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Seeking refunds, Garrison Keillor's would-be cruise guests get uncertainty, limericks

Prairie Home Productions

Prairie Home Productions

In March, Garrison Keillor was set to embark with fans on his 12th A Prairie Home Companion Cruise. It would have been the Minnesota radio icon's first such voyage since leaving American Public Media following 2017 accusations of "unwanted sexual touching." 

But, due to the then-brewing COVID-19 pandemic, the sold-out Caribbean cruise was canceled a week ahead of its scheduled departure, leaving around 1,200 disappointed ticketholders stuck on land. Now those would-be guests are struggling mightily to get refunds, the New York Times reported Monday.

Keillor's Prairie Home Cruises, LLC effectively agreed to rent the 719-foot Veendem from Holland America Line, a subsidiary of embattled Carnival Corp., whose refund process appears fairly breezy. However, landlocked APHC cruisers booked through a charter operator in Prairie Home Cruises, resulting in considerable headaches regarding refunds, the Times reports: Much of the prepaid money has already been spent. 

Keillor didn't exactly clear things up in an email to ticketholders that mused about sheltering in place and Franz Kafka before offering advance copies of his upcoming novel "AT COST plus postage." It concluded with a freaking limerick. 

Elissa Wolfson, who dropped $4,947 on two passes for the APHC cruise, has been trying for weeks to get her money back.

"There is a lot of red tape,” she told the Times. "It’s not only Holland America, it’s Prairie Home—and lawyers. Big ifs here."

Eventual refunds will not be for the full amount, Kate Gustafson, the managing director of Prairie Home Cruises, tells the Times. A force majeure clause means the company isn't contractually obligated to offer any refunds, so that's at least... something.

Not unlike Pitbull's After Dark Party Cruise, Keillor's celeb cruise was set to feature music and stories as it sailed to ports in Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, and Key West. Due to the deadliness COVID-19 poses to older folks, some of the septuagenarians who chatted with the Times were relieved the trip was canceled. 

"You could watch the age of the people go up,” Chuck Eklund said with a laugh, thinking back to previous cruises. "And the number of people on walkers and little scooters have gone up."

In other Keillor news: You can still buy his massive Summit Avenue mansion in St. Paul for $1.75 million.