Travel Troubleshooter: Cruise line guaranteed a reimbursement; where is it?

  Question: My husband had a possible transient ischemic attack  —  a mini-stroke — while we were passengers on Royal Caribbean’s 13-night Vision of the Seas fall foliage tour last year. The cruise left from Cape Liberty, N.J., and ended in Quebec City.

He had his symptoms while we were docked in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the final stop before Quebec City. The cruise line called an ambulance, which transported him to a hospital. His symptoms subsided at the hospital, and he was discharged, but we missed the boat.

A Royal Caribbean representative made arrangements for us to fly to Quebec City. She said our insurance — purchased from the cruise line —would pay for our hotel while in Charlottetown.

I sent the invoice when we arrived home, and since then have sent about a dozen follow-up emails to her. She has repeatedly promised to pay for the hotel, but I’ve received no reimbursement so far.

Can you help us get the $157 refunded for our hotel?

  Answer: I’m so relieved for you that your husband is OK. A stroke is a serious thing, and the medical staff on board the Vision of the Seas was correct to send you to the nearest hospital.

You purchased Royal Caribbean’s optional Travel Protection, which, among other things, reimburses you for medical expenses as well as emergency transportation by air or land.  Good move. If you didn’t have insurance, you would have had to find your own way to Quebec City.

If a cruise line representative told you that you’d be covered, you can rest assured you’ll be covered. But remember, talk is cheap. You’ll want to get a guarantee like that in writing. I see that in your correspondence a cruise line representative  repeated the promise as well. Now that’s what I call a slam dunk.

A little advice: You might want to limit your follow-up emails to less than 12 next time. One or two is fine, but then bring out the big guns. I publish the Royal Caribbean executive contacts on my consumer-advocacy site:  elliott.org/company-contacts/royal-caribbean. Don’t mess around with the reps; they’re just going to repeat their scripted answers.

I contacted Royal Caribbean on your behalf, and it refunded the $157 it promised you. I hope your next cruise is free of drama and unwanted stops.

  Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of ”How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at chris@elliott.org.