Request to Waive Carnival Cruise Change Fee - Special Health Consideration Denied

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Mar 4, 2020
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We have booked a family vacation for 10 people on Carnival Panorama departing from Long Beach on April 4th, 2020. Our 72 year old mother has a compromised immune system and due to the outbreak of Coronavirus we cannot put her health at risk with all of the unknowns this virus brings. Our mom receives a monthly IV treatment that is critical to hear health and if she were to be quarantined on the ship and unable to receive that treatment it could be extremely detrimental to her health.

We reached out to Carnival (speaking with Customer Service several times/elevating the issue to the Executive Resolutions Department and also emailing Mr. Arnold & Ms. Duffy directly) to ask that they waive the change fee and allow us to reschedule our cruise date -- the same offer that many other companies in the travel industry have extended to their customers. We're not asking for a refund at all, we are just asking to change our date to Spring Break of 2021 and not have to spend upwards of $7,000 for a change fee when this public outbreak is completely out of our control and our family has already spent a significant amount on the vacation itself. We asked that Carnival make an exception for us given our mother's health situation. We received and email today from Guest Solutions Support saying that that they are not willing to waive the change fee.

What else can we do?
 

Neil Maley

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Thousands of cruises are still going out with no issues. The cruise lines are bring very stringent in taking temperatures of people embarking and checking where they’ve been before allowing them to board. C an’t you just cruise and cancel Moms reservation and the rest of you go so you don’t have to lose all that money?

We have company contacts on our company contacts page for Carnival. But if you have already emailed the top executives, I’m not sure there is much you can do. You can try emailing the executives one by on starting at the bottom.
This is how to write:

 

Carol Phillips

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Neil is correct that if you've already gone to the top exec levels, it's unlikely that Guest Solutions will overrule that. Some cruise lines have begun to allow passengers to cancel and rebook at later times without penalties; Carnival is not among those at this time.
 
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Mar 4, 2020
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Thanks for your quick replies Neil and Carol. Regarding the possibility of cruising without our parents, we have planned this vacation for our parents and kids to have quality time together and our parents are generously hosting the entire family... so going without them is definitely not an option.

According to an article published online yesterday, several cruise lines are offering to waive their change fees if passengers opt to reschedule their dates:

  • Avalon Waterways is waiving standard cancellation penalties to allow cancellations up to three days before a departure. Passengers who have yet to make final payment for a sailing also can postpone the trip to a later date or switch to a different trip operated by the line or any of its sister tour companies. Avalon is part of the Globus family of brands, which includes the giant tour companies Globus and Cosmos.
  • MSC Cruises is allowing passengers booked on Mediterranean cruises in March and April to postpone the trips for up to a year. Customers on the sailings also can switch to a different itinerary.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line is waiving restrictions to let passengers on upcoming sailings switch to a different departure. But there are some caveats: The new departure must take place on or before June 30, and changes must be made at least 60 days in advance of the original sailing. In addition, the new voyage must be of equal or greater value, and passengers must pay any difference in fare.
  • Royal Caribbean passengers booked on Asia cruises departing before March 23 can change their plans without penalty.
  • Viking is allowing cruisers to postpone any cruise at any time up until 24 hours before departure with all cancellation fees waived. Passengers will receive a voucher for future travel valid for 24 months that can be used on any Viking cruise (river, ocean or expedition). The policy is applicable for any current booking and new reservations made through April 30.
It just seems unfathomable to make our family pay a $7,000 change fee given our mom's health situation.
We have a doctor's note coming that will be available to send to Carnival tomorrow. Any other recommendations that you have regarding this very frustrating bind that we are in would be greatly appreciated.

Another concern is the possibility of paying the outrageous $7,000 change fee and then having Carnival announce the option to reschedule without fees after the fact.
 
Mar 4, 2020
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By the way our change fee will increase to a whopping $10,500 on March 7th so time is extremely tight here!
 

Neil Maley

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The change fees for some of the cruises are for cruises in areas that have the virus detected there. That’s not the case for where your cruise is going, which may be why Carnival is sticking to their guns.

Unfortunately there are thousands of people in your predicament. The cruise industry is being hit very hard with this and can’t waive fees for everyone in areas that are not affected by this.
 
Mar 4, 2020
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Understood, however the argument for us isn't as much about where the cruise is going, it's the possible risk for our mom of being on the ship with others who may have the virus. Maybe the doctor's note will influence Carnival in a more positive direction for us. It doesn't seem like we're asking for very much-- all we're requesting is to waive the change fee and postpone our trip to a time when there is less of a risk for our mom. Thanks again for your help.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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Carnival may not be able to fill your 5 cabins at this late date, so you may think you aren't asking for much, but it can be quite a big deal from the cruise line's point of view. If your mom is that compromised, why a cruise? Norovirus could be quite detrimental to her health. The cruise line won't let anyone board who has a temperature, or exhibits other signs of the virus, so vigilant hand washing, and the rest of the standard precautions should suffice.

I think you are going to have to accept that the perfect solution may not happen. Best case scenario is that Carnival waives the cancellation fee but that may not happen as you are not going to an affected area. Worst case scenario, you cancel all the cabins and take the hit. The middle ground, although not ideal, would probably be the best option. Even though the point of the cruise was for the family bonding with the grandparents, I would seriously consider having them stay home, and re-paying them for your cabins. That would minimize the cancellation penalty significantly.
 

Patina

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Dec 22, 2015
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Carnival may not be able to fill your 5 cabins at this late date, so you may think you aren't asking for much, but it can be quite a big deal from the cruise line's point of view. If your mom is that compromised, why a cruise? Norovirus could be quite detrimental to her health. The cruise line won't let anyone board who has a temperature, or exhibits other signs of the virus, so vigilant hand washing, and the rest of the standard precautions should suffice.

I think you are going to have to accept that the perfect solution may not happen. Best case scenario is that Carnival waives the cancellation fee but that may not happen as you are not going to an affected area. Worst case scenario, you cancel all the cabins and take the hit. The middle ground, although not ideal, would probably be the best option. Even though the point of the cruise was for the family bonding with the grandparents, I would seriously consider having them stay home, and re-paying them for your cabins. That would minimize the cancellation penalty significantly.
This was my thought exactly:

If your mom is that compromised, why a cruise? Norovirus could be quite detrimental to her health.

While coronavirus is hitting the elderly hard, most common flus do as well. There are thousands of people who have died in the US from the flu this season yet that hasn't stopped anyone from traveling....why is that?
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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Thanks for your quick replies Neil and Carol. Regarding the possibility of cruising without our parents, we have planned this vacation for our parents and kids to have quality time together and our parents are generously hosting the entire family... so going without them is definitely not an option.

According to an article published online yesterday, several cruise lines are offering to waive their change fees if passengers opt to reschedule their dates:

  • Avalon Waterways is waiving standard cancellation penalties to allow cancellations up to three days before a departure. Passengers who have yet to make final payment for a sailing also can postpone the trip to a later date or switch to a different trip operated by the line or any of its sister tour companies. Avalon is part of the Globus family of brands, which includes the giant tour companies Globus and Cosmos.
  • MSC Cruises is allowing passengers booked on Mediterranean cruises in March and April to postpone the trips for up to a year. Customers on the sailings also can switch to a different itinerary.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line is waiving restrictions to let passengers on upcoming sailings switch to a different departure. But there are some caveats: The new departure must take place on or before June 30, and changes must be made at least 60 days in advance of the original sailing. In addition, the new voyage must be of equal or greater value, and passengers must pay any difference in fare.
  • Royal Caribbean passengers booked on Asia cruises departing before March 23 can change their plans without penalty.
  • Viking is allowing cruisers to postpone any cruise at any time up until 24 hours before departure with all cancellation fees waived. Passengers will receive a voucher for future travel valid for 24 months that can be used on any Viking cruise (river, ocean or expedition). The policy is applicable for any current booking and new reservations made through April 30.
It just seems unfathomable to make our family pay a $7,000 change fee given our mom's health situation.
We have a doctor's note coming that will be available to send to Carnival tomorrow. Any other recommendations that you have regarding this very frustrating bind that we are in would be greatly appreciated.

Another concern is the possibility of paying the outrageous $7,000 change fee and then having Carnival announce the option to reschedule without fees after the fact.
4 of the 5 companies you mentioned are almost exclusively doing it for areas that are currently hot beds for the virus. And NCL's policy wouldn't apply since your cruise is about 30 days away.

Even if you found someone to listen about your mother, I don't think they would waive the entire family and multiple cabins.
 

Patina

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Dec 22, 2015
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4 of the 5 companies you mentioned are almost exclusively doing it for areas that are currently hot beds for the virus. And NCL's policy wouldn't apply since your cruise is about 30 days away.

Even if you found someone to listen about your mother, I don't think they would waive the entire family and multiple cabins.
Good point, if they agree to anything it would be to allow only the mother to transfer her reservation to another date.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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What a disappointing dilemma you're in, I'm so sorry. I can clearly see both sides of this problem and they're about even. As my colleagues have noted, Carnival doesn't accept that someone who could cruise yesterday during flu season and knowing how prevalent other viruses/sicknesses are on a cruise ship is now unable to cruise. Your family does not want to take what they see as an increased risk for the grandparents. In the face of cruise lines coming forward with generous cancel/change plans right now, I'd be patient a couple more days. Only a family meeting can determine whether you'll forge ahead or cancel and lose your money if Carnival sticks to the tough line. I truly am sorry and wish there was something we can do to help.
 

weihlac

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Jun 30, 2017
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I would agree with the OP that now is not the time for a person with compromised immunity requiring monthly IV infusions to go on a cruise. In fact, I am not sure that cruising at any time in the future is a particularly good idea for the mother given her health issues. This can be discussed at length with the mother's MD if it has not been done already. A family trip to a large rental home might be a better choice, allowing the younger family members to do a variety of activities and the parents to enjoy the family gettogether.

However, getting Carnival to waive fees for all passengers in the family is going to be an uphill battle. Requesting a waiver, or even a refund of the parent's fees may reach a sympathetic ear given today's news re:

 
May 30, 2019
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These are difficult questions to consider but nonetheless worth asking ...

Was the cruise booked with travel insurance? If so, what type?

On this (or any cruise), if the OP's mother gets sick for a reason other than Coronavirus, is there adequate insurance coverage for her medical care?

Given the OP's mother's health, is postponing the cruise for a year a good idea? In other words, if the OP's 72 year-old mother has a compromised immune system now, is she going to be able to travel as a 73 year-old mother with a compromised immune system?

Is it possible to consider an option where part of the family goes on the cruise and part of the family stays home? If so, has the OP considered offering that type of compromise to Carnival?
 
Mar 4, 2020
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Thanks to all for your support and varied opinions. To clarify, our mom is generally healthy and very active, and our parents have cruised many times without any issues. The difference in our opinion about the flu/other overall health risks on cruises and coronavirus is the fact that coronavirus is highly contagious and there's a risk of quarantine.

We did not purchase travel insurance, to answer that question.

Perhaps with the news from yesterday, Carnival will reconsider their position regarding cruises departing out of Long Beach.

Coronavirus issue on ship from San Francisco to Mexico - 1st death in California

"The person’s likely exposure occurred during travel on a Princess cruise ship that departed Feb. 10 from San Francisco and sailed to Mexico, returning Feb. 21, officials said.”

Gavin Newsom declares state of emergency in California:

Long Beach declares health emergency:

We plan to send the doctor's note today and will keep you posted. Thanks again!
 
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Neil Maley

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Christopher just did a story for Forbes on what’s refundable and not. This is an accurate assessment on the situation.

 

Neil Maley

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It is my impression that most of the people here who offer such excellent advice buy travel insurance. It is also my impression that most of the people here who ask for that advice have not purchased travel insurance yet want its benefits. Just a personal observation.
But with what is going on now, unless one buys a Cancel for Any Reason insurance policy, travel insurance doesn’t cover this. This is a cancellation due to fear of getting sick and is not a covered reason to cancel.