In December, Colorado resident Tom Ast lost his wife of 45 years, Marilyn, to cancer, KDVR reports. On her death bed, Marilyn told Ast to go on the Mediterranean cruise they had planned before she became sick. He didn't want to at first but decided it would be a good way to celebrate his wife's life. That's when he got an unpleasant surprise from Viking River Cruises. He called the cruise company to let them know he would be traveling alone because of his wife's death. And despite not wanting to change rooms, dates, or even get a refund for Marilyn's half of the cruise, he was informed he would have to pay an $853 "rebooking fee," according to Consumerist. Viking considered the situation a rebooking because Marilyn's name was being removed from the reservation.
Even if Ast found someone to take her place, he'd still have to pay the fee to change the name on the reservation. And if he didn't pay the fee, he would lose the entire $11,000 he and Marilyn had paid for the trip. "About the lowest point in your life, and they're trying to take advantage of it," Ast tells KDVR. Ast eventually went to the news station for help, and the cruise company waived the fee. Consumerist notes that Viking isn't alone in the travel business with its tough rebooking policy, as this Washington Post story about a similar case explained in 2015. "The reasons are many," says the Post. "Strict refund rules ensure bigger profits, boost sales of travel insurance and make a company seem fair to other customers asking for similar consideration." (And now there's a cruise through the "perilous" Northwest Passage.)