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Hurricane relief interrupts vacation plans

A major cruise line is helping out in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, but it's causing an inconvenience for some customers. A Drumright travel agent planned a cruise vacation for a dozen family members and friends. Now the cruise line has forced a change in plans.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims says one woman is not happy about that.

It’s a tropical vacation straight out of a magazine, a cruise ship bound for Mexico, Belize, and the open sea. "Oh we've been looking forward to it for over a year I mean this has been a major undertaking and we were so excited to go." Angie Bengston and 12 of her friends and family members were paid in full and ready to go. 15 days before her cruise ship was to set sail, Bengston saw her dream vacation dissolve right before her eyes. "They informed us that cruise ships were being used to help with relief in the New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile areas. And our cruise was cancelled because of it."

FEMA is chartering three Carnival cruises to provide temporary housing for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Bengston says she was happy to hear Carnival was pitching in, but she was disappointed to find out her cruise ship wasn't even going to the relief effort. It’s going to take on the route of another Carnival ship.

Bengston says she's been promised a full refund, but that could take two to four weeks. She says Carnival did offer her party space on a premium cruise ship, for another $600 per cabin. "That is why I was so shocked that the number one cruise line in the world was treating passengers this way it just blew my mind that they were being like this."

So she scrambled at the last minute to make new plans with Royal Caribbean. And she's out more than $1,200, until her refund comes through. "As far as Royal Caribbean we're all excited. We're happy we're getting to get to go. All things happen for a reason. It'll work out for the best."

Carnival Cruise Lines says it’s proud to help the hurricane relief effort and it’s sorry for the inconvenience to its customers. Carnival says it tried to juggle schedules in order to affect the fewest number of travelers.
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