Woman loses $15,000 cruise after posting reservation number on social media

30 May 2024
Calista Kiper

Consider this a warning to any cruiser not to share your cruise documents online.

A Carnival cruise line passenger shared on social media that her $15,000 cruise was unexpectedly canceled just two days before the sail date. While this happened to a Carnival cruiser, it could have just as easily happened to someone going on Royal Caribbean.

While emergencies happen, hearing that the online system canceled the reservation is a much rarer way to lose your vacation.

Tiffany Banks, a naturopathic doctor and mother of four from Lexington, Kentucky, posts to TikTok under the username @thathippiedoc.

On May 12th, she took to the social media site to share her story and call out Carnival Cruises.

Carnival Celebration

While this didn't happen to a Royal Caribbean cruiser, it turns out that Banks made a crucial mistake that anyone could have made.

This one slip-up led to the cancellation of a cruise the family had been looking forward to for over a year.

As first reported by Cruise Radio, Banks shared online that she had booked the largest stateroom, the Presidential Excel Suite, on Carnival Celebration. 

The cabin cost a total of $12,000, and the family invested over $15,000 into their cruise vacation, including excursions and WiFi.


Although they'd had the cabin booked for over a year, she discovered that the reservation was gone when she received an email that her shore excursions had been canceled.

Since she had just booked their Internet package that morning—and was planning to fly to Miami the next day—Banks had no intention of canceling the cruise.

She immediately called Carnival to resolve the issue.

After spending two and a half hours on the phone, she learned that the online reservation had been canceled.

A lead at Carnival offered her compensation in the form of two interior rooms on the same cruise.

Banks was livid that she would not be receiving any refund: "I just can't even fathom how they think that's right."

She declined to accept the two interior rooms, as they are the cheapest onboard. 

This is in stark contrast to the original suite the family booked, which is the most expensive stateroom on the Carnival Celebration.

Banks' original TikTok, posted on May 12th, has over 160,000 views and hundreds of comments.

Most of the commenters support Banks in criticizing the cruise line and their lack of a refund.

User TC commented: "If the room was just canceled, it should still be available. Are they double-booking those rooms?"


User Jerica also believes there's something corrupt about the booking.

"It was canceled and immediately booked by someone else? Definitely fishy!!!"

Carnival told Banks that the room was booked within 3 hours after the initial cancellation.

"I find it interesting that they would send you a notification about the excursion cancellation but nothing about the trip cancellation. They know they are in the wrong," commented SimplyAmber. 

Banks also replied to comments suggesting she hire a lawyer to sue the cruise line.

"We are looking for an attorney," she wrote.

Cruise fares are usually not refunded as late as two days before the cruise.

After a guest makes their final payment, cancellation penalties apply.


Per Carnival's cancellation policy, cruises canceled 15 days or less before the sailing have a 100% cancellation penalty.

No refund applies 15 days before the cruise.

Passengers agree to the cancellation policy when they book the cruise, so be sure that you know what your cruise line's rules are before making that final payment.

At first, Banks assumed the cruise was canceled due to a glitch in Carnival's computer system. 

However, she shared in a TikTok posted on May 14th that the cruise line informed her she'd been a victim of a form of identity theft.

Banks's husband had shared the booking number on Facebook, and someone created a profile on the Carnival website.

After adding the booking number and name, this anonymous user was able to cancel the cruise.

Despite Carnival telling Banks that she had been a victim of identity theft, they still did not offer a refund for the cruise.

Instead, she stated that Carnival offered her $10,404 in future cruise credit, as long as she posted on social media that the company positively resolved the situation.

She declined, saying that she has no interest in booking another sailing with Carnival.

Banks continues to fault Carnival for this cancellation, saying that not sharing the booking number "is not something that every single traveler knows."

She even stated that Carnival encourages guests to post a cruise countdown tracker.

Commenters surmised that, instead of posting the sharable cruise countdown, Banks screenshotted the email itself and shared it to Facebook without removing the confirmation number.

The comments on the rest of Banks' TikToks became more critical after she revealed that her husband had posted the booking number. 

"I don't think Carnival owes anything," annamarie4568 wrote.

"You can't post your booking info. This could happen on any cruise line, that is how you add your cruise."

"It's unfortunate, but you have to accept some of the blame here," commented Ruthie, "It would be like posting your credit card number and someone using it. I'd definitely pursue this legally though to at least force Carnival to update their processes to protect their customers."

"This is like posting your Credit card number or SSN," Southern_Lady_Talk added. "I would feel more empathy for her if she took more responsibility for how this happened."

However, some commenters continued to side with Banks, saying that Carnival should still refund the amount of the cruise.

"It doesn’t matter if the booking number was posted. She called as soon as she got the cancellation email and said it wasn’t her and they refused to do anything for her," user Paige wrote.

Heather added her perspective as a frequent cruiser: "The fact that it is that easy to cancel someone’s booking makes me very hesitant to book another cruise."

Miami terminals

Since the flights were already booked, Banks and her family still flew down to Miami.

They went to the port to see if they could find a resolution in person but discovered that they weren't on the ship manifest.

Despite having the initial booking confirmation, boarding passes, and payment summary, the cruise was canceled for good.

"We had to leave," Banks said in a follow-up video that she captioned with the hashtags '#carnivalsucks' and '#dreamcrushers.'

To try and salvage their remaining vacation time, the family reserved an Airbnb and spent a few days in Florida. 

They visited Discovery Cove to swim with dolphins and rented a cabana.

Banks said the experience was fantastic and "better than Carnival."

As for the experience with Carnival, Banks said that "this has been [an] emotional roller coaster. At this point, there is no resolution."

While some commenters suggested she try a different cruise line, Banks replied that the experience had been so disappointing, the family would not be going on another cruise.

Calista Kiper graduated from Wheaton College, IL, with a B.A. in English Writing. 

Growing up traveling around the world, she developed a passion for diversity and cross-cultural communication. From her first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, she has delighted in the intersection between travel, diversity, and writing in the cruising world.

Calista spends her free time reading, cooking, and researching the latest human-interest stories. 

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