Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line Poor Refund Policy During Coronavirus

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Apr 12, 2020
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I am president of the Lakes of Delray Men's Club. We booked a cruise on the Grand Celebration - Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line (BPCL(. Because of the Coronavirus our members decided to cancel the cruise. We were never notified of a cancellation date. We canceled the cruise and directed the travel agent to not make final payment. We got the final payment back from the travel agent, but BPCL would not refund our deposit which amounted to $100 per cabin. Instead, it offered future cruise credit, which our members did not want. Ultimately, after our cancellation, the cruise was canceled altogether. I sent a cordial letter to the CEO of BPCL that has gone unanswered. It was copied to the individuals who made the decision to deny our request for refund. Following is the text of that letter.

Mr. Oniel Khosa
Chief Executive Officer
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line
431 Fairway Dr Ste 300
Deerfield Beach, FL, 33441-1823

Dear. Mr. Khosa,

Through your registered travel agency, Anchors Away World Cruise Specialists (Anchors Away), the Lakes of Delray Men’s Club (LODMC) arranged for a group cruise on the Grand Celebration scheduled for March 19-21, 2020. Regrettably, for a number of reasons to be discussed below, nearly all of the LODMC’s members elected to cancel the cruise. We are requesting a full refund of the deposits that were made.

Shortly after booking our cruise, our members became very leery of both Anchors Away and Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line (BPCL). While we were offered a number of benefits to book this cruise, regrettably, shortly after booking, BPCL advertised cruise benefits that appeared to be better than those offered to our group cruise. Adding to this leeriness was the lack of information being provided by Anchors Away and the BPCL about cruise details, including cabin assignments, and unilateral changing of our benefits by BPCL. Additionally, many of our members were becoming concerned about the coronavirus and the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s advice that seniors and those with compromised immune systems stay at home and not cruise. Most of our members are 70 years old or older. (Even the Cruise LIne International Association is currently recommending that such people be denied boarding on cruise ships.). While we tried hard to quell some of their concerns, ultimately, most members elected to cancel the cruise.

While our final payment was refunded by Anchors Away, BPCL has refused to refund our deposit. First and foremost, the LODMC was never informed by either Anchors Away or BPCL of a penalty-free cancellation date or a final payment date. Furthermore, there is no signed contract between Anchors Away and/or BPCL with the LODMC. For these reasons alone, our deposit should be refunded. Combined with all of the other information provided above, there should be no question that our members are entitled to a full refund of their deposits. The offer of a future cruise credit is simply not an appropriate resolution to this situation.

Had we known of a cancellation date, we would have communicated such to our members and they, then, could have made an informed decision in time to avoid penalty. The failure of Anchors Away and BPCL to communicate such information to the LODMC and/or our members warrants a refund of all deposit monies paid. Accordingly, on behalf of our members, we respectfully request a refund of all deposit monies made for this cruise. The check should be made payable to the LODMC. We will distribute the appropriate funds to each member.

Thank you very much. We certainly look forward to an amicable resolution.

Sincerely,

Phil A. Goldman
President
Lakes of Delray Men’s Club

Cc: Clark Reber, via e-mail
Natalie Ollivierre, via e-mail

I hope that you will be able to assist our club in getting a refund from this company.

Thank you very much.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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If you canceled before the cruise line canceled, the cancellation policy that was in effect on the day you canceled it what the cruise line goes by. This is the same as canceling an airline ticket before the airline cancels a flight- cancellation fees apply.

Did you have a copy of the cruise lines cancellation policy at the time you canceled?
 
Apr 12, 2020
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If you canceled before the cruise line canceled, the cancellation policy that was in effect on the day you canceled it what the cruise line goes by. This is the same as canceling an airline ticket before the airline cancels a flight- cancellation fees apply.

Did you have a copy of the cruise lines cancellation policy at the time you canceled?
Thank you for your reply. Neither the travel agent nor Bahamas Paradise Cruise LIne ever communicated anything about the cancellation policy or a cancel by date. In fact, there was never a contract issued by the travel agency or Bahamas Paradise Cruise LIne. Had we had a cancellation date, we would have communicated the date to our members. Regrettably, both the travel agent and Bahamas Paradise Cruise LIne failed to provide that information to us.
 
May 30, 2019
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The cruise lines are (no pun intended) swamped with requests. How long has it been since you sent the letter & emails?
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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It's inconceivable that a travel agent wouldn't review all the details of your booking with you so you could brief your members. Do you have anything in writing describing the cruise and what your members were buying? Obtain a copy of the cruise line's terms and conditions right away so you understand what happened. If there's a clear cancellation policy which was not relayed to you, the TA should be responsible for refunding all the deposits. If indeed there is no penalty for cancellation, you can request refunds instead of credits from the cruise line. This should be handled in a business-like manner. Keep it all in writing, explain the situation concisely and boil your letter down to about three paragraphs.

A group trip like this should be handled carefully from the inception. Deposits should not be collected without complete descriptions of the cruise. Considering the age of your members, insurance should have been purchased. I hope things get worked out for all of you.
 
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Neil Maley

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I agree with jsn. What type of documents did you receive for this cruise? Were you the one that booked the group with the travel agency? There should have been terms and conditions given to the group leader that stated the cancellation policy. If you didn’t receive that- you have a case against the travel agency. You received nothing when the deposits were made?
 
Apr 12, 2020
11
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It's inconceivable that a travel agent wouldn't review all the details of your booking with you so you could brief your members. Do you have anything in writing describing the cruise and what your members were buying? Obtain a copy of the cruise line's terms and conditions right away so you understand what happened. If there's a clear cancellation policy which was not relayed to you, the TA should be responsible for refunding all the deposits. If indeed there is no penalty for cancellation, you can request refunds instead of credits from the cruise line. This should be handled in a business-like manner. Keep it all in writing, explain the situation concisely and boil your letter down to about three paragraphs.

A group trip like this should be handled carefully from the inception. Deposits should not be collected without complete descriptions of the cruise. Considering the age of your members, insurance should have been purchased. I hope things get worked out for all of you.
I can think of words very different from inconceivable, but be that as it may, we believe the travel agent and cruise line both erred in the handling of this booking. We were appreciative of the travel agent refunding all of our final payment. The travel agent communicated that the cruise line was adamant that it would not refund the deposit. The letter to the cruise line, while four paragraphs, was both detailed and professional. What is inconceivable is that the cruise line didn't even acknowledge receipt of the letter without regard to any other outcome. Our club and members, of course, are reserving the right to pursue the matter further, if necessary. We have not yet filed any complaint with the appropriate regulatory authorities.
 

Neil Maley

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Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
The issue is not with the cruise line- the travel agency is supposed to send the group leader and every traveler information about cancellation policies and are supposed to offer travel insurance.

Your issue isn’t the travel agency if they are who you paid.
I would demand the travel agency reimburse you if you didn’t get any cancellation information or if they didn’t offer travel insurance. Were you the person that contracted this with the travel agency?
 
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Apr 12, 2020
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I can think of words very different from inconceivable, but be that as it may, we believe the travel agent and cruise line both erred in the handling of this booking. We were appreciative of the travel agent refunding all of our final payment. The travel agent communicated that the cruise line was adamant that it would not refund the deposit. The letter to the cruise line, while four paragraphs, was both detailed and professional. What is inconceivable is that the cruise line didn't even acknowledge receipt of the letter without regard to any other outcome. Our club and members, of course, are reserving the right to pursue the matter further, if necessary. We have not yet filed any complaint with the appropriate regulatory authorities.
I agree with jsn. What type of documents did you receive for this cruise? Were you the one that booked the group with the travel agency? There should have been terms and conditions given to the group leader that stated the cancellation policy. If you didn’t receive that- you have a case against the travel agency. You received nothing when the deposits were made?
We received no documents, just e-mails outlining what was promised by the cruise line. At no time were we given any information about any cancellation policy I was not the person who booked the cruise, but was involved in all of the correspondence. Correct, we received nothing but receipts when the deposits were made.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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Have you spoken to the person who booked it? You didn’t receive confirmations for each cabin? I can’t fathom a travel agency not doing this.

Contact an attorney - if there was absolutely nothing given to you by the travel agency, that’s negligence.
 
Apr 12, 2020
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The issue is not with the cruise line- the travel agency is supposed to send the group leader and every traveler information about cancellation policies and are supposed to offer travel insurance.

Your issue isn’t the travel agency if they are who you paid.
I would demand the travel agency reimburse you if you didn’t get any cancellation information or if they didn’t offer travel insurance. Were you the person that contracted this with the travel agency?
The travel agency did offer travel insurance, but not the kind that would allow canceling for any reason. Some members elected to buy insurance, but the travel agency agreed to refund that cost to the few members that elected insurance. We believe that the cruise line is acting in bad faith. Shortly after making deposits, we were notified by the travel agent that the cruise line was unilaterally changing the perks that were offered. That was part of the reason for some wanting to cancel. It was that, coupled with the developments in the coronavirus pandemic that resulted in a snowball effect of our members canceling.
 
Apr 12, 2020
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Have you spoken to the person who booked it? You didn’t receive confirmations for each cabin? I can’t fathom a travel agency not doing this.

Contact an attorney - if there was absolutely nothing given to you by the travel agency, that’s negligence.
Correct, one of the major issues was that two weeks before the anticipated cruise, we still had no cabin assignments. We suspect that this was due to the cruise line defending its unilateral changes, after deposits were made, to what was originally offered. I worked closely with the person who booked the cruise. While we agree that the travel agency missed some steps in the process, we have no intention of moving against it. We have members who are attorneys and licensed to practice in Florida. Based on the amount due from the cruise line, this is likely a small claims matter. If necessary, that will be a final recourse. In the interim, if you are unable to assist in this, we will likely pursue all administrative remedies available to us. To get our final payment back, we signed a release against the travel agency. We specifically refused to sign a release against the cruise line--which we understand it wanted as a condition of the travel agency returning the final payment.
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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My experience with this cruise line was that it's very different than the mainstream lines. For one we did not get cabin assignments until we showed up at port and as far as I could tell everyone else was getting their's as well. Unfortunately I don't think not having your cabin assignments in advance will help your cause as that seems to be the way they operate.
 
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Apr 12, 2020
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My experience with this cruise line was that it's very different than the mainstream lines. For one we did not get cabin assignments until we showed up at port and as far as I could tell everyone else was getting their's as well. Unfortunately I don't think not having your cabin assignments in advance will help your cause as that seems to be the way they operate.
Certainly seems to be the case, but for a booking with 42 cabins, one would expect differently. We sailed on Royal Caribbean last year with a similar number of cabins without incident.
 

smd

Mar 14, 2018
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The cruise line publishes their terms and conditions, including cancellation fees, on their web site. The cancellation charge 8-21 days before departure is the greater of your deposit or 50% of the fare. Since you were working through an agent and presumably paid your deposit to that agent, I think they would be liable for failure to provide the detailed terms and conditions. It's unfortunate that you signed their release.
 
Apr 12, 2020
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The cruise line publishes their terms and conditions, including cancellation fees, on their web site. The cancellation charge 8-21 days before departure is the greater of your deposit or 50% of the fare. Since you were working through an agent and presumably paid your deposit to that agent, I think they would be liable for failure to provide the detailed terms and conditions. It's unfortunate that you signed their release.
Being able to secure the almost $14,000 final payment made the signing of the release against the travel agency the prudent choice.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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Being able to secure the almost $14,000 final payment made the signing of the release against the travel agency the prudent choice.
Then you may have to accept the $100 towards another cruise. The cruise line did nothing wrong withholding the deposit because you canceled before the cruise line had to cancel. The cancellation policy that was in effect at the time you canceled is what stands.

The travel agency is the one that did not do their due diligence. When you canceled, didn’t they tell you that you would lose the deposit? The fact they made you sign off on a document that you wouldn’t sue them should have been a warning something was wrong.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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In an airline analogy, Royal Caribbean is like United Airlines and Celebration Cruise line is like Spirit Airlines. Celebration Cruise line does things much different than the large cruise lines. Be that as it may, your travel agent should have forwarded you (and every paying cabin) a guest copy of the booking. This would show the itinerary, monies paid, balance due, and the cancellation policies.

What date did you make the bookings and pay the deposit?

Has your $14,000 been refunded, or just promised to be refunded?
 
Apr 12, 2020
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Then you may have to accept the $100 towards another cruise. The cruise line did nothing wrong withholding the deposit because you canceled before the cruise line had to cancel. The cancellation policy that was in effect at the time you canceled is what stands.

The travel agency is the one that did not do their due diligence. When you canceled, didn’t they tell you that you would lose the deposit? The fact they made you sign off on a document that you wouldn’t sue them should have been a warning something was wrong.
We were advised that the cruise line would not refund the deposit by a clause in the Release, but would provide future cruise credit. We redacted the clause from the release, which the travel agency agreed to. Given the risks of litigation, we concluded that $14k in hand made better sense than potential litigation for $18k. We believed that the cruise line bore responsibility here since it was its authorized agent that we were using. We had received the $14k the day we signed the release and the travel agency gave us the information necessary for the $50 per person future cruise credit. We refunded the final cruise payments to our members. Our members asked for us to pursue the deposits as they believed that the cruise line acted in bad faith by changing the perks it was offering after our deposits were made and then by being inflexible when the CDC advised that seniors should not be taking cruises.