Help! I’ve waited a year for my river cruise refund

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By Christopher Elliott

CroisiEurope canceled Eleanor Johnson’s river cruise more than a year ago, but her refund has yet to appear. Can we help speed things along?

Question

Last year, I made a $1,641 deposit for myself and a friend on a CroisiEurope river cruise to Portugal and Spain for the summer. The deposit represented 25 percent of the cost of the tour.

CroisiEurope’s terms stated that if I cancel the reservation 90 days or more before my departure date, they will refund the deposit less a $100 administrative fee per person.

I notified CroisiEurope via email on April 6, 2020, that we wanted to cancel our reservation. They responded that our money would indeed be refunded (less the fee) back to my credit card. They further stated that “refunds are delayed and are taking four to five weeks.”

I never received the refund for the river cruise. I have contacted them several times in the interim to inquire about the refund. Each time they respond that refunds are delayed.

CroisiEurope is not disputing that they owe me the money. It has been more than a year since the canceled booking. I would like your help in getting this refund. — Eleanor Johnson, Maynard, Mass.

Answer

A year is way too long to wait for a refund for your canceled river cruise. CroisiEurope promised it would return the money within five weeks. They’re really testing your patience.

At the same time, the delay is understandable. To call 2020 the worst year ever for the travel industry might even be an understatement. It was a disaster! Some companies barely survived the pandemic, and too many went under. The cruise industry was especially hard hit, as it ground to a halt.

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands, including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

And that’s exactly what happened. (Related: Will she get a $36,000 refund for her canceled Vantage Travel cruise?)

“As I am sure you understand, we’ve faced an extremely difficult year,” Michael DaCosta, the general manager for North America at CroisiEurope River Cruises, explained. “Policies have been put in place that all guests affected by the coronavirus pandemic can be re-accommodated or adequately compensated.”

Can you make a refund move faster? Sometimes. Disputing your credit card charges under the Fair Credit Billing Act might help. You have to notify your bank so that it reaches the creditor within 60 days after the first bill. For a transaction like this one, where you purchase a river cruise months in advance, it’s a long shot. Some banks will accept the dispute, but most won’t. (Related: What happened to my refund from Scenic River Cruises?)

Finally: a refund for your canceled river cruise

Travelers in a situation like yours might have gotten a better deal by waiting for the cruise line to cancel the sailing. Typically, cruise lines offer either a full refund or (at least during the pandemic) a 125 percent cruise credit. But you also risk having the cruise actually sail, which might have been dangerous.

I asked CroisiEurope River Cruises to review your case. It did and issued a prompt refund for the total amount owed for the canceled river cruise, minus the administrative fee.

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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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