How to get a refund from a canceled cruise

NEW YORK (WABC) -- One of the most complained about topics to 7 On Your Side amid the COVID pandemic is how to get a refund after a cruise has been canceled.

7 On Your Side heard the cries for help after one family from Middlesex County waited weeks for thousands in refunds.

The Passalacquas are cruisers -- they log thousands of nautical miles on the open seas in the Caribbean every year. But this year, the extended clan, including in-laws and kids were going on the first family reunion in a decade.

"Everything is just fun, we love it, we see a lot of different places," Lisa Passalacqua said.

Last year in April, they all booked a cruise on the Anthem of the Seas -- setting sail from Bayonne to the Bahamas for a week, not knowing how different 2020 would look.

RELATED | 7 On Your Side has tips on how to reschedule your wedding

"We were nervous, my parents were nervous, my kids less nervous," Passalacqua said.

But the veteran VIP cruisers knew not to cancel first. They waited until the cruise line was forced to stop sailing as the coronavirus spread into a pandemic.

"We got an email one day everything was canceled," Passalacqua said. "We were disappointed."

They rebooked for June, but that cruise was also canceled as the COVID crisis ballooned.

"We got the money back for that within two weeks," Passalacqua said.

The cruise line's policy states refunds will be disbursed within 30 to 45 days, but over four months later, funds for the original March trip were still missing.

Family members had all paid separately on several different credit cards, but got reimbursed in dribs in drabs

"It came back $200, $50, $60, $95, $100," Passalacqua said. "We had to keep track of that on the credit card statements."

In May, one reservation got $1,887 reimbursed. In June, three credit cards were refunded over $4,000, but they were still owed $2,576.

"Several hours I spent on the phone and we got nowhere," Passalacqua said.

RELATED | Tips for buying travel insurance amid COVID-19

So Passalacqua sent an SOS to 7 On Your Side and we asked the cruise line to embark on fast tracking the family's payment.

The cruise line industry got crushed by the pandemic, but even in the middle of all this back in May, Royal Caribbean announced its Cruise with Confidence program that allows customers - provided they book by September 30th, 2020, and sail between June of 2020 and April 30th of 2022 - to cancel, even up to 48 hours before leaving. They can either get a credit for a future cruise or move the date.

As for Passalacqua, within 10 days of our calls, she got a full refund.

"Thank God for 7 On Your Side," Passalacqua said.

The big takeaway is to make sure the cruise cancels -- not you. Get all details in writing, and lastly, you could dispute the charge through your credit card company.

In other travel news, United, American and Delta airlines announced they are permanently eliminating those $200 change fees. 7 On Your Side reported in the spring that the change fees for domestic travelers were being waived because of coronavirus concerns. The airline giants now say they're not coming back -- you'll only have to pay the difference in fare.

RELATED | How to spot rental scams amid COVID-19 pandemic
EMBED More News Videos

Nina Pineda has tips on how to spot rental scams looking to take advantage of people during the coronavirus pandemic.



----------
SHARE YOUR STORY

Do you have an issue with a company that you haven't been able to resolve? If so, 7 On Your Side wants to help you!

Email 7OnYourSideNina@abc.com, or contact Nina on her Facebook page or tweet her at Twitter @7OnYourSideNY! You can also call the 7 On Your Side Hotline at 917-260-7697 or fill out the form below.
Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.