They were supposed to be dream vacations on the high seas but they never left dry land. Numerous people who had cruises canceled due to COVID-19 are still fighting for refunds.
Travelers paid thousands of dollars for the cruises but have waited months for refunds and are still waiting.
Pam Misany and her husband say it was their daughter and their daughter’s best friend’s high school graduation trip.
"Dream trip of a lifetime for their senior trip before they went off to college," Misany said.
They booked a seven-day Hawaiian cruise for four people through Norwegian Cruise Line for nearly $12,000, according to her confirmation.
It was canceled due to COVID-19 and rescheduled for June but then that date was cancelled as well. All U.S. ocean cruises are suspended until at least Oct. 31.
"We didn't think things were going to be that bad at that point and shortly after that the June one was canceled as well," she said.
Then the family learned Norwegian would not honor a full refund. Because Misany had rescheduled the original cruise, she was now only eligible for future cruise credits, according to an email from the cruise line.
"They never told me if I rebooked I could never have a refund again," Misany said.
She also says she never even got the credits.
“So I have no credits and no refund. And it was nearly $12,000,” she said.
Misany is not alone.
Another cruise passenger started a Facebook page in March called “NCL Waiting for Refund Group.”
It now has more than 1,100 people who say they had cruises canceled and are awaiting refunds.
"Its been a nightmare," Misany said.
Many cruise lines are in the same situation--inundated with cancellations due to COVID-19--and struggling to keep up with refunds.
Thomas Fox III and his wife’s seven-day Alaskan Cruise was more than $7,000, according to his cruise confirmation.
"Its funny how quickly companies will take your money, but how long it takes to get a refund," he said.
When it was canceled, Princess Cruises accepted his request for a refund, but pointed out “due to the volume of requests it may take up to 60 days to process.” according to a letter Fox was sent from the cruise line.
Fox says its been more than 120 days and he is still waiting for the money.
“I’m hoping we don’t have an emergency that requires it because we’d be in pretty deep trouble,” Fox said.
Princess Cruises has several complaints and reviews filed with the Better Business Bureau, but the company maintains an A-plus rating because they have been responding promptly and issuing refunds, according to a spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau.
Princess responded to one customer:
"Our reservation and payment systems were not designed to handle this volume of refunds in a short period of time, and the process is taking longer than we wanted."
“Its an extremely difficult situation,” Fox said. “But they can probably better afford to handle it than I can.”
Experts say one option for consumers is disputing the charge with your credit card company.
New 6 contacted Princess for a response. A spokesperson acknowledged receiving the request, but has not responded.
Norwegian Cruise Line responded to a News 6 request with this statement:
“Given the fluid and evolving nature of these current circumstances, we are making decisions as quickly and thoughtfully as possible and, as always, we are keeping our guests’ best interests at heart,” a company spokesperson wrote.
All guests who were scheduled to embark on voyages during the temporary suspension of sailings will receive a future cruise credit, according to the statement.
The future cruise credit can include a 25-50 percent increase of what the customer paid, depending on the departure date, the statement read.
For guests who don’t opt for of the future cruise credit, a 100% refund of the fare paid will be reimbursed to the original form of payment within 90 days of completing the required request form, the company said.
“Like many businesses, and frankly, many individuals, we are truly doing the very best we can,” a Norwegian spokesperson said. “We are exploring new ways of working, building new processes, striving to do all we can to put our guests first while being fair and equitable to all.”
Lindsay Dillon wanted to have her bachelorette celebration on a five-day cruise to the Bahamas last March.
Dillon said she and her friends boarded the Norwegian Sky and were taking pictures in the pool when it was announced that the cruise would not be sailing due to the coronavirus.
“We were blown away,” Dillon said. “We couldn’t believe it. We were already in the pool.”
Dillon said she later submitted a refund request and received confirmation that the request was made successfully.
She said waited for 90 days but still had not received the refund.
When she contacted the company, she said she was told her refund was denied because she had called and inquired about cancelling one of the rooms for someone in her party days before the cruise.
"I certainly didn't cancel mine, because I boarded the ship days later," Dillon said.
News 6 contacted Norwegian to inquire about Dillon's refund being denied.
The next day, a representative for the company contacted News 6.
“There was an oversight on our part when reviewing the details of her (Dillon’s) reservation,” a Norwegian representative said. “She is currently in communication with our guest services team to process the full fare refund,” according to the email.
“I honestly can NOT thank you enough!” Dillon wrote in an email to News 6. “I have been pushed around saying the situation will be escalated and someone will contact me and no one does. I do a 15 minute call with you and it gets settled!” she wrote.