The cruise was supposed to reunite an Army serviceman with his family when he returned from duty in Afghanistan. Instead, the ship sailed away with the most important person left stranded on the shore.
Linda Ly of Brisbane was overjoyed and relieved when her husband returned home safely from combat in Afghanistan.
"He was gone for a good year. It was good not to worry anymore," said Ly.
Her husband, Lee Huang, had missed his son's second year of life. Ly wanted to make up for lost time.
"We were going to celebrate his coming back from Afghanistan," said Ly.
She booked a seven day Carnival cruise to Mexico for 11 family members. It would have been a chance for everyone to spend time with Huang before he would ship out again.
"We like cruising, it's convenient. Our meals are paid for, there's babysitting," said Ly.
Everyone was ready to board the ship -- and then, disaster.
"They couldn't find the reservation, they said they don't know what happened," said Ly.
All the reservations were there except the room she'd booked for her in-laws. Huang 's parents could not get on board.
"What are we going to do? My in-laws don't speak any English, they don't drive," said Ly.
Ly couldn't leave her in-laws stranded in Long Beach, but there were no rooms available. So, she did the only thing she could.
"I just told them to go. I gave up my room to my in-laws," said Ly.
Ly, Huang and their son watched as the ship sailed away without them. She says the whole point of the cruise was left standing on the shore.
"The whole trip was ruined. Nobody could really enjoy themselves because the star of the show wasn't there," said Ly.
What was worse was they couldn't retrieve their luggage because it had sailed away with the ship.
"I had nothing but the clothes on my back," said Ly.
They waited seven days in Los Angeles for the ship to return, trying to make the most of Huang's brief time home.
"He was so psyched he was going to take his son on a ship," said Ly.
She says she later found out Carnival had mistakenly canceled that reservation. It happened when Carnival was correcting her mother-in-law's middle name. Ly paid for that room and she wanted her money back.
"They said it was coming in the mail and I didn't get it, no," said Ly.
Finally she contacted 7 On Your Side, and after we contacted Carnival, Ly did get her money back-- $1,759 for the canceled cruise, plus $253 for a night at a motel and a meal. She also received a 25 percent discount on future travel.
Carnival said: "We would like to apologize for the inconvenience and the disruption to her family's vacation."
"I'm happy it's resolved. I thank you ABC 7 On Your Side very much," said Ly.
Huang shipped out to train for another Army mission, but Ly hopes someday they'll have that family vacation.
We thank Carnival for stepping up to help with the refund and a future discount. Maybe next year the family will get to cruise together.