Cruise line refuses to refund Tennessee man after wife dies

Bob Mackay (WATE)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Knoxville man was stunned when a cruise ship line at first refused to refund his money. The man’s wife had died before they got to take their cruise to the Bahamas.

Bob Mackay and his wife Bonnie moved to Knoxville a year ago. He grew up in Knoxville but moved away after high school. He and his wife had been on a cruise ship before and booked a second trip in late spring, but Bonnie Mackay died five weeks ago.

Bonnie Mackay spent several years of her life in a wheelchair, but her disability didn’t slow her down. She and her husband were looking forward to the cruise. They booked a vacation aboard Royal Cruise Lines to the Bahamas in March. Their package included two nights in Ft. Lauderdale, two nights in Orlando and two days at Grand Bahama Island. The total price was $900, paid on March 15.

When Bonnie Mackay died unexpectedly on June 26, Bob Mackay was devastated. Both had been retired for less than a year. Days after the funeral service, Bob Mackay called Royal Seas’ customer service line.

“They told me that they would not cancel it. That I could sell it. Or if I found another girlfriend, I could use it and take her,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. I really don’t want to go on a cruise without my wife. That was the whole point of it.”

Mackay said he asked to speak to the service representative’s boss.

“They had no interest in giving me a refund whatsoever,” he said.

Mackay asked what kind of policy the cruise line has if a customer passes away. They told him they had no policy.

Royal Seas Cruises has an eight-page documents of terms and conditions. Term no. 12 says that once paid in full, tickets are non-refundable for any reason, medical or otherwise. Whether the broad meaning of the word “otherwise” refers to the death of a ticket holder is unclear.

Mackay said he believed no one from the cruise line was interested in negotiating his dispute. WATE 6 On Your Side wrote a note to the company and explained about the death of Bonnie Mackay and the response from the service representative. Within two hours, this email was sent: “Our sincere sympathy goes to Mr. Mackay. We are sorry to hear he will not be traveling with us and we would be happy to issue a full refund immediately to his account.”

Royal Seas Cruise delivered. Mackay said he was happy, but he wishes the cruise line had responded that way in the first place.

Apparently, the customer service representative who first handled Mackay’s call followed the cruise line’s terms and conditions exactly as written, meaning that once you paid in full, there was no refund for any reason. Royal Seas Cruises did nothing wrong.

If you ever book a vacation, most packages come with terms and conditions, however, with many vacation packages, you can buy insurance to protect your investment in case there’s an emergency. Remember to examine the terms and conditions of your contract.