More Victoria Cruises Line clients have joined the queue for US$10,000 refunds. And its vice president admitting occupancy has plummeted to just 53 per cent.
Marcell Herold has admitted to Cruise Passenger that capacity is now well below the required 80 per cent to launch “world’s first affordable residential ship”.
“In 2023, we have had a total of 81 cancellations. And based on complaints so far, 20-22 customers are experiencing problems,” Herold wrote. “These customers cancelled their contracts after 1 September. We can provide you with bank documents for all the refunds that have been made so far, as soon as any authority asks us to do so.”
But documents seen by Cruise Passenger indicate up to 30 passengers have applied for refunds. Some as far back as July last year, when the cruise was first postponed. As Cruise Passenger reported only one of those consumers has so far received their money back.
Google bug blamed for delay
In response Herold says: “Due to the Google Drive data loss (which was not VCL’s fault and you can read about it on our website) we asked all customers who cancelled their contract after 1 September 2023 to send the original digitally signed contract and cancellation document to email. We have also indicated that a little more time is needed to check the documents back because the original documents have disappeared from the google drive storage.”
Consumer Champion’s Adam Glezer now has six case studies after our recent report. And this includes some concerned consumers on a Facebook forum.
“I am officially representing people in the US and Australia and that’s increasing,” he said.
Glezer reaffirmed that it’s up to consumers to check the credentials of any cruise line before handing over any deposit.
Victoria Cruises Line has defended its business case of raising sufficient funds via deposits for the residential cruise. It has so far raised an estimated US$3 million.
“In the last three years we have spent about EUR 1 million (US$1,077,00) on salaries for our staff, PR activities, and innovative developments. That’s a lot of money!”, Herold wrote back.
“Interestingly, if a well-known cruise company starts selling tickets for a ship under construction several years before the launch, it is not a problem. It is a natural thing. But when a small pioneering company does it, you journalists are already writing about a scam.”
It’s our boat, but its not
Victoria Cruises Line claims it will charter Victoria Majesty. But is currently not in possession of the vessel known as Aegean Majesty (formerly MC Veendam). Its listed owner is Seajets which runs short cruises and ferries in Greece. The ship has been berthed in Aigio, Greece since 2020.
“VCL has never claimed to be affiliated with Seajets,” Herold says. “The owner of the vessel, Mediterranian (sic) Dream Inc. VCL is linked to an investment group in this case. The investment group inspected the vessel in December 2022 and we received the technical report. As the minimum booking level (80%) has not been reached, no progress has been made on the charter contract since then,” Herold says.
After an initial scheduled departure from Port Everglades on July 1, 2023, on the non-existent Victoria Majesty, the cruise was pushed back to September 1, then again to December 1, and again in July 2023. The line has now promised a departure of July 26, more than a year after it was first supposed to depart.
What our readers have said
For those potential Victoria Cruises Line passengers who have already cancelled, the refund policy states a return within 90 days. Several consumers in contact with Cruise Passenger and an online forum are still waiting. That includes some who lodged requests in July, after the first postponement.
“I had to be in touch with them like it was my full time job,” the successful Florida resident Janie Coffey, said of her efforts to get her money back.
“I had great faith in VCL even when I decided to cancel my trip and had planned to still join them at a later date,” she said.
“However, after the painful process to receive my deposit back. And knowing so many others are still having trouble with their deposits one, two and even three months later, there is no way I would ever consider them again.”
“Staff” used in testimonials have also requested that videos they recorded be removed for the Victoria Cruises Line website.
Victoria Cruises Line is still advertising bookings on its Facebook page and on its website.