Cruise-booking website cancels cruise, passengers left fighting for refund of deposits

February 21, 2013 8:37:32 PM PST
It's hard to forget the ordeal thousands lived through when the Carnival Triumph passengers had to endure unlivable conditions for days after an engine fire crippled the ship. Now, another cruise traveler's is living a nightmare, and it happened before the ship even left port.

What should have been a beautiful seven-day cruise along the coast of Italy turned into nothing but headaches, and now passengers are fighting to get their money back.

"I signed up for this wine cruise with my favorite vintner from California," wine enthusiast Gregory Berry said.

Berry found the perfect vacation to take with his wife. In late 2011, he paid the initial deposit.

"It was a special, very unique type of cruise. Very small ship," he said.

So $7,200 was paid out to finefoodandwinecruises.com, the company responsible for coordinating the vineyard, cruise line and passengers.

But then, Berry received an email last December stating...

"The cruise has been canceled. We'll contact you at the beginning of the year with your options," Berry said.

It was the last time Berry heard anything from the owner of the company. Shortly after, he received a letter from the vineyard.

"They had been told by the cruise company that the cruise had been canceled, unbeknownst to them," Berry said.

Berry says he got in touch with other passengers from the trip, who contacted the Attorney General Office. It was then a realization set in.

"The money's gone," Berry said.

We reached out to finefoodandwinecruises.com and received this statement from their attorney: "Despite every effort, including significant cash infusions, Fine Food and Wine Cruises is closed. Approximately 95 percent of the passengers are being fully taken care of."

Berry says he has yet to hear anything from the company regarding a refund.

To protect yourself on future trips, Sarah Shimmer with AAA has some advice.

"Getting travel insurance is always a great policy," Shimmer said. "Make sure you have protection in case your trip is canceled or interrupted. That's another aspect of coverage."

Although he didn't get trip insurance, Berry did pay with a credit card and is hoping they will be able to issue a refund.

On another note, finefoodandwinecruises.com is based out of Atlanta, and when we reached out to the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Protection, they told us there is an open investigation into them.
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