Cruise line's mistake turns costly for Valley couples

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PHOENIX -- A popular cruise line is under 3 On Your Side's microscope.

We received a complaint about Princess Cruises and we thought it was kind of a weird one.

As it turns out, Princess Cruises handed out thousands of dollars in credits to different passengers, credits that were supposed to have been used on the ship.

But then after the credits were all spent, Princess Cruises demanded that money back -- a year later.

John and Barb Cage have nothing but great memories from an Alaskan cruise they took last summer.

"I've been wanting to cruise through Alaska for quite a while," John Cage said. "I thought this was going to be the greatest trip, and it was the greatest trip."

But that great trip didn't begin so great.

"The problem started when the plane broke down in Phoenix," Cage said.

And that mechanical problem caused the couple to miss their flight to Seattle where they were supposed to board their ship operated by Princess Cruises.

"So we missed the boat," he said. "They put us up for the night and the next morning flew us to Juneau."

Once they finally caught up with their ship in Juneau, the couple found a letter in their cabin from Princess Cruises, and the letter was good news.

"They credited me $571 for not being on the boat because they felt they owed that back to us," he said. "They said the money had to be spent on the boat."

They're not the only ones that got the letter either.

David and Deborah de Rossett are from Tucson and were on the same missed flight that forced them to skip the first few days of the same cruise.

Their letter indicated they were credited around a thousand bucks from Princess Cruises to use anyway they wanted on the ship.

"We're sorry you missed the first days of your vacation. We have credited your shipboard account for $502.57 a person on board credit."

The credit, they all agree, was a nice gesture on the part of Princess Cruises.

But one year later both couples, along with other couples, have a second letter from Princess Cruises and this letter isn't so nice.

"I'm flabbergasted!" Barb Cage said.

Princess Cruises is now demanding all the couples return all the money they were credited -- money that was spent on the ship.

"In January, we get a notice from Princess Cruises saying we didn't have the right to that credit," Deborah de Rossett said.

And it gets worse.

"The last letter we just got was from the collection agency they have turned it over to," de Rossett said.

After being turned over to a collection agency, both couples contacted 3 On Your Side.

Princess Cruises tells us the credits were initially given out by mistake and now demanding the money back is also a mistake on their part.

In a statement, Princess Cruises says, "We have notified our collection agency to stop billing these accounts."

They go on to say, "We sincerely apologize to all members of the group for any distress the situation has caused."

The Cages and de Rossetts are ready to put this experience behind them so they can remember the good things about their cruise.

Princess Cruises maintains that giving out the credits in the first place was something they shouldn't have done. Basically, they gave them out by accident.

Asking for the money back a year later, they agree, was in poor taste and Princess Cruises along with the passengers are glad it's all resolved.