Carnival Changes Course, Offers Cruise Credit After Customer Stabbed in the Head

Carnival Cruise Line - Cruise Credit - InsuranceA family in Kentucky is going to enjoy a family vacation after Carnival reconsidered its cancellation penalty following a vicious attack on young Troy Walter.  The teenage was coming to the defense of his friend who was attacked by a knife yielding man now in jail on attempted murder charges.

The family was scheduled to take a Caribbean cruise vacation but Troy was stabbed in the head and neck two weeks earlier.  Troy's mother called Carnival and informed customer service representatives of the attack which resulted in her son's hospitalization for two months.  She says that the Carnival customer representative promised her over the telephone that her family would receive a cruise credit of $2,000 so that they could take a cruise later.  

But when she later contacted Carnival to re-book the cruise, Carnival informed her that it had no record that anyone at Carnival promised a future cruise credit.  This was significant because the family had not purchased insurance and would forfeit the entire cruise fare.  Carnival would not reconsider its cancellation penalty which Carnival explained was a "standard industry practice."  

The Walter family contacted a local television station and spoke to the "troubleshooter" department who contacted Carnival and, eventually obtained a cruise credit good for the next year.

The local newspaper ran the story (see video below) which sparked a debate about whether the family should have been penalized for not buying insurance.  We recommend to everyone to always buy insurance because you never know what will happen right before or during a cruise.    

Cruise lines have received a lot of bad press recently.  Read this article about another cruise line, NCL, which would not alter its cancellation after one of its customer's brother died right before the cruise. The customer had to attend his brother's funeral and asked NCL to refund the cruise fare or provide a credit.  NCL refused. The customer asked NCL at least to let the aggrieved passenger donate his cruise vacation to a sick child as part of the Make-A-Wish charity. NCL would not budge.  Then came the sick part.  NCL sold the cabin to another customer.

Yes, NCL received a double profit due to a death in the customer's family.  Talk about bad karma. I wrote an article And You Wonder Why the Cruise Industry Has an Image Problem.    

Unlike NCL, in this case Carnival did the right thing.  Yes passengers should always buy insurance, but its nice to see cruise lines act human once in a while.  

 

Florida Charges Travel Agencies for Selling Bogus Trip Insurance Policies

The Sun Sentinel reports that Florida charged travel agencies in the state with using unlicensed agents to sell bogus trip insurance policies through a company called Prime Travel Protection Services, of Colorado.  Prime Travel, which apparently was never authorized to do business in Florida, went out of business in 2009 and is in liquidation.  Hundreds of Florida travelers were left with unpaid claims.

Cruise Insurance - Travel InsuranceMany of the consumers bought the policies before going on cruises.  Obtaining valid insurance for cruise vacations is a prudent thing which we recommend cruise passengers consider before cruising. 

Prime Travel claimed that it offered "trip protection" and not travel insurance, which must be approved by regulators and underwritten to ensure claims will be covered.  The consumers who bought the bogus policies had no recourse when their claims were not paid.

The state warned the agencies to stop selling unauthorized insurance or face penalties including a $50,000 fine.  The newspaper reports that the six agencies cited this week offered policies through Prime Travel or its affiliates.  They agencies include:

According to the Sun Sentinel, the agencies charges include JB Travel Inc. of Boynton Beach, St. Lucie West Travel of Port St. Lucie, Ahoy Cruises of Jacksonville, Diana's Travel South of Spring Hill, Sandra Demore / CruiseWithSandy of Port Orange, and Four Seasons Tours and Cruises of Largo.

The newspaper also reports that in the past year, state officials cited additional agencies for similar problems.  One of the agencies, Palm Coast Travel of Lake Worth and its affiliate Smartcruiser.com, were charged with initially giving travelers AccessAmerica trip insurance policies, then transferring customers to companies not authorized in Florida to offer coverage - including Prime Travel.

When the media began reporting on the bogus policies last year, Palm Coast Travel filed a defamation lawsuit against one of the aggrieved consumers who complained, as well as veteran travel writer, Christopher Elliott, who covered what appears to be a scam in his widely respected travel website "Elliott."  

Suing travel writers for uncovering consumer fraud stories appears, in my opinion, to be retaliatory in nature and counter-productive.  Mr. Elliott was ahead of this story in 2008 when he warned consumers of the Prime Travel policies in an article "A Travel Insurance Mystery: Who is Prime Travel Protection Services?"   

Mr. Elliott indicates that he made a public records request for information regarding the state of Florida’s case against Palm Coast Travel, and will release the information on his website.  This will be interesting reading.

 

If you are considering buying travel insurance, consider reading:"6 Tips to Avoid Travel Insurance Scams."