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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Upset cruise passengers waiting on refunds question the delay

Some passengers said they are waiting on refunds of hundreds of dollars.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It is billed as a senior outing; a cruise to the Bahamas. This year, the local YMCA working with AAA Travel planned the senior outing for April 2020.

The five-day/four-night event would take travelers to the Bahamas and Royal Caribbean's private island, but then the coronavirus pandemic struck. Cruise ships were stuck in port and all events were canceled.

"I asked for my refund," customer Rosalie Hatcher said.

Hatcher was one of many bound for the Bahamas until the cruise was canceled in March. She paid $657 to the AAA travel agency.

"We are frustrated," she said.

Frustrated because she is still waiting on a refund. 

Jeff Dean was also booked on the same cruise. Dean said he paid $1,800 for him and his wife to be on the same cruise

"They asked us which would we rather have," Dean said. "Would we rather have a credit to another cruise or would we rather have our money back?" 

Dean said given his work schedule, like Hatcher, he requested a full refund

."They said no problem it will take us about two billing cycles," he said.

Hence the frustration. It has been more than two billing cycles and they are still waiting. 

"We have been waiting four months," Hatcher said.

Why is it taking longer than promised to complete the refund? Hatcher said last weekend she finally received $200 with no word on when she will get the rest of her money.

Dean said he received $1,600 but that is not a full refund.

"I still would like the remainder of it along with 30 others," Dean said.

Others like Hatcher

"I am very frustrated," Hatcher said. "I am angry with them and feel like I have no recourse."

So they reached out to On Your Side and we contacted AAA.  

Mark Jenkins, a spokesperson for the travel group, told On Your Side they are working on the refunds. 

Jenkins provided this statement:  

"At AAA, our number one priority is to take care of every member. We are continuing to do everything we can to assist these travelers. This pandemic has caused an unprecedented interruption in travel, resulting in a backlog of refunds throughout the travel industry.

In this particular case, Royal Caribbean has the funds, so we are unable to refund the members directly. We have reached out to Royal Caribbean on the member’s behalf and to date, approximately 14 members of the group have been refunded. We are continuing to work with Royal Caribbean daily to secure the rest. Due to the pandemic and the overwhelming amount of refunds, the cruise lines, in general, are taking anywhere from 90 - 120 days to process them.

Specific to Mr. Dean & Ms. Hatcher. Mr. Dean was refunded on August 17th. Royal Caribbean originally recorded Ms. Hatcher as choosing a Future Cruise Credit, this has now been amended to reflect a refund request which has caused a delay in processing the refund. We do however expect to receive all the outstanding refunds within the next two weeks, where we can then expedite the refunds to the clients."