DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: Back in 2019 I made a reservation for me and my wife to go on Vantage Travel’s Croatia and Culinary Gems of the Adriatic Tour. Other members of our family were also planning to join us on this trip. I made the final payment of $20,655 for our October 2019 trip.

Christopher Elliott, the travel troubleshooter

As part of the cost of the trip, I paid $999 per person for a “cancellation for any reason” insurance policy from Trip Mate. Part of the reason I booked it was in case my sister-in-law’s cancer came back. Unfortunately it happened and she passed away before the trip.

In early 2020 we canceled our tour and initiated a refund request through Vantage Travel. I also filed a claim with Trip Mate. Due to the pandemic, Vantage canceled our tour prior to scheduled departure.

Trip Mate reviewed the request and approved it in mid-2020, but said payment would be made by Vantage.

I emailed Vantage several times and made several phone calls. Twice on these phone calls, a representative provided the estimated dates we would receive a refund. However, we have not received any refund or written assurance as to when we will receive it. Can you help me get my $20,655 back?

— David Maddox, Arlington, Virginia

ANSWER: I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter-in-law.

You should have received a prompt refund of your prepaid, non-refundable expenses once Trip Mate approved your request. I don’t know why you didn’t, but I know you’re not alone. Many travelers had the same problem in the early days of the pandemic. It was a confusing time.

You handled it according to the rules. You bought the right insurance for your needs. The ‘cancellation for any reason’ policy will allow you to cancel your holiday for any reason and receive a partial refund. But some restrictions apply. However, your Trip Mate policy was a little different than the standard “cancellation for any reason” policy. It allows you to cancel and you’ll receive your full prepaid, non-refundable trip price “in the form of a Vantage Travel Certificate for the amount of the cancellation penalty.”

So the best you could do was a voucher. But Vantage also canceled your cruise. In this situation you should have had a choice between a voucher and a refund. It looks like things went wrong between your request, the Vantage cancellation, and your refund request.

I post the names, numbers and email addresses of Vantage executives on my consumer protection site at A short, polite email to one of them might have “confused” the process.

Bottom line: You don’t have to wait years for a company to refund your purchase. I contacted Vantage on your behalf and they refunded your cruise.

Christopher Elliott is the Chief Advocacy Officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their issues. Elliott’s latest book is How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (National Geographic). Contact him at or

(c) 2022 Christopher ElliottDistributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Travel Troubleshooter: Awaiting a refund for a Vantage cruise that was canceled in 2020

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