Princess Cruises denied us boarding because of a positive COVID test. Where’s our refund?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Princess Cruises denies Linda Martin and her husband boarding on a cruise of the British Isles, it promises to take care of them. But then it doesn’t. What do they have to do to get a refund? 

Question

My husband and I booked a cruise of the British Isles with Princess Cruises this summer. Before we boarded in Southampton, a cruise line representative gave my husband a rapid COVID test because his PRC test (taken in the USA) had not yet been sent to his email. My husband tested positive. Princess Cruises would not let us board.

We had purchased insurance for this cruise, and we have submitted to the insurance company the letter we received from Princess. But the insurance company requires a doctor’s note or other documentation of the test and results in addition to the letter.  

We have asked Princess Cruises for that documentation, but so far, it has been unresponsive. In my last call with Princess Cruises, I waited four hours, only to be given incorrect information and no verification from the ship’s doctor.

Princess Cruises also promised to compensate us for meals and lodging while we waited for a flight home, but that has not happened either. Please help! 

 — Linda Martin, Anacortes, Wash.

Answer

Princess Cruises was correct to deny you boarding. But the way it handled your insurance claim and expenses was incorrect. The cruise line should have done what it promised — cover your expenses and help you file an insurance claim.

So why didn’t it? Well, we’re still picking up the pieces from one of the busiest summer travel seasons in recent memory. Everyone wanted to go somewhere. As a result, there’s a backlog of travel insurance claims and long hold times for customer service. Princess Cruises is hardly alone. 

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

The cruise line has already refunded you $1,051 for the shore excursions. But you were still out your cruise fare and the extra expenses of having to quarantine in the U.K. (Related: Why won’t Princess Cruises refund our canceled flight? They have my money.)

I like the way you kept careful records of your expenses. You saved every receipt and then presented them to your travel insurance company. Nice work! Unfortunately, your insurance company needed a letter from Princess verifying your husband’s COVID-positive status when you boarded.

I guess it’s come to this: If you’re bumped from a cruise or a tour because you’re sick, you need an official test result. A doctor’s letter would be even better. Don’t wait until you get home to ask for the letter — get it right then and there. Otherwise, you may not be able to file a successful travel insurance claim.

I think a polite, written appeal to one of the Princess executives I publish on my advocacy site, Elliott.org, would have helped. I also publish a free guide to cruising, which includes a section on how to resolve any cruise problem.

Will Princess Cruises refund their money?

My advocacy team and I contacted Princess on your behalf. A representative called you and agreed to reimburse you for the cost of meals, lodging, a transfer, and an additional $500 to cover the amount that the insurance would not cover. It also furnished you with the necessary documentation for your insurance. Princess will pay you $2,954, and after you file your insurance claim, you will get $3,700 back. 

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Christopher Elliott

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

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