Dad passed away — is his cruise refund sunk?

By | November 22nd, 2012

Sandy Perozeni’s father was scheduled to take a two-week cruise on Celebrity’s Constellation last year.

He knew it would probably be his last vacation. He’d just undergone cancer surgery, but it was also his 55th wedding anniversary and he wanted to go, despite his pre-existing medical condition.

I use the term “pre-existing” medical condition because, unfortunately, her father died before he could set sail.

“A few days prior to sailing, he experienced complications from a previous cancer surgery and was advised by his physician not to go on the cruise,” says Perozeni. “The doctor felt it was possible that my dad’s symptoms would require a blood transfusion that would not be available on the ship.”

Her parents were “devastated” that they couldn’t take the cruise, but when they filed a claim with their insurance company, they were pleased that they could get a 75 percent voucher, which could be used for a future Celebrity cruise.

When they brought the circumstances to Celebrity’s attention, it upped the offer, giving them a full credit. That was a classy thing to do, and Celebrity has a well-deserved reputation of going above and beyond what’s required. Perozeni says her parents were “elated.”

But they couldn’t take advantage of the offer.


“Unfortunately, my dad then suffered further complications and passed away from liver cancer this past Christmas Eve,” she says.

Perozeni asked the cruise line if it would consider refunding the cruise. After all, airlines almost always refund nonrefundable airline tickets when a passenger dies. Why not a cruise line?

Celebrity turned down her first request. So she wrote back and asked for a refund for just one certificate.

Related story:   If they resell my room, why can't I get a refund?

Denied again.

Perozeni doesn’t understand why Celebrity refuses to offer a cash refund. She thinks it might have something to do with her father’s pre-existing medical condition.

I don’t think so.

If his insurance offered a 75 percent voucher, and was aware of his medical condition (which it was, since it was the reason for his cancellation), then it covered pre-existing conditions. Celebrity made an exception by offering a full voucher; it didn’t have to.

But the death of a passenger is another matter, and I thought Celebrity would refund the cruise since Perozeni’s parents had also purchased insurance.

I contacted Celebrity on her mother’s behalf. It didn’t respond.

A few months later, I contacted Celebrity. Again, it didn’t respond or offer Perozeni anything beyond a form denial.

Of course, I can’t force Celebrity to offer this widow a refund on her anniversary cruise. Is it the right thing to do? Of course. Does it have to? No.

But the next time someone tells you that a cruise is an all-inclusive, family-friendly activity, maybe you should think of Sandy Perozeni.

I will.

Was Celebrity right to deny Perozeni's refund?

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  • StarKiller

    The executor of the will should send a strongly worded letter.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Celebrity… dead passenger, denied refund. Is there something we’re not seeing here? Please tell us you’re not as cold-blooded as this story makes you appear.

  • I think this has to do with the timing of the events. They appealed to Celebrity once and got an extra 25% credit. Then they appealed again after the dad passed away. That may have been going to the well one too many times. I think Celebrity would’ve (maybe? hopefully!) had a different response had their one and only request been to refund for a deceased passenger, even though that’s not their policy. (Does anyone know whether ANY of the major lines refund for death?)

    That said, if the dad was that ill and this was to be his “last vacation”, why wouldn’t they have bought an insurance policy that would have refunded instead of credited? “Last vacation” implies that a credit would’ve been useless…

  • technomage1

    Death isn’t something you can control. Not offering a refund is just unacceptable. Will they at least transfer the credit to someone who can use it?

  • TonyA_says

    Horrible! This shameful case made me utter a profanity on Thanksgiving day.

  • sirwired

    Firstly, All that said, I’ll make an exception to my usual stance (which is BUY
    THE CORRECT INSURANCE) and state that a passenger being unable to use a
    cruise credit due to being dead should receive a cash refund. To do
    otherwise is quite miserly and stupid.

    Now, on to the specifics of this case: Chris, you should have read the insurance contract (it’s easy to find by Googling “Celebrity Cruise Insurance”.) It would have revealed that you DO receive a FULL, CASH, refund for death or severe illness, but that particular part of the policy DOES exclude pre-existing conditions. The cruise credit Any Reason portion, as you correctly surmised, does not.

    If his condition was known at the time of booking and this was relayed to their travel agent then the agent should have directed them towards a more appropriate policy, of which there are many. (If they booked themselves, they should have read the policy themselves…) If he had encountered medical difficulties while on his trip, this would have been a disaster for them, as they would have had medical bills on top of the tragedy.

  • EdB

    That was a question I was thinking about. Was the credit only good for her late father? If it was, then it’s of no value at all if they won’t let someone else use it.

  • naoma

    Disgraceful. Scratch Celebrity off the list.

  • commentfromme

    Cruise lines are out of control

  • technomage1

    If they do allow transfer of the credit, perhaps the best thing the OP and her mother can do is take the cruise together in memory of the lost father/husband. Not the best resolution, but better than forfeiting it.

  • Cynthia Kruger

    I am continually amazed at the lack of compassion shown by businesses today. More and more now it is we got ours so tough luck.

    When I was growing up businesses showed a good deal more compassion than they do today. Now it is all about the dollar period. They do not seem to consider the value of “goodwill” any more. Once upon a time “goodwill” was a very important asset along with all the other physical assets of a company. Today it seems like it is little more than a name and lip service at all too many companies.

  • cjr001

    Stay classy, Celebrity.

  • Bonnie Russell

    Nothing to “celebrate” about Celebrity’s willingness to cause further pain.

  • Bonnie Russell

    Death is “going to the well too many times” Really? God, but that’s a chilling response.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I know everyone grieves differently so my suggestion is what “I” would do, not someone else.

    I don’t know mom taking a cruise with a good friend or one of her kids wouldn’t be a good thing to do. Though I’ve never lost a spouse, my mother told me, following the death of my father, was that the hardest part after a couple months was his not being in the house to talk to. She took a trip to visit my sister just to break up the “every day” of her being in a place where memories of my dad were so strong.

    To be fair, I don’t know the age of the OPs mother, so that might not be a reasonable solution…

    Also, particularly after the particularly tragic death of a family member nearly two years ago, I had a difficult time knowing when it was okay to smile and laugh again. Thank goodness I had people around me to tell me it was okay to do so. I feel Mom should take the cruise and take someone with her who would help her enjoy it and tell her it’s okay to have a good time again, even for just a few days – I think Dad would appreciate that from above.

  • dourdan

    can she use the credit for someone else? like a gift to a friend or relative?

  • judy

    She should have asked for a voucher so that another family member could take a cruise with Mom. Trying to wrest cash out of a retailer is rather impossible.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Insurance that offers a “voucher” is NOT insurance. It’s a scam. What is the name of this “insurance” company? Is it Celebrity’s own fake-insurance or something else?

  • MeanMeosh

    Compassion is a two-way street, though. Problem is, society today is full of people who don’t give a second thought to abusing the goodwill of others by lying about their circumstances to extract “goodwill” they’re not entitled to. I once had an employee lie about his mom’s health to get out of paying back a signing bonus, when the real story was the company he went to work for was going to cover it for him (which he also lied about). Idiots like that just poison the well for the next person asking for compassion.

    I don’t think that’s what’s happening here, and I disagree with Celebrity’s decision, but I can understand why businesses today decide it’s easier just to say no to every “compassion” request, rather than try to figure out what’s real and what’s just another scumbag looking for a free ride.

  • Joe Farrell

    Cruise companies are out to earn a profit. Every single element of their operation is designed to drag more money from you. From the increasingly limited free food and drink [if you’ll eat the buffets and the slop, its free, if you want a real, specially prepared meal it was first $5 extra pp, then $10, now some are charging $20 or even charging off a menu] to confiscating liquor you bring to outrageous fees for a soft drink [with some now even providing free coffee only between Noon and 4a] to their contracts which are totally one-sided and gives them an excuse to refuse compensation for any possible event on board from the ship sinking to losing your luggage and having their staff steal your belongings. . .

    Simply put, cruises are the most anti-consumer travel choice out there – and I cannot, as a legal professional, urge people to not accept their attitudes and their contracts by refusing to give them your money. Until they start seeing declines in cabins sold and start seeing consumers reject their way of operating, nothing will change.

    The only reason that Celebrity would change its mind now and give the voucher to another family member would be the result of bad publicity. When that occurs perhaps Chris Elliott needs to ask cruisers everywhere who have lost their money to death to contact him to get their cruise transferred . . . .

  • Joe Farrell

    if only . . . a strongly worded letter would be received in response:

    “We regret to inform you that our contract of carriage provides . . .. “

  • cahdot

    i hate the rules esp the travel insurance industry that usually has a way to get out of paying for anything

  • TonyA_says

    And don’t forget they pay the help crew (from the third world) about 500 bucks a month, Basically working for tips.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/apr/29/cruise-firm-performance-bonuses-tips?newsfeed=true

  • dourdan

    exactly. when my aunt’s husband died 2 months before their cruise she was able to pay 200 dollars to change the ticket and take her granddaughter instead. was that not offered? or is the OP so pissed off that anything less then a refund will not be good enough?

  • Extramail

    Somebody explain to me why anyone would book a cruise, EVER. It seems like every other heartless company complaint is about something that either went wrong on a cruise or faulty insurance related to a cruise. I’ve only taken one cruise in my life and that was years ago and we had a great time. Based on this website and many others, a cruise will be the absolute last option I will ever contemplate as a vacation option.

  • Hi Bonnie. Sorry to come across cold, but just making the point that the case agent who reviewed the file probably read the OP’s first letter where s/he presumably explained the situation in full and where Celebrity took the opportunity to be “generous”. Right or wrong, I think it made it easier for the agent to say, “Pass. We’ve done enough.”

  • TonyA_says

    Cheap Norovirus Buffets, a great attraction you’ll be missing if you do not cruise :-)

  • Escriteur

    While I recognize that both sides have a legitimate argument in this matter, it doesn’t reflect very well on Celebrity that they wouldn’t respond to either of Christopher’s inquiries.

    Regarding Perozeni’s request, it isn’t clear whether the family had been offered or would be willing to accept a transfer of credit in lieu of a refund. I can understand the cruise line not wanting to part with the payment, but they should have at least allowed the credit to be transferred to another family member, so that the widow could travel with another relative in honor of her late husband. That said, a better public relations move would have been to offer a refund — after all, the grieving family may have needed that money for funeral expenses, and it makes Celebrity seem very greedy and heartless to refuse to relinquish it.

    I’m not sure why Celebrity wouldn’t have provided any type of response to Christopher’s request; perhaps they don’t realize the size of his readership? In this era of social media, I’ve found that a polite request with the subtle threat of social media exposure often works wonders. ;-) I usually contact a company with a polite email explaining the situation, starting with praise for positive past experiences, and explaining my disappointment in whatever the current issue is. (They’re more likely to accommodate you if you’ve been a loyal customer who is likely to provide repeat business in the future; if your initial message states you’ll never do business with them again, or if you immediately and publicly criticize them without giving them a chance to respond, there isn’t as much incentive to try to make things right…) After outlining my concerns, I mention that I use my Facebook, Twitter, and TripAdvisor accounts to share my experiences, good and bad. I then ask for their response in the matter, and “hope I’ll have a positive outcome to report on when I post my review.” So far, this approach has worked well for me; it’s gotten me reimbursement for everything from canceled round-trip flight tickets (I somehow booked the wrong dates, but never received a “your trip is approaching” or “time to check in” email to alert me to the impending flights and my error) to repairs on my car after the warranty expired (my automatic windows seem to stop working every two years, like clockwork) — and all without having someone like Christopher go to bat for me. (Though just knowing Christopher is there for us gives me great peace of mind in the event I have an issue I can’t resolve on my own. So thank you for that, Christopher!)

    The point of my long-winded post is that perhaps Perozeni should share this article on Twitter, TripAdvisor, etc. (if she hasn’t done so already)…if Celebrity sees this story appearing in multiple forums, perhaps they’ll try to do something to preserve their reputation. A quick search for @celebritycruise (their official account) on Twitter isn’t revealing any negative stories at the moment…

  • Sandy Perozeni

    Hello and Thank You to Everyone who took the time to read and respond to Mr. Elliott’s article regarding my situation with Celebrity Cruise Lines. To keep it brief, there has been no further response from Celebrity and I’m pretty sure they’re done with me. I want to be sure you know two things: First of all, I’m grateful to Mr. Elliott for getting this article out there because while I didn’t get any satisfaction from Celebrity, it really felt wonderful to see how many of you supported me. That was nice. The second thing is that I’m not trying to get a refund for my Dad. He DID have a pre-existing condition, and I understand the rules about that. What I AM trying to do is get a refund for my Mom. She did NOT have a pre-existing condition, she is NOT inclined to take this trip with me or my sibling, it was to be an anniversary cruise with my Dad, and nothing less is going to work for her. She should have her money refunded. But Celebrity refuses to see the sense in this, and that’s the part that’s ticking me off.

    Again, thanks to all of you for your support. I really appreciate it.

    Sandy