Mass. Man Turned Away from Cruise Due to Coronavirus Fears, Denied Refund

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A February cruise to the Caribbean was something Yi Zhao and Greg O'Brien of Provincetown, Massachusetts, were really looking forward to.

"Just about a week before we were set to cruise, we got an email from the cruise line saying that if anybody has been to mainland China within 14 days of sailing, you will not be able to board," said O'Brien.

The notification from the cruise line said that it was closely monitoring the coronavirus situation, and passengers who provided proof of travel to China would receive a full refund of all the money paid to Holland America line. Yi had visited his family in China for the new year and was not eligible to sail, so he called Holland America to get a refund.

"They said, 'We are sorry, because even though it's us not letting you on the trip, because you booked through the charter company, the charter company has to start all the process,'" said Zhao.

Zhao had paid more than $5,000 for the trip to the charter company, RSVP Vacations, but he says customer service wouldn't agree to a refund.

"They just kept saying, 'It's a government issue, we can't give you the money back,'" said Zhao.

"We said we need to talk to someone else, and he was kind of rude, and said, 'I'm it,'" said O'Brien.

The couple then turned to NBC10 Boston Responds for help.

"Half an hour later, Leslie got back to me, and I'm like, 'Wow, she's Johnny on the spot,'" said Greg. "She's taking this seriously, and that was a really good feeling. There was somebody on our team."

NBC10 Boston Responds reached out to Atlantis Events, the parent company of RSVP Vacations, and the CEO, Rich Campbell told us, "As agents for our cruise lines, we transparently support their policies and in situations like this we would of course grant full refunds if a guest is not allowed to travel. I've personally responded to Mr. Zhao and assured him that if he can provide the correct documentation of his recent travel to China it would qualify for a full refund under Holland America's policy."

Zhao provided the documentation and has been told his $5,158 refund is being processed. O'Brien says NBC10 Boston Responds did the trick.

Many countries are now being impacted by the coronavirus. If you have international travel booked, and want to cancel or reschedule, you need to contact your travel agent or the company you booked with to see what your options are.

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