Princess meets canceled passengers halfway — is that enough?

Missed the boat ... again.
Maybe Ronald and Katherine Taylor weren’t meant to take a cruise. After listening to their story, you might be forgiven for thinking so.

But did Princess do enough after the Taylors couldn’t make both of their departures? That’s the question I’m hoping to answer with your help.

Their first cruise, which departed from New York, was a bust when Hurricane Irene blew into town last year. They canceled their trip for obvious reasons. “We thought it was unsafe to fly into a hurricane,” says Katherine Taylor. Princess offered the couple a $1,398 cruise credit, and their insurance policy covered the rest.

The Taylors rebooked a cruise for March. But that wasn’t meant to be, either. Princess canceled that cruise for mechanical reasons after they had already arrived in San Juan. They decided to stay in Puerto Rico and make a vacation out of it instead of returning right away.

“We do not expect Princess to reimburse our expenses — though it feels appropriate that they should — but they are refusing to repay the cruise fare because we used cruise insurance we purchased for their Aug. 27 cruise out of New York,” says Taylor.

Since Princess canceled the second cruise, shouldn’t it refund their fare?

Taylor thinks so.

When we invested that cruise credit to book the March 2012 trip, that credit became currency. When Princess cancelled the trip, less than 48 hours before scheduled sailing, they left us in the lurch.

Princess will refund the booking fee to those who paid with new cash; we feel they are morally obligated to repay us with cash also.

I asked Princess to have a look at their case. A week later, I heard back from Taylor.

They are offering a little compensation for canceling our cruise and stranding us in San Juan. They’ll pay our pre-cruise hotel and half of our round trip airfare to Puerto Rico.

Why half? Because, they argue, we didn’t turn around and come right home, which would have cost up to $2,300 for a new ticket.

That’s better than the previous offer. But is it enough?

I think Princess should be responsible for repaying a customer the full value of their cruise if they cancel a sailing. If I use a voucher to pay for that cruise, then Princess should offer me a new cruise credit, at the very least.

Repaying half the airfare seemed a little wishy-washy. I can understand not covering the Taylor’s hotel bill for a week. But half the airfare? Why just half?

In the hours leading up to the publication of this post, Princess changed its mind again and agreed to repay the full airfare.

Taylor says that’s a “step in the right direction” but is still disappointed about the credit.

To simply reimburse us with cruise credit is set the clock back to December when we committed to the March cruise.

Princess is saying that absolutely nothing happened. It’s as if we never booked, never made hotel arrangements, never got ourselves from Colorado to the island, never stood below a big white ship and pondered what we should do next.

It seems so strange to us that they don’t see that cruise credit is poor compensation for their cancellation.

I’m happy that Princess could be persuaded to do more for these passengers. After it canceled their second cruise, it covered their airfare to San Juan, part of their hotel bill, and offered them a new cruise credit.

But is this the best it can do? More importantly, is it the best it should do?

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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