A past guest has brought a class-action lawsuit against Holland America for deceiving passengers on the line’s Alaska cruises. According to the complaint, Holland America does not notify guests of kickbacks from excursion providers and retail outfits, and it levies supposedly government-mandated fines but keeps the money.
Here’s the story. A man and his family miss the departure of a cruise ship due to a delayed flight and are forced to meet the cruise in Juneau, Alaska. When the family arrives, Holland America fines them $300 per person (a total of $1,200) for a Jones Act penalty. The Jones Act states that passengers on a foreign-flagged ship must stop in at least one foreign port when sailing to U.S. ports. The family missed the Canadian port-of-call and therefore must pay the fine.
However, according to the suit, the government never issued a call for the fine. Holland America simply charged the guests and took the money as profit. I’d call that fraud.
In the other instance, the man claims that Holland America never revealed that it was receiving fees or profits from the shore excursions it advertised onboard. He says that if he had known, he would’ve booked a different fishing trip.
To this I reply, “Come on! How naive are you?” Everyone should know that cruise lines make a profit from shore excursions and that they have relationships with stores in port. The lawsuit claims that Alaska law mandates that cruise lines make this information available to passengers, and I can’t say whether or not Holland America has been compliant. But I do think it’s the responsibility of the guest to do prior research about excursions and to understand that the cruise line will never be an unbiased party.
Will this lawsuit go to court or be thrown out? I don’t know. But it definitely sends a message to all cruisers and future cruise guests out there: You will be better able to protect your own financial interests if you learn about cruise-line policy and research your ports-of-call before you set foot onboard.