Here’s an interesting question raised by what is probably an unsolvable case: When your cruise is nonrefundable, what happens to the upgrade you purchased?
That’s the problem faced by Stan Krehbiel, who booked a cruise tour through luxury tour operator Tauck earlier this year. He didn’t purchase the optional cruise protection, a decision he now regrets.
A few days before his vacation, he began feeling sick. He visited his cardiologist, who delivered some bad news.
“After doing an echocardiogram, he discovered my ejection fraction had inexplicably dropped to 30 percent,” he says. “That, along with my arrhythmia, caused him to suggest I cancel the trip and install a defibrillator as soon as possible.”
I’m not an MD, but that sounds serious.
He contacted Tauck to find out about his options.
I asked if under the circumstances they would give any consideration to at least a partial refund, even though I had not purchased the trip insurance. I was told that it was too late on such short notice to get anybody else on the trip and that they had expenses with the ship even if no one occupied the cabin.
That’s a tough loss. But Krehbiel saw a silver lining. He’d booked the cruise with two other couples and had been talked into spending an extra $4,900 to upgrade his cabin. He decided to give his upgraded cabin to one of the couples.
“Having been told by two people prior to my cancelling my reservation that the cabin would be empty, I called back and told them that since I had paid for the cabin, I would like for them to transfer it [to my friends],” he says. “I was told that would be impossible since they had a waiting list for people to take that cruise. Of course, that came as a shock to me since I had been told by two previous people that it was too late to make any changes.”
So not only was the cabin nontransferable, but it turns out his “empty” cabin would be sailing with someone else in it. In other words, Tauck would pocket his cruise fare, even though someone else would be paying for his cabin, too. At least, that’s how Krehbiel saw it.
“My friends will be on board in their original cabins while Tauck will collect additional revenue at my misfortune,” he says.
This is interesting to me because in this day and age of unbundling, a cruise cabin and an upgrade are technically two separate products. I searched the Tauck site and couldn’t find any disclaimers that upgrades weren’t transferrable. So if a member of Krehbiel’s party couldn’t use it, then should he get his $4,900 back?
Tauck says “no.” Here’s the form letter it sent him:
Tauck’s cancellation policy does stand, and we cannot refund you for your river cruise. We have a policy and procedure in place for all upgrades and as much as we would have loved to put your friends in your upgraded cabin, that is not our reservations process and we must follow our standard procedure. Tauck’s cancellation policy for our river cruises is clearly stated in our brochures below:
Guests without Cruise Protection cancelling 29-1 days before departure incur loss of 100% of cost of cruise.
Please try and understand our position, in that we cannot make an exception for you when we have others who also did not purchase the Cruise Protection Plan and incur this same penalty when they cancel with the time period listed above.
Thank you for your understanding and do not hesitate to contact us with anything we can do for you in the future.