By Christopher Elliott Travel columnist
Tribune Media Services
updated 8/19/2011 4:50:17 PM ET 2011-08-19T20:50:17
travel troubleshooter

Q: I was supposed to be going on a cruise for my honeymoon. Then my fiancé — make that my former fiancé — walked out on me. I came home to the house that we both owned together to find all of his stuff gone and a letter not explaining anything except that he didn't want to get married.

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The reason I am writing is that I called Carnival to cancel the cruise and was told that even considering the circumstances, I can't get any money back, except taxes. Can you please help me with this?
Jennifer Tomes, San Antonio, Texas

A: I'm sorry this happened to you. On top of the pain of having your fiancé walk out on you just before your wedding day, you shouldn't have to worry about losing your honeymoon.

Carnival is technically correct. Canceling your cruise just before your sail date means you're only entitled to a refund of your taxes and port fees. Had your fiancé walked out on you within your cancellation period (usually about 80 days before your departure) then you could have gotten a full refund, no questions asked.

I wish I could recommend something — anything — to prevent this from happening to other nervous brides out there. Alas, this isn't a relationship advice column. Trust me, I'm better off sticking with consumer advocacy. But I can't even offer you any travel advice for your case. Insurance doesn't cover fiancés who bail out of their weddings at the last minute, so there was really nothing you could have done to avoid this.

I've dealt with a few cases similar to yours, and even though technically the travel company is almost always well within its rights to deny a refund, it often shows some compassion.

I wish companies revealed their softer side more often. There are any number of events that can happen, which we can't control. Those include, but aren't limited to, divorces, jury duty, job changes, sickness and an unexpected death of a friend or relative. Insurance doesn't cover all of these situations, unfortunately.

What's more, we're expected to let travel companies off the hook when they can't operate a flight or offer us a confirmed room when the weather is bad or there's a mechanical problem. When a cruise line takes a hard line, it often smacks of a double standard.

I asked Carnival to review your case. A representative told me a refund was out of the question, but that it would offer you a $509 credit, which is the value of your ticket minus a $50 administrative fee.

© 2011 Christopher Elliott ... Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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