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New Jersey sues RCCL for cruise detour

The AP reports that New Jersey’s attorney general sued Royal Caribbean yesterday over a 2005 cruise to Bermuda that was rerouted to Canada. The cruise line reportedly refused to issue refunds to passengers. The lawsuit claims RCCL violated the Consumer Fraud Act.

The story goes like this: Tropical Storm Franklin was lurking in the waters not too far from Bermuda, making the seas choppy. Royal Caribbean felt uncomfortable sending passengers into the storm, and the only way to avoid it (they decided) was to cruise north. But as RCCL executives made the decision at the last minute, many guests didn’t learn they’d be sailing to Canada until they arrived at the Bayonne cruise terminal. There, they discovered that if they refused to get on the ship, they would not receive a refund.

According to a New York Daily News story, the low temperature in the cruise’s original destination of Bermuda was 78 degrees. In Halifax, one of the revised ports-of-call, the low was 51. Many vacationers hadn’t packed clothes for a cooler climate.

Now I’m a big fan of Royal Caribbean, but I have to say that from what I hear, I agree with the New Jersey lawsuit. Sure, a cruise line should be able to switch itineraries to protect the passengers and crew onboard. But, if the new itinerary is vastly different from the original, and therefore not a comparable product, the cruise line should offer up a refund or give passengers the opportunity to take a raincheck and rebook on another sailing at no extra cost. People work hard and save up so they can enjoy a tropical vacation; they should not be forced into a trip to the chillier climes without an option to get their money back.

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