Customers with dashed dreams of cruises demand money back amid federal investigation

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As news travels of trouble at Tampa-based Hopkins Travel Services, more customers are finding they are among thousands with canceled cruises and, in some cases, unaccounted money.

Tami Hubinger, who lives on the east coast of Florida turned to Better Call Behnken after Royal Caribbean told her it never received a reservation for her or any money.

Hubinger says she not only paid a deposit of $1,000, but also received a confirmation from Hopkins Travel that showed she had been assigned a specific cabin.

“My son even drew a picture of us in an airplane and on a boat,” Hubringer said. We’ve been talking about it. We had a countdown. It was really disappointing.”

Royal Caribbean has not returned calls and emails from Better Call Behnken. Diana Hopkins, owner of Hopkins Travel Services, has not returned calls either and hung up the phone when reached by Investigative Reporter Shannon Behnken.

A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Lines sent this statement:

This matter is currently under investigation by the federal authorities. It would be inappropriate for us to comment. However, please know that we are actively working with those guests affected.”

A spokeswoman for the FBI Tampa office said she can’t comment on investigations but urged customers who feel they are a victim of fraud to file complaints with their local or FBI office or at www.ic3.

News of the cruise trouble broke last week when customers who planned to sail the Greek Isles in May 2021 learned the cruise was off. Some customers learned their money had been used to fund trips that were to take place much earlier.

Those customers all bought buy-one-get-one free cruises that were to include airfare to Venice and food and drinks. Even a stay in swanky hotel.

Nancy Diamond tells Better Call Behnken her cruise was through Norwegian and set to sail Oct. 6. She spent the weekend unpacking, after learning Norwegian received only a fraction of the $3,800 she paid for her Mediterranean cruise.

“I’ve been physically ill, crying almost daily, and I’m ready to cry now because I really wanted to go,” Diamond said.

Some customers say Norwegian has promised refunds of money they received on their behalf, and were told the price they were quoted was only half of what the trip should have cost.

Others say portions of the money that paid – either a small down payment or the whole amount – never made out of the control of Hopkins Travel.

This is an ongoing investigation and Better Call Behnken will continue to bring you updates.

Anyone who feels they’ve been wronged by this company should report it to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA or visit FloridaConsumerHelp.com.

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