Cruise passengers say 'travel man' is trouble

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

It was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime, cruising on the Norwegian Gem from New York to the Bahamas with the legends of doo wop like the Harptones and The Orioles.

"Everybody said, 'well those groups are great, I can't believe they're getting them together. let's go,'" Upper Darby resident Patricia Shively said.

Shively, her neighbor George Lewis and about 40 of their friends recently finished paying off their May 12th trip, price $3,000 to $4,500.

But soon after, Shively's friends started calling her.

"Norwegian Cruise Line just called us and said 'where's the balance of your money? If you want to go on this cruise you better come up with the money,'" Shively said.

Shively and her group booked through All Star Cruise and travel agent Dan "The Travel Man" Schmier out of Flint, Michigan.

Repeated calls by passengers to Schmier went unanswered.

"I don't have $3,000, I'm in bankruptcy, like my neighbor, I'm a cancer survivor. I'm on social security disability and we scrimped to pay for the cruise," Lewis said.

Finally, our ABC station in Flint tracked down Schmier.

"All the money is either at Norwegian Cruise Line or in the All Star Cruise and Travel corporate checkbook. There has been no misappropriate of funds, no embezzling," Schmier said.

He says he didn't send all of the money to Norwegian for the 241 passengers he booked because there were last minute changes to the doo wop line-up.

But April 5th, he resigned as President of All Star and is not authorized to make refunds.

Shively and her friends won't be cruising and they don't know if they'll get their money back.

"It's just a terrible disappointment," Shively said.

Norwegian said it has cut ties with All Star Cruise and Travel and in some cases reduced the cancellation fees for the impacted passengers.

Several agencies including the Michigan Attorney General's office are now investigating this matter.

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