Norwegian Cruise Line has faced a firestorm of criticism since Fox News NY reported about the cruise line refusing to allow a family to rebook their cruise after their 5 year old son needed emergency surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.
The Colucci family from Long Island, New York had a cruise booked for the June 1, 2014 sailing on the Norwegian Breakaway. However, less than 2 weeks before their cruise on May 19, their son Nicolas had to have emergency surgery for cancer on his liver, gallbladder, diaphragm, and lymph nodes.
When the family reached out to Norwegian and asked to rebook the cruise, the cruise line said no citing their cancellation policy. Their cancellation policy states that cancellations within 14 days of a cruise are subject to a 100% cancellation fee.
Since Fox NY broke this story, Norwegian has been subject to a wave of criticism saying that an exception should have been made for the Colucci family. The family is out $4,000 and the boy’s mother, Tara Colucci, told Fox “I just never imagined especially a company as big as Norwegian that they would be so heartless, basically.”
While many messages left on message boards and on Facebook have been extremely critical of Norwegian, many travel experts feel that the cruise line is not to blame since the family declined to buy travel insurance.
Part of the booking process for a cruise is either accepting or declining travel insurance. There is no way around it as most cruise lines automatically add it on. You have to manually take it off if you do not want it. (if booked online) While there are different types of travel insurance, it would have covered the Colucci family if they had purchased it when booking their cruise.
Many other seasoned travelers have said that if Norwegian made an exception in this one case, where does it end? Do they make an exception for everyone who declines to purchase travel insurance?
The CEO of another cruise line has reached out to the Colucci family and offered them a free cruise when the boy is healthy enough to travel.
Norwegian Cruise Line posted the following statement on their Facebook page at 5:20 p.m. on July 29, 2014:
Many of you have heard about the recent story regarding one of our guests and the tragic circumstances surrounding his family’s upcoming cruise. In light of recent discussions, we would like to take the time to share some background with you.
After learning of the circumstances regarding the cancellation of the Colucci family’s cruise, we wanted to make sure that Nicholas would be able to take cruise that he was so very much looking forward to.
While we knew getting Nicholas… well again was the family’s top priority, we offered to work closely with the family when Nicholas was ready to travel to ensure that they took their vacation and we provided a personal contact at Norwegian for the family to stay in touch with. Separately, one of our travel partners reached out to Mrs. Colucci and offered their help in making sure the family took the cruise they had planned.
We contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that we work closely with to grant the wishes of hundreds of children each year who want to take a cruise. If the family chooses to participate in the Make-A-Wish program, we will make sure that they receive the cruise they were looking forward to.
We are touched by many similar situations and do our very best to work with our guests to offer support wherever possible. As a company that provides vacation experiences for more than 1.3 million people each year, we understand that situations such as this occur. In all instances, we balance these requests with the need to treat fairly those guests who have elected to purchase travel protection insurance. In an effort to provide guests with peace of mind, we offer travel protection and we strongly encourage our guests to take advantage of this safeguard to cover unforeseen circumstances.
We continue to wish the very best for the Colucci family and hope that Nicholas gets well soon. He and his family are in our thoughts and prayers.
Cruise Fever would love to hear your opinion on this. Is Norwegian Cruise Line heartless and insensitive or is this just a sad case of a family declining travel insurance?