I get a refund for port charges when the cruise line doesn't call on all
I just returned from an Orient Lines cruise taken on March 27,
2001. It was the Grand Pacific segment of their around the world
cruise. My travel dates were February 22 through March 27, 2001.
All went well except for the fact that we missed three ports due
to a cyclone—two in Fiji and one in Western Samoa.
In defense of Orient Lines, I completely understand that weather
is out of their control, and they did give us an additional port (Raiatea)
that wasn't on the original schedule. I appreciate that gesture,
but feel, since we paid for three port charges and only had one,
we should receive a refund in at least the amount of the two port
charges. Not to mention that going to Raiatea didn't compare with
Fiji and Western Samoa. Most likely, I will never have the
opportunity to go to Western Samoa again, so missing that port was
Finally, Orient Lines advertised that when we were at Christmas
Island, we'd have a beach BBQ; but in reality, what we had was a
bowl of fresh fruit and punch. Although I don't imagine anyone
suffered from a lack of food, the issue here is the false
advertising or inaccurate picture that they portrayed. Having
spent thousands of dollars for this trip, it was distressing to
observe them being stingy! Thank you for any assistance you can
give on this.
It is very disappointing when you don't get
the exact cruise you planned, especially if you miss a scheduled
port-of-call. As you noted, it's not the cruise line's fault when weather
goes bad. As cruise lines print in their terms and conditions, they have
the right to change the itinerary should it become necessary. However,
consumers need to be aware that there is no one-size-fits-all when it
comes to such "fine print"—each cruise line varies in policy
Nevertheless, because most cruise lines will issue a refund, I was puzzled
as to why Orient Lines did not refund you for the two ports-of-call that
were not substituted. I contacted Orient Lines regarding your situation.
Here's part of their response:
destination-oriented cruise line sailing to some of the most
exotic ports in the world, the safety of our passengers, staff and
crew is always our first priority. We do share Ms. Bieber's
disappointment in missing three ports of call during Crown
Odyssey's Grand Pacific CruiseTour this past March, but the very
safety of our passengers and crew was of paramount concern to our
Captain as weather conditions in the South Pacific worsened.
Port charges are assessed to cruise lines whether or not a port of
call is reached. This is similar to the fee levied by hotels when
guests, for whatever reason, fail to honor a reservation. As we
explain in the Terms and Conditions section of our brochures,
there are times when factors beyond our control, such as weather,
make it necessary to amend our scheduled itineraries. We regret
that we are unable to offer Ms. Bieber a refund of the port
PR Manager, Orient Lines
After I received this response, I contacted
Orient Lines again to clarify why they did not refund the port charges.
Orient reiterated the fact that since their destinations are not as
mainstream as other cruise lines, they are subject to much stricter
foreign government standards that determine whether they can refund. In
the case of Fiji and Western Samoa, it appears that those islands opted
not to return the port fees, therefore, Orient Lines could not refund the
Again, each cruise line varies in policy regarding port-fees. As stated in
their terms and conditions clause, travel to certain destinations does
carry some slight risks.
As for the beach BBQ turning into fruit salad, Orient Lines again appears
to be subject to the island and what it can provide, which is also stated
in their terms and conditions. As they wrote to me, "We make every
effort to operate our CruiseTours as planned. With brochure printing
deadlines so very far in advance of our actual sailing date, there are
occasions when local conditions—as was the case on Christmas
Island—prevent us from executing our plans."
While the cruise didn't go according to the original plan, without
question, Orient Lines executed the safest and best alternative for their
passengers. One of the best aspects of cruising is the ability to change
course in the face of bad weather and salvage a vacation, something the
tourists riding out the cyclone in the Fiji resorts would have envied.
Again, happy sails on all your future voyages!
I hope I've been helpful. Happy travels!
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