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'Feels like fool's gold:' Kansas City couple runs into problems with luxury cruise

Posted at 7:23 PM, Jun 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-28 20:23:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Wendy McDermott and her husband have been looking forward to their upcoming trip to Alaska for months.

They learned about First Class Vacations from a friend, who received a call from the company promising a great deal on an Alaskan cruise.

"They'd already signed up for it, and they were like you know what, why don't you come with us," she recalled.

McDermott put a deposit down in February, and in March, receipts show she paid the full $5,398 for the seven-day cruise. They were set to sail on July 14.

As the date inched closer, McDermott and her husband became concerned they had not received more information about the trip. Last Thursday she called Holland America, the cruise company, and gave them the confirmation number from First Class Vacations.

"We went to check in, and it said booking canceled, and I was like, that's concerning," she said.

According to McDermott, the cruise line told her they hadn't received the full payment for the trip, even though she paid the agency back in March. She also hadn't been reimbursed for the plane tickets she bought, which were supposed to be included.

After days of calling the agency and finding no resolution, McDermott took to social media to post about her experience. She even posted a recording of a conversation with a First Class Vacations employee.

"They are sending your confirmation. I'm going to ask you to retract the things you put online about my business because I can take it a little further than where I'm going right now," the staff member can be heard yelling over the phone.

McDermott didn't mince words on her reaction to the interaction.

"First class? It's like sewage class," she said.

First Class Vacations, based in Boca Raton, Florida, has a "D+" rating from the Better Business Bureau. 

We reached out to the president of the company, Jeffrey Nahom. He emphasized First Class Vacations has "an impeccable record" with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as well as with the Florida Attorney General. 

"She's going to be upgraded, and we did apologize for the confusion or any lack of timeliness. We've fixed everything here with the cruise lines internally," Nahom said over the phone.

Nahom promised that, within the week, McDermott will be reimbursed for the travel expenses that were supposed to be included in the package. He also said the cruise booking has been confirmed.

McDermott said the employee from the video called to apologize, and Nahom did the same on Thursday. She's still waiting for her resolution, however, and said the whole thing left a bad taste in her mouth.

"It's a vacation. I mean this is like going to the dentist," she said. 

McDermott said her friends who booked a cruise with First Class Vacations did not have the same issues.