Refund? For what?

Over the weekend, RCI’s Brilliance of the Seas experienced severe wind and sea conditions during a storm in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt.  “During Brilliance of the Seas’ approach to Alexandria, the ship experienced extreme wind and sea conditions, including heavy seas and 70 knot winds, nearly double what had been forecast,” the line says in a statement.   “The combination of the wind and sea conditions resulted in severe ship movement.”  As a result of this, there were reports of major listing of the ship causing the tossing of loose objects and the ship’s 2100 passengers around like ragdolls.  Early reports from RCI said there were minor injuries to passengers and aesthetic damages to the ship.  In a later statement, the line no longer claimed the injuries to be minor saying that 2 passengers suffered broken bones.  However, the ship remained fully seaworthy and would continue on to its next port of call and conclude its current sailing on Friday in Barcelona as scheduled.

As a gesture of good will, RCI announced that they would offer each cabin a $200 on-board credit for the remainder of the sailing, a gesture I feel was more than generous.  Apparently, this was not an opinion shared by many passengers onboard, and it was made well known to ship officials.  Due to the uproar, a full refund of their cruise fare, in addition to their on-board credit was issued.   “Royal Caribbean understands that this has been a frightening experience for our guests and crew,” the line says. “Our officers and crew onboard Brilliance of the Seas will make every effort to ensure that the remainder of the cruise is as enjoyable as possible.”

Okay, so here’s the thing…..why is RCI being held responsible for what cannot be controlled by any human being on the face of the earth?  If these people actually read their cruise contracts, they would see where RCI claims no responsiblity for “Acts of God” and is thereby not responsible for issuing a refund of any kind.  Now don’t get me wrong; I feel for these people and the scary moments they had to go through.  It doesn’t seem fair to save up for a vacation that you dream of taking for years, only to have it interrupted by the Perfect Storm.  That’s the way it is.  Deal with it.   There are options like travel insurance if you are really worried about it.   If you are sailing on the ocean, one of the most unpredictable environments, you have to be ready for the unexpected. 

 My family was diverted from eastern to western Caribbean on a cruise once because there was a hurricane effecting the eastern Caribbean.  I had lots of great excursions planned, and I couldn’t wait to see the Virgin Islands, a place we had not yet visited.   But with a quick, 30-second announcement from the captain, my great plans were dashed, and we had to just roll with the punches.  Did we get a full refund for that cruise?  No.  Did we get on-board credit for that week’s sailing?  No.  Did we expect it?  No, because stuff happens, and you just deal with it the best you can.  It was through no fault of the cruiseline that our itinerary had to be changed.

Instead of recognizing that the crew and officers of the Brilliance of the Seas were going above and beyond to finish out the sailing in the best possible way, which was more than half way completed, they chose to make a tough situation worse by complaining and whining.  I firmly believe every experience is what you make of it.  Sometimes, you just have to put your big girl or big boy pants on and thank the good Lord you were able to take a 12-night Mediterranean cruise in the first place.  But that’s just my opinion. 🙂


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Macy
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 18:24:23

    Trish, I SO agree with you. I’m sure that the passengers experienced many “good days” of sailing before the severe weather caused the traumatic tossing of the ship. As you said, RCCL is being very generous for an “act of god” which it had no control over. I think that the onboard credit and maybe a partial refund would have been generous enough. Of course, RCCl should take care of injuries seen in the onboard clinic. Good reason to buy cruise insurance.


  2. Lisa
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 19:15:47

    I agree with you to. I can’t believe the cruise line did this. I guess maybe they felt responsible for going into the storm and should have diverted to another location or pass up a port. Who knows.


  3. Deanna
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 20:21:49

    I agree too! So who will set the parameters for a “cruise refund”? Statistically, this is bound to happen every year to some degree. I have taken 2 cruises, one in July, one in March. The March cruise had a couple of stormy days and we weren’t able to go outdoors! But like everyone has already mentioned, your on the high seas, come on, you need to realize that if you book a cruise. I wonder if some people got insurance money refund plus the cruise refund!


  4. Trisha
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 20:34:04

    Thanks for your replies everyone. Lisa- The forecasted storm was not nearly as bad as what happened thereby confirming my point that the seas can be quite unpredictable. If RCI had any idea it was going to be as bad as it was and had time to divert, I am sure they would have. But I see your point for the compensation.
    Deanna- I sure hope these people don’t get paid back twice. I would think the insurance companies wouldn’t be that stupid, especially since it has been all over the news. Of course, it would depend on how their plan read too.


  5. Deanna
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 21:07:27

    So how many days of the cruise were ruined? How many days was the storm? From the sounds of it, they enjoyed most of their cruise, right?


  6. Trisha
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 07:20:30

    The storm happened early Sunday morning, and the cruise was set to finish Friday morning, so they had a little less than half the cruise left. The ship was still sailing as usual with the exception of the Alexandria port and some damages to the venues. I agree some compenstion was warrented, but I think asking for a free cruise AND $200 is a bit much.


  7. Steve
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 09:20:22

    So what happens now? If a problem occurs on another cruise, does this set precedence, and now everybody wants a refund or they will start a mutiny. I commend RCI for doing what they thought was right but hope it does not create a snow ball effect for future cruises.


  8. Jen
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 12:10:51

    I completely agree that there should not have been a full refund. It is like going to Disneyland and having a earthquake and holding Disneyland responsible. If I play the devil’s advocate, however, I can see why the cruise lines ponied up the money. First off, this immediately followed the Carnival mishap and the cruise in the Arctic. The media is portraying these incidents a lot worse than they are. Public perception on cruising is being influenced negatively and all eyes are on how the cruiselines are handling it. Carnival had just given a full refund (and rightly so, of course). Remember, perception is reality and everyone watching the news are potential future customers, or worse no longer potential customers. If they see Carnival “taking care” of everyone and RCCL not taking care…….I completely realize that the two incidents aren’t equal but to Joe Landlover it might appear differently. Can they spend millions on advertising to risk losing it over this. remember, they have insurance to cover this. I can see where they would decide to refund the money on this alone. Secondly, as was stated above, they did cruise into this storm. Perhaps it was worse than they thought but none the less, they were the only ship that experienced this. Once again, perception is reality. Third, while the terror only lasted an hour or so, the ship was trashed inside. How long did it take to get it back and functional. What did it look like once it was? Fourth, according to reports from people on board on CC the captain came on and in his first broadcast admitted to a mistake. I don’t know what he claimed to have done but OPPS This alone could have precipitated the refund.
    Once again, as a seasoned cruiser, I do not think they should have refunded the fare but as a business person in RCCL’s offices, I can see where they could make an arguement for it.


  9. Trackback: Cruising during hurricane season. « ALoveForTravel

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