By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It has been said that Disney World is a place where dreams come true. But book a trip on a Disney Cruise, and your vacation may be tossed overboard!
3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has the story of a trip aboard the Disney Dream that has left one family feeling as if they were abandoned at the dock.
The McWilliams family of Philadelphia are big fans of Disney. Jennifer McWilliams says, “We just love Disney. I have spent a small fortune on the last few vacations. My children always have a magical time.”
Little did Jennifer realize that when planning a surprise family cruise aboard the Disney Dream for her husband’s 50th birthday, she’d be the one surprised! She says, “I waited for the cruise dates to be announced. As soon as they were announced I made sure I booked so I got the best deal and cabin, everything that we could afford.”
But seven months after making the reservation for the 4-night, $2,900 cruise, and a full year before the family was scheduled to sail, according to Jennifer, “One of the Disney web sites that I subscribe to sent an announcement out saying that the August 24th, 2014 cruise was canceled. And as soon as I saw that, I said ‘oh my goodness, that’s our cruise’.”
It seems Disney decided to charter the ship for members of its Vacation Club. The passengers who were already booked, well they had to fend for themselves. Jennifer says, “I never heard anything from Disney officially saying the cruise was canceled.”
When Jennifer tried to rebook on another summer week she says, “They wanted me to lay out more money.” $800 or more for the same cruise. According to Jennifer, “It just didn’t seem to be fair or make any sense to me whatsoever.”
“This has certainly made me rethink Disney as a whole,” says Al Cataline, owner of Major League Vacations, a travel agency that helped Jennifer book her original reservation. He says, “To me it’s a no brainer from a PR standpoint. You make your client happy by asking them what other date would work for them and of course you honor the same exact price that they originally paid.”
But Disney won’t budge. So much for the McWilliams dream vacation aboard the Disney Dream. Jennifer says, “They’ve always made it out it to be that I’m special, my family is special and obviously I’m not special, I’m a dollar sign to them.”
3 On Your Side reached out to Disney several times to understand what happened here. A spokeswoman said that Disney Cruise Line worked very hard to reaccomodate the McWilliams and when that wasn’t successful they gave the family a refund of what they had paid. Disney did confirm this cruise was canceled because their Vacation Club had chartered the ship, but wouldn’t comment beyond that.