Are Cruise Passengers Entitled to Refunds When Crew Members Go Overboard? No, and Why Should They?

An article this morning in the Chicago Tribune caught my attention – "Compensation Doesn't Float After Cruise Ship Skips Port." The article involved a family's request for a refund after a cruise ship missed one of the scheduled ports of call. Instead, the cruise line issued a $500 credit toward a future cruise – $200 for each parent and $100 for their child. After returning home, the family appealed to the cruise line's customer service department and its corporate offices in Miami. The mother is quoted as saying "I've been in customer service my whole life and I've never seen people so adept at giving the runaround . . . They were wonderful at it." I agree that the cruise lines' "service" departments are often of little service at all, and are regularly used as front line defenses to the passengers' claims. But it is hard to feel sorry for the family upon taking a harder look at the story. First of all, cruise lines have every legal right to limit their liability in instances of missed ports. This family is lucky that the cruise line offered $500 under these circumstances. But how can anyone complain about a refund when the reason for the missed port was that a Royal Caribbean crew member jumped overboard as the Oasis of the Seas sailed toward St. Thomas – a fact that the article discusses only in passing. This is a story which we followed closely last May – Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? – Oasis of the Seas We received sixty-seven (67) comments to the story. Most of the passengers focused on the tragedy of a crew member deciding to end his life in this manner. But a few other passengers focused on themselves. They either complained of the "inconvenience" of delaying their cruise to search for the crew member or not being refunded a portion of their cruise fare. Most of these complainers were called out for whining when another human being had just perished. The crew member who died was from the little island of St. Vincent. Crew members from this island who work as cleaners on cruise ships earn as little as $550 a month working 80 – 90 hours a week. It makes me grimace to think of any U.S. passenger complaining about a $500 credit. So its was strange to be drinking my coffee this morning and see that one of the passengers was still complaining about a missed port and the Chicago Tribune had chosen to write about it five months later. Get over it people. Count your blessings that you still have your family alive and well, and you can enjoy many family vacations in the future.

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