Cruise boarding denied for seniors - - but no refund

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Jan 31, 2018
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#1
My wife and her sister planned to take their 96 year old mother on a Princess Cruise. The night before the cruise, my wife's mother had a medical emergency requiring her to be admitted in the hospital. Once we learned that the emergency had passed, we decided to continue with the cruise. However, my wife and her mother could not catch the flight in time, so we agreed I would board the ship on time in Los Angeles, and my wife would join me at our first port, San Francisco.

After many hours and phone calls to Princess, the cruise line would not let her board, citing the Passenger Vessel Act of 1886. Most of the customer services reps we spoke to knew little to nothing about the act; and some mistook it for the Jones Act. A few even said there would be no problem for her to board in San Francisco.

One of their customer service reps did say my wife could board if she signed an acknowledgement and paid any fine levied for violation of this PSA act. (This is the practice of their sister cruise line, Celebrity). My wife was more than willing to do this.

No one on board knew how (or wanted) to do this. They simply refused to let my wife join the cruise. Since she could not board, I left the cruise. Then, to add insult to injury, they fined me $300 for leaving the ship in San Francisco.

Nowhere in any of the literature they provided was there mention that they could refuse boarding because of the PSA. Or that it even existed. If they had warned me, I would have bought their overpriced trip insurance. There is also no mention of it anywhere in their web-site either.

When I contact their Customer Service manager and asked for a refund of our monies for the cruise they denied us, I was told there would be no compensation. I contacted their President and got the same answer. In desperation, I reached out to their CEO but never received a reply. Princess had several opportunities to help avoid the problem in the first place, or make it right as events unfolded, but instead chose to keep our money and deny any responsibility.

My wife and I did everything they asked, (including spending many hours on the phone with multiple customer service reps). We need an advocate to help us get our money returned. What they did may have been legal, but certainly not fair, moral, or ethical. Can you help?

We should receive reimbursement of the cost of the cruise for my wife and myself. Plus reimbursement of the $300 fee I was charged to disembark. I should also be reimbursed the cost of my airfare to fly to California and return, never having been united with my wife on the cruise.

Date of transaction/travel date: 2017-11-04
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#2
I located a US Customs and Border Protection explanation of both "Acts" here:


Examining the site, the 1886 act in fact prohibits embarking/disembarking at different ports. That said, you've reached the CEO without response, so the only path from here that I can see is to appeal to Carnival who is the parent company for Princess.

You can use the Company Contacts link at the top of this page to present your request to them. Be sure to read and follow the instructions at the top of the initial Company Contacts page. And remember that you want to win them over and not to tell them off or tell them what to do ...

This may also be helpful ...
https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2260288
 
Last edited:
Dec 7, 2017
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#3
why does it matter that you needed to highlight 'seniors' were denied? Does it matter? Is it supposed to generate some special rule that only applies to seniors?

I do not think you should ever use age as a excuse to try to convince someone to cut you a break.

Unless you have legitimate claims under federal law you should not ever use being a senior to try to get special dispensations.

Now - the cold hard facts here are that YOU decided that your wife and mother decided to catch the boat at different port. YOU decided. You did not make any effort to make sure that could happen - you just assumed that it would no big deal. And missed the departure.

I completely understand the reality - but this is a very good warning to others to not act unilaterally when you do not know what could be waiting for you.

I cannot imagine that anyone would take a 96 year old on a cruise without purchasing travel insurance. If there is a case that screams for purchasing insurance, a cruise with an almost centenarian is it.

I know this sounds harsh but it is not intended to be so - it is simply the reality of what you are facing. What you have now is a situation where you must rely on the kindness f strangers - and I am willing to bet you are not going to get a refund - I have seen facts much more compassionate where a cruise company merely offers a discount on a future cruise. . . . There is no harm in asking - and ask politely.
 
Jun 27, 2017
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#4
Thank you VoR61 for your helpful link. I have bookmarked for future reference. I was familiar with the Jones Act, but not the Passenger Vessel Services Act.

Mr. Karwic - I am so sorry that your mother-in-law became ill and the ensuing info from Princess was not clear, concise and/or correct. I would suggest you follow the advice that VoR61 posted about contacting the CARNIVAL (parent company of Princess) about what happened. Use bullet points. Be polite. Avoid disparaging language. Calm, cool, collected.

One other minor detail - Celebrity is not a subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation. It is part of Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Again, I am sorry about what happened to you. It does seem in this day and age we all have to be super experts about travel, as it has indeed become complicated. Please try to get some resolution. I do hope you are able to take another cruise in the future and that all will go well. Good Luck and please keep us posted.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#5
Did you use a travel agent to book this? They should have been your first call- they would have told you that you couldn’t do this.

If you had bought the “overpriced” insurance you might have been able to all cancel before you left and received a full refund. The insurance cost would have been far less money than you lost not having it.

Just an FYI- if you were on the cruise and your mother in law had fallen ill, did you know most health insurance (including Medicare) doesn’t cover you outside the country? And if she (or you) had to be medivacuated off a cruise ship the average cost is $70,000?

This tells you about what Travel insurance could have done:

http://forum.elliott.org/threads/the-right-travel-insurance.1283/
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
Was a credit card was used to turn purchase cruise? If so there may be some travel insurance benefits.

I take it that there was no separate insurance policy purchased.

Passenger contract. Section 10 mentions missing any point of embarkation ....and the risks involved.

This is the reason that travel insurance exists. Without insurance one assumes the risk as in self insures. Is it fair to ask for reimbursement when others pay for insurance? It is fair to have the benefits of insurance without paying for it.

The company has to pay a fine when a passenger violates the law on leaving the ship at the wrong point on a cruise. I doubt the cruise line will want to refund that.

Asking for an unreasonable amount, such as full refund for cruise and fine tends to get a request dismissed.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#7
There is also an issue here, I think, of proper security screening. If the port of embarkation is missed, then the cruise line would have to be staffed and prepared to screen passports, luggage, etc. When we have cruised, all that's needed to re-board at a port of call is our ship-based ID cards.

It's unclear to me what that extra effort at a port of call would entail in terms of staff and processes. It may not be feasible ...
 

Neil Maley

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#8
There is also an issue here, I think, of proper security screening. If the port of embarkation is missed, then the cruise line would have to be staffed and prepared to screen passports, luggage, etc. When we have cruised, all that's needed to re-board at a port of call is our ship-based ID cards.

It's unclear to me what that extra effort at a port of call would entail in terms of staff and processes. It may not be feasible ...
Thats exactly what the issue is - if they were joining the ship in a foreign port it probably would have been possible but not when it goes to another US port before a foreign port.
 
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Carrie Livingston

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Jan 6, 2015
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#9
Yep, because then the ship is acting as a ferry and that's not allowed. As for boarding later, it can be done and was recently done for some Canadian SunWing customers that had delays with their flight. Flown to Jamaica and put in an all inclusive until the ship arrived. But SunWing got permission from the cruise line and I'm sure covered any additional costs.
 
Likes: VoR61

Neil Maley

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#10
Yep, because then the ship is acting as a ferry and that's not allowed. As for boarding later, it can be done and was recently done for some Canadian SunWing customers that had delays with their flight. Flown to Jamaica and put in an all inclusive until the ship arrived. But SunWing got permission from the cruise line and I'm sure covered any additional costs.
It was also a foreign port. DIfferent situation.
 

Carol Phillips

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Dec 28, 2014
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#11
I located a US Customs and Border Protection explanation of both "Acts" here:


Examining the site, the 1886 act in fact prohibits embarking/disembarking at different ports. That said, you've reached the CEO without response, so the only path from here that I can see is to appeal to Carnival who is the parent company for Princess.

You can use the Company Contacts link at the top of this page to present your request to them. Be sure to read and follow the instructions at the top of the initial Company Contacts page. And remember that you want to win them over and not to tell them off or tell them what to do ...

This may also be helpful ...
https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2260288

Excellent description of these oft-misinterpreted Acts. Thanks, @VoR61 .
 
Sep 5, 2014
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#12
I'm not sure why they wouldn't be able to board the ship at the second port. My understanding is if you miss the ship, due to traffic or a delayed flight, you could just catch up with it at the next port. Why is this any different?
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#13
I'm not sure why they wouldn't be able to board the ship at the second port. My understanding is if you miss the ship, due to traffic or a delayed flight, you could just catch up with it at the next port. Why is this any different?
It depends on where you are boarding. it. It is all dependant on the ports of travel. Different countries have different laws. You may NOT be able to catch up with the ship depending on the itinerary and the problems are usually when US ports are involved. For instance, some US cruises require a stop in a foreign port. If you are boarding in, say, in Seattle for an Alaskan cruise and you miss your flight and want to fly into Juneau to meet the ship - you can't do it if the cruise does not end in Juneau. .The Passenger Vessel Act forbids boarding in one us port and disembarking in another. You have to board and disembark in the SAME port.

" It is this act that prohibits commercial vessels such as cruise ships from allowing passengers to board at one U.S. port and debark at another U.S. port."
 
Feb 21, 2018
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#14
As a point of additional information, the ability to board a ship, after it has left a US port, in a different US port, depends on the itinerary chosen.

Let's say the cruise originated in Miami FL, with Key West as the first port. Depending on the itinerary, an individual missing the ship in Miami just might be allowed to board in Key West even if the ship returns to Miami (making it a cruise between two different US ports).

If what is considered a 'distant' foreign port is on the itinerary, then boarding in Key West would be allowed. If only 'near' foreign ports are on the itinerary, then boarding in Key West would be disallowed.

Central America, Bermuda, the Bahamas and almost all of the Caribbean are considered 'near' foreign ports. Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are Caribbean islands that are considered 'distant' foreign ports. If that Miami FL cruise included one of the ABC islands, Key West would be a legal boarding port if Miami was missed.

Any cruise that leaves from the US and visits another US port must include at least a 'near' foreign port. This is why cruises from the west coast that head to Hawaii usually stop in Ensenada Mexico (often for no more than the minimum service call time).