FAIRDALE, KY (WAVE) - A family's vacation ended before it started after a teenager was stabbed in the head. The near fatal attack left that family unable to take a cruise they paid for. But the cruise company refused to refund their $2,000 because they didn't buy travel insurance. So the family turned to the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department for help and I went to work to get the cruise company to change their stand.
Troy Walter's life nearly ended when the Pleasure Ridge Park student was stabbed in the head and neck during a fight on Memory Lane last August.
"Seeing the blood roll out of my head, all over the truck, that's the last thing I remember," Troy said of the attack.
"My world came shattering apart," his mom Samantha Hartledge remembered.
It was the start of a traumatic time for Troy's family. They stood vigil by his bedside for months while he struggled to recover. But after fighting Troy's injuries his mom faced a new battle with Carnival Cruise Lines.
"Wondering if Carnival, which I thought was a reputable company, was going to follow through on their word or not was just the last thing on my mind," Samantha said.
Samantha's mind was focused on her son's fragile condition after his attack and not on the Carnival cruise the family was supposed to take two weeks later. After she called Carnival and told them what happened Samantha claims Carnival told her not to worry.
Although Samantha did not buy travel insurance when she paid roughly $2,000 for the five-day cruise to Mexico she said Carnival agreed to make an exception and issue her a travel credit to rebook when Troy got better. Samantha said she faxed in the required paperwork and called Carnival twice to confirm, but she never got anything to document what she said Carnival agreed to over the phone.
"Hindsight 20/20 I should have," gotten something in writing Samantha said. "But when your son is fighting for his life after being brutally attacked, you just don't think of corporate conglomerate ethics."
What they were thinking about was that cruise which Troy's mom used to keep him going as he learned to walk, talk and feed himself again.
"That's what I always kept in mind," Troy said. "It motivated me to get through it so I can get out and go on a cruise."
Last month Troy found out he was not going to get that chance. His mom called Carnival to rebook and the company told her it had no record of the travel credit. Samantha again faxed proof of what happened, and once again asked Carnival to put the $2,000 she paid toward another cruise.
Carnival responded with an email that read in part:
"After careful review, we regret that we are unable to honor your request for special consideration. Though we realize your disappointment, we trust you will understand that cancellation penalties are a standard industry practice. It may be a good idea to buy cancellation insurance in the future, which will safeguard you against unexpected events and possible loss of your fares.
For details regarding coverage and eligibility, please visit our website at www.carnival.com or call our program administrator, BerkelyCare at 1-800-331-2796.
We trust you will understand our position in this matter and that you and your family will consider Carnival again when making future vacation plans.
Thank you for choosing Carnival."
Samantha couldn't believe it.
"For Carnival to say rules are rules I am sure you can appreciate that I just think is really bad business," she said.
So Troy's mom called the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department and I asked Carnival Cruise Lines to reconsider its stance, emailing them pictures of the injuries that shattered the family's vacation plans. The next day Carnival emailed me back with this message:
"Wanted to touch base with you on the below. It's my understanding that our Guest Administration Department is working on trying to find the family an alternative sailing date. I'll touch base with you again on Monday morning once they have provided me with this information.'
Carnival made good on that offer, but with a catch - the new cruise date Carnival offered was just 10 days away. Samantha, a UPS worker, said it was not nearly enough time to request vacation time and make arrangements to get her family to Miami to get on the boat. She said she was forced to refuse Carnival's reservations despite the company's suggestion that this was a one-time offer with no substitutions.
"I think considering what he's been through I think he needs to get away and relax," Samantha said of her son.
In an e-mail response sent to the Troubleshooter Department late Monday, Carnival's Guest Administration Department said they have contacted Samantha to inform her that will offer them a future cruise credit that can be applied toward an upcoming Carnival departure that is valid for the next two years.
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