Couple says Royal Caribbean won't refund them for planned trip to Puerto Rico

Travelers who bought tickets for Caribbean cruises may be in for a shock: They are not able to get refunds for trips that are taking them to hurricane-stricken areas.

Lindsay Shingledecker and her husband booked their Royal Caribbean vacation before the hurricanes hit.

Scenes of the disaster zone changed their minds about traveling to Puerto Rico, where their ship is set to depart on Oct. 14.

"We don't want to feel like we get to go on a cruise ship and we have our food, we have our water, we are going to go to the buffet, and these people are really suffering waiting in line to try and get the basic necessities," Shingledecker said.

The couple has been monitoring the Royal Caribbean website, where the cruise line has posted a video of its relief campaign, evacuating families of their employees and delivering supplies to disaster zones.

Shingledecker said the cruise line is well aware of the hardship yet will not refund her tickets without a substantial penalty - 75 percent of what she paid for the tickets, which amounts to about $1,300.

Travel consultant Andi Myzsa, with Montrose Travel, is urging ticketholders to proceed with their travel plans as the cruise lines adjust their itineraries, cancelling stops in hard hit areas and rerouting to ports that are less impacted.

"The western Caribbean is relatively unaffected. With the exception of San Juan, the southern Caribbean is relatively unaffected," Myzsa said.

Royal Caribbean said on its website that they did cancel a Sept. 30 cruise out of Puerto Rico because the ship was being used for humanitarian relief.

The cruise line posted: "We are very sorry for the impact this storm has had on your vacation. The cruise fare and fees will be 100 percent refunded."

But Royal Caribbean said the Shingledecker's cruise will sail. Myzsa urges the couple to use the ticket to help restore the island economy.

"When people stop traveling, that is going to hurt them more," she said.

But Shingledecker said it's too soon.

"They really need to rebuild their lives. It is not somewhere that people should be going to on vacation right now," she said.
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