(NewsNation) — A class-action lawsuit is underway after a travel company left passengers stranded across the country in a travel horror story.
A once-respected tour company abruptly ceased all operations, leaving passengers out of luck. Some got to the airport to find their trip canceled as Vantage Deluxe World Travel shut down.
The company offered luxury vacations across the globe, specializing in all-inclusive, high-end tours. But after 40 years, it all came to an abrupt standstill.
“At my age of 82, it was probably going to be my last foreign trip. So we were really looking forward to this,” Carolyn Cefalo Horich said.
The retired professor had traveled with Vantage before and was excited to take her daughters (minus the grandchildren) on a voyage to Spain and Portugal. But just days before their departure, only one of them received a cancelation email.
Horich was already packed when she called the company.
“I was told, ‘I’m sorry, this is just not going to work. We’re not going to be able to do this,'” she said.
Retired elementary school teacher Suzanne Clarke traveled four times with Vantage before her bucket list trip to Africa was called off.
”What we all feel is just a sense of betrayal,” Clarke said.
Travelers like Clarke and Horich are now seeking compensation.
“I think we have a right to demand our refund in full. The trouble is, thousands of other people want the same thing,” Clarke said.
Advocate Michelle Couch-Friedman runs Consumer Rescue. She estimates Vantage Travel left thousands stranded this summer.
“I have millions of dollars that are owed to customers,” she said.
A NewsNation inquiry found passenger after passenger with canceled trips, despite spending as much as $40,000, with no refunds in sight.
“They’re still selling trips, customers are still receiving brochures with discounted cruises,” Couch-Friedman said.
Ronald Dunbar, Jr. filed a class action suit against the Boston-based company, and the lawsuit is only growing as more travelers are sidelined.
”Everybody is between the age of 65 and 80. Everybody has spent between $15,000 and $60,000.” Dunbar said.
NewsNation tracked Vantage Travel’s River Splendor cruise liner, which should be sailing the seas this summer, to find it held in Germany, reportedly for unpaid debts.
The company’s new Ocean Explorer and Odyssey ships were docked downstream, along the Normandy coast in France.
Dunbar said the case is unique because Vantage Travel has failed to address the concerns.
“Usually, you’ll have the adversary come out and say, ‘look, we apologize and experience some technical delays, or we’ve experienced a shortage of fuel, whatever the excuse is. Here it is just radio silence,” Dunbar said.
The silence is painful not just because of the money lost, but because of the memories that travelers will miss out on.
“It’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen. I can’t even get the money to try to make it happen,” Horich said of her final trip.
Travelers also feel guilt for those who sent others to the company.
”You know, it breaks our heart because we love them so much and invited our friends to come,” Clarke said.
NewsNation made repeated attempts to contact Vantage Deluxe World Travel and its attorney but has received no response.