Atlantis Events, an LGBTQ+ cruise company, is moving forward with a cruise from Puerto Rico next week despite the new coronavirus pandemic. Other major cruise companies, including Princess, Celebrity and Viking Cruises, have suspended trips or offered refunds. Atlantis refuses to do either.
Customers who have tickets to Atlantis’s upcoming cruise are not happy. Many people are too afraid to set sail as planned, as they could put their own or others’ health at risk. On a recent Diamond Princess cruise, 700 people contracted the virus onboard and seven people died. The LGBTQ+ community is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
The Atlantis refund policy only allows cancellations up to 60 days before departure, and the company has reiterated that this policy still applies to next week’s cruise. Most customers won’t be able to get their money back, forcing them to choose between losing thousands of dollars or prioritizing health.
“They are completely overlooking the CDC, the World Health Organization and state governors asking folks not to congregate with more than 250 people,” Luis Masters, the administrator of a Facebook group for passengers on the upcoming cruise, told NBC OUT. The Puerto Rico cruise has a capacity of 2,158 people and is currently sold out.
In response to customer concerns, Atlantis has changed its strict refund policy to allow reimbursements for specific people. These include people from outside the U.S. who can’t get to Puerto Rico due to travel restrictions; elderly people; people with a history of respiratory illnesses; or medical professionals who regularly meet with patients.
“The cruise industry is operating with very high standards to assure the safety and health of all guests and crew,” Rich Campbell, president and CEO of Atlantis Events, told New York Daily News.
Atlantis also says it will work with customers on “a case-by-case basis” — but in reality, passengers are reportedly having a hard time getting in touch with the company.
Many customers remain unsatisfied and disappointed. “It makes me feel not appreciated, like they don’t really care about their customers,” Masters said. “It feels like Atlantis is just looking out for the bottom line, their profits, and how much money they could lose.”
Some other cruise companies also plan to set sail during the pandemic, including Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line.