You Call That a Vacation?


All cruise lines are not created equal. Take this sad tale about Fred Olsen Lines, for example.

A Stockport couple booked a 13-night Canary Island Cruise on this UK line through a local travel agent. They specified that they needed an accessible cabin, as the husband is a wheelchair-user. They put down the required deposit when they made their reservations. Subsequently, they received a brochure from the cruise line detailing the cruise they had just booked. To their horror it said that wheelchair-users could not disembark at any of the ports and could not roam about freely on the ship. In short, they would be confined to their cabin.

Obviously this was not acceptable to the couple. And rightly so — after all, what kind of a vacation is it to be confined to your cabin? In any case they promptly canceled the cruise. And get this — Fred Olsen Lines refused to refund their deposit.

Talk about adding insult to injury!

But all was not lost, as a local consumer reporter stepped in and got the couple’s deposit back. In the end it worked out, but only because the media got involved.

So where did the couple go wrong? Well, in my opinion they appeared to do everything right. After all I don’t think you should have to ask if you will be confined to your cabin when you book a cruise. It’s not a reasonable question. Sure, they could have asked about the shore excursions and that might have sent up some red flags, but to be honest a lot of people are OK with skipping the ports. In fact, some folks actually enjoy staying on board and enjoying the ship while the crowds are ashore. But let’s be real; if you stay on board you should at least be able to enjoy the whole ship.

Bottom line, Fred Olsen should never had accepted the deposit without first informing the couple of the limitations on their vessel. And it goes without saying that once the couple discovered the limitations, their deposit should have been promptly refunded.