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Can Windstar Cruises keep my $17,000 airfare after I cancel?

When Priscilla McMurtry and her husband cancel their cruise to New Zealand, their cruise line decides to keep their $17,000 airfare. Can it do that?

My husband and I booked business class airfare for our Windstar cruise in New Zealand through the cruise line. There was no mention of the tickets being nonrefundable until we received the confirmation. We had to cancel the cruise, and we tried to get a ticket refund.

Windstar claims it booked the tickets through a third party called Global Marine Travel and that they are nonrefundable. I called American Airlines, which confirmed that it sent a refund to Global Marine Travel. It looks like Windstar Cruises is keeping our $17,000 airfare. Can you help us get a refund?

P. McMurtry, Indio, Calif.

Windstar should have disclosed that your airline tickets were nonrefundable. And if the airline refunded your tickets, it should have at least considered passing that refund along to you.

I reviewed the correspondence between you and Windstar. I could not find any disclosure of the non-refundability in its emails to you. Since business class tickets are often refundable, you had every reason to believe you might get a refund -- or, at least, a full ticket credit

In an email sent to you, Windstar pointed out that according to its terms, air travel is nonrefundable once purchased, no matter what your ticket says. So that means even if American refunds Windstar's travel agency, it gets to keep the money.

I've dealt with these double-jeopardy refund cases before, and I have a problem with any company imposing new rules on a purchase. But that's not why I took your case. I did because I could not find any disclosure of Windstar's refund rules.

You tried to resolve this yourself by filing a dispute on your credit card. A chargeback is your last line of defense against a fraudulent purchase. You might have contacted one of the executives at Windstar Cruises to plead your case before trying a credit card dispute.

Mostly, I was curious about Windstar's disclosure. The paper trail between you and the cruise line did not spell out the airfare refund rules. I contacted Windstar to see if I had missed something. In response, the cruise line refunded your $17,000 airline tickets.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at

© 2023 Christopher Elliott


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