Janet and Joe Sherwood’s trip became a burden.
The couple booked a cruise on November 29 from Istanbul to Dubai with Oceania Cruises, but following the Israel-Hamas Warthe cruise line – like many others – adjusted his plans, radically changing the route. The roughly three-week sailing aboard the Riviera ship, destined to visit Haifa, Luxor, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, retains only about half of its original ports, including departure points and arrival.
After calling Oceania last week, the Hoschton, Ga., couple said the line told Joe they could also use the more than $20,000 spent on another cruise as long as they rebooked before November 30. But two days later, after Janet heard from another passenger that the deal had been canceled, Joe called back and was told the same thing.
Oceania Cruises declined USA TODAY’s request for comment.
The couple are among many Oceania guests who have struggled to get refunds or compensation following drastic changes to scheduled sailings. Several guests said they felt locked into cruises they wouldn’t have chosen to take.
After appealing their case, the company’s vice president of global customer services, Carlos Ortega, said Sherwoods Oceania would not provide any compensation or future cruise credits for canceled reservations.
“As all of our itinerary changes have been carefully evaluated with the customer experience in mind, the revised voyages feature culturally rich and historically significant ports across Italy, Greece and Turkey, brimming with UNESCO World Heritage sites, unique culinary experiences and cultural treasures,” he said. said an email last week, which the couple shared with USA TODAY.
“It’s a terrible situation and I’m really sorry for the people who live there and have to deal with this. It’s just horrible,” said Janet, a 77-year-old real estate agent. “But I feel like it really doesn’t affect the decision (Oceania makes on how to handle) this situation.”
Janet said the trip cost more than they normally would have spent, but included destinations like Israel and Egypt, where she had wanted to go for years. She said struggling financially for a much different trip she wouldn’t have booked was a waste.
It also has security concerns. The U.S. Department of State has several travel advisories in place for the region, and issued a “global warning” for Americans abroad last month.
They contacted American Express, their credit card company, which Janet said has tentatively offered to refund about $18,000 – although the request is still pending. The couple also purchased travel insurance through Oceania, but said their policy would not cover this type of itinerary change.
Oceania told Joe that the company would refund the taxes the couple paid if they decided not to go, even though the couple didn’t know how much it would cost, and credited the price of the excursions for the canceled ports.
“They have the legal right to do what they did,” Janet said. “But that’s not right.”
Jared Feldman, owner of the travel agency Jafeldma Travel, told USA TODAY in June that the contracts customers agree to when booking are “very cruise line friendly.” But even if the lines can’t owes compensation to passengersthey sometimes offer it as a gesture of goodwill.
On most Oceania cruises, passengers must pay 100% of their cruise fare for cancellations made 60 days or less before departure, plus all optional amenities and service fees, according to the line’s rates. guest ticket contract.
The Sherwoods were informed of the more extreme itinerary changes made on their November 29 departure on October 20, 40 days previously.
“Get something completely different from what you bought”
Steven Alves and Jeff Hull had to fight for a refund on their cruise. The Florida couple booked a 40-day Oceania trip from Barcelona, Spain to Singapore to celebrate their 22nd year together.
Stops included many first-time destinations for both men, including Haifa; Luxor, Egypt; and Aqaba, Jordan. “We booked it for the route,” said Alves, 52 and working in business consulting.
Oceania altered most of the first half of the November 18 sailing aboard its ship Nautica. The line also made changes in the second half.
Alves said the company initially refused to refund the more than $35,000 spent on the cruise. They learned that other guests had received an offer for a future cruise credit, and their travel agent told them that Oceania had told them they could apply their fare to a future trip if they made another reservation before November 30.
But two days later, Oceania informed the couple that the policy had changed — hours before they were informed of major revisions to the itinerary, Alves said. Their travel agent did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
The new portions of Alves and Hull’s itinerary were focused more on Italy, where they had been previously, and at one point included more than a week of consecutive sailing. Alves spent hours canceling car and hotel reservations for overnight stops in ports the ship will no longer visit.
Cruise travel insurance:Why you might not want to buy it through the cruise line
After appealing their case, Ortega told Hull last week that the company was not granting future cruise credits or penalty waivers at this time for war-related changes.
“We understand the disappointment these revisions may have caused, but hope our guests and travel partners share the understanding that these circumstances are beyond anyone’s control,” he said in an email that Hull shared with USA TODAY.
However, the couple’s travel agent called Thursday to tell them the line had reversed course and that he would give them a full refund.
“It’s a horrible thing that’s happening,” Alves said of the war.
“But our position is that the cruise line needs to understand that you are getting something completely different from what you bought,” Hull added. “And it’s not a cheap thing. It takes a lot of time, a lot of planning.”
Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at email@example.com.