When Dorothy Cofield’s father falls ill, she needs to get a refund for her cruise. But is she entitled to one?
Question: I booked two single rooms on the National Geographic Sea Lion expedition to the Columbia and Snake rivers. I bought insurance for my 93-year-old dad. I did not buy insurance for myself as his companion.
He has had a series of bad falls. He has a bad heart, a bad aortic valve, has suffered several small strokes, has dementia and cannot safely go on the trip.
I do not want to go without him because it would be too sad, since the trip was for him. The cruise is oversold, and Lindblad Expeditions, which operates the cruise, easily can resell my cabin. But it won’t refund my cruise fare. Can you help me get a refund for my $8,030? — Dorothy Cofield, Beaverton, Oregon
Answer: I’m not sure if a cruise was the best vacation choice for your father, who was already having health problems before you made your reservations. Nice work with the insurance, but if you didn’t think you could go without him, you also might have considered a policy for you. Then all of this unpleasantness could have been avoided.
Lindblad Expedition’s rules are as clear as the water in Oregon’s Clear Lake, which is to say, “crystal.” You’re not entitled to any kind of refund. Period. Dad is going to get all his money back; you’re not.
Is that fair? In this case, no. Lindblad will double-dip, taking your money and someone else’s, but only serving one passenger. In fairness to Lindblad, this is an industrywide practice. But that doesn’t make it any fairer. For passengers like you who can’t take a cruise, it’s like handing $8,030 to a cruise line and getting nothing in return.
You really should have bought the insurance.
Cruise lines rarely, if ever, waive their rules. But in this case, you had confirmation from Lindblad that there was a wait list for your cruise, meaning that you were doing it a favor by canceling and allowing the cruise line to resell your cabin. I thought it was worth asking about your case. Clearly, you’re trying to do the right thing for your father, and a little sympathy from the cruise line would be nice.
“We generally do not negotiate our cancellation policies regardless of the reasons for canceling,” a Lindblad representative told me. “As such, we strongly recommend that guests purchase travel protection at several stages of the booking process, so that they can protect themselves from cancellation charges if the need arises.”
Is that an echo I hear?
I agree with Lindblad. You weren’t entitled to a refund.
“However,” added the Lindblad rep, “there are rare exceptions when circumstances align and we are able to sell the cabin, enabling us to refund the guest. Since we had a small wait list — and in an effort to resolve Mrs. Cofield’s situation — we contacted all persons waitlisted to determine if they were interested in Mrs. Cofield’s cabin. On this occasion, we will be able to provide a refund to Mrs. Cofield, which will be processed shortly.”