Actions of cruise company draw Lynch's attention

Nick Rees Jan. 13, 2010, 3:20pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Legal Newsline) - Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch has filed a civil investigative demand with a Narragansett Bay cruise company that had refused to refund deposits of three parties that had canceled previously booked cruises.

Lycnh's action seeks to force Michael O'Hare and Jeff Eaton, the owners of Rhode Island Cruise Co. from 2006-2009, to refund deposits totaling almost $5,650. Rhode Island Cruise Co. offered dinner and other excursion tours of Narragansett Bay aboard the Vista Jubilee and Harbor Queen.

The deposits, according to the civil investigative demand, include $3,149 owed to the City of Cambridge, Mass., for an Oct. 9 senior citizens outing it had booked, a $1,000 deposit owed to a local high school for its 2011 prom, and a $1,500 deposit owed to a Fall River woman for the July 4, 2010 wedding reception she had booked on one of the company's ships.

"The planner for the City of Cambridge's excursion for seniors told us that the owners cancelled the cruise a half-hour before the ship was set to leave, blaming it on the weather - and have yet to repay the full amount. That's worse than just a huge imposition. That's low," Lynch said.

"Similarly, a woman who looked forward to having her wedding reception on board this coming Fourth of July doesn't have the money to secure another reception venue."

O'Hare also runs Newport Harbor Cruises and the vessel Majestic. Eaton leased the Vista Jubilee and Harbor Queen from the Blount family leasing companies, based in Warren, Mass. Blount has recently announced that it was selling the boats.

"Bay Queen Cruises is an iconic Rhode Island brand, as is the Blount family name," Lynch said. "The Blount family have not operated Bay Queen Cruises for more than 3 1/2 years, and their reputation should not be tarnished because of the alleged deceptiveness of somebody else."

Lynch's CID demands that, on Jan. 21, O'Hare and Eaton appear at his office to testify and provide documentation concerning the bookings.

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