ELK GROVE (CBS13) — Three Elk Grove seniors are out nearly $35,000 for a cruise they never took. How they paid is a big reason they’re struggling to get their money back.

“What I want is a refund,” Penny Powell said.

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The trip of a lifetime for Dennis and Penny Powell and their friend, Martha Tosha never happened.

“We cancelled the trip because of cancer,” Penny said.

Dennis needed surgery, keeping the trio from going on a 15-day cruise through France, but they had trip insurance.

Vantage Deluxe World Travel approved their refund of $31,551 – not including $3,297 for nonrefundable travel insurance — back in August 2020. More than a year later, no money.

“If it was a small amount, I’d go ‘OK,’ but it’s a lot of money,” Penny said.

Sandi Carli told us in January she was waiting more than a year for a refund of $53,000 after vantage canceled the Croatian cruise she booked with her friends.

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Dick and Carolyn George are waiting for $15,000 after their canceled trip.

Many couldn’t challenge the charges with their credit cards because they paid cash to get a 10% discount.

“This is the first time I did that, and this is the consequence,” Sandi told us.

Vantage tells us it’s processing thousands of requests after it postponed all trips in 2020 and most in 2021.

After we got involved, Sandi’s group got their money back.

In Penny’s case, Vantage tells us the accounting process is taking much longer than we would like, and the refunds will arrive in four-to-six weeks.

“If anybody asked me if they were going to go on a trip with Vantage, I’d tell them not to,” Penny said.

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I’d be leary of any company pushing you to pay in cash, for this very reason.