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Cunard canceled my cruise, but it won't give me a full refund

Cunard cancels Jacque Ewing-Taylor's transatlantic cruise and promises to reimburse her expenses. But it doesn't. How can she make Cunard do the right thing?

My husband and I were booked on the Queen Mary 2 sailing from Southampton to New York earlier this year. The cruise line canceled the sailing just before our departure.

A Cunard agent told us to stay on board that night and depart the following day. The cruise line gave us a form to fill out that said, “For any incurred expenses with your onward travel arrangements, these will be covered by Cunard.”

The agents we spoke with three different times could give us no information beyond that statement. So we went ahead and canceled our New York hotel and first-class flight from New York to San Diego, and we booked a flight home on British Airways.

I emailed Cunard with the necessary documentation. I received an email in return, saying the refund process would take some time and asking that I be patient. A few weeks later, Cunard refunded $4,544, yet the cost of the cruise was $6,872. The difference of $2,328 is still owed.

Can you help me get the rest of my refund?

Jacque Ewing-Taylor, Chula Vista, Calif.

I'm sorry about your canceled cruise. Most cruises are canceled long before guests arrive at the port, but it looks like yours was canceled at the last minute after you had flown from San Diego to London. What a disappointment that must have been.

Cunard did the right thing by promising to reimburse your expenses. But it should have refunded you for everything instead of shorting you $2,328. The paper trail between you and Cunard offers no clue about the $2,328 shortfall.

I have a few theories. At the time of your cancellation, Cunard wanted to ensure everyone got home safely and stress-free, so its offer to cover your expenses made sense. But then the accountants got involved, and they had to decide which expenses were legit and who was taking advantage of the situation. (For example, a passenger who flew to London in economy class but then decided to book first-class tickets home after the cancellation.)

I think it's important to be as specific as possible when making an offer to reimburse a traveler's expenses. Based on the information you sent, Cunard was perhaps short on detail.

Still, a promise is a promise. When the company failed to pay up, you could have reached out to one of the Cunard executives whose names I publish on my consumer advocacy site, I also have some practical tips on how to fix the issue yourself using the Elliott Method.

You tried the executive contacts, but unfortunately, they did not respond. Then you reached out to my advocacy team and we checked in with Cunard on the status of your refund. In response, Cunard sent you a polite email.

"We are truly sorry that you were not able to experience your cruise vacation due to the voyage cancellation," it said. "Please know the circumstances are unusual and never what we anticipate for our guests."

Cunard refunded everything -- the cruise and both your plane 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 on his site.

© 2023 Christopher Elliott


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