What began as a dream vacation for one Calgary family quickly turned into a nightmare, and a costly one at that, after they tried to cancel their Sunwing package at the last minute.

The Aburto family were looking forward to their upcoming trip to Cuba after booking a trip package through Sunwing in March. It had been three years since the family of four were able to travel together and they were excited.

As the day of their departure approached, the Aburtos received some unexpected news – Leslie Aburto was pregnant, which meant that all of their plans were suddenly up in the air.

The reason?

Canada’s Public Health Agency recommends pregnant women avoid travelling to Cuba because of the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus that can, if a pregnant woman is infected, cause serious birth defects in the fetus.

Leslie’s husband, Wilfredo, told CTV Calgary they weren’t willing to risk the health of their future child by keeping their plans to travel to Cuba.

“It’s something that I don’t know if any parent would take that chance,” Wilfredo said on Tuesday.

The threat of a birth defect is a particularly sensitive topic for the Aburto family who know firsthand what it’s like to raise a child with special needs - their 17-month-old son was born with Down syndrome.

When the couple attempted to re-book their vacation with Sunwing, they were told they wouldn’t be allowed to make any changes to their 100 per cent non-refundable tickets. Wilfredo said they were told they wouldn’t even be able to transfer the tickets to someone else.

Without the refund, the Aburto family will be out $6,000 for the cancelled trip.

Sunwing told CTV Calgary it offered refunds to travellers during a three-month period at the beginning of 2016, as the spread of the Zika virus caught the attention of health authorities around the world.

“Since this date, as the potential effects of the virus are now widely known, any cancellations due to the risk of Zika are bound by our normal terms and conditions,” Sunwing said.

Leslie said, although they’re frustrated and disappointed by the travel company’s response, they’re still holding out hope that they’ll be able to recover the costs of the vacation before the planned departure date in a couple of days.

“It would definitely be a pretty rough blow to us,” Leslie said. “It’s been three years, so with another baby on the way, who knows when we’ll be able to take another holiday again.”

With a report from CTV Calgary’s Kamil Karamali