Is this enough compensation? You missed your deadline — here’s a voucher By Christopher Elliott | September 6, 2011 It was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime for Johanna Robles and her extended family of 19, which included her husband, children and grandchildren. But when she tried to book the “Great Rivers of Europe” tour through Grand Circle Travel, the experience was less than great. Since Robles and her husband were paying for the entire cruise — we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars — they wanted to make sure they understood the terms of their deposit. By the way, they’re clearly disclosed on GCT’s site. Here’s the problem, though: They made the reservation by phone, so when they called on May 19, they may have gotten their wires crossed. The [agent] said that my husband and I needed to book ourselves first, which meant a deposit of $2,330 on our Visa, in order to have a “complimentary hold” for 19 people until June 19, which gave us time to make a decision with our budget. We hesitated because we wanted to make sure if we did not go, it would be a Visa credit. She assured me every dollar would be refunded should that be the case. Well, it wasn’t the case. Related: What’s your problem? Wal-Mart won’t price match my discontinued TouchPad. After lots of back and forth between Grand Circle and the family, it became clear to Robles that this was the wrong cruise for her family. So she decided to cancel before June 19. [Grand Circle] said the $2,330 would be issued as a travel voucher because the date had elapsed. It was a shock and did not make sense when she said the booking for my husband and I had to be made to have a complimentary hold. Did the Robles miss their deadline? I put the question to Grand Circle. Here’s what a representative had to say: Putting together a group departing from many gateways can be very challenging for the organizer, but from what I have read and heard, we were able to answer many questions raised by Mrs. Robles, through more than a 20 calls or e-mails over a one month period, including those around general trip details, air/gateways, insurance, pricing and beyond. It was hard to provide Mrs. Robles with the final pricing she required, since a group discount is based on head count and head count was still not confirmed at time of cancellation. I also believe that, based on recorded phone calls to this effect, we were clear around our risk-free 14 day period and that a travel voucher is appropriate and consistent with what anyone would receive if canceling a trip outside of the 14 day period. So GCT is sticking to the vouchers offer, because she canceled after outside the 14-day window. And as the company notes, it has written and recorded evidence that it gave Robles the right information from the start. Robles isn’t impressed with that answer. They say they keep good records, which I try to do as well. I would like to have them point out in a message or phone call where they stated the two expiration dates were different. I booked with Vacations-To-Go and asked for the identical info as I did with Grand Circle – “What would this particular trip cost for a group of 19?” Vacations-To-Go gave me full information within a very short time and the agent has been extremely professional. In other words, she doubts Grand Circle has any recorded calls, and that it just conducted informal interviews with the agents, and that they insisted they said “14 days.” What do you think? By the way, here’s the final outcome: Robles disputed the $2,330 charge on her credit card. The card found in her favor and she received a full refund. (Photo of Danube River in Passau, Germany by Audri ngje/Flickr Creative Commons) Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at email@example.com. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus Raven_Altosk Eh, this is one of those I’m not too sure about. First off, why wouldn’t the OP do a little online research to determine whether or not this is a family friendly cruise? There are plenty of websites dedicated to cruising and cruise reviews. It’s not difficult at all. Otherwise, she is relying on the people SELLING the product. Second of all, if the company cannot produce proof they told her “14 days”…which they probably didn’t if the credit card charged back…well, then, I guess she deserves her money back. Though, I personally would not give a deposit unless I had the terms in writing. I was all ready once to book a dive trip to Belize until the idiot agent I was working with demanded a bank transfer for the deposit. I told her I don’t do bank transfers…credit cards only. Thus, I did not book the trip. Sucks for her, since she spent about a week putting together an itinerary and such. Chris in NC While I’m glad to hear that Robles “won” the Credit Card dispute, what is to prevent GCT from sending a collections agency after Robles? Hopefully GCT is an ethical company and will agree to the decision of the Credit Card dispute. Otherwise, I don’t have much to say … john4868 Actually, I think this is a case where both parties are correct and the OP got confused on what she was agreeing to. In her narative, she states that they took a deposit on her trip and placed a 30 day hold (no booking just space saved) on everyone elses. That is two separate transactions each with its own terms. The deposit had a 14 day cancellation term, which she violated, and the hold had a 30 day window. Gold Circle’s explanation passes the logic test to me if she was asking for a group discount for up to 19 people and Gold Circle’s group discounts vary by head count. This definately appears to be a case where a “real” TA would have helped. @raven_Altosk where do you see that a chargeback went through? Sadie Cee In the first place, the OP would have been better served if she had gone to a bricks-and-mortar travel agency to arrange a tour of this magnitude. It is not surprising that a misunderstanding arose in her attempt to work out all the details for a party of 19 by telephone and e-mail. With this type of money at stake – tens of thousands of dollars, you can bet that I would have met face-to-face with a travel agent to communicate my needs. The OP could have saved herself a great deal of aggravation by spending enough time beforehand deciding just what she wanted and by arming herself with some prior research. Perhaps the “Great Rivers of Europe Tour” would have been rejected much sooner. Some years ago, Amex arranged an 8-country, 15-day European tour for my SMALL family. I visited their office and met with a very professional agent. Once she knew what I had in mind, she did an amazing job of finding me exactly what I wanted. I visited their office only once after that to collect our itinerary and tickets. All her arrangments worked like clockwork. Here the OP took some time to change her mind. She does not appear to have sufficient evidence to support her claim that she was misinformed about the deadline date for cancellation. (Is that information available online?) I am happy for her that she was successful in her credit card dispute and has received a full refund. I hope that at Vacations-To-Go provided seamless arrangements and that her famiy enjoyed the trip. Arizona Road Warrior “Hopefully GCT is an ethical company and will agree to the decision of the Credit Card dispute.” – – – – – – — – – – – – – — – – – – — – – – – This isn’t the first time that this company appeared on this blog. Charles Lichtenwalner Having taken 12 GCT cruises and land trips, I’m amazed that anyone would consider taking grandchildren on one of their excursions. GCT is designed for the very mature traveller and the grandchildren probably would have been bored with the pace and the activities and probably a tad annoying to the seniors on the trip. Arizona Road Warrior http://www.elliott.org/blog/this-isnt-the-right-time-for-people-to-be-going-to-thailand/ Pctomjon She said she used Vacations to Go for a quote. Not for a Grand Circle Trip. GrandCircle does not use agents. You always book directly through them. We have taken five trips and had no problems. Take the voucher and go on a lovely trip with a very nice tour company. By the way, Grand Circle’s niche is the over 60 crowd. Mostly, small ships all designed for an older tourist, albeit active tourist. That is NOT the type of tour you want to take with children. When we suggested telling our 40+ year old son about it the GCT rep recommended against it. Wonder why GCT did not do that up front. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1556838763 Nancy Marine Dickinson Mistake number one was not taking this to a living, breathing travel agent. This is too large an undertaking to do over the phone. The OP could have sat down with a travel agent, list of names and pertinent info on hand, and figured things out. Yes, it would have taken some time, perhaps more time than just doing it from home on the phone, but there would have been absolutely no misunderstandings. Mistake number two was trusting a salesperson to tell them the whole truth. Yes, the people on the phone are salespeople and their sole job is to separate you from your money as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next customer. I’m glad the OP got her money back instead of a useless voucher, which she should have, but she really created this Tsunami by not going to a travel agent. I’m surprised this was the only problem she had. sara8032 There’s a note below the “vote” that states that a credit card dispute got her money back. Carver Raven The problem is that not everyone is internet savvy. You should be able to rely on factual information provided by the seller. Besides, had she relied upon the internet some brick and mortar person would have bleated that she should have used the telephone. You can’t win. Durant Imboden Good point. Grand Circle Travel targets “mature travelers” “over 50,” and while its FAQ says that grandchildren are allowed, the minimum age is 13. I’m surprised that the OP didn’t realize from the beginning (and that Grand Circle didn’t warn her from the beginning) that a Grand Circle trip might not ideal for a multigenerational family reunion. Carver Raven Not less than five minutes later the brick and mortar crowd are at it again. They are of course wrong. Had the sales rep given the TA wrong information, the OP would be in the same position. Clare Carver and I were just having a mind-meld, because I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing: we just can’t win on this issue of TA Or Not TA. When a traveller tries to do it himself and it backfires, people say, “why didn’t you go to a TA?” But when he goes to a TA and it backfires, people say, “why didn’t you deal directly with the company?” Ironically, I WOULDN’T have trusted such a huge trip to a TA–I would have wanted to speak directly to the people responsible for my trip! The more people who get involved in a complicated trip like this one, the higher the odds that something will be miscommunicated/not communicated/misunderstood along the way. Carver I respectfully disagree A reading of the story indicated exactly one area of miscommunication and that is regarding the cancellation date, which is of course independent of the number of folks travelling. Otherwise the OP presented hereself as a sophisticated traveller and did all of her homework. I fail to see how a travel agent would have been useful. Carver Once again the B&M crowd strikes back. The position is of course wrong. The only error was miscumminication regarding the cancellation policy. That could happen just as easily with a TA as with booking directly. Incidentally, the place where this error is least likely is via booking by internet since a paper confirmation would have ben sent to the OP. Tony A. My comments are entirely about the “fitness” of taking a European river boat cruise for multi-generational families. I am a part of a large multi-generational family (23 in all) that travels together often. We did the Rhône and Saône River cruise a few years ago with Peter Deilmann (before they went bankrupt). We had done other river cruises with Deilmann and we liked them so we stayed with them. There are other companies plying the same rivers in Europe – Viking, AMAWaterways, Avalon, Tauck, Amadeus, Uniworld, and GCT to name a few. The vast majority of travelers in these river cruises are OLD people (doesn’t matter which one you take). However it does not mean a large group can’t carve out its own ‘happenings’. My sons were 8, 13, and 15 years old when did this river cruise. We were free to use the lounge whenever there were no formal occasions. So we played cards and board games. We did most of the land tours including the 4×4 ride on the Camargue. My kids and niece were the only kids on board. To some extent it was a blessing since many of the old German passengers wanted to meet and talk to them. I’m 100% in agreement that one should really use a *good* travel agent (human) when booking complex international vacations with many different origins (and destinations). In our case, we rented a private bus and driver and went around Brittany after the river cruise. Even if I can book my own stuff (using a GDS and other systems), we were smart enough to use a Travel Agent with formal representation with Destination Management company in France. We planned our own itinerary and everything went on smooth and flawless with the help of the TA. To be fair to GCT, they really do not out there and recruit young customers. Their target market are 50 and over. Also, they are not a flexible travel company since their tours are quite fixed. No outside agents, too. Although I have never bought a tour from GCT, but on occasion I would bump into them in Europe. To me they seem very well organized and the customers are pretty happy (gleaned after talking to them). So this particular case is nothing but a customer realizing that they were not buying the right thing for their large family and a misunderstand about the T&Cs of the deal. I’m glad they got their credit card charges refunded. Linda Bator Funny enough, Grand Circle doesn’t work with travel agents. They like the clients to book directly with them. Perhaps there’s a reason? Tony A. GCT operates like a closed user group. Once you get in, you can earn Frequent Travel Credits (up to 5%), become a Group Leader (8+1, 10+1 free deals) – much like a TC for other tour/cruise companies, or make referral commissions. Since much of the selling is really done INSIDE THE GROUP then they don’t need outside agents. In my opinion, some travelers (especially ones that want structure and organization) may at times be better off buying one of GCT’s tours rather than dealing with a Travel Agent who is selling a tour they haven’t actually been to. Judging by the number of repeat buyers of GCT tours, I think it’s fair to say they are doing a great job. Last year, I came across a GCT group in Tuscany. I was so surprised they even had an audio-visual presentations, discussions, and pinned-up event lists for their tour attendees. Very organized and all in English. Even if I don’t make any money from GCT, I will surely recommend them to the right crowd of travelers. Bodega A travel consultant would have directed the OP to more appropriate companies that offer trips for multigenerational groups. My question back to you is why not use a travel consultant? What did this person gain from not using one? Linda Bator Except of course, that if YOU recommend them and have no where to turn in case of a problem, yu are then responsible. They do have nice programs, but it is not something we can recommend as we have no advocate to work with when something goes wrong. And that is more than a little troublesome. Tony A. Linda, when I recommend something that I don’t sell, I specifically state that this is only my personal opinion and I cannot responsible for what happens. There are occasions when I think the client is better off buying something that I don’t have. For example, I cannot do better for a *solo, inexperienced, older, American* traveler who wants to do a European River Cruise than GCT even if I have done these river cruises myself. Honesty is still the best policy. Mark K I read the terms and conditions page. While it seems clear, there are a lot of “IFs” in the text. From what it states, they can get a refund of the deposit, minus $300 per person, if they cancelled more than 121 days before the trip starts. It doesn’t seem that the company followed its own rules in this since they only offered a voucher. The only thing I can think of that would cause this offer is the departure was well within the 121 days and instead of losing the entire deposit the company offered the voucher so they would not lose any of their deposit if they chose to travel with them later. Also, the stated deposit amount is only $500 per person so why the two of them had to deposit $2330 is not clear. Since this company caters to senior citizens, the usefulness of a voucher is questionable (some would argue that ANY issuance of vouchers in any case instead of cash is questionable). This may be their only/final long distance trip. Looking on the intenet, there are thousands of unsatisfied customers of this company in all of its various forms. This doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot more who are happy, but seeing that many complaints would make me uncomfortable. The complaints run from surly guides to no help on missed connections to last minute hotel changes to a continuing stream of charges on their credit cards well after the trip is over to missing credits and refunds. On all of the guided trips I have taken I have never experienced any of these issues, but then I have never traveled with this company. Tony A. Clare, from what I can gather, Johanna Robles really needed a Travel ADVISOR, and not just a travel agent who will book whatever Johanna said whether it fit the needs of the 19 family members or not. IMO planning for an international trip for 19 people composed of different generations is beyond the capability of *most* travel agents – be it online or brick and mortar. In fact some suppliers bypass agents or have Group Sales Departments for 10+ passengers. Also, I would be wary of using a travel agent who personally has not done this river boat cruise and optional land tours (what do they know?). I also found it a bit weird that 2 people had to make a paid booking so that rest of the 19 could get a complimentary hold. In a typical group reservation, the supplier holds your cabins, gives you dates when you pay a deposit and pay in full for the whole group. At least that is my experience. Tony A. If Johanna is still interested in river cruising Europe, perhaps she can look at this family friendly cruise from Tauck. http://www.tauck.com/tours/europe-tours/central-and-eastern-europe-tours/danube-river-cruises-yuw-2011.aspx Disclosure: Although I have been researching Tauck’s lineup for quite a while, I have not taken one of their river boat cruises. They are pretty popular here where I live – Southwest Connecticut – since they are local. Carver Tony Why. Notwithstanding the communications error, seems like the OP was totally in charge and knew exactly what to do. Carver Presumably a travel consultant costs $$$. DIY is not a bad word. Consider, the OP is a grandmother, quite possibly retired or otherwise not working a 40 hours week. Perhaps she enjoyed doing the research and making phone calls. What the travel agency/consultant people simply fail to understand is that one shoe does not fit all. In some circumstances a TA or the like makes perfect sense. This happens not to be one of those cases. I remember my first trip to Europe. I spend many hours researching different possibilities. I then ran my conclusions by a European born college friend who I’ve known since 1986. He knows my tastes and idiosyncracies. I could have forked over money to a TA, but wouldn’t have had the satisfaction of doing the research myself and feeling really well prepared. Mark K You are correct. A travel consultant costs money. They charge by the hour to just talk with you. And I can’t blame them since you are depending on their knowledge to point you in the right direction with no guarantee that you will actually buy what they suggest directly from them. But they are worth every penney if they are good at what they do and you need the help. Would they have helped the OP? Probably would have removed the stress based on what happened. The tour company I usually go to Europe with has travel consultants and you get a 50% discount on their services if you pay for a trip with them. Still more than I care to spend. But then I like doing the travel arrangements for things I want to do before and after the prearanged tour portion of the trips. And I am good at it. But, I travel solo and don’t have a lot of dislikes when it comes to hotels and food. If I was trying to plan a family reunion that involved getting multiple generations together, I would use the consultants and let them “herd the cats” together. Tony A. Carter, I made this conclusion when I read that she realized that she bought the WRONG cruise for her family yet she had paid for 2 people already. IMO she did not know how to pick the right river cruise company for her large multigenerational family group. She could have used some good advise from an experienced traveler used to dealing with big family groups. But yes she was savvy enough to deal with the money transaction part of the deal. Good for her she got her money back. Raven_Altosk I can’t believe in this day and age that people can’t be bothered to type a search phrase into google. I’m not saying the OP needed a B&M TA or an internet TA or whatever…I’m just saying that if I were about to drop some serious change on a vacation for 19 people, I’d do a little independent research. Raven_Altosk I’m not part of the B&M crowd. I’m just saying that regardless of which kind of TA the OP chose (online or B&M) or even none at all…I felt they needed to do some research on their own. Tony A. Mark, planning a big expensive international trip for 19 people (3 generations) is exponentially harder than planning for 10 different, independent couples. I’ll provide one real experience I had with my own large family. Just moving from the Hotel to the Pier (Quay) where the boat docks (and vice versa) is very difficult for a large group. If you don’t contract a bus ahead of time (assuming the bus can fit the small roads), you’ll need about 6 taxis to haul the 19 people with their luggage. Doing that with young kids can be maddening since you always need an adult with them. I also assume that adults know where to go and are not just following the leader. Getting separated and lost is easy in a foreign country. I think you get my point. Bodega Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on the relationship you have with a travel consultant and the time involved. A group traveling from various locations isn’t a cake walk and is more labor intensive. I understand the DIY enjoyment, but handling 2-4 people is much easier that 19. You can count on as many issues araising in a group as there are in the number traveling. Been there, done it but at least I got paid to handle those issues, she isn’t! Sadie Cee I am honoured to be considered part of a crowd, any crowd. You have no idea how gratifying it is to be included in something what with my being all alone here in “Toronto, The Good” or “The T.” (The Tee Dot) as the younger set call it. Anyway, even though I do believe in self-help, I make a huge distinction between this particular trip and my own solo journeys throughout the U.K. over several summers in years gone by. Given the size of this group, and the amount of money involved, I would have chosen to use the services of a travel agent, consultant, advisor or whatever title one chooses to give to this person, rather than taking it on myself. There are few guarantees in life and no doubt the TA experience could have have had its own issues. Nevertheless, making and/or receiving “more than 20 calls or e-mails over a one month period, including those around general trip details, air/gateways, insurance, pricing and beyond” is daunting and for which I would gladly seek the help of professionals. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1556838763 Nancy Marine Dickinson Sorry, Carver, but opinions can’t be wrong, unless, of course, they are yours. With a TA, there are safety nets put in place and the TA is financially responsible for their mistakes (if they want to stay in business). Therefore, less mistakes happen with a TA. Were it just the OP and their spouse, that’s one thing and that can probably be done on their own. However, the OP was trying to wrangle 19 people, all from different points of origination, to one place – the cruise. An undertaking of this magnitude requires more than a phone call where mistakes can be made for a variety of reasons, usually because someone doesn’t hear correctly what the other person is saying. TA fees are already built into the price of the travel. Why refuse to use them for more complicated travel plans? Tony A. Imagine at least $3K each passenger with airfare, close to $60,000 for 19 folks. Would anyone buy a $60K trip online or over the phone? I don’t think people are this crazy yet. My credit card can’t even handle anywhere close that amount. Jo The youngest for this trip was 17 and the others were 25 years of age or more. A lot of e-mail was used and research was done thoroughly. DavidS Except that this particular company, per their website, instructs group leaders to call them for bookings. The point of the DIY vs. using a travel professional can be used in anything. I can do some home plumbing, but I call a plumber for other stufff. I can do a do it yourself will on line, but I prefer working with an attorney. I can fill my car with gas, but I get the oil changed by a professional. (Even though I know how to change oil, prefer to have it done for me.)… goes on an on. I can buy a Southwest Airlines ticket to Phoenix online, but a 20 person tour to Europe…give the headaches to someone else. Bodega But not enough research was done, Jo, or you wouldn’t have booked the original reservation that you ended up canceling. That was not an appropriate trip for your group. Since you responded here, could you let us know why you are handling this on your own and didn’t go to a local travel agency to assist you? Why did you continue to book on a website with an online company? Tony A. I have a feeling buying online from Vacations-To-Go won’t also result on a SATISFACTORY multigenerational *river* cruise deals either. If you go to their site they push Viking, UniWorld and Avalon. I doubt if any of these river cruises have anything interesting to an 18 year old. They probably will have to do a lot more planning on their own (essentially using the “barge” has a hotel and dining room while maximizing youthful exposures during the land tours). Bodega It would be interesting to know what the final arrangements are so see if a suitable trip for multigenerations was planned. To have an online company handle a very special trip like this is just nuts IMHO. If you have never booked with an agent, ask for recommendations for something this important. Just wait until the schedule changes come in over the next fee weeks due to the time change. The fun begins….not! Linda Bator That is a common misconception. The fares you get are the same you get when using an agent, but any special discounts and amenities are oftentimes available ONLY through a travel agent and not the cruise/tour company. Plus you would have had an advocate on your side to answer all those and any other questions, and to help guide you away from a company who specializes in predominantly 50+ travellers who were not the right fit in this case. You are right, one shoe does NOT fit all, and just looking at the facts in this case, I would have been able to offer several other options which would have been a better fit for her. As a 20 year travel consultant, I have extensive knowledge of the desinations I sell, and strive to offer my clients MORE than they can ever find on their own. Which may be why over 80% of my buisiness is repeat and referral clients, with a few new ones here and there. Linda Bator Funny you feel that way. AMA, Avalon, Uniworld and even Scenic offer single rates that give these clients the option for their cruises as well, and if you specialized in European River cruising, you’d find that these offer an option you can sell to the client with confidence. They too offer the headsets, free bicycle rentals, lectures and destination presentations. And when booking some, like Tauck, they even specialize in family sailings with activities for sveral generations. Then you can truly guide your client and ensure the trip goes off without a hitch. S E Tammela What I can’t believe is that someone tries to book a cruise for 19 people, from multiple points, involving 20 emails and phone calls, WITHOUT FIGURING OUT WHO CAN GO, FIRST. Goodness me, some common sense. I do understand people have tight budgets. But what’s wrong with getting approximate amounts from your family first, and then saying, “Hey Cruise Company, this is how much money we’ve got” ? The whole thing was done in the wrong order… you don’t book it on the assumption you will cancel. You book it on the assumption you probably won’t NEED to cancel, and that involves actually knowing what you want, first. Now excuse me. I’m going to take a full load of groceries to the checkout and pay for the lot, then tell the operator to hold the cart, then I’ll phone home and discuss with my family whether we actually want chocolate chip cookies, since they were quite expensive. Then I’ll pick and choose from the cart and tell her to refund the half-cart-full that I’ve decided I don’t actually want. Tony A. Any travel agent with has an IATAN or CLIA ID (a matter of paying our dues) can “book” river cruises and make at least a 10% commission. But what is that TA really doing for their client? Are they simply reading the brochure verbatim? Have they taken the cruise themselves (perhaps attended an orientation tour)? Even if I have been many times to Europe and have done the Rhine, Saône, and Rhône rivers does not make me an expert. Some quality organizations have excellent trip leaders. I bet they are excellent research resource to would be buyers. Finally, I have had the logistical experience of coordinating my own 23-member multigenerational family group who meet twice a year in overseas location. My group lives in the East and West coasts and in Asia. Just the transfers from airport to hotel to venues is a major pain in the arse. Hiring a private bus and driver (who speaks English) in Europe (sometimes as for 2 weeks) is not easy for any US based TA. You usually will need the help of a LOCAL destination management company. Yeah 10% commission on 60K for this group of 19 is good money. But I don’t think the job is simply booking 19 people on a cruise. With that amount serious money on the table, Johanna Robles should be sitting down with an EXPERT face to face. Her problem is finding that expert. Martin Happy ending. I think she was extremely lucky to get the fee refunded by her credit card company. I’ve seen people with far better arguments get turned down. Good for her. I’ve never tried to organize a trip of that magnitude, but I know from experience that getting multiple families to do anything together is like herding cats–frustrating and darn near impossible. But the bottom line is you absolutely need to do some research before plunking down thousands of dollars. If you’re not up to doing basic research online, you probably need to enlist help from a friend or relative who can or hire a TA. Having lingering questions over simple stuff like whether it’s a family-friendly cruise is inexcusable. 20 email and phone calls over a month? That’s a crazy amount of communication to have them decide in the end that it wasn’t the right cruise for them. Martin A tight budget wasn’t the issue. It states at the very beginning that she and her husband paid for the entire cruise for all 19 people. I don’t think they necessarily planned to cancel all along, it sounds more to me that they really weren’t sure what they were buying. That’s a tremendous amount of communication over the course of a month to end up deciding it simply wasn’t the right cruise. I wish it more specifically detailed what eventually caused them to throw in the towel. Martin Devil’s advocate talking…but how bad could a FREE cruise possibly be? These younger people weren’t going to pay a dime. Sure, maybe it wasn’t going to be the exact cruise they’d have chosen for themselves, but could it really have been that horrid, particularly if most of them were over 25? I’m wondering if there weren’t some major cases of looking a gift horse in the mouth. I keep coming back to the 20 phone calls and email…tons of communicating to have it fall apart in the end over a very basic question. Bodega Thanks for the chuckle! Ever take kids on a trip they don’t want to be on? Oh my is that fun…..not!