Cruise NewsCruise Line Under Fire For Not Allowing Family to Rebook Cruise After...

Cruise Line Under Fire For Not Allowing Family to Rebook Cruise After Son Diagnosed With Cancer

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.

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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?

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise NewsCruise Line Under Fire For Not Allowing Family to Rebook Cruise After...


  1. I would like to thank NCL for publicly posting a new statement. While I personally think it is still vague it is the thought that counts. I was contacted by Fox for a statement in return and I did say I will not be going on any NCL cruise. At this point it is a little to late to change my views on this company. For others this may change your views and that is great. Fox made me aware that the “travel partners” that is mentioned in the statement was Travel Savers. I was contacted by them and I did decline the offer for a free cruise from them. The reason I did so was because I had already received another offer that I accepted and I was not looking for an abundance of free cruises. When this whole thing went public I was hoping that this would change the future. Whether it be by someone buying insurance or by NCL looking a little deeper into a request for a change of date because of our story. Even if that happens for just 1 family then this whole thing has been a success. In regards to Make A Wish they had already contacted us a couple weeks ago. I thank you NCL for contacting them on our behalf though. Nicolas’ wish will most likely be granted even before all of this because he is eligible and his wish does not have to be to go on a NCL cruise. If he wants to play in the pool all day or go to the beach or anything else his heart desires that is what he wants and that is what he will do. To NCL I hope this situation makes you think and try to show some compassion for your customers. To anyone that doesn’t think Travelers Insurance is important I hope you realize it obviously is. To all that have supported us on this page and elsewhere I thank you! Your support means more then you could ever know! To all that didn’t agree with us and were against us that is ok too. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. To my Lil mamas and all my other friends and family I thank you for making this so big and spreading it as much as it has. Also NCL even though very late good of your company to try and make it better. Hopefully in the future this will be the first response! Again thank you all!
    – The Colucci Family

  2. NCL released the above statement to the press but NEVER to the Colucci family? The word choice is an epic spin that’s carefully written and, undoubtedly, heavily scrutinized by NCL before release. Feels pretty manipulative.

    I am certain friends and family of NCL execs have shifted their cruise dates due to far less extreme circumstances.


  3. First I would like to say I hope for Nicholas to have a speedy recovery. The insurance on the cruise is important because anything can happen. If they made one exception it would be taken advantage of by many. Policies are there for a reason and although this was a terrible time for the family, it wasn’t the cruise lines fault. They have a policy that is followed by all 100% as it should be. I hope the best for the family.

  4. Insurance is SO IMPORTANT! I had an accident on a ship that resulted in a sever fracture of my shoulder. I had not even reached the first port. The cruise line ((NCL) took great care of me and my husband. My insurance took care of our air fare back to NYC, all of my medical bills, and reimbursed us for 9 days of the cruise that we missed. If a family is paying thousands of dollars for a cruise, a few hundred dollars for insurance is just that – it provides peace of mind as well as monetary value!

  5. I wish Nicholas the best, but NCL did nothing wrong. If you make an exception for 1 without insurance what about the next person that comes along that something has happened to and they need to cancel. Why is his emergency any more important than someone else’s? That’s why you need to buy insurance. Having spent $4000 on a cruise it was really stupid not to spend a few more $$$ for the insurance. IMO they are using their son right now to exploit money on their fundraising page. They are also criticizing NCL on every outlet they can and that is not right. I believe that the free cruise that the other cruise line offered them will come back to bite that cruise line in the rear, as it should. I stand behind NCL in what they did…..stick by policy….NO EXCEPTIONS

  6. Buy travel insurance. Read all contracts. Don’t blame the cruise line because something unexpected happened, no matter how sad it may be.

  7. Certainly wish the best for the young man. Cannot understand how the cruise line can be the heartless bad guy. Much less serious events have proved the value of travel insurance.

    • Norwegian is not heartless. They are following the contract. There are stories like this all the time because people don’t read contracts. Where does it end? Insurance is designed to protect you from the unexpected. Buy it.

  8. The unexpected can happen at any time, it is always a good idea to get travel insurance. However, it is just a sad situation and I hope the boy comes through this and can live cancer free!

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