Holland America cruise ship Volendam

Holland America put our luggage on the wrong cruise ship! Now what?

Kin Wong planned a special Holland America cruise to celebrate his wife’s 61st birthday. Unfortunately, things went awry on Day 1 of the trip when the cruise line delivered the couple’s luggage to the wrong ship. Soon, the Wongs were cruising to Alaska on HAL’s Volendam, but their clothes were sailing on the Sapphire Princess instead.

Despite repeated assurances from Holland America that the cruise line would quickly correct its mistake, it didn’t. In the end, the couple cruised for six days without their clothes. 

Now, Wong is asking for Consumer Rescue’s help. He says Holland America ruined the birthday cruise meant to celebrate his wife’s birthday – and he wants compensation. Wong figures Holland America should refund $2,000 to make up for their unpleasant experience.

But what does a cruise line really owe a passenger if it loads their luggage onto the wrong ship?

The answer will likely surprise you.

Vantage Travel ship called Ocean Explorer.

Vantage Travel assets sold to Pacific Travel Partners. Here’s what customers can expect

The remnants of Vantage Deluxe World Travel have been sold to Pacific Travel Partners, a subsidiary of Aurora Expeditions, for $2 million. 

Pacific Travel Partners will operate the new company as Vantage Explorations.

This outcome has surprised many following the Vantage Travel bankruptcy proceedings since late June, as competing bidder United Travel was widely expected to emerge as the winner. 

And there were more surprises when the purchase agreement details were revealed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on August 9. For Vantage customers, who are collectively owed $108 million, the offer from Pacific Travel Partners is considerably better than the initial sale proposal from United Travel.  

Now that the assets of Vantage Travel have been sold to Pacific Travel Partners, here’s what customers should know.

Carnival Cruise Line ship, cruise ship on the ocean.

We had our Real ID! Why couldn’t we board our Carnival Cruise?

Although a Real ID and an Enhanced ID look nearly identical, there are critical differences between the two identifications. Diane Dipalma recently received a rapid and painful education on the topic while attempting to board Carnival Cruise Line’s Legend. 

She and her new husband believed they could use their Real ID driver’s licenses to take the cruise. But the Carnival Cruise Line staff quickly clarified that they couldn’t, and the shocked newlyweds missed their honeymoon. 

Here’s their story and what you need to know about the differences between a Real ID and an Enhanced ID.

Vantage Travel is bankrupt, Vantage Ocean Explorer and Odyssey are tied up side by side in France.

Vantage Travel is bankrupt. Here’s what customers need to know

Vantage Deluxe World Travel finally pulled the plug on itself and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 29. This move was no surprise to anyone following the troubling situation at the once well-respected tour operator. 

What did come as a surprise was the true debt the company amassed before increasing negative publicity about its operations forced it to shut down. The legal team of Vantage Travel revealed that shocking figure in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proposal.

All told, Vantage Travel owes customers, vendors, contractors, and other creditors over 170 million dollars.

Vantage Travel River Splendor ship, colorful countryside, long passenger river boat, Letter V in the middle of the boat for Vantage.

How buying travel insurance from a tour operator could be a $20,000 mistake

For years, legions of Vantage Deluxe World Travel customers eagerly purchased their trip insurance directly from the luxury tour operator. They loved the ease and convenience of having a one-stop shop for their travel planning. Unfortunately, many, if not most of these unsuspecting consumers neither read nor understood the trip protection they were buying. 

That was a mistake.

Now with Vantage Travel seemingly unable to pay its bills or operate its tours, a giant light is shining on its pricey waiver product. Thousands of desperate customers are finally reading the details of the trip protection Vantage sold them. Far too late, they’re discovering the policy provides virtually no protection at all if the company runs out of money.

Vantage Travel Ocean Explorer, a cruise ship on the ocean at sunset.

Help! Vantage Travel canceled my cruise. What should I do now?

In the past month, pleas for help from distressed customers, vendors and even employees of Vantage Deluxe World Travel have flooded my inbox at an alarming rate. That’s the Boston-based company that announced bad guys had hit it with ransomware at the end of April. At that time, the tour operator’s website went offline, as did its call center – for an entire week.

Since then, it’s been all downhill for the customers of the once well-respected and beloved operator of luxury tours. Today Vantage Travel appears to be in a state of suspended animation. It has officially canceled all its cruises and land tours through June 10. 

Although Vantage Travel has not publicly announced that it will continue to cancel more cruises, it is inevitable. In fact, a Vantage Travel employee sent me an internal memo yesterday that announces that it will cancel all tours through Aug. 28.

The once-lively vessels of Vantage Travel are turning into immobile ghost ships without passengers or crews.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Encore sailing through Alaska, mountains, ship, sunset, ocean

We upgraded our cabin to celebrate! Why did NCL cancel our $3,737 Alaskan cruise?

Did Norwegian Cruise Line really cancel a couple’s Alaskan cruise after first confirming a cabin upgrade to celebrate their anniversary? The answer to that question is “Yes.” Here’s their terrible tale.

The pair was all set for the trip of a lifetime to celebrate this milestone anniversary.

But Norwegian Cruise Line soon had a truly awful surprise of its own for Al’s wife – and for him too.

Not only would the couple not be cruising to Alaska in an upgraded cabin, they wouldn’t be on the ship at all. According to Norwegian Cruise Line, it had canceled the Parents’ $3,737 fully-paid anniversary trip due to “nonpayment.” 

Now the distraught and confused couple is asking Consumer Rescue for help. They’re rejecting the outrageous $319 refund that Norwegian Cruise Line says is all it owes the Parents. The pair hope our advocacy team can convince NCL that it made a mistake when it canceled their cruise for nonpayment. 

And if we can do that, they expect NCL to reinstate their Alaskan cruise and upgraded cabin (and don’t forget that cake!).

Can we do it? Let’s find out.

This is a ship on the ocean owned by the company Vantage Deluxe World Travel.

Vantage Deluxe World Travel: Here are the true tales from bewildered customers

Attention Vantage Deluxe World Travel customers: The news isn’t good if you’ve got a trip planned with this tour operator. The unfortunate reality is that you might not be going anywhere. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, my consumer advocacy team has been fielding a heavy volume of Vantage Travel complaints. But recently, the number of pleas for help from customers of the troubled tour operator has skyrocketed. 

On April 21, things went from bad to worse. That’s when the Vantage Travel website suddenly went offline and its phone system stopped working. Simultaneously, the administrator of the tour operator’s Facebook page disabled commenting.

But not before angry Vantage customers began sharing disturbing stories.

Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship: Prima, a cruise ship on the ocean, Prima, NCL, cruising, sailing.

Did Norwegian Cruise Line really cancel this family’s cruise over a $112 transfer?

Norwegian Cruise Line recently gave Evangelia Koumanidis some awful news about her family’s much-anticipated sailing aboard its brand-new ship Prima. In a baffling email, NCL canceled their fully paid $4,657 cruise – citing nonpayment.

Confident that this cancellation was a simple clerical mistake that Norwegian could quickly correct, Koumanidis called the cruise line. 

That’s when an NCL agent informed a stunned Koumanidis that there was no mistake. The cruise line had canceled the family’s trip 21 days before departure over an unpaid balance. 

But there was worse news on the horizon. That same NCL agent coldly explained that when a passenger’s cruise is canceled over an unpaid balance, no refund is owed. 

Now an incredulous Koumanidis is hoping Consumer Rescue can convince the cruise line to reconsider its decision. She’s certain that her cruise was paid in full and that NCL made a $5,000 mistake.

But what is really going on here? (March 24, 2023 Update)