Pregnant woman denied refund after cancelling cruise over Zika concerns

Christina Matassini's parents surprised her at Christmas with cruise tickets to the Caribbean.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — World health agencies warn that pregnant women should not travel to areas with known cases of the Zika virus.

But happens if you’ve already booked a cruise?

Christina Matassini, of Tampa, called 8 On Your Side because her cruise line, Royal Caribbean, refuses to give her a refund. This is after she presented them with a doctor’s note that she cannot travel to the Caribbean.

“I am not a risk-taking person, and especially when it has to do with a baby who is not born and has the potential to flourish,” Matassini said. “I would not do that to another human being.”

World health agencies advise pregnant women to avoid areas with Zika cases, including the Caribbean. The disease can not only harm the pregnant woman, but can cause brain damage to the baby.

Matassini says at first, the cruise line told her “no problem” that she would get a refund but then another representative told her no. The company ended up offering a travel voucher, but Matassini says that’s not good enough.

“I’m not a cruise person,” she said. “This was supposed to be family trip with my parents. I don’t want to go now.”

Matassini’s parents bought the tickets as a gift for Christmas. Shortly after that, she found out she is pregnant, now at 14 weeks. Her doctor says no travel at all to countries where the Zika virus is known to be. Her extended family already went on the cruise, and now she wants a refund for herself, her husband and two kids.

8 On Your Side reached out to Royal Caribbean and received this statement:

“Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is committed to the safety and health of our guests and crew. We are closely monitoring the Zika virus situation and are aware that the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued a travel alert for certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Royal Caribbean will assist any pregnant women who do not feel comfortable sailing to countries affected with the Zika virus by providing alternate itinerary options. This may include guests with a future cruise credit valid for two years so that they may re-schedule their voyage for a later date, with no penalty. Guests seeking additional information on the Zika virus are encouraged to contact their primary care physician or visit the CDC’s and/or WHO’s websites.”

8 On Your side found cruise lines have different policies. Some offer vouchers or a different itinerary and some do offer refunds to pregnant woman in fear of the Zika virus. Travelers should make sure they know the policy for their cruise line and are comfortable with that before they book their cruise.

EDITOR’S NOTE: After Shannon’s story aired on News Channel 8 @ 5 p.m., Royal Caribean responded in an email saying they have given Mattasini a refunded of taxes and fees, plus the cost of the cruise, minus a hefty cancellation fee. They also provided a voucher toward a future cruise. Mattasini still is not satisfied because that voucher isn’t enough to cover the cost of another cruise. She wants all of her money back. 


Learn more about the Centers for Disease Control’s Zika virus travel warnings here.

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