rather surprising) for two different representatives to allegedly say that Mr. Krehbiel’s cabin would remain empty, and for a third to say the cabin would be filled simply because there was a waiting list. In truth, we simply wouldn’t have known if his cabin would remain empty or be re-sold. Much of Mr. Krehbiel’s frustration seems to have resulted from these alleged contradictory statements, and for that we sincerely apologize. We’re reviewing the conversations that occurred with the appropriate staff members, to ensure that future communications are more consistent and better reflect the realities of such situations.

    At no point are cabins and upgrades ever considered to be separate products (nor are they marketed as such), and when a guest cancels and a cabin becomes available, that cabin simply goes back into our inventory – we have no means of separating out an upgrade and applying it to another guest’s booking. Sound business practices dictate that we do our best to sell that cabin to another customer, to protect Tauck against the losses incurred when a cabin goes unoccupied. Such was the case with Mr. Krehbiel’s cabin, just as it is in all other such situations.

    Once again, we apologize for any inconsistencies in our communication with Mr. Krehbiel, and we’re truly sorry that his medical issues forced him to forgo his vacation.


    Tauck Aaron / Tauck Guest Relations

    1. Thank you for providing a first-hand perspective of the issue. I do have one question, though regarding your comment: “Sound business practices dictate that we do our best to sell that cabin to another customer, to protect Tauck against the losses incurred when a cabin goes unoccupied.”
      If Mr. Krehbiel was not refunded the money, how does Tauck incur losses when his cabin remained unoccupied. It would seem that a fair solution would be to allow his friends to assume his cabin and then put their cabin back into the inventory. If both cabins are paid for, there should be no loss for Tauck since those rooms were paid for. Now, you could not sell them again, but again, I see that as not being able to profit further, not that it would be a loss. Could you clarify?

      1. Hi Marie,
        Sorry if my wording wasn’t clear, but in the passage you quoted we were talking in
        generalities about what happens whenever a guest cancels a cabin, not specifically about Mr. Krehbiel’s cabin. We always try to re-sell cancelled cabins regardless of whether the cancellation resulted in penalties to the guest or a loss to Tauck. In instances when we’re successful, it helps to offset the financial impacts of those occasions when we’re not. Again, my apologies if my “broad-brush” language wasn’t clear.

        – Aaron

        1. So, are you saying if you’re successfully able to resell the cabin you refund the customers a portion of their cost because it’s resold?

  32. thank you ‘commentfromme’. I tried to post the same a number of hours ago but my post was removed. It similarly said that Chris had wonderful articles helping those truly being in need but lately it is getting people out of self inflicted jams that should they had personal accountability they’d have never complained. I wonder if this will post for long….

    1. Hi OMG,

      I just checked to see what happened to your comment. It wasn’t removed; it was stuck in our spam filter. Usually, we take a peek in that file every few hours to make sure a comment hasn’t been misdirected. We dropped the ball on this one. Your comment has been approved.

  33. Update from your moderation team: After several days in which the comments have frequently devolved into pointless name-calling — not the kind of debate to which we aspire here — we’ve decided to change a few settings.

    Some of the most flagrant violators of our comment policy have logged in anonymously, left an incendiary comment, and split. We strongly dislike these hit-and-runs, and believe they make this site a less useful place.

    The moderation team now requires that every commenter verify his or her identity, either through Disqus or one of the major social networks.

    We’ve also tightened some of our flagging protocols, so that if a comment is deemed objectionable by several posters, it will be moved into a moderated queue faster.

    Our moderators are doing their best to send the trolls packing, and we hope this will help. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    1. Nothing wrong with that. It seems that most sites are starting to move in this direction. It won’t keep all the trolls away but it might help a bit.

  34. I can understand not getting a refund on the cruise, but if they can resell the premium cabin, he should get a refund on his upcharge. It isn’t fair for them to double dip in that regard.

  35. Well I’m glad the guy at least got some of his money back. But what is really disturbing is that Tauck now claims that three of their representatives gave him incorrect information. Obviously this company isn’t very consistent with its training of employees. That’s not Stan’s problem and the cruise line should own up to the mistakes that were their responsibility. It just pisses me off that they wouldn’t give him a refund saying they couldn’t re-sell his cabin, yet then claim he can’t give the nicer cabin to his friends because the ship is full. They want it both ways!

  36. “I feel”, “I think”, I believe”….all of these are not part of a “contract” that is made between a traveler and the tour company. Feeling empathy is always OK, but in this case, Stan failed to take out the proper insurance. Every travel agent that I know has 1-3 different companies for their clients. If Stan booked directly, and did not understand that Tauck’s policy may not have been the best coverage, tough luck. It appears that he also purchased Bus Class air, so the refund was able to be made less penalties. The rest is lost and should stay lost due to Tauck’s rules.

    Upgrade – this is how it works people.
    I have a trip for 3000.00 with an inside cabin. “sir, would you like to upgrade that room to a suite for $4900.00?”
    Yes please.
    NO Refund, it is now a part of the trip.

    Do not confuse this with the ordinary cruise lines that say if you deposit today, you will get a 3 cabin upgrade. Although that too is part of the pricing.

  37. For vacations with a considerable financial outlay (like this one), I’m of the mindset that you should always buy travel insurance. Often it is inexpensive (at least compared to the total trip outlay) and the peace of mind that it gives, not to mention the financial relief it would provide, is immeasurably valuable.

    I’m not suggesting that *every* trip requires travel insurance, like a quick domestic trip, but when you are spending nearly $10,000 on a vacation and you have a cardiac problem, it seems like it’d be common sense to buy the insurance.

  38. “when a guest cancels and a cabin becomes available, that cabin simply goes back into our inventory – we have no means of separating out an upgrade and applying it to another guest’s booking”

    By that same logic, the fact that the room goes back into inventory means that when another customer comes along and purchases that cabin, Tauck and the cruise line get to keep both the price of Krehbiel’s upgrade and also the fee paid by the new customer. That sounds like double-dipping to me. Sound business practices? Really now.

    1. There is time and money to handle last minute changes for a business. At many upscale restaurants, in order to make a reservation to dine, you have to provide them your credit card information as if you are a no show, you will be charged a fee. Now they will probably not have a problem filling the table at the last minute if they are popular and have drop ins, but then again they may not. Charging a fee for this is certainly reasonable and that is what the cruise line does. That cruise, a cabin may go out emply but on the next cruise a canceled cabin may be filled. As a passenger you are making a contract with the cruise company to travel and they are letting you know before they take your payment, that if you break that contract, depending on how close to travel it might be, there will be a fee. Whether they can fill that cabin or not isn’t your concern. Your concern is to cover yourself in case of canceling.

  39. very interesting…Why couldn’t HE just change the NAMES OF THE PEOPLE REPLACING HIM&COMPANION SINCE it was totally paid for and medically HE was not able to travel with the last minute news!! Tauck is a very good company ( in my 35 yrs in the travel industry) and I’m very surprised by the answer they gave to a customer and totally shocked that they would NOT be more forthcoming with helping him. He was traveling with others that they all booked at the same tme, it would appear!! Shame , shame Tauck!!

  40. I would have purchased travel insurance but NOT through Tauk. I’ve found policies issued by cruise lines and tour companies to be self-serving at best.

  41. How do they get to keep his money? If they re-sold the cabin, they are entitled only to the cost of re-selling the cabin from the person who cancelled. He should take them to small claims court. It’s a simple case.

  42. I think the key is the difference between un-cancellable, and un-transferable. He should have been able to do a name change on his upgrade, and his friends should have been able to use it. Much the same as I could do for a -un-refundable flight that a friend could use, change the name.

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