thanks for looking in and commenting on this mess. It is appreciated. The answer to your question about whether or not the Travel company also sold us the insurance, is YES. You mentioned some things about them needing to be registered in the state of California to have made this transaction legal. They advertise they are, with a Calif. Seller of Travel # CST-2064227-40. They also advertise as being registered in the states of Washington and Florida.
You also recommended that anyone reading your post to only deal with an "established cruise professional." In this case, I thought I was. Here are two quotes directly from their website, which you can check out for yourself.
"Online Vacation Center is your best source of quality cruise vacations at greatly reduced prices. We are one of the country's largest cruise retailers and have been in business for over 30 years." "In addition to our fantastic cruise deals, our clients enjoy the completely free services of our Personal Vacation Managers, dedicated experts who pride themselves on providing impeccable service, quality travel arrangements, and the best cruise prices in the industry."
They handled everything in a professional manner up to the point of being responsible for refunding the money they owe us, for the shore excursion they were to provide and didn't.
So Tom, in your opinion, what could a local San Diego, or Omaha, or Tulsa travel agent have done to help us out in this situation, as opposed to the company we used to book this trip?
My wife and I are seasoned travelers and have used the services of local as well as on-line travel agents. Whether it was a personal contact or on the internet, we have found good as well as not so good agents. By being cautious and purchasing travel insurance (which this is the first time ever, by the way), I really didn't expect to find ourselves in this situation. One where all the companies are pointing fingers at one another to accept the responsibility.
I have contacted my credit card company and filed a dispute over ALL CHARGES relating to this trip. I have asked VISA to do a charge-back to each of the companies involved; NCL, ONLINE VACATION CENTER and ACCESS AMERICA. Not one of the companies fullfilled their obligation of providing us the complete services or products purchased.
We may have a problem with our dispute to the card company inasmuch as we didn't file it in the 90 days required from the date of purchase. You see, we booked and paid for this cruise months before the departure day when all this trouble started. I explained that to VISA when they asked why the delay. We have not heard back from them regarding what they can do for us.
As for "planning a land vacation next time so I can be in charge". Have you ever been on a cruise? Have you ever been to St. Petersburg? I have been there and the only way I would go about visiting this wonderful city is as a port of call on a cruise.
Donna was very accurate in her reply to you describing the problems involved with visiting just this one city, if not traveling by cruise ship. In my opinion it is just too much hassle to do it any other way.
I do take extensive land vacations abroad and enjoy them immensly. I also enjoy cruising. It isn't only about "the cruise experience". Many times it's ONLY about the ports on a particular cruise. Such was the case this time with St. Petes.
NEWEST INFO FOR THOSE INTERESTED:
On 7/3/03 received letter from ACCESS AMERICA insurance company. It states:
"We have reviewed the details of your claim. Unfortunately, we will not be able to honor your claim because there was not a complete cessation of services by the tour operator and/or cruise line."
It goes on to say, "the general provisions related to insurance benefits of your program indicates that any dispute regarding this decision be submitted to arbitration in accordance with the rules then applying of the AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION".
This "we won't pay you" insurance company, also included a 7 page booklet on how and where to file for arbitration....including the filing fees. The fees will only be $375 EACH CLAIM! So, for us to file two claims for the refund of our two, pre-paid shore excursions which cost a total of $598.00, we are being asked to pay an additional $750.00! Does anyone else see a problem with this picture?
Why did we purchase trip insurance in the first place? If a trip is interrupted and services aren't provided, why doesn't insurance cover that?
Our next step is to file complaints with the State Attorney General of the State of Florida. This is where NCL and OnLine Vacation Center are both headquartered. Letters to both these companies have gotten us nowhere.
I have now spent more than $598 of my time on this situation and I don't plan to give up before getting a full refund. It has really become the "principle of the thing". I can't accept these big companies thinking they can get away with stuff like this and not be morally and financially responsible to their customers.
I'll keep you updated to any changes in the situation. If anyone else out there following this "saga" has any suggestions, I'm all ears.
Thanks for your posts and comments. Cruise On!