Make the McKenzie Connection!

I paid an extra $1,796 to get to my cruise.

Why won't NCL reimburse me?

After Elaine Simmons' flight reservation is lost, she pays an extra $1,796 to get to her NCL cruise. Why won't the cruise line help her recover the money?

Q: I recently took a Western Mediterranean cruise with my family, which included flight arrangements made through Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). On the morning before our scheduled departure, we tried to check in online, but the first leg of our flight was not showing up on the Delta Air Lines app.

We contacted the NCL air department. A representative said they needed to reissue the outbound tickets and send us new air confirmations. She told me to go to the airport in the morning and resolve the situation at the Delta check-in desk.

When I arrived at the airport, the agent could not find our reservation. At that point, Delta only had four seats remaining on the flight, so I purchased the tickets so I would not miss the rest of the flight and the cruise.

I have asked NCL to reimburse us for the $1,796 we had to spend. NCL asked us to file a claim with AON, the travel insurance we had purchased through NCL. AON has turned down our claim. We've also disputed the charge on our credit card but lost.

At this point, we have exhausted all of our known options in resolving this case ourselves. We would be very grateful if you would consider mediating on our behalf. -- Elaine Simmons, Walnut Creek, Calif.

A: NCL's Air Sea program, which allows you to book your flights with your cruise, promises "greater peace of mind" when you're traveling. Unfortunately, you got the opposite of that when you booked your flights to Europe.

Needless to say, NCL should have given you valid airline tickets. And if there was a last-minute glitch, it should have taken care of you instead of sending you to the airport to negotiate with Delta.

My advocacy team and I have been getting quite a few complaints about airline tickets booked through a cruise line. They look a lot like yours. There's a ticketing glitch, and passengers have to buy new tickets to get to their cruise or to get home. The cruise line refuses to cover the extra costs, pointing to the strict terms and conditions on its site.

In your case, there were also some crossed wires. As I reviewed the correspondence between you, the cruise line, and the travel insurance company, it's clear there was a misunderstanding of what happened -- and who was responsible.

NCL was acting as your travel advisor when it booked your tickets. It is responsible for ensuring that the tickets get booked. And when it fails, it needs to find a way to get you to your destination at its expense. Again, leaving you to fend for yourself at the airport is not my idea of excellent customer service.

But should you have booked your tickets on your own? If you hadn't, you probably would have missed the start of your cruise. NCL would have attempted to rebook you on a flight that would have allowed you to catch up to your cruise at the next port of call. That's an inelegant solution and a shorter cruise, but you would have incurred no out-of-pocket expenses.

It looks like you tried to contact one of the NCL executives I listed on my consumer advocacy site, You also reached out to your credit card company for help. Your card's dispute department should have tried to help you, instead of simply denying your claim.

You reached out to my advocacy team. I contacted NCL on your behalf. NCL contacted you, asked you for receipts for the additional flights, and worked with Delta to reimburse you for the extra flights you had to book. "We are very grateful to you and your staff for the advocacy work you do," you said. "You get results!"

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.


Reader Comments(0)