Travel

Travel Troubleshooter: Insurance would’ve warded off woes

Q: I booked two single rooms on the National Geographic Sea Lion expedition to the Columbia and Snake rivers. I bought insurance for my 93-year-old dad. I did not buy insurance for myself.

He has had a series of bad falls. He has a bad heart, has suffered several small strokes, has dementia and cannot safely go.

The cruise is oversold, and Lindblad Expeditions easily can resell my cabin. But it won’t refund my fare. Can you help me get a refund for my $8,030?

Dorothy Cofield,

Beaverton, Ore.

A: Nice work with the insurance, but if you didn’t think you could go without him, you also might have considered a policy for you. Then all of this unpleasantness could have been avoided.

Lindblad Expedition’s rules are clear . You’re not entitled to any kind of refund. Period. Dad is going to get all his money back; you’re not.

Is that fair? In this case, no. Lindblad will double-dip, taking your money and someone else’s, but only serving one passenger. In fairness to Lindblad, this is an industrywide practice.

You really should have bought the insurance.

Cruise lines rarely, if ever, waive their rules. But in this case, you had confirmation from Lindblad that there was a wait list for your cruise, meaning that you were doing it a favor by canceling and allowing the cruise line to resell your cabin. I thought it was worth asking about your case. Clearly, you’re trying to do the right thing for your father, and a little sympathy from the cruise line would be nice.

“We generally do not negotiate our cancellation policies regardless of the reasons for canceling,” a Lindblad representative told me. “As such, we strongly recommend that guests purchase travel protection at several stages of the booking process, so that they can protect themselves from cancellation charges if the need arises.”

I agree with Lindblad. You weren’t entitled to a refund.

“However,” added the Lindblad rep, “there are rare exceptions when circumstances align and we are able to sell the cabin, enabling us to refund the guest. Since we had a small wait list, we contacted all persons waitlisted to determine if they were interested in Mrs. Cofield’s cabin. On this occasion, we will be able to provide a refund to Mrs. Cofield, which will be processed shortly.”

Email Christopher Elliott at chris@elliott.org.

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