NCL refuses to refund due to death of a passenger

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Jul 23, 2019
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#1
Hi all,
This is my first post (and I'm really frustrated) so I will try to keep it brief.
My mother died November 27th, 2018. She was booked on an 10 day NCL cruise on the Escape departing Nov 25th.
It seems straightforward to me, that my mother was to be a passenger on the cruise and her death occurred during the sailing period we should receive a refund. Apparently not.

She was diagnosed as with terminal cancer on November 7th - 19 days before departing on a fully paid NCL cruise for a family wedding.
As she was feeling “well enough” at the time of her diagnosis, and as she was given a life expectancy of three months; she and her husband intended to proceed with the cruise as a last vacation. A week later her health declined enough that they had to cancel.
Their Ontario travel agent was useless in helping them receive a refund.
I wrote to to Vivian Ewart, sent documentation of the diagnosis, the death and the cruise dates at NCL and never received a reply.
After more online attempts NCL eventually got back to us but declined to refund as it was not cancelled 30 days prior to sailing. They suggested we reach out to AON insurance.
We filed in an AON claim which was denied as the insurance my parents took out was only for post departure.

So, it would seem that my parents have been caught in a loophole. NCL would have refunded the money as of October 25th, had my parents been able to see into the future and cancelled 30 days prior to sailing. Alternatively, had my parents boarded the ship on November 25th, my mother would have either required medical attention, emergency evacuation or repatriation all of which the AON policy covers, each of which is a much greater cost than the refund we are requesting.

Does anyone out there have other suggestions on how this could be resolved. It seems very unethical to me.
Thanks
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#2
Call the credit card company your parents used to buy the cruise and see if they have any type of travel insurance. They might cover this.

If they don’t, try our process of appealing to the Executives and see if they will make an exception. Go over Vivian Ewart (she is not easy to work with, I can tell you from a change they made in a transatlantic cruise a week before we were leaving and they cut two days and our communications with her).

Here is how to write- use our Company Contacts and write to the next executive over her:

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/

I don’t understand about your parents buying insurance only for post departure. How can that be?
 
Likes: Patina
Jul 23, 2019
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#3
Thanks for the advice Neil.
Now that I think of it, I think we tried the credit card company first. But I will check again.
The post departure insurance was packaged as an "essentials" insurance and only covered the period of sailing. It wasn't cancellation insurance, it was strictly medical.
I'm pretty strong with letter writing, but I will definitely look at the suggestions in the link and send another letter to an executive over her.
I think I found her name on this site, any links to whom is next?
Appreciatively,
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#5
I am sorry for your loss. My suggestion.....stick with it, continue up the executive chain, be polite and brief. I hope someone will find compassion for your family’s loss and grant you a refund.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#9
I'm so sorry about your mother. Here's the hard-nosed approach: yours is an insurance claim. Her cabin sailed empty, so NCL has no business basis to refund. If she didn't have the proper insurance, you're definitely in a position of asking NCL for a favor or exception to their policies.

A more compassionate approach is that NCL offers some acknowledgement of her death ... perhaps in the form of a voucher toward the cost of a future sailing for one of the family members.

Any prepaid, non-ref travel expense needs to be insured. It's really important that people understand that. Unless the los of your money is not important, you should consider trip insurance part of the cost of travel. There's just no getting around it. A strong credit card that offers travel insurance as a perk is a pragmatic thing to have.
 
Apr 9, 2019
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#10
I don't understand future vouchers... the cabin was empty, that can't be reclaimed by NCL, so what difference does it make to the bottom line to refund or offer a voucher. Isn't the revenue out come the same? Why make people suffer?
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#11
I don't understand future vouchers... the cabin was empty, that can't be reclaimed by NCL, so what difference does it make to the bottom line to refund or offer a voucher. Isn't the revenue out come the same? Why make people suffer?
It's generally called a good-will gesture, unrelated to the business of selling cabins on cruises. It's something compassionate that NCL could offer.
 
Oct 13, 2015
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#13
I don't understand future vouchers... the cabin was empty, that can't be reclaimed by NCL, so what difference does it make to the bottom line to refund or offer a voucher. Isn't the revenue out come the same? Why make people suffer?
Here's a simplied look at the business math. NCL's profit margin is about 15%. Let's say that the cruise cost the passengers $1500 each, $3000 together. NCL's profit on that is $450. The other $2550 goes towards operating expenses. And even though the letter writer's parents weren't there to eat the food and drink the wine, at 2 weeks out, NCL had already bought the food and hired the people to serve the meals and clean the cabins. Those costs are fixed. So if NCL refunds them, they take a $2550 loss because this cabin sailed empty. If they give them vouchers for future use, NCL is still negative since that future sailing doesn't require any payment and still costs the cruise line $2550 in operating costs. I hope that answers your question.

There's nothing wrong with asking for an exception, and I hope NCL gives them one but from a business perspective, that's a big loss.
 
Sep 20, 2018
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#14
In your correspondence, you should be careful to politely phrase your request as wanting an exception to their usual policy of not granting compensation, as opposed to a demand that they issue a full cash refund. The loss was not their fault, they are both acting well-within the bounds of their contract, and they offer an insurance package that, if purchased, possibly would have prevented the loss. (If you had cancelled only 30 days in advance, the refund would have been only a fraction of the cruise cost.)

If they did issue you a refund, that represents a complete loss to them for the amount of your fare, because the cabin sailed empty. (Because of the way cruises work, their costs do not decrease at all if a passenger is a no-show.) Large companies like their money just as much as you like yours, and do not inherently have a lesser claim to it.

And while medical evacuation or repatriation of remains would have (maybe) been covered, neither expense is something NCL would have been responsible for; AON would have paid NCL for the on-board medical costs, and NCL would not have been associated with evacuation or repatriation costs. (And it's not assured the claim would have been covered, even by AON, as there would be some intense searching to see if this qualified as a pre-existing condition.)
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#15
But they could just as easily offer a refund couldn't they?
Here's how the math works on cruises... most cruise lines clear very little from the actual cruise fare. They make most of their money from what the industry terms as "onboard revenue" which is stuff like the casino, the bars, the specialty restaurants, the shore excursions, the sales at "official" port stores and the onboard shopping. So, by offering you a credit, they're hoping to get you back onboard to spend money in the places that they make most of their money. It also doesn't cost them $x to gift you $x in credit. The real cost, to them, of your cabin is less than $x so its cheaper than giving you the money. The last part of it is that everyone of these credits has an expiration so they are also hoping that it goes unused.

To reiterate what @SirWired said remember in your correspondence that you are asking them for a favor. They offered your parents a product that would have covered this (insurance) and they declined. You are basically asking them to provide you with the benefits of a product that your parents didn't want to pay for. I'd take the credit (especially if its transferable to someone else) and run with it

Good luck
 
May 1, 2018
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#16
Here's a simplied look at the business math. NCL's profit margin is about 15%. Let's say that the cruise cost the passengers $1500 each, $3000 together. NCL's profit on that is $450.
While they do make 15% profit on their total revenue, they likely don't make any margin on a basic stateroom fare (i.e. not the presidential suite). It's well established that cruise lines make their profit off of upsells - alcohol, shore excursions, photos, etc.
 
Likes: krisseye
Sep 12, 2018
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#17
While they do make 15% profit on their total revenue, they likely don't make any margin on a basic stateroom fare (i.e. not the presidential suite). It's well established that cruise lines make their profit off of upsells - alcohol, shore excursions, photos, etc.
and this why they would be more likely to provide a voucher instead of a cash refund since they could make more money off of those sailing on a future cruise on the upsells
 
Likes: Patina

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#19
The point of a voucher is also to allow the cruise line a chance to show you that whatever your complaint was that it doesn’t happen all the time. The problem is that in this case simply purchasing to cruise lines insurance would have given a complete refund. I’m sorry the OP has to deal with this as well as the devastating loss of a parent.