4OYS investigates: Albuquerque couple's dream vacation turns into nightmare
Posted at: 09/17/2012 10:01 PM
| Updated at: 09/18/2012 9:21 AM
By: Chris Ramirez and Peter St. Cyr, 4 On Your Side
Bob and Elisabeth Alexander dreamed of cruising around the Mediterranean for months. They saved their money and planned their trip. Then, this past spring, the couple finally jetted off to Italy to begin their trip. But their journey quickly turned into an expensive nightmare after he admitted to having a stomach-ache.
As they watched their ship sail without them, the Albuquerque couple soon discovered they would have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to get home to New Mexico.
"We have been married for 41 years and it's going to be 42 in May; so, this was a gift to each other,” Elisabeth Alexander told 4 On Your Side reporter Chris Ramirez.
The couple, who had hoped to see Sicily, Crete, Athens and parts of Turkey, arrived in Rome early so they could enjoy some site-seeing and have a romantic dinner the night before their cruise.
Alexander said the cuisine did not sit quite right and he developed a stomach-ache with some mild diarrhea.
"Unfortunately the night before, or that same morning, I got an uneasy stomach and had several episodes," Alexander said.
The next morning, the couple was asked to fill out a health questionnaire before being allowed to board the ship.
The first question on the form asked passengers if they had suffered any flu-like symptoms in the past seven days. The second question asked if the passenger had any symptoms of diarrhea or vomiting.
"I answered yes truthfully because I knew it was fairly well known," Alexander said.
After reviewing Bob’s answers, the cruise line staff denied him boarding.
"He felt guilty,” Mrs. Alexander said. “At first, I was a little mad at him for saying yes, but then I realized my husband is telling the truth and he would never lie on something like that."
The couple recalled the agony they felt watching their cruise sail with them stuck on shore.
"We ended up paying over $10,000 for what turned out to be weekend trip in Rome," Bob said.
Back in New Mexico, and feeling better, the Alexander’s tried to recoup their losses, but their travel insurance company denied their trip interruption claim twice.
"They said because they felt we had received a couple of certificates of travel voucher from the cruise line that we are adequately compensated," Bob said.
The two $1,000 vouchers the couple received expire in a year. The Alexander's said they are out nearly $8,000.
"I got very pale and stressed out,” Mrs. Alexander said.
4 On Your Side wanted to help. Ramirez shared the Alexander’s story with Alfred Volden, a travel expert and president of All World Travel.
Volden said travel insurance policies normally protect cruise passengers, but it is important that travelers know exactly what is and what is not covered by individual plans.
"Read the fine print and know exactly what you're purchasing,” Volden said. “If you have a question, ask the question."
Volden warns travelers that there are different levels of coverage and every policy has limitations on what they will and will not pay. He said before purchasing, know exactly what you are getting.
Ramirez wanted to know if Alexander regretted checking the box on the cruise’s health questionnaire.
“I'm always going to be honest,” Alexander said. “But, there may be an interpretation difference."
The Alexander's told Ramirez they are considering taking their travel insurance company to court, but do not have the money to hire an attorney.
The cruise line did not respond to 4 On Your Side's inquiries.