I canceled my Vantage cruise in 2020. I’m still waiting for my refund

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By Christopher Elliott

David Maddox has been waiting years for a refund for his Vantage cruise travel tour. Why hasn’t the company responded, and is there anything he can do to speed up the process?

Question

Back in 2019, I made a reservation for my wife and myself to go on Vantage Travel’s Croatia & Culinary Gems of the Adriatic Coast tour. Other members of our family were also planning to join us on this trip. I made the final payment of $20,655 for our trip in October 2019.  

As part of the cost of the trip, I paid $999 per person for a “cancel for any reason” travel insurance policy from TripMate. Part of the reason was in case my sister-in-law’s cancer recurred. Unfortunately, it did, and she died before the trip.

In early 2020, we canceled our tour and initiated a refund request through Vantage Travel. I also submitted a claim to TripMate. Because of the pandemic, Vantage canceled our tour before its scheduled departure.  

TripMate reviewed the claim and approved it in mid-2020 but said payment would be made by Vantage. 

I have emailed Vantage multiple times and have made several phone calls. Twice on phone calls, a representative provided projected dates when we would receive a refund. However, we have not received any refund or a written assurance as to when we will receive one. Can you help me get my $20,655 back? — David Maddox, Arlington, Va. 

Answer

I’m so sorry about the loss of your sister-in-law. You should have received a quick refund on your prepaid, nonrefundable expenses after TripMate approved your claim. I don’t know why you didn’t, but I know you aren’t alone. Many travelers had the same problem during the early days of the pandemic. It was a confusing time.

You handled this one by the book. You bought the correct insurance for your needs. A “cancel for any reason” policy will allow you to cancel your vacation for any reason and receive a partial refund. But some restrictions apply. Your TripMate policy was a little different from the standard “cancel for any reason” policy. It lets you cancel, and you’ll receive your entire prepaid, nonrefundable trip cost “in the form of a Vantage Travel Certificate for the cancellation penalty amount.” (Related: Will she get a $36,000 refund for her canceled Vantage Travel cruise?)

battleface delivers insurance that doesn’t quit when circumstances change. We provide specialty travel insurance services and benefits to travelers visiting or working internationally, including in the world’s most hard to reach places. Currently selling in 54 countries and growing, our mission is to deliver simple solutions to travelers worldwide heading out on their next adventure.

So the best you could have done was a voucher. But Vantage also canceled your cruise. In that situation, you should have had a choice between a voucher and a refund. It looks like things got confused between your claim, the Vantage cancellation and your refund request.

I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of the Vantage executives on my consumer advocacy site. A brief, polite email to one of them might have un-confused the process. (Related: He paid Vantage $18,536. Why is it taking so long to get a cruise refund?)

Bottom line: You should not have to wait years for a company to refund your purchase. (Here’s what you need to know before booking your next cruise.)

I contacted Vantage on your behalf, and it refunded your cruise.

Note: Since this story was published, Vantage has filed for bankruptcy protection and all refunds are going through a bankruptcy court.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

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