Hurricane Irma has had a widespread impact on travel for thousands across the country. Flights and cruises to and from Florida were canceled, and for one Missouri couple who had a cruise planned for more than a year, their vacation plans were turned upside down.
Greg Fink and Katie Zaitz-Fink, of Ballwin, Missouri, had booked their cruise with Royal Caribbean in October. They were patiently waiting to board a ship they have never been on before, the “Harmony of the Seas” — one of the largest cruise ships in the world.
"I was looking forward to this new and exciting ship that was even larger than the one we were with the Allure a year ago," Katie said.
The Finks were set to fly into Ft. Lauderdale on Friday, ahead of their cruise on Saturday. But, as they watched the news about how devastating Irma was going to be, they knew their plans were going to change. They have been on more than a dozen cruises together and understand there is always a risk to have a cruise canceled during Hurricane season.
“The governor was telling people to get out of Florida and don’t come back,” Greg Fink said.
Greg said their cruise line hasn’t canceled their trip, but the company did cancel many others. Royal Caribbean only pushed back the Finks’ departure date.
"Here's Royal Caribbean saying 'Oh, don't worry. Fly in on Monday or Tuesday to catch the ship and everything is going to be fine,'" Greg said.
From their home in Ballwin, the Finks watched the forecast nervously. Finally, they made the call themselves to stay at home and avoid taking the risk of flying into the hurricane’s path rather than cruising off-shore while the region recovers.
“They’re experiencing such devastating losses,” said Katie.
The couple does have travel insurance, so they will be able to get their money back for not making the trip. Their worry is for the people of Florida, as many decide to wait out the storm.
"I'm losing nothing but 7 days in the islands,” Katie said. “I can go another time. It's not a big deal. What's the big deal is these people literally what they may have on their backs is all they are going to have."
Since they chose to cancel, the Finks said the cruise line company won’t give them their money back, only offering future credit. They call that a lose-lose situation.
We reached out to the cruise line for comment on Sunday and a spokesperson said:
Guests that are unable to make to their sailing will be receiving 100 percent of their cruise fare back in the form of a Future Cruise Certificate. Those certificates have a year expiration and are combinable with promotions. Also, any taxes, fees and prepaid items will be refunded automatically.