Twin Cities travelers left behind in Miami on overbooked cruise

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Minnesotans stranded after cruise booking mishap

Dozens of Twin Cities cruise passengers were left stranded in Florida after cruise ship booking issues with a travel agent and Carnival Cruises. FOX 9's Karen Scullin has the story.

A group of Twin Cities cruise passengers were left at the terminal last Sunday, watching as the ship left without them.

They blame the travel agent, who blames Carnival Cruise Lines. But Carnival puts it back on the agent. In any case, it was chaos for those who just wanted to sail away for a week.

One of the passengers, Cherie Goudeau, said she had been planning this cruise for a year as she was being treated for thyroid cancer. Then, when two family members passed away during that time, the trip with her sister, Dee Dee Richardson, became even more important. 

But it all unraveled in a matter of minutes on the day they were supposed to leave.

A week ago, the sisters were on their way to Miami, excited about boarding the Twin Cities Takeover '90s Throwback Cruise on the Carnival Horizon for a much-needed spring break.

"I was looking forward to hearing some Juvenile, reliving some 90s music, the fresh food that was going to be on the boat, the burgers that were going to be on the boat, just hanging out with people," said Goudeau.

But when the pair went to the cruise terminal to board the ship last Sunday, their excitement quickly turned to confusion, anger, and disbelief. They were not going to be able to board.

"Then the next morning, we wake up, we get to the port, and they can’t find my name anywhere, I’m not tied to that room, somebody else is in that room," explained Goudeau.

They say their travel agent passed by and said she would fix things but did not and then disappeared.

"She comes back, she walks all past us assuring that we’re gonna get a room. This is what she tells us. She goes back on the ship, never comes back out, never says anything to us," said Goudeau.

Richardson added, "I feel like it’s unethical. How could you just leave that many people standing out there and everybody that was standing out there was booked under her."

Goudeau says she’s out $2,800 that she paid in June, along with the 50 people she was standing with on the pier.

"When she never came out to address people, and that boat was sailing off, and we were sitting on that port, people were in tears, people were upset, they were angry," said Goudeau.

In a statement on social media Thursday night, the travel agent, Monica Faulkner, said: 

Faulkner is currently on the cruise, but FOX 9’s Karen Scullin spoke to her by phone. She says Carnival canceled a number of bookings on Feb. 21. She tried to re-book them the following day, but the ship sold out. She did not explain why the money was not returned then or why the clients were not notified.

Faulkner said their money is being held by Travel Joy, a company that independent agents use to collect payment for bookings. She said the money would be returned, but Richardson and Goudeau aren’t buying it.

"If you were gonna refund you would have refunded already. You would have been on that ship refunding people their money," said Goudeau.

The sisters stayed with family in Florida for the week. But they said some people tried to fly back and couldn't because of the snowstorm. Meanwhile, others said they sat outside booked hotels waiting for a cancellation. FOX 9 saw a couple of people on social media supporting Faulkner, who again, says she'll refund the money upon her Saturday return. 

FOX 9 reached out to Travel Joy, but did not yet hear back.