Chicago man says he lost $11K canceling cruise meant to stop in Senegal after itinerary changed

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Friday, May 5, 2023
Chicago man loses $11K canceling cruise after itinerary changed
A Chicago man says he lost $11,000 after he canceled a summer cruise on Viking Cruise that was supposed to stop in Dakar, Senegal.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago man says he lost $11,000 after he canceled a summer cruise.

Despite what the fine print said, Herald McRae believed he was owed a refund because the cruise line made changes to a special destination which was dear to his heart.

"Our roots go all the way back to Africa," the Gold Coast resident said. "I was interested because it stopped in Dakar, Senegal."

Just like former President Barack Obama, McRae wanted to see the "Door of No Return."

"I was interested from a historical perspective of going in, seeing where the slave ships embarked from," McRae said.

But in September, Viking Cruises informed him the cruise would no longer stop at that location due to "frequent port closures."

McRae immediately tried to cancel in writing and asked for a full refund, but Viking's written agreement would have only given him 25% back, because it was "49-30 days prior to departure."

"It's occupied my mind a lot. I mean, you know, sometimes I hadn't been able to sleep at night," McRae said.

McRae paid a total of $11,066 for the cruise. That price included his flight and more than $900 for trip insurance from a third party provider. However, the insurance company denied the claim since his cancelation reason isn't covered under the policy.

McRae said Viking offered him a cruise voucher, but he isn't interested in that. Plus, he would have had to pay an additional cash deposit for a new cruise,

"It's also made me feel that I probably will never take a cruise again. You know, I'm 80 years old. I'll be 80 years old soon. And I mean, I enjoyed cruising but I mean, if I can't trust the merchant, to deliver on their promise, that it's just not worth my time or money," he said.

Viking Cruises and its PR firm did not get back to the I-Team, but after repeated requests for comment, McRae received a refund check for more than $10,000, the amount of the cruise and the flight, but not the insurance fee.

An email from Viking to McRae said, "an exception has been made to issue a refund in place of the travel protection vouchers."

"It's something I have been waiting a long time for and you guys made it happen," said McRae.

McRae also recently received an email from Viking Cruises saying he would soon get another refund for the $900 he paid on insurance.

When you're booking a trip, experts say you need to read the fine print on cancelation policies. Remember that trip insurance will usually only cover you if you cancel for an emergency or illness.