During the pandemic, NBC 5 Responds heard from consumers across North Texas who paid for cruises later canceled because of COVID-19. Some consumers received full refunds while others received cruise credits.
This year, the Federal Maritime Commission passed new refund rules. Read on to learn what to expect if a cruise line cancels a future trip.
PANDEMIC REFUND POLICIES VARIED
When COVID-19 canceled cruises, some customers told NBC 5 Responds they struggled to get a refund.
“They canceled it, saying they were just going to provide a cruise credit, not a refund,” Mandy Moore told NBC 5 in 2020.
Another consumer, Scott Hatfield, said in 2021, “The rebooking and the cancellations of the re-bookings starts to become very discouraging.”
The policies for refunds varied even within the same company.
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“Looking at different cruise lines, even all owned by the same group and they had different refund policies. One was for a certain amount of days, the other was they get a refund, the other one was as they get a cash credit,” Federal Maritime Commissioner Louis Sola said.
NEW FEDERAL REFUND RULES
New FMC rules that took effect in April of 2022 define “non-performance” as a cruise canceling or delaying a voyage by three or more calendar days.
If that happens, passengers would be entitled to a refund of all money down, including ancillary fees.
Cruise lines must also publish clear instructions for obtaining refunds online.
“We decided that in order for the cruise industry, which is very important to our nation and to our ports, to get going again, that we needed to have consumers feel comfortable so that they could get back on a ship,” Sola explained.
The rule is not retroactive. It doesn’t apply to refunds requested last year or the year before.
If you’re unhappy with a cruise line, the FMC offers a free dispute resolution service for certain issues. You can get in touch here.
Representatives of the cruise industry did not respond to NBC 5 Responds’ request for comment on the new rules.
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