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Isafjordur, horse tour with Fosshestar- Beware cancel policy

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Just a heads up for any of those looking to book with Fosshestar in Isafjordur. He does not refund your deposit if the ship is unable to make the port of call. He makes the decision himself if the conditions are "safe to ride".

 

Our ship, Nieuw Statendam on August 12, was due to call on the port. The weather forecast was very poor, calling for cold, rain, and heavy winds. We left Reykjavik on the afternoon of the 11th, and the captain informed us that due to high winds and rain on the seas and in the forecast, and unsafe tender conditions, that we were cancelling the port visit on August 12 at Isafjordur and going straight to Akureyri a day early. We also received a letter stating the same issue. We were able to go a day early due to another ship canceling Akureyri on the 12th. 

We were also warned to take items on high shelves, and to plan for rough seas of 18-20' for a period of 5-7 hours on August 12, which we did indeed have. I emailed Arni at Fosshestar as soon as we were told the news and informed him we would not be coming in due to the ship canceling the port of call. He let me know that he would be unable to refund me our deposit, as he only does so "if we feel that the weather does not allow for a safe tour" and argued that the captain shouldn't have canceled the port of call. Something tells me I would trust our captain over this guy and the seas we had that day would support the captain's decision.

Truly, I have never had a company keep a deposit on a canceled port. This is a shame on me I guess for assuming, but I didn't think he would actually keep a deposit if a ship canceled due to unsafe conditions.

 

He may give great horse ride tours, and we were disappointed not to make it there, but after working with this guy, I personally would not book with them again due to their policy. Others may be fine with this risk, but I just wanted to make sure people were aware of their policy ahead of time before booking with them. 

 

 

 

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Sorry this happened to you; it's good of you to give a head's up to others.  And how arrogant of this guy to second guess the Captain!   A lesson for everyone, of course:  always check a tour provider's cancellation policy before booking, including their policy if the ship does not dock.  

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Was going to suggest same thing...review on Trip advisor...I would think that rough sea conditions are not rare in that part of the world, so it would be helpful to others to know this.   

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6 hours ago, westcoastcruiser said:

Was going to suggest same thing...review on Trip advisor...I would think that rough sea conditions are not rare in that part of the world, so it would be helpful to others to know this.   

 

They certainly aren’t, nor are missed ports because of weather (anywhere, frankly).  We were on HAL’s Viking Passage last August, with a bunch of scheduled port calls nearly all around Iceland. We missed our second port (a tender port) because of weather, and arrived half a day early and stayed an entire extra day in the next port (Akureyri) because of a huge storm moving across the island. 

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A heads-up about an operator not having a fail-to-port refund policy is fine.

But unless I'm missing something, I think you've been extremely unfair to complain.

 

Cancellation policies are something I check on before booking anything in any port - some refund if the ship fails to port, some don't, some partially refund.

I was pretty certain that if there was a a failure-to-port refund, and that if it was conditional upon the horse operator's appraisal of whether porting was or wasn't safe, that should be included in the cancellation policy. 

I've been through every word on their website, and there is no mention of any refund for any reason. 

https://fosshestar.is/

 

So only if you'd asked before booking whether you'd be refunded if the ship failed to  port & were told "yes", do you have cause to complain.

The operator's decision whether the weather is "safe to ride" clearly relates to whether it's safe to ride the horses, not whether it's "safe to ride the ship into port" :classic_rolleyes:  

 

BTW, the OP had already posted a review on TripAdvisor.

Of 175 reviews, 160 rated it excellent & 12 rated it good. Just one rated it average & just one rated it poor.

The OP is the only one to rate it terrible.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g189967-d6781500-Reviews-Fosshestar-Isafjordur_Westfjords_Region.html

 

I think the operator is the only one with a right to complain.

 

JB :classic_angry:

 

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I have made my review and stand by it. Yes I rated him on TripAdvisor, and also stand by that as well. My reason for the posting is to make others aware of their policy before booking so they don't have this happen to them.  I've cruised for many years in many ports, and as I stated in the original post, it is shame on me for assuming that this company would refund my deposit due to the conditions of the cancel. It's the first time this has happened and I will not make this mistake again. Had we missed the port for some strange reason, other than extreme weather, I would not have said a word. 

My feelings were that the conditions were not good enough for the ship that day, nor for the tour that day. 

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I agreed with you that it was no problem to give a heads-up about there being no refund policy if a ship fails to port. 

 

But yes, it really was incumbent on you to check the cancellation policy before booking because that same policy applies to one helluvalot of tour operators and other shore suppliers. If folk gave bottom marks to operators simply because there are no refunds for failure to show (rather than a refund policy not being honoured), TripAdvisor would be stuffed full of such comments.

 

We agree that the ship's captain, plus all the advice he can be given by pilots, harbour-masters etc, is best-placed to decide if porting is safe.

But by the same token the operator of the stable is far better-placed to decide whether the horse ride is safe than a prospective client who's not even set foot on shore.

 

You stand by your review and I stand by my view, so it's best we simply agree to disagree.

 

JB :classic_smile:

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Posted (edited)

I haven't read the review.  If something like this happened to me, I would also write a review because I don't think all travelers will carefully note cancellation policies ahead of time and part of the point of reviews is to let other travelers know about parts of tours that they might not be aware of.  I would make sure to note in the review if their cancellation policy was clearly stated in their website or email communication prior to booking.

 

I think it is reasonable to write that kind of a review, since travelers who are willing to risk losing their deposit will still choose to go ahead with the tour, and those who are more risk averse can make alternative arrangements.  And honestly if the provider chooses to keep people's deposits then that's the risk they take instead of giving the money back.

 

For example, I took a great Mayan tour in Costa Maya.  They very clearly stated on their website that their office was a few blocks from the port, and that travelers with difficulty walking should take a cab.  There were no cabs available when we left the port and we had a small child with us, so this was difficult for us.  I noted in the review that we had been clearly warned ahead of time about this walk, and that it might be difficult for some travelers if cabs aren't available.  I wasn't upset with the company since they warned us ahead of time about this situation, but wanted other travelers to have all the information available prior to choosing if this tour would be a good fit for their situation. 

Edited by kitkat343

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10 minutes ago, Nitemare said:

Odd. I don't see any recent negative reviews

 

I've just  checked - the OP's T/A review has disappeared

 

JB :classic_smile:

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1 hour ago, John Bull said:

 

I've just  checked - the OP's T/A review has disappeared

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

I believe that the reason it disappeared is that TripAdvisor's policy is that it only publishes reviews from people who have taken a tour (or stayed at a hotel or eaten at a restaurant).  In this case, the poster did not take the tour.

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51 minutes ago, epixx said:

 

I believe that the reason it disappeared is that TripAdvisor's policy is that it only publishes reviews from people who have taken a tour (or stayed at a hotel or eaten at a restaurant).  In this case, the poster did not take the tour.

 

 

Yes, you may be right.

I see plenty of reviews from folk who didn't take a particular tour or eat at a the relevant restaurant  or stay at the quoted hotel  - usually due to some booking screw-up or such. They can be useful, especially if a number of reviewers say the same thing, so it's a moot point whether they should be excluded.

The stable's owner did respond before the review was wiped, so I suspect that like CC and other sites they're moderated re-actively rather than pro-actively and the stable operator lodged an objection

 

JB :classic_smile: 

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Am I the only one who assumes that unless it's explicitly mentioned, missing a port is not covered by most cancellation policies? In ports where cruise traffic is a vast majority of some of the operators' companies, it makes sense to consider refunds for missed calls, since many people would be weary of booking otherwise. However, in places where cruises make up only a small percentage of tourism, I would expect to lose a deposit for canceling after the allowed cut-off.

 

For comparison, if you were scheduled to arrive that day by plane, and your flight was canceled due to weather conditions at the departure airport, would you also expect it to be covered under the tour operator's policy? If the tour could have gone out in the local conditions, the reserved spots were left empty, which is precisely what bookings and deposits are meant to guard against.

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2 hours ago, kaisatsu said:

Am I the only one who assumes that unless it's explicitly mentioned, missing a port is not covered by most cancellation policies? In ports where cruise traffic is a vast majority of some of the operators' companies, it makes sense to consider refunds for missed calls, since many people would be weary of booking otherwise. However, in places where cruises make up only a small percentage of tourism, I would expect to lose a deposit for canceling after the allowed cut-off.

 

I don't make any assumptions, one way or the other -- I ask before we book.  But I do agree with you that in situations where a tour operator is not marketing primarily to cruise pax, refunding a deposit if the ship can't dock or tender is not an unreasonable policy.  I think the OP was good to warn people, since not everyone is diligent about checking these things, but the bottom line is that we, as the people booking a tour, need to ask these questions.   

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It's fairly normal, in Europe at least, that if the customer books anything and pays a deposit, and then the customer cancels for some reason which is no fault of the supplier, then it's the customer's risk.  It would be reasonable but pointless to complain to the cruise company for not getting you there, or you could claim on insurance, but it isn't the supplier's fault and he shouldn't be expected to bear your risks.  He could, after all, have perhaps sold the trip to someone else.

 

This may be a US / Europe cultural difference.

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I'm living in a "volatile" country, and I'm wary to book anything that is not refundable. I know I pay more for the "refundable" option, and I'm OK with it.

I try to book shore excursions when the payment is done AFTER the tour and in cash. If I have no choice, I'm very carefully checking the cancellation policy and decide if I can live with the "loss" should I have to cancel due "hostilities" in my region.

In ALL the private tours I've taken until now, ALL the companies stipulated that "should the cruise ship not dock", the deposit or full payment will be refunded, no strings attached....

 

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That’s what I would  expect from tour companies targeting ship’s passengers. However, if it is aimed at travellers staying in the area I would expect a non refundable deposit.

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We were on the same cruise and had booked an excursion with Saga Travel and within 5 minutes of the cancellation of the port I received an email from Saga Travel indicating that because it was not our fault, they were giving us a full refund.  Every tour I have booked in Iceland has required payment in full at the time of booking.  

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3 hours ago, swin26 said:

We were on the same cruise and had booked an excursion with Saga Travel and within 5 minutes of the cancellation of the port I received an email from Saga Travel indicating that because it was not our fault, they were giving us a full refund.

 

I think the difference is that Saga has a good deal of business running shore excursions for cruise ship passengers, whereas the person the OP was using apparently does not. 

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9 hours ago, Turtles06 said:

 

I think the difference is that Saga has a good deal of business running shore excursions for cruise ship passengers, whereas the person the OP was using apparently does not. 

 

That's my reading of it too.

Saga offer a tour specifically for cruise ship passengers, with pick-up from the ship, and returning to the ship an hour before sailaway. And their cancelled-port full-refund policy is writ large in the description of that tour. 

But no mention of it for other tours, which are not geared to cruise passengers.

 

JB :classic_smile:

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