3 On Your Side

Cruise line cancels trip, penalizes couple $500

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Carnival said its pregnancy policy is clearly spelled out on its website. (Source: 3TV) Carnival said its pregnancy policy is clearly spelled out on its website. (Source: 3TV)
"I was never a spontaneous type of person and I'm new to the marriage game so it was my first surprise I gave her after we got married," Sam Muala told 3 On Your Side. (3TV) "I was never a spontaneous type of person and I'm new to the marriage game so it was my first surprise I gave her after we got married," Sam Muala told 3 On Your Side. (3TV)
Muala says he did no click the "Special Assistance" link on Carnival's website because he did not think he needed to. (Source: 3TV) Muala says he did no click the "Special Assistance" link on Carnival's website because he did not think he needed to. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Sam Muala is happily married and thought a last-minute vacation with his wife would be perfect.

"I was never a spontaneous type of person and I'm new to the marriage game so it was my first surprise I gave her after we got married," Muala told 3 On Your Side.

That surprise came when he booked a trip on Carnival Cruise nearly a year and a half ago. At that time, he says his wife was five months pregnant and he thought a cruise would be relaxing.

While inputting some of his information into Carnival Cruise's website, Muala came across a hyperlink that said, "Special Assistance," which is a link he chose not to click because he associated it with something like be disabled.

"A wheelchair, a cane -- you know, you someone who can't stand in line a long time. Do they need portable oxygen?" Muala said.

He and his wife aren't disabled and he says they didn't need special assistance so he finished booking the cruise without ever clicking that link.

"It asked you your name, address, information like travelers with you, which was my wife. And then you just go to the payment information and pay," Muala said. "I paid in full."

As the cruise date got closer, Muala says he was told to log on again, this time for his online check-in. That is routine for any upcoming cruise. 

But when he did, Muala says he was now asked a very specific question.

"In the check-in, it says, 'Is anyone pregnant?' and I said, 'Yes!' Because she was," he recalled

Muala says that's when Carnival told him his wife couldn't travel because its policy doesn't allow women 24 weeks or further in pregnancy to sail.

Carnival says that policy is spelled out in that "Special Assistance" hyperlink which if you click on, it talks about pregnancies and other medical issues.

As a result, and because of its policy, Carnival canceled the couple's cruise and even charged them a $249 a person cancellation fee.

"I felt cheated a little bit because it’s like, 'Ha ha. We got you to pay the money but there is no way to get it back,'" Muala said.

The good news is Muala and his wife eventually had a beautiful baby daughter.

But having to pay Carnival that $500 cancellation fee has bugged Muala for more than a year so he finally contacted 3 On Your Side for help

3 On Your Side asked Carnival to review Muala's case and to consider refunding his money. At our request, Carnival not only investigated, but agreed to a full refund.

Muala says he can't believe he's getting his $500 back says and owes it all to 3 On Your Side. 

"I'm just so thankful and grateful that the typical person has 3 On Your Side to have a voice that otherwise wouldn't exist," Muala said. "Thank God I found you guys because otherwise, no one would have listened to me."

Carnival was great to work with. For the cruise line to refund $500 after more than a year is pretty impressive and 3 On Your Side certainly appreciates that.

By the way, banning women who are 24 weeks or further into pregnancy is pretty standard for the cruise industry. In many cases, it’s also routine to require a pregnant woman to present a letter from her physician stating she and her unborn child are healthy to sail if the pregnancy is under 24 weeks.

RELATED VIDEO: Planning a cruise? Check policies on who can and cannot sail

Make sure you always review a cruise line’s pregnancy policy before booking. It’s also recommended you purchase travel insurance offered by cruise lines. If you become pregnant after you book and pay for a cruise, the insurance may help recover some of your money.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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