A New York family was denied a refund or an opportunity to reschedule their cruise after learning that their 5-year-old son had cancer and had to undergo emergency surgery.
Nicolas Colucci’s parents said Norwegian Cruise Lines, citing the companies cancellation policy, refused to accommodate them after they notified the company that Nicolas would still be in the hospital on the cruise’s June 1 departure.
Phillip Colucci and his wife, Tara Colucci, learned on May 19 that Nicolas had a cancerous tumor in his liver, according to Fox News.
A few days later the boy had surgery to remove part of his gallbladder, some lymph nodes, parts of his diaphragm and 60 percent of his liver. He is still undergoing chemotherapy.
“No 5-year-old should have to go through this,” Phillip Colucci told My Fox Chicago. “This is heartbreaking as a parent. It's a horrible experience for him.”
Tara Colucci contacted Norwegian Cruise Lines to explain the family’s situation and ask what they could do about the cruise which had been scheduled long in advance.
The company told her that any cancellation within 14 days or less of the sail is subject to a 100 percent cancellation fee.
“They said we should have gotten insurance, traveler’s insurance,” she said.
That means the family is now out the $4,000 they spent on the tickets.
“It’s not like our son got the flu or a cold and we couldn’t go,” Tara Colucci said. “I just never imagined, especially a company as big as Norwegian, that they would be so heartless, basically.”
The cruise line issued a statement regarding the family’s situation.
“Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with the Colucci family and we wish Nicolas a speedy recovery,” it read. “After reviewing the request of the Colucci family, we spoke with the family and explained that while we couldn’t make an exception to our policy, we would assist them when they were ready to re-book their cruise.”
The company’s strict adherence to its policy prompted maritime lawyer Jim Walker to revive his "Worst Cruise Line in the World” award on his blog Cruise Law News.
Walker, not surprisingly, gave his award to Norwegian Cruise Lines. He points out in his brief article that the Colucci family’s case wasn't the first time the company has acted in such a way. He cites an instance a few years ago where the company refused to refund a man’s tickets after his brother died of cancer just days before his cruise was due to leave port. He also tells of a woman who could not secure a refund after her home was devastated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“[Norwegian Cruise Lines] is all smiles when it sells a family a ‘cruise of a lifetime.’ But when death, disaster or a medical emergency strikes, it shows its true colors,” Walker said.
Luckily for the Colucci family, another cruise line empathized with their situation. It is reported that the CEO of a popular cruise line personally reached out to the family and offered them a free cruise whenever Nicolas was able to go.
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