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Encinitas couple receives $60,000 COVID cruise refund

Retired Superior Court Judge Marshall Hockett and his wife Debbie wrote letters and kept calling the cruise company until they were reimbursed.

ENCINITAS, Calif. — When an outbreak of COVID-19 ended a dream cruise for an Encinitas couple, they demanded a refund. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Encinitas to see how their ship came in.

Last January, Marshall and Debbie Hockett left Miami for the cruise of a lifetime. "It was an awesome catastrophe I'd have to say," said Debbie Hockett.

In Rio de Janeiro, the cruise was suddenly canceled and the Hocketts were told to take their bags and go. Marshall is a retired superior court judge who knew legally he was owed a refund.

But when cruise company didn't pick up the phone, he went after them.

Credit: Tripping 1975: Falling in Love One Country at a Time

The Hocketts wrote six letters and kept on calling. "Be tenacious just don't sit back and take it," said Debbie. 

They demanded a $60,000 refund and ended up getting more.

"Yes. We went after all of the expenses that we incurred after we had to get off the ship," said Debbie.

Judge Hockett is living with Parkinson's so leaving the ship abruptly was challenging. After leaving the ship in the middle of all of the chaos someone stole his wheelchair.  The cruise company reimbursed him for the chair. 

"Oh, yeah, they are good people," said Marshall.

Credit: Tripping 1975: Falling in Love One Country at a Time

The couple offers this advice to others seeking a refund. 

"I think a really important thing is to get a good travel agent," said Debbie.

RELATED: Retired Superior Court Judge and wife celebrate book release

In the 1970's, Marshall and Debbie traveled throughout Europe together in a VW van nicknamed "The Banana". because it was bright yellow.  The young couple filled up a journal with memories which last fall they turned into a book titled Tripping 1975: Falling in Love One Country at a Time.  

The book chronicled their trip in 1975 to France, England, Spain, Portugal and many other magical places.  Their goal was to retrace that trip on a cruise.  

RELATED: COVID 19 abruptly ends 'Cruise of a Lifetime'

Originally the Hocketts didn't disclose the name of the cruise company, but now with a refund in hand, they feel Oceania Cruises deserves the good publicity. After all, Judge Hockett says it's honorable thing to do. 

When are they booking their next cruise? 

"When COVID goes away... and I think that'll be a long time," said Debbie.  

The whole point of the cruise was for the Hocketts to retrace a trip they took to Europe in 1975. If you'd like to read their travel memoir called 'Tripping 1975: Falling in Love One Country at a Time' click here.

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