Cruise Ship Refund Policies Come Under Scrutiny As World Grapples With Coronavirus Pandemic

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, cruise companies were left with virtually no revenue streams and thousands of passengers requesting millions of dollars of refunds. The requests overloaded the cruise companies’ normal refund processes and caused refund delays of up to 90 a more days. Now many people who had paid for their voyages before the pandemic are claiming that cruise companies are refusing to give them refunds due to “technicalities.” reports that one Seattle family had spent over $20,000 for a Celebrity cruise vacation which was supposed to set sail on March 15. After a March 6 announcement in which local authorities recommended that workers begin to stay home, the family reached out to Celebrity about canceling the cruise. Celebrity informed them that if they were to cancel they would not receive a cash refund but would rather be given a future cruise credit. The family decided to cancel. Celebrity then voluntarily suspended operations and also voluntarily offered affected passengers cash refunds a week later. Those who had already canceled before Celebrity’s announcement were not given the opportunity to receive cash refunds.

Certainly, other would-be travelers found themselves in a similar position and were also denied refunds. Akshay Ahooja is a member of the affected Seattle family that Celebrity refused to refund and told USAToday that he believes that “if they have canceled the cruise, then any passenger should get their money back.”

When coronavirus first became a major concern, many passengers were not only concerned about their own safety but also the safety of others. For example, Ahooja said that at the time of the cancellation Seattle was experiencing a rapid spread of coronavirus and he didn’t want to inadvertently take the virus on to the cruise ship and spread it to others. His family going on the cruise “would not be safe for the whole ship,” he said.

 But despite good intentions and a global pandemic, Celebrity has refused to issue cash refunds to passengers like Ahooja and his family.