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Athena refunds
Sunset from Athena deck. Picture: Classic International

The administrators for Classic International Cruises announced on Wednesday they had been unable to find a ship to replace the cancelled Athena for the Australian summer season.

Officially cancelling the season opens the door for refunds.

Athena, along with three other ships owned by Classic International Cruising's European owners, had been arrested in Europe for unpaid bills. Though the issues related to the European owners, Classic International Cruises Australia was put into voluntary administration to "ringlock" the money of people who have booked for the Australian season.

The WA Department of Commerce's Consumer Protection says more than 5000 passengers throughout Australia have booked on 20 Athena cruises from Australian ports, most from Fremantle, up until April next year.

It is believed most had paid deposits of 40 per cent.

HOW TO GET A REFUND


Consumer Protection Commissioner Anne Driscoll and the administrators Lawler Partners say there are several ways to get a refund:

• Passengers who booked through a licensed travel agency should contact the agency first to determine if the funds have been transferred to the cruise company.

• If customers paid with a credit card or a debit card and selected credit, they can contact their card provider to discuss if a "chargeback" is available. This reverses the credit card charge.

• The Travel Compensation Fund, which covers financial failure of travel agents, is available to consumers as CIC Australia was a licensed travel agent. Consumers can pursue a claim against the TCF. Information is at tcf.org.au.

• Customers should also contact Lawler Partners to register as a creditor by email on CICAustralia@LawlerPartners. com.au or phone (02) 8346 6000. Updates will be posted on their website, lawlerpartners.com.au.

• Customers with travel insurance should contact their insurer or travel agent to assess their eligibility to claim.

• Consumer Protection will also have updates on its webpage commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer protection. Contact them on consumer@commerce.wa.gov .au or phone 1300 30 40 54.