USTOA Issues Claim Information for Cruise West Passengers

Passengers who have lost deposits or payments made prior to September 11 for travel on Cruise West may be eligible to file claims for nonperformance of their cruise tour under USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) reports.

Claim Procedure: Prior to submitting a claim, USTOA is advising affected travelers and travel agents to take the following steps:

1) If payment was made by credit card, a claim should be placed immediately with the card issuer.
2) If third party travel insurance was obtained, a claim should be placed immediately with the insurer
3) If the passenger embarked from a U.S. port a claim should be filed against Cruise West’s Federal Maritime Commission Bond (FMC) for the water transportation portion of the trip.
4) Travelers who paid by cash or check, and who have no travel insurance should email [email protected]

If none of the above steps result in reimbursement, travelers or their travel agent can file a claim form prior to December 9, 2010, for reimbursement through USTOA’s $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program.

On September 11, 2010 Cruise West’s Active membership in USTOA was terminated due to expiration and nonrenewal of the company’s $1,000,000 security bond. Maintenance of a $1 Million Security is a requirement of USTOA Active Membership.

“Travel agents and consumers should be aware that partial or full reimbursement of lost payments and/or deposits for Cruise West products made prior to September 11, 2010, may be protected under the USTOA $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program. However, client deposits and payments thereafter will not be covered by the USTOA program,” says John Stachnik, USTOA Chairman.
USTOA's Travelers Assistance Program requires each Active Member company to post $1 million in security in the form of a bond or letter of credit. The security, held by USTOA Tour Depositors Trust, is solely for use in reimbursing consumers for tour payments or deposits lost in the event of:

*    A USTOA Active Member bankruptcy
*    A USTOA Active Member insolvency
*    A USTOA Active Member cessation of business
*    Failure of a USTOA Active member to refund consumer deposits or payments within 120 days following its cancellation of a tour(s) or vacation packages(s) or its material failure to complete performance of a tours(s) or vacation packages(s).

Visit www.ustoa.com/2009/CruiseWest/Index.cfm.

On another front, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has issued a notice stating that it will meeting in Washington, D.C. on September 22. During a "closed to the public" portion of that meeting, FMC says it will receive a briefing on the financial responsibility of Cruise West.