MISSOURI -- I am the court appointed conservator of an elderly man whose estate (through me) paid nearly $10,000 for a Journey with the Czars this past summer. My client suffers from dementia and through a lot of hard work, I was able to book a companion after his reservations had been made that would permit him to travel with a friend so that he could continue his trip without disrupting other passengers.
The $10,000 quoted included the extra $3800 added to pay for the companion. After 3 short days, my client and his companion were put off the ship at 3AM in St. Petersberg, Russia. A minor arrangement was made to pay for their return to JFK, but absolutely NO effort was made to get them home to Oregon. The companion was accused of being under the influence of narcotics or alcohol by the cruise directors, but his drug test results taken immediately upon landing back in the USA showed a negative test.
A copy of those results was forwarded to David Drier, President of InTrav when I requested some sort of reimbursement. His reply??? He told me that I should "applaud (their) actions as proactive and in my client's best interest in getting him off the ship and back to the USA." When I asked why InTrav could not bring them back to Oregon, I was told that only airline seats costing $4,000 each were available.
The tip money I sent for the cruise crew was also retained by InTrav. InTrav knew of my client's dementia from the beginning, to the point of my making the decision to add a companion to my client's cabin. This was supposed to be an old man's "last hurrah" and my intentions were always open for discussion. I believe that InTrav basically defrauded his estate out of $10,000 and then asked to be "applauded". I would be very interested to talk to anyone who has had a similar experience. Thank you!
INTRAV endeavors to provide our guests with memorable journeys to interesting places and a high level of service that are both expected and deserved. The last thing that we ever want to do is to send a guest home prematurely. Unfortunately, due to this guest's perceived level of acute dementia and his guardian's inability to properly look after him, we were left with no alternative but to disembark the two gentlemen from the ship. Through events occurring through the first four days of the trip, it became apparent to our staff onboard the ship that, for our guest's own safety, he and his guardian should not stay onboard as the ship prepared to leave Moscow and cruise to more remote locals in Russia.
Our guest was seemingly incapable of functioning safely without constant supervision and his guardian apparently either did not realize the amount of supervision needed or was unable to provide it. Our staff gave the benefit of the doubt to the guardian for 4 days. It became clear the guardian was not able to adequately carry out his responsibilities.
Our operator in Moscow made the hotel arrangements for the two gentlemen, escorted them to the hotel and transferred them to the airport. We arranged air from Moscow to JFK at the low cost of $250 a ticket, since we were able to exchange the original return tickets. As same day air cost for JFK-PDX was prohibitive at $4,000 a ticket, our Passenger Services Coordinator suggested going through a reputable online provider which, in the end, was the best solution.
Monies paid to INTRAV are paid to our various suppliers prior to our trip departures. As is standard practice in the travel industry, INTRAV cannot cancel travel arrangements midway and receive a refund.
This was a very unfortunate situation. However, the safety of our passengers is of the utmost importance. With the understandable concern for our guest's safety, we were left with no other option.
Client Relations Manager