JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville woman has a warning for other travelers after she said she had a bad experience during her vacation on Carnival Cruise line.
Katrina General booked a trip to Cozumel, Mexico, but never made it to her destination. She said she spent more than $3,000 on the family trip March 20-24 on the Carnival Victory.
General said the ship left port from Miami and, after stopping in Key West on the second day of the cruise, was headed for Mexico when another passenger -- 23-year-old Brandon Paul -- went overboard north of Cuba.
The ship began a search and rescue for Paul and notified the U.S. Coast Guard, which directed the ship to return to its homeport of Miami, which meant the passengers never made it to Mexico.
“The ship was on a four-day cruise that visited Key West as scheduled, however, because of the vessel’s involvement in search and rescue activities it was unable to make the scheduled visit to Cozumel,” Carnival said in a statement.
Despite the missed trip to Mexico, Carnival isn't refunding passengers' money. Instead, it's offering a 20 percent discount on a future cruise.
General said that doesn't help her current situation.
“I am not expecting to get a full refund, but I am expecting to get something back, because I didn't get what I paid for,” General said. “Sure, it wasn't their fault, but it wasn't our fault either.”
A travel agent told News4Jax that it is a common practice for cruise lines to deny refunds, and travelers need to be prepared.
“Travel insurance gives you that peace of mind, just in case something bad happens,” Scott Lara said.
Lara also said travelers should check the bill of rights for their cruise line or airline before booking.
Carnival's Bill of Rights states that a passenger has a right to a full refund if a trip is canceled because of mechanical failure but is only eligible for a partial refund for trips that end early because of those mechanical failures.
Carnival decides how to accommodate its customers in unforeseen situations.
Lara said there's not really anything travelers can do, beyond insuring their trips, to protect themselves from losing most of their money in such situations. He also said it wouldn't be worth it to hire a lawyer and fight the cruise line in court because the chances of winning are slim to none.