Senior citizens stand to lose money on cruise Firm files for protection under bankruptcy act

November 11, 1995|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

Katherine Krieg, 86, should be on her way to the Caribbean this weekend for a rare trip outside South Baltimore and the very first cruise of her life. Instead, she's out $750.

"I had a very little in savings, and my three daughters had helped me out with the money," Mrs. Krieg said. "I don't know why anyone would do this to older people like us."

Eighteen regulars at the Allen Center for Senior Citizens on South Charles Street had saved for months for a Caribbean cruise aboard New York-based Regency Cruises. Now, no one knows if they'll get their money back.

Last week, the company canceled all its cruises, and federal marshals seized the boat, the Regency Rainbow, which was to be used for the seniors' trip. This week, Regency filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The seniors say they have called Regency, their travel agency and the state attorney general's office. Still no word.

"I'd been saving for this for about a year," said Catherine Graham, 75. "And the way it looks now, I don't expect to get my money back."

Mrs. Graham was one of only six seniors to buy $40 trip cancellation insurance policies, said Fred Elburn, president of Charles Center Travel. Those six will probably get their money back. But the others will likely have to make claims on a $15 million bond that Regency was required to post by the Federal Maritime Commission, Mr. Elburn said.

That possibility has done little to cheer Mary Catterton. She had promised to take her 15-year-old grandson to the Caribbean if he made the honor roll at Glen Burnie High. He did, but he and four other relatives will be home this week instead of on the cruise, which had cost the family $3,800.

Betty and Bob Ewing say they, too, lost a unique opportunity. Mrs. Ewing turned 58 yesterday, and she and her husband, Bob, had wanted to take a trip to celebrate their 39th anniversary Dec. 1. So Mr. Ewing had squirreled away a quarter of his monthly $1,200 Social Security check for the past five months to afford two $750 tickets.

"That's a lot of money for retired people to lose," said Mr. Ewing, "but that's not really the point. We think we should get another trip."

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