Ken West’s Alaska cruise gets canceled during the pandemic. UnCruise wants to give him future cruise credit. He wants a refund. Who’s right?
Q: My wife and I booked an Alaska cruise with UnCruise Adventures two years ago. The cruise line canceled the sailing on the day we were about to depart from Australia.
We have requested a refund multiple times, but they refuse, offering a credit instead. We can’t use future cruise credit because of our health. Can you help me get a refund for the $12,490 we spent on our cruise? — Ken West, Hornsby Heights, NSW, Australia
A: I’m sorry to hear about your health problems. Who knew this pandemic would last as long as it has? Many companies changed their terms and conditions to accommodate their customers after the COVID outbreak, so it’s not unreasonable to think UnCruise might, too.
And what are the UnCruise terms? According to its ticket contract, your “sole remedy” when it cancels a cruise is a future cruise credit.
These ticket contracts are tricky. You can’t negotiate them (they’re called adhesion contracts), so when you book a ticket, you automatically agree to the terms set forth by UnCruise and its lawyers. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read the agreement, either.
So technically, UnCruise doesn’t have to give you a refund. But during the pandemic, companies changed their rules or disregarded them entirely. I think your case fell into that gray area.
I think you might have been able to appeal your case to UnCruise. It’s a small company and it lists its executives on its website. Email addresses are formatted firstname+last email@example.com — so if I worked there, I’d be firstname.lastname@example.org. (But I don’t, so please don’t try to email me at that address.)
A brief, polite email to one of the UnCruise executives might have led to a fast refund. Clearly, no one could have predicted things would drag on with COVID for as long as they have.
If you ever feel well enough to cruise again, please read the ticket contract. Make sure you have a way to get a refund if you need to. If the contract doesn’t allow for refunds, buy travel insurance.
I contacted UnCruise on your behalf.
“We seek to provide the best adventure cruises and personalized service to each guest, that is one of the reasons we have so many repeat guests come onboard,” a representative told me. “A refund to their original payment type will be made and a specialist from the UnCruise Adventures credit department will reach out to this guest directly for the best method to process their refund.”