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Cruise Lines & Covid-19: How Are Refunds Being Handled?

April 21, 2020
Colson Hicks Eidson

The coronavirus pandemic has affected just about every aspect of our lives. The cruise industry has been dramatically affected by COVID-19, and has even experienced mandated government shutdowns for extended periods of time. At Colson Hicks Eidson, our cruise ship injury attorneys want to discuss how cruise lines are handling refunds in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Getting a refund can be complicated

Whether you are a seasoned cruise-goer or have perhaps booked your first cruise, there is no denying that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the cruise landscape. Hundreds of passengers on cruise ships have become ill, and a number have even died due to COVID-19 contracted while on a cruise. There have been cases of people being stranded on cruise ships for extended periods of time that have been unable to dock in any port. Recently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced regulations that will suspend all cruises in US waters for some time to come.

How are people supposed to get their money back for cruises that have been canceled? What if a person wants their money back because they are concerned about going on a cruise, even after the government does give the okay for them to sail again?

A refund or a cruise credit

Cruises are generally offering one of two options right now for canceled trips – a refund or a cruise credit. Using Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as an example, they are reportedly offering a future cruise credit for 125% of the original amount paid, or a refund on the full value paid for the trip. If a customer decides on a cruise credit with Royal Caribbean, they will have to use the credit by December 31, 2021. But other cruise lines reportedly will not issue a refund and will only issue a credit that must be used by a date certain in the future.

Whether or not to get a refund versus a future cruise credit is up to the customer. However, as Michelle Fee, the CEO and founder of Cruise Planners, said in a statement to USA Today, “We are encouraging our travelers to postpone to future travel dates as the industry is resilient – truth be told, our travel advisors are seeing huge growth in 2021 bookings.”

Of course, this is entirely contingent on travel operating as normal next year, which is not 100% certain at this point.

If you have booked a cruise, you will likely have received an email about updated cancellation policies. Review your options carefully to make a decision that makes the most sense for you financially. If you are not being given the option of getting a refund, you may have the legal right to a refund that you can pursue.

How often is this occurring?

A recent news story highlights how Deborah Donnell, who booked a Bahamas cruise through Royal Caribbean, received an email from the company after her cruise was canceled in March. The email notified her that her trip, which cost $827.08 total, was not going to occur. She was only refunded the cost of a meal – $85.98.

Royal Caribbean said in a statement that “We are processing refunds as quickly as possible.”

Jessica Behrmann and her fiancé were supposed to take a Carnival cruise to Mexico for their honeymoon. They contacted customer service to get a refund or credit, but the cruise line offered neither.

Another family out of Colorado said that Carnival Cruise Lines did not want to give them a full refund. They had been paying on the cruise for over a year, and just when the cruise was paid in full, COVID-19 struck. The cruise line told the family that they could take another cruise as credit, but that would cost them more money. Only after a news agency investigated did the company offer a full refund or full travel voucher.

With the uncertainty of COVID-19, and even the future of the cruise industry up in the air, it is frustrating for many that cruise lines are choosing to make the refund process difficult for passengers.

We can help

This is not the time for cruise lines to be playing games with people’s money. At Colson Hicks Eidson, we are here to help if you are having trouble getting a refund for a cruise you paid for.

  • Is the cruise line being stubborn and refusing a refund?
  • Are they trying to force you to take credit instead?
  • Are you afraid for your health on a cruise due to COVID-19?

Our attorneys will get to work on your behalf to determine whether you have a right to a full refund for your cruise. These are unprecedented times, and the cruise industry is having a difficult time accepting this new reality. If you need an attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or by calling us at 305-476-7400.