Are Cruise Passengers Entitled to Refunds When Crew Members Go Overboard? No, and Why Should They?

An article this morning in the Chicago Tribune caught my attention - "Compensation Doesn't Float After Cruise Ship Skips Port."   The article involved a family's request for a refund after a cruise ship missed one of the scheduled ports of call.   Instead, the cruise line issued a $500 credit toward a future cruise - $200 for each parent and $100 for their child.

After returning home, the family appealed to the cruise line's customer service department and its corporate offices in Miami.  The mother is quoted as saying "I've been in customer service my whole life and I've never seen people so adept at giving the runaround .  .  .  They were wonderful at it."

I agree that the cruise lines' "service" departments are often of little service at all, and are regularly used as front line defenses to the passengers' claims.  But it is hard to feel sorry for the family upon taking a harder look at the story.  First of all, cruise lines have every legal right to limit their liability in instances of missed ports.  This family is lucky that the cruise line offered $500 under these circumstances. 

But how can anyone complain about a refund when the reason for the missed port was that a Royal Caribbean crew member jumped overboard as the Oasis of the Seas sailed toward St. Thomas - a fact that the article discusses only in passing.  This is a story which we followed closely last May - Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas 

We received sixty-seven (67) comments to the story.  Most of the passengers focused on the tragedy of a crew member deciding to end his life in this manner.  But a few other passengers focused on themselves.  They either complained of the "inconvenience" of delaying their cruise to search for the crew member or not being refunded a portion of their cruise fare.  Most of these complainers were called out for whining when another human being had just perished.

The crew member who died was from the little island of St. Vincent.  Crew members from this island who work as cleaners on cruise ships earn as little as $550 a month working 80 - 90 hours a week.  It makes me grimace to think of any U.S. passenger complaining about a $500 credit. 

So its was strange to be drinking my coffee this morning and see that one of the passengers was still complaining about a missed port and the Chicago Tribune had chosen to write about it five months later.   

Get over it people.  Count your blessings that you still have your family alive and well, and you can enjoy many family vacations in the future. 

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
CAROLANN BOARDMAN - October 12, 2010 10:09 AM

Things have really changed. In 1961, while salling to Oz, the Canbara couldn"t land at Wellington, N.Z. due to a storm at sea. We spent a week sailing up and down off the coast.

I spent more then a few summers on ships, And never felt in danger. But then, are there any American flag ships any more? if not stick with British flag ships.

And stay away from the Carabian or the Med. Not safe, and travel agents only want your money they really don't care about about any thing else.

AND DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT MEXICO!!!!

liza borromeo - March 18, 2011 12:09 AM

I would like to ask if a crew member can get some financial support from our company during an unexpected fire onboard. we just started our contract at that time, almost two months on board when that fire happened. For our surprised the company decided to send us home, we thought at that time that the company will pay our unfinished contract as we signed for a six months contract onboard and we are on tipping position, we pay our own ticket back and forth but they gave us a free ticket to go home at that time after 3 months home thats the only we got a sign on date and again to our surprised they let us shoulder our ticket to go back to the assigned ship... do we have the rights to get any compensation because of this unexpected condition... thank you very much for all the help that we can get from you.... We got financial and emotional stress during that time.. we hope that you can give us some imformation regarding this matter..

L First - August 28, 2012 10:46 AM

i agree...a missed port is minor compared to someone losing their life. the fact that a credit was issued was a good gesture. It's not like they didn't get on the ship and couldn't get a refund...

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