Cruise line refuses to refund Knoxville man after wife dies

(Courtesy: WATE)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Knoxville man was stunned when a cruise ship line at first refused to refund his money after his wife died before they got to take their cruise to the Bahamas.

Bob Mackay and his wife Bonnie moved back to Knoxville a year ago. He grew up there but moved away after high school.

He and his wife had been on a cruise ship before and booked a second trip in late spring, but Bonnie died five weeks ago.

Bonnie spent several years of her life in a wheelchair, but her disability didn’t slow her down. She and her husband were looking forward to the cruise.

They booked a vacation with Royal Seas Cruises to the Bahamas in March. Their package included two nights in Ft. Lauderdale, two nights in Orlando, and two days at Grand Bahama Island. The total price was $900, paid on March 15.

When Bonnie died unexpectedly on June 26, Bob was devastated. Days after the funeral service, Bob called Royal Seass customer service line.

“They told me that they would not cancel it, that I could sell it, or if I found another girlfriend, I could use it and take her,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. I really don’t want to go on a cruise without my wife. That was the whole point of it.”

Bob said he asked to speak to the service representative’s boss.

“They had no interest in giving me a refund whatsoever,” he said.

Bob asked what kind of policy the cruise line has if a customer passes away. They told him they had no policy.

Royal Seas has an eight-page document of terms and conditions. Term No. 12 says that once paid in full, tickets are non-refundable for any reason, medical or otherwise.

Whether the broad meaning of the word “otherwise” refers to the death of a ticket holder is unclear.

Bob said he believed no one from the cruise line was interested in negotiating his dispute. News 2’s sister station WATE then wrote a note to the company and explained about Bonnie’s death as well as the response Bob had gotten from the representative.

Within two hours, this email was sent: “Our sincere sympathy goes to Mr. Mackay. We are sorry to hear he will not be traveling with us and we would be happy to issue a full refund immediately to his account.”

Royal Seas Cruises delivered. Bob said he was happy, but he wishes the cruise line had responded that way in the first place.

Apparently, the customer service representative who first handled Bob’s call followed the cruise line’s terms and conditions exactly as written, meaning that once you paid in full, there was no refund for any reason. Royal Seas Cruises did nothing wrong.

If you ever book a vacation, most packages come with terms and conditions. However, with many vacation packages, you can buy insurance to protect your investment in case there’s an emergency. Remember to examine the terms and conditions of your contract.