“I want my money back for a £20,000 cruise that won’t stop in Phuket or Penang”

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Dear Katie,

In February we booked a 60 day cruise with Imagine Cruising on Cunard’s Queen Mary, leaving Southampton on January 11, 2023.

Earlier this month, we discovered that two key destinations had been removed from the itinerary: Phuket in Thailand and Penang in Malaysia. We discovered this through our own research and were disappointed that Imagine Cruising didn’t bother to tell us. The planned visit to Sri Lanka now also seemed highly unlikely due to government guidelines.

These destinations were the main reasons we booked the trip, and given that we were going to be paying £20,214 in total for this cruise we didn’t want to continue so decided to cancel.

According to Imagine Cruising’s terms and conditions, if there is “a significant change” to the itinerary, for example the removal of one or more destinations, it must refund the £3,150 deposit we paid if requested. However, he refuses to do so.

If we do not cancel by October 13, the cancellation charge is £10,107 or 50% of the total trip cost. Can you help us resolve this situation? It’s very stressful dealing with Imagine Cruising, which seems to block us at every turn.

– DM, by email

Dear reader,

Upon reading your letter, it appeared that Imagine Cruising might violate its own terms and conditions, so I decided to read them myself.

He said: “If we have to make a material change or cancel before departure, we will let you know without undue delay.”

Cancellation will be accepted and refunds issued “for material changes to the amended arrangements”, he added.

Included in his various definitions of what that could mean was a bullet point saying “a significant change in your itinerary, completely missing one or more destinations”.

It seemed pretty black and white to me, so why was Imagine Cruising apparently breaking its own terms by refusing a refund?

He told me that he reviewed your reservation and came to the same conclusion. He said his terms and conditions refer to a significant change in embarkation and/or disembarkation destination, not changes in the port itinerary.

This attempt to catch you on what looked like a technicality felt like total cop to me. Your terms and conditions said nothing about embarkation or disembarkation versus what constituted “significant changes” to the itinerary. If that was the policy, then it had to be spelled out very clearly in terms.

Imagine Cruising said they were able to transfer your deposit to another cruise of any value, but you were still unhappy. In the end, I’m happy to say that something changed behind the scenes and you received a refund for your £3150 deposit.

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