CHICAGO (CBS) — People who are set to hop on a cruise ship – much like people who are flying – are often feeling like they’re getting the short end when it comes to changes in travel plans.
Among those people are Peter Volpe and his wife, who were looking forward to their 36th wedding anniversary. The couple booked a Royal Caribbean cruise for nine days.
“I’m an Italian. I wanted to see Italy again and I wanted to see Greece, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip,” Volpe said.
Volpe and his wife are familiar with cruises and the fun that they bring. They have gone on dozens over the past 30 years, but as the coronavirus pandemic expands, their excitement has been scaled back.
So they called to cancel their trip, which is set to sail in late May. Royal Caribbean’s contract clearly outlines the situation for backing out.
“It said here we had until February 28th to cancel,” Volpe said.
That was for a full refund. But Volpe said he called on March 1, and after talking to the cruise line, he discovered the company refused to budge on the penalty.
“It’s no credit. It’s gone,” Volpe said, “and they have a script, and they’re basically saying, ‘You signed what you signed. You saw the schedule. We’re holding you to it.’”
After paying $7,600, Volpe was charged a 25 percent fee per guest – that’s $1,275 for the cruise, and since he booked the airfare with the cruise line, there was another $450 – for a combined fee of $1,725.
“I understand their point,” Volpe said. “It’s corporate America. It’s a corporate world we live in. They’re looking at the bottom line, and they’re nervous about their financials, but you know what? The bottom line is you have to do what’s right for people.”
But with more than 500 still stuck on the Grand Princess ship in California that has coronavirus patients on board – not to mention the fact that the couple was planning to fly into Italy, an elevated coronavirus area that is now under a nationwide lockdown – Volpe questioned where the country’s compassion is.
“If Royal Caribbean wants to take this hardline position, guess what, I’ll recover from the money I lost,” Volpe said. “But I can’t regain my health.”