If Lindblad can resell my cabin, why is it keeping my cruise fare?

By | January 8th, 2016

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.”

  • Kathi C

    Wow this just pisses me off, I pay $1300 for travel insurance to protect my investment when I could have come to CE and whined! Chris Elliott I am pissed off I pay travel insurance and this bimbo thinks she is to good for that!

  • VoR61

    The value of compassion can never, in my opinion be overstated or underestimated. Given the resale of her cabin, I see this as the right outcome. A great job Chris.

    On a separate but related and personal note, I have all but abandoned the idea of entitlement . On the many occasions that I fail, I find I am especially grateful that I don’t get what “I’m entitled to” …

  • DChamp56

    Maybe one shouldn’t bother to tell the cruise line you can’t come, then just don’t show up so they CAN’T resell your room. How would they like that?

  • I have been in Dorothy’s situation and – I took the trip by myself, though we were both insured. The pictures I brought back from a month on the other side of the world lit up the life of a 90-year-old almost as much as the actual tour would have.

  • Pegtoo

    Hope she realizes how lucky she is.

  • Jason Hanna

    They’d like it just fine. They already have your money.

  • Extramail

    Maybe the cruise line should have deducted the price of the insurance she paid for her fathers insurance plan and refunded the balance? It does make it harder for those who try to play by the rules.

  • sirwired

    Why, oh why, did she not buy insurance? I hope that you, Chris, weren’t her backup plan all along. Certainly if her father was able to successfully file a claim, she would have been able to.

    Anyway, not issuing a refund is not that unreasonable. At the time of final payment, the cruise line will have incurred quite a lot of non-recoverable costs. TA commissions, Credit Card fees, marketing expenses, etc.

    It was BEYOND nice for Lindblad to offer a full refund, and it would not have been unjustified for them to refuse.

  • cscasi

    I guess the cruise line could have said we did not resell the room; merely upgraded another passenger to the room and therefore we are not considering refunding the money you paid (like we saw in another earlier case presented here). But, it made an exception to the no refund rule because it was able to resell the room. Nice gesture.

  • Laura616

    ‘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 am actually baffled as to why this was considered to be a good idea in the first place. I also wonder whether or not this elderly man even wanted to go. Obviously Dorothy is trying to do everything she can to make her father’s remaining time as enjoyable as possible but it gets to a point where people must ask themselves ‘who am I doing this for?’

  • Lee

    If someone can pay that much for a cruise ticket, then they should get the insurance. No one is immune from life: accidents happen, sudden bad health happens, deaths, etc. While I empathize with the situation as a whole, the cruise company was within their rights to withhold a refund.

    It is a nice they did so ultimately after being contacted by CE but, why do they do that when contacted by a well known consumer advocate? For the sake of being thoughtful in a difficult situation?

    I doubt it. It is because this site gets lots of eyeballs and they do this so as to appear humane and not the usual cold-hearted corporate entities they are in reality which may turn some of these eyeballs off from booking with them.

    Cynical? Yup. But, I am a consumer advocate in real life (not re: CE’s issues) and have come across this time and time again. They don’t respond positively when contacted by the individual but often do when there may be public awareness of their decisions like this. So, yes, that does make me more than a tad cynical but, in the end, this is a nice result. Hopefully, the poster does not assume this will always be the way to resolve this matter in the future.

  • Mel65

    Good on the cruise line for doing the compassionate thing when the OP did not do the right thing. She purchased insurance for her Father but KNEW that if a circumstance arose such that she’d need to use the insurance on his trip, she wouldn’t go on the cruise without him so she should have purchased it for herself, too. Makes no sense to me, It’s like purchasing auto insurance for one of your vehicles and then asking for reimbursement when your 16 year old wrecks the other one… Oh well, at least it’s a happy ending!

  • Mel65

    Or the amount she WOULD have paid for a policy, had she bought one–sort of “retroactively” giving her insurance coverage. That would have been a fair and equitable solution!

  • Nice gesture yes, but Linblad didn’t do it voluntarily . . . the long term effects of social media feedback gave them a nudge.

  • Barthel

    Whenever I read these articles, I have made the decision never to book a cruise. Their business practices in some cases are immoral, and the costs are prohibitive

  • judyserienagy

    This is great, Chris, glad you were able to help. As for whether she deserves it or not, that’s not our problem, is it?

  • judyserienagy

    Some people go on a cruise because it’s a good choice for them given the status of their health. Your time is your own on a ship, you can sleep late, you can lounge around in a deck chair, you dine on good food, and there are medical staff on board. I’ve run into several people over the years who never take a shore excursion and rarely even leave the ship. That’s what they’re capable of doing, so that’s what they do. Better that than not going at all.

  • judyserienagy

    This is a good one, Barthel. I agree with you, don’t go cruising!

  • KarlaKatz

    Columbia River and Snake River cruises are rather stacked for those with energy and stamina; These cruises are not a leisurely voyage down the coast of South America, to the Panama Canal.

  • wilcoxon

    No it wouldn’t. A fair and equitable solution would be for the cruise industry to actually play fair. It should be illegal for any business to double-dip and get the money for two customers while only providing service to one.

  • Laura616

    I agree but his man had a litany of potentially very serious life threatening problems. Cruise ships are not equipped to deal with such conditions.