A Christmas cruise miracle: Mediterranean sailing refunded after nine month wait

A Melbourne couple is celebrating today after finally being promised a $7000 refund for their cancelled Mediterranean cruise  – just in time for Christmas.

Billie-Lee Jobe has been chasing her refund for the Norwegian Jade cruise from Rome to Croatia and Greece since April.

Ms Jobe today received the good news from Cruise Passenger that the remaining $7,000 of her Flight Centre Exclusive holiday will be paid in full before Christmas Day.

Ms Jobe said: “That is fantastic news, it will be so lovely to have the money back… It is my daughter’s 21st birthday soon so you can imagine where it is going”.

Billie-Lee and Danny Jobe spent their 40th wedding anniversary in hospital as Ms Jobe battled chronic cancer. They vowed to book an overseas holiday as soon as she was well enough to travel – and they decided it would include their first cruise.

But COVID-19 took a sledgehammer to their travel plans, leaving them stranded in Australia with their journey of a lifetime cancelled.

Then came the confusing and frustrating battle to get refunds for the trip. Like so many travellers, their money didn’t just go to one operator.  There was the airline, hotels and transfers.

Ms Jobe’s blood pressure began to skyrocket due to the stress as they called Flight Centre Exclusive and the cruise line chasing her refund.

In September, she finally received $6,000 for flights, accommodation and transfers.  But the outstanding $7,000 from the cruise component has, she was told, disappeared.

“Before going in for microwave surgery this year my blood pressure went through the roof. I have had more than 10 surgeries for my cancer in the last 10 years and it was has never been an issue, I think it was from all this stress,” Ms Jobe said.

In a statement to Cruise Passenger, Flight Centre said: “The clients’ funds were initially held as a credit by the cruise line, rather treated as a refund request, which delayed the process.

“Although we do not yet have the refund from Norwegian, we have been advised this week that the travel credit has been deactivated, which means we should be able to have the outstanding money back to the customer by Christmas (next week).”

However, not all cases have a happy ending like Mr and Ms Jobe. This is something consumer advocate Adam Glezer knows all too well.

Mr Glezer said: “I am absolutely delighted Billie-Lee has been offered a refund, it is just a shame she had to fight for so long. It once again highlights the need for the additional consumer protection we are pushing for through legislative change”.

He urges anyone in a similar situation to Ms Jobe to not give up. “Chase your travel provider and do the hard work. It is important to collect evidence and find out where your money is. It is very hard for providers or Travel Agents to deny you a refund if you can see they have your money,” he said.

Mr Glezer also suggests if you are in a similar situation to seek advice and support from his facebook group ‘Travel Industry Issues – The Need for Change for Australians‘.

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