NCL-I got caught in 100% refund policy change-91 days back to 120 days

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May 20, 2020
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I was booked on Norweigian Spirit - Athens Round Trip departing July 5, 2020. I called to cancel on 3/4/2020 (125 days prior to departure) because I wanted to receive a 100 % cash refund. My travel agent (Costco) called NCL and was told that the policy had changed and that I could wait until 91 days prior to sailing to cancel and still receive a
100 % cash refund. Based on this, I decided to wait and see what happened. When I cancelled on 3/29/2020 (98 days before sailing), I was told that the policy changed back and that I would now only receive a 75% refund. I relied on what I was told by NCL to wait. I don't think it's right that they would then change the policy back to the more restrictive policy. Costco advocated on my behalf and NCL said they would give me a future cruise credit for the $771.07 that represents the 25%. The reason given was that the cruise had not yet been cancelled by the cruise line. I'm not sure what that has to do with anything but yesterday the cruise was officially been cancelled by NCL. I would like NCL to give me the full refund in cash.
 
May 20, 2020
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We didn't wait because we felt that if they didn't cancel and we still wanted to, we would be out of the 100% refund window, which it turns out we were anyway.
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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So NCL rolled out a cancellation policy on Feb 28 that changed full payment to 90 days out (only for June & July cruises and specifically said it was a temporary change) https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/...modifies-change-and-cancellatio-policies.html and then 6 days later on March 6 they rolled out their Peace of Mind policy to replace it and revert refunds back to the original cancellation schedule. https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/...egian-again-modifies-cancellation-policy.html This change specifically said that it supersedes all previous changes and could be changed in the future. And all these changes were being made in the midst of the total chaos as everyone tried to deal with it.

So they charged you the cancellation fee based on the T&Cs you booked under. They temporarily changed the schedule, then changed it back to the original one but gave an option to get it 100% in FCC as the Covid pandemic evolved. You chose a refund so they charged you the cancellation fee. Then when you complained they did a goodwill and gave you the cancellation fee as a FCC.

Honestly I'm not a lawyer so I can't tell you yay or nay on the legality of the change and then the second change. However, I would assume that NCL's lawyers do know about that when they put out the Peace of Mind policy that reverted back to the original cancellation schedule if you desired a cash refund.

You can try a writing campaign to get the refund, but considering they already gave you a goodwill gesture of the FCC and the fact that cruise lines are still cash light because of all the canceled cruises I'm afraid it's not likely to succeed.
 
May 20, 2020
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I understand everything you're saying. After they changed it back to 120 days, I did see that it said it superceded all other policies. But when they told me I could wait until 91 days before that wasn't really true since the policy was repealed 6 days after is was instituted and 2 days after they told me.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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Unfortunately as the article I posted above stated- you aren’t due a full refund because you jumped the gun and canceled before the cruise line canceled.

I think your real issue is that your Costco agent didn’t tell you that the change was only temporary. And the bigger problem is they didn’t tell you to wait it out and see if the cruise line canceled so you could get a 100% refund. We advised every client not to panic and those that listened to us received full refunds for their trips after the suppliers canceled.

We have a company contact page. I would suggest you reach out to NCL and plead your case and see if they will make an exception for you. You have nothing to lose by asking. This is how to write:

 
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May 30, 2019
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I relied on what I was told by NCL to wait.
The OP was relying on what he/she was told by CostCo, which may have been accurate in the moment but not NCL's policy. I don't think this is something where CostCo was at fault. I believe the best thing to do now is explain to NCL in a polite letter and ask for an exception.
 
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May 20, 2020
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The OP was relying on what he/she was told by CostCo, which may have been accurate in the moment but not NCL's policy. I don't think this is something where CostCo was at fault. I believe the best thing to do now is explain to NCL in a polite letter and ask for an exception.
I agree that Costco did nothing wrong. They told me what the cruise line told them. The cruise line just neglected to say that the policy was only going to be good for a limited number of days.
 
May 1, 2018
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Unfortunately as the article I posted above stated- you aren’t due a full refund because you jumped the gun and canceled before the cruise line canceled.

I think your real issue is that your Costco agent didn’t tell you that the change was only temporary. And the bigger problem is they didn’t tell you to wait it out and see if the cruise line canceled so you could get a 100% refund. We advised every client not to panic and those that listened to us received full refunds for their trips after the suppliers canceled.

We have a company contact page. I would suggest you reach out to NCL and plead your case and see if they will make an exception for you. You have nothing to lose by asking. This is how to write:

Neil I don't think that's quite right. There was no need for the OP to wait for NCL to cancel at that time. The issue is the OP was informed by NCL via his travel agent that he could cancel for a 100% refund before a certain date. When the OP went to execute that option, he was then informed that the rules had changed. The OP seems to be asking for NCL and the travel agent to adhere to the policy communicated to him.

If NCL told him he could cancel 90 days prior to sailing for a 100% refund, they should be expected to honor that.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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I must be missing something here. The cancellation policy for your cruise cannot be changed from what you agreed to when you bought the cruise. NCL can't do that, temporarily or permanently. Costco Travel should certainly be aware of this fact. Pull your confirmation ... that's the cancellation policy you are required to follow. It can't be changed by either party without both of them agreeing. If you want to post what NCL's stated policy was at the time you booked, we'll be glad to take a look at it.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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I must be missing something here. The cancellation policy for your cruise cannot be changed from what you agreed to when you bought the cruise. NCL can't do that, temporarily or permanently. Costco Travel should certainly be aware of this fact. Pull your confirmation ... that's the cancellation policy you are required to follow. It can't be changed by either party without both of them agreeing. If you want to post what NCL's stated policy was at the time you booked, we'll be glad to take a look at it.
I think NCL is free to announce that it will allow a more liberal cancellation policy than in the contract. That appears to be what happened here. After that, we’re into debates over consideration which would cross a law professor’s eyes.

I’ve had a few times where a cruise line, Princess, announced lower prices or better benefits, and upon my request, they agreed, not arguing at all as to what the old contract called for.

And I‘ve had the opposite happen with a cruise line we’ll just call RCCL.
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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I must be missing something here. The cancellation policy for your cruise cannot be changed from what you agreed to when you bought the cruise. NCL can't do that, temporarily or permanently. Costco Travel should certainly be aware of this fact. Pull your confirmation ... that's the cancellation policy you are required to follow. It can't be changed by either party without both of them agreeing. If you want to post what NCL's stated policy was at the time you booked, we'll be glad to take a look at it.
NCL's cancellation policy has had final payment at 120 for at least a few years. After that it's a scale as you get closer to payment date. https://www.ncl.com/about/cancellation-fee-schedule On Feb 28 they announced that they were going to refund you 100% if you canceled before 90 days even though the official schedule on the T&Cs was different and for those not yet at 120 days they could wait until 90 days before making final payment. On March 6 NCL stopped temporarily refunding the full amount and instituted their Peace of Mind program which gives you a 100% FCC if you cancel. Unfortunately for OP the 120 final payment date was March 7th and it seems they weren't following NCL's announcement during this time and did not realize temporary suspension of cancellation fees between 120-90 days was canceled.

When OP canceled NCL kept the 25% cancellation fee as spelled out in the T&Cs when OP booked as the temporary waiving of the fee had ceased. Costco was able to get NCL to give the OP the 25% cancellation fee as a FCC in a gesture of good will, but the OP wants it refunded as they relied on the temporary change NCL made on Feb 28 when deciding to wait to cancel until March 29.

I think NCL is allowed to forgo collecting a fee if they decide not to - they just can't make it more strict. At the time the OP's TA talked to NCL customer service would only know what the current policy was not what if anything was coming down the pike - especially since Covid was throwing everyone for a loop. The situation was fluid and unprecedented enough that it probably would have been wiser to check with NCL each day to see if any changes were made - I had a cruise that left on March 7th and I was checking NCL's website every day for the two weeks leading up to see what they were doing. While in my opinion Costco is a better TA than the OTAs, you're not assigned a specific agent with Costco so I would not expect them to be as hands on as a traditional TA.
 
May 20, 2020
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Unfortunately as the article I posted above stated- you aren’t due a full refund because you jumped the gun and canceled before the cruise line canceled.

I think your real issue is that your Costco agent didn’t tell you that the change was only temporary. And the bigger problem is they didn’t tell you to wait it out and see if the cruise line canceled so you could get a 100% refund. We advised every client not to panic and those that listened to us received full refunds for their trips after the suppliers canceled.

We have a company contact page. I would suggest you reach out to NCL and plead your case and see if they will make an exception for you. You have nothing to lose by asking. This is how to write:

Thanks for the advice. I just sent them a request through their on line system.
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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A week isn't giving them much time. NCL laid off something like 25% of their employees - with a huge chunk of that being on the customer service side. Add to that that they just recently cancelled another month plus of cruises. Given the volume of contact they're getting plus the large decrease in the workforce I would wait longer than a week.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,691
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San Francisco
NCL's cancellation policy has had final payment at 120 for at least a few years. After that it's a scale as you get closer to payment date. https://www.ncl.com/about/cancellation-fee-schedule On Feb 28 they announced that they were going to refund you 100% if you canceled before 90 days even though the official schedule on the T&Cs was different and for those not yet at 120 days they could wait until 90 days before making final payment. On March 6 NCL stopped temporarily refunding the full amount and instituted their Peace of Mind program which gives you a 100% FCC if you cancel. Unfortunately for OP the 120 final payment date was March 7th and it seems they weren't following NCL's announcement during this time and did not realize temporary suspension of cancellation fees between 120-90 days was canceled.

When OP canceled NCL kept the 25% cancellation fee as spelled out in the T&Cs when OP booked as the temporary waiving of the fee had ceased. Costco was able to get NCL to give the OP the 25% cancellation fee as a FCC in a gesture of good will, but the OP wants it refunded as they relied on the temporary change NCL made on Feb 28 when deciding to wait to cancel until March 29.

I think NCL is allowed to forgo collecting a fee if they decide not to - they just can't make it more strict. At the time the OP's TA talked to NCL customer service would only know what the current policy was not what if anything was coming down the pike - especially since Covid was throwing everyone for a loop. The situation was fluid and unprecedented enough that it probably would have been wiser to check with NCL each day to see if any changes were made - I had a cruise that left on March 7th and I was checking NCL's website every day for the two weeks leading up to see what they were doing. While in my opinion Costco is a better TA than the OTAs, you're not assigned a specific agent with Costco so I would not expect them to be as hands on as a traditional TA.
Thank you for this, Lisa. A more convoluted mess I could hardly come up. It seems that Costco passed on incorrect information to the OP; so in my mind they're the ones who should make her whole. If NCL won't move off their offer of a FCC, I'd expect Costco to refund. I too would have double checked the info ... and monitored it every day ... but inexperienced travellers don't realize that these kinds of mistkes can be made. I know that people think highly of Costco Travel, but what's the point of booking through them if you don't have an agent assigned to your trip? Or is it the "usual" ... cheaper prices?
 
May 30, 2019
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Thank you for this, Lisa. A more convoluted mess I could hardly come up. It seems that Costco passed on incorrect information to the OP; so in my mind they're the ones who should make her whole. If NCL won't move off their offer of a FCC, I'd expect Costco to refund. I too would have double checked the info ... and monitored it every day ... but inexperienced travellers don't realize that these kinds of mistkes can be made. I know that people think highly of Costco Travel, but what's the point of booking through them if you don't have an agent assigned to your trip? Or is it the "usual" ... cheaper prices?
The way I read the OP's posts, and based on personal knowledge of how NCL changed the policy several times, it appears to me that Costco shared the correct information at the time they shared it, however the policy subsequently changed.
 
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justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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Thank you for this, Lisa. A more convoluted mess I could hardly come up. It seems that Costco passed on incorrect information to the OP; so in my mind they're the ones who should make her whole. If NCL won't move off their offer of a FCC, I'd expect Costco to refund. I too would have double checked the info ... and monitored it every day ... but inexperienced travellers don't realize that these kinds of mistkes can be made. I know that people think highly of Costco Travel, but what's the point of booking through them if you don't have an agent assigned to your trip? Or is it the "usual" ... cheaper prices?
I don't think they necessarily passed incorrect information - I think they passed on what they knew...they just didn't know the policy would quickly change again. Even regular TAs probably had no idea what to expect at that time. Heck my cruise was booked with someone employed by NCL and they said they knew exactly what we knew and couldn't guess what if any changes would come.

I can tell you why I've used Costco and will continue - though it might venture a bit off topic. I booked a cruise 12 months in advance with VTG and in the 8 months between booking and final payment my booking was on it's THIRD travel agent due to turnover. Every time I called I had to wait on hold while they figured out who had my booking now. My parents had found a TA that was local but worked with a larger group. Worked fine for their first cruise, and OK enough for mine, but when we started looking at a family cruise she at best didn't give clear information at worst gave wrong information which I knew was wrong based on my time on Cruise Critic but my mom believed the TA until I was proved right (and thus bye bye TA). Then we decided to choose Costco because having a real TA didn't help and they had a group cruise so we 1) got a Costco cards instead of OBC (we're not shopping on cruise ship people lol) and 2) got over $300 per cabin of free stuff and 3) was a bit cheaper than booking direct. They then royally screwed up which likely would have been caught by a traditional TA (the booking agent didn't realize a solo cruiser on a group booking needed to pay a double deposit and the email Royal sent was lost in Costco purgatory since there wasn't a set agent for them to email) and since I made all on board reservations a lot were no longer available since ours disappeared when my cabin was cancelled. But Costco sorted it out and got Royal to work it out that our reservations were reinstated in a way that was satisfactory and gave me an additional Costco card for their screw up.

Whew that was a lot of words! Basically Costco offers better perks than booking direct and in my experience they have an easier time connecting to people at the cruise line that can fix problems than when I've booked direct with the cruise line. And considering my past experience being assigned an agent hasn't added anything at all! Plus between this site, Cruise Critic, and well over 10 cruises under my belt I'm decently well versed so look more for the best deal than needing the most informed agent since I know what I'm doing and what I want. Though I'm sure some just see Costco or better prices and go with that not realizing they're not as hands on.
 
May 20, 2020
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Use our company contacts, not the cruise line forms.
I did use your company contact. This is what is on your list .

Email Contacts


Instead of email, NCL has a system to submit messages and documents via their website. It is important to use the right system depending on whether the cruise has sailed already or not.

Before the cruise has sailed: https://www.ncl.com/no/en/case-submission/pre-cruise

After the cruise has completed: https://www.ncl.com/no/en/case-submission

NCL has a reputation for protecting its customer loyalty base if the resolution request is reasonable but does not react positively to threats or over-reaching. Remember to state your proposed solution with specificity and keep it reasonable.