‘I want my money back for £20k cruise which 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 dropped from the itinerary: Phuket in Thailand and Penang in Malaysia. We discovered this through our own research, and felt disappointed that Imagine Cruising hadn’t bothered to tell us. The planned visit to Sri Lanka was now also looking highly unlikely because of government guidelines.

These destinations were key reasons for us booking the trip, and given that we were going to pay £20,214 in total for this cruise, we no longer wanted to go on, we decided to cancel.

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

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

– DM, via email

Dear reader,

On reading your letter it appeared that Imagine Cruising might be in breach of its own terms and conditions, so I decided to read them myself.

It said: “If we have to make a significant change or cancel before departure, we will inform you without undue delay.”

Cancellation will be accepted and refunds issued “for significant changes to the changed arrangements”, it added.

Included in its various definitions for what this might mean was a bullet point saying “a significant change to your itinerary, missing out one or more destinations entirely”. 

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

It told me it had reviewed your booking again and come to the same conclusion. It said its terms and conditions refer to a significant change to embarkation and/or disembarkation destination, and not to the changes to the port itinerary.

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

Imagine Cruising said it was able to move your deposit to another cruise of any value, but you were still unhappy. In the end, I’m pleased to say something changed behind the scenes, and you received a refund for your £3,150 deposit.     

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