Massive flooding in Central Europe earlier this month deprived many river cruise passengers of the journey they had paid for, leaving many of them very disappointed and looking for proper compensation. But that begs the question: What kind of compensation is proper?
At least one group of passengers expressed their unhappiness by forwarding to members of the media an email exchange between them and their cruise line in which the passengers requested a full refund for a river cruise they claim was severely damaged by the flooding.
“We missed Koblenz, Speyer, Rudesheim and all the castles along the scenic Rhine River Gorge — which was our primary reason for choosing this particular cruise,” they wrote. “We had a wonderful visit to Marksburg Castle, but it took a multihour bus ride there and back to do so. We paid for eight days on a boat, not partial days on a bus and missed itinerary points. … We did not get what we paid for.”
In this case, the river cruise line explained that because the rains and floods were a force majeure, or act of God, beyond the company’s control, the passengers were not granted a full refund for the disrupted cruise. Instead, they were provided with a future cruise credit.
Whatever the outcome of this individual case, it was certainly one of many individual customer service disputes that each river cruise line had to resolve on a case-by-case basis.
And while the email exchange brought to light the fact that a number of passengers were unhappy with how the crisis was handled, the situation was just as disappointing for the river cruise companies, which lost untold millions of dollars when they were forced to cancel or shorten cruises. And those losses will continue as the companies honor future cruise credits.
While some travelers clearly felt that river cruise companies came up short in terms of customer service and crisis management, the fact is, the cruise lines and passengers alike suffered losses in the path of Central Europe’s surging rivers.