Kicked off my cruise for getting sick

carnival ecstasyQuestion: We were recently scheduled to sail on a seven-day Carnival cruise to Mexico. A few minutes after we boarded in Long Beach, Calif., I had horrible kidney pains. I couldn’t walk, and felt as if I was going to pass out.

My husband immediately took me to the medical doctor on board. He performed an ultrasound and I asked for something for the pain. All of a sudden he said you need to get off the ship because you have a kidney infection. Within two minutes we had three Carnival employees rushing us to get our bags and they escorted us off the ship.

All the while, I could barely walk. One of the employees told me not to worry, that I could cruise at a “later date.” Everything happened so fast. I was never given a choice of whether to stay on board or not.

We did not even unpack our bags in our room. We used none of the ship’s amenities. We had other friends on board who said that within a few hours, Carnival had upgraded another couple into our room, which had a balcony.

When I called the customer service number, they said I would not be getting any money back and I’m not able to take my cruise at a later date. I was shocked. I paid $2,000 for the cruise. I really just want to take the cruise I paid for at a later date, or get a refund. — Regina Hatfield, Sacramento, Calif.

Answer: I’m glad you’re feeling better. Carnival was correct to take you off the ship and seek medical treatment. Trust me, you wouldn’t have wanted to take your chances in a Mexican hospital, which may – or may not – have the same level of care as an American medical facility.

But Carnival could have been clearer about your right to re-take your cruise at a later date. Under its ticket contract, the legal agreement between you and the cruise line, it could deny you boarding and refuse to offer you a refund on your cruise fare (it would, however, need to refund any port taxes it collected).

How about insurance? Well, you booked this cruise directly through Carnival, and when you called it, you weren’t offered insurance. But even if you had been offered insurance, I’m not convinced that you would have been covered. An insurance adjuster might have argued that your kidney pains were a pre-existing condition and denied your claim. Don’t laugh; I’ve seen it before.

It’s highly unusual for a passenger to be shown the door at the start of a cruise in this way. Obviously, this isn’t something you can control, and if you could, you would choose to stay healthy and enjoy your vacation.

I spoke with Carnival about your case. A representative suggested insurance might have been helpful, but stopped short of saying your claim would have been honored. I think the fact that you were not advised of insurance when you booked your cruise directly helped your case.

Carnival offered you do-over cruise.

Should cruise lines offer a refund or do-over to passengers who get sick during the boarding process?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Alan Gore

    It goes without saying that if a cruise line refuses to take you at boarding time, you deservea full refund. No services were, after all, rendered. But given the screw-you mentality that pervades the travel industry today, I’m sure there will be a gaggle of industry toadies braying that this passenger should have considered himself lucky not to have been arrested for attempting to cruise while sick.

  • polexia_rogue

    she was not even offered a do over?! wow even non refundable airline tickets offer a credit that is good for up to a year.

    that was just stupid on Carnival’s part. everyone knows when you go on a cruise you will be spending lots of money on drinks, certain activities and certain food. so it would have been in their interest to get her back on a ship in the future.

  • TonyA_says

    Greeeeeeed! Easy solution – stop cruising. Just fly to the destination.

  • TonyA_says

    Absolutely. What do you expect from a business (carrier) who doesn’t care to register in the USA but almost all its customers are Americans?

  • Helio

    The problem is, sometimes the ship is the destination itself ;)

  • TonyA_says

    Wow there is no medicine for that :)

  • djp98374

    This is what needs to change……they want to use US ports as their base the must be registered in the US. Along with that would customer bill of rights. Situations such as medical are automatically postponed and redo. You can’t operate in this screw the customer model.

  • PsyGuy

    All great ideas and options, now how do you feel paying $6000 for that $2000 cruise. Following American laws and rules means not just consumer production laws, but labor laws, and a whole bunch of regulations and laws that are simply going to drive the cost up. I know people that won’t cruise if the cost is more then $100 a day, that’s a hard price point to make without cutting corners.

  • Bettina

    No, they should not have offered a refund. Carnival is not at fault for the illness of this passenger and at this late date could not have rebooked the room. As noted in the original post, they were able to upgrade someone, but I am sure that travelers original cabin was left empty.

    I am not saying the passenger is at fault either. However, comprehensive travel insurance, that covers illness as well is something anyone should take out before embarking on an expensive vacation. Obviously this is not needed if all you do is a hotel room for 100$ for a weekend away somewhere, but for a cruise it is a must.

    I am not even talking about the policy that Carnival may or may not have offered, but one that could have been bought independently.

    That Carnival offered the traveler another cruise at a later time, is more of a goodwill offer than anything else and I applaud them.

    If the woman had ended up with serious kidney disease, which is something a cruise doctor is ill equipped to treat or maybe even diagnose, she could have then ended up God knows where or with major chronic problems. The cruise line might even have opened themselves to a fat lawsuit if they had tried to treat on board!

    However, I think both the doctor and the cruise staff could have done more to help by calling an ambulance as well and having the woman sent to hospital for a comprehensive check of her kidney problem.

  • sirwired

    The fact that it happened during boarding (vs., say, the night before or one day into the cruise) really doesn’t make a difference. I’m pretty sure the traveler would NOT have preferred to stay on the ship, so Carnival did her a favor by sending her back to shore.

    As another poster has already pointed out, while somebody else got an upgrade, their original cabin for THAT couple now sailed empty. Any way you slice it, issuing a refund or a do-over cruise is going to result in a cabin’s worth of revenue missing. Sounds like a case for a 100% penalty to me… The cruise line’s costs drop by pretty much zero when a cabin sails empty vs. full.

    And yes, insurance, insurance, insurance. As long as there wasn’t an existing kidney problem, the claim probably would have been approved. (The rep was correct, however, from making any assurances; mainly to avoid a “gotcha”… I can see it now: “The rep assured me the claim would have been approved, but she quickly back-pedaled when it was found there was a diagnosis with “X” minor problem a few months before booking.”) And I certainly can conceive of kidney pains being a RESULT of a pre-exisitng condition. (Which yes, would result in a claim denial with Carnival-branded insurance, but not with a whole long list of other policies available.)

    Frankly, I’m skeptical that insurance was never offered. Provider-sold insurance is pretty profitable, and sales representatives are heavily incentivized to have people purchase it. It makes the company money, and can help prevent situations like this.

  • Cybrsk8r

    @ Alan Gore. You were right, Alan.

  • sirwired

    But it’s ALSO in their interest to be paid for the cabin that sailed empty. (Even if somebody received a free upgrade, now that couple’s original cabin is empty.) While incidentals are profitable, they aren’t so profitable to make up for an unsold cabin.

  • TonyA_says

    How come airlines do it? US carriers fares are competitive, too. You are simply repeating dogma coming from cruiseline owners. Even a hotdog stand needs a permit to operate here.

  • Alan Gore

    And I though I was being a trifle hyperbolic in my first post, but no. If this were true the cruises within the EU, which has consumer protection for travelers, would be three times the cost of US cruises. My last cruise there (fall 2010) was slightly more than the US equivalent, in line with the general price level.

    I run a business myself, so I have to be aware of how customer satisfaction works. For Carnival, the cost of eating the occasional cabin would be small in comparison to the goodwill they could potentially generate by allowing a do-over.

  • sign buyer

    What do you expect from Carnival. They kicked her off they should pay her. She needs to file suit against them in small claims court. No judge would rule against her.

  • Timothy Woody

    In this case I voted yes because Carnival upgraded other passengers into their stateroom. Since they had already boarded the room was theirs – they had “rented” it and if Carnival gave it to someone else then they are obligated to give them another cruise.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Ummmm. It’s not like a hotel room where you don’t show up at 6pm but might show up at 11pm. I’m pretty sure once the OP left the ship, chances were “good” they wouldn’t be using the cabin…

  • Peg

    And if she insisted on staying on board and then didn’t like the medical services she received on the ship (or in a Mexican hospital), she could sue then too. It’s a win-win!!!! Free vacations everyone!

  • Guest

    This is one of those situations that always tear me. I can understand the cruise line in that it is not their fault you got sick so why should they have to bear the cost of an empty cabin. But I can also understand the customer in that with a case like this, I’m sure she didn’t do anything to make herself sick and would much rather have cruised. I’m not sure how much the actual costs there is to the cruise line in fuel and other aspects of sailing with two less people on board. I figure it wouldn’t be much. I would agree that a refund wouldn’t be warranted, but a do-over cruise is a good middle ground.

  • Guest

    I was thinking the same thing. If the cruise line allowed the person to stay on knowing they had a medical condition they were not properly equipped to handle, they could be opening themselves up to a huge liability suit if the condition got worse.

  • SoBeSparky

    It is not that this poll question is wrong or unworthy. It is that as stated, this creates a huge loophole for people who may have buyer’s remorse. “I don’t feel like taking the cruise. I know I will lose my money if I cancel at the last minute. So I will get sick right after I board.” Done. Passengers get a refund or a different date for a do-over.

    Sad to say, given what we read here on Christopher’s website, would-be passengers will not hesitate to use any large loophole available.

    With some protection for the cruise line, including offering insurance which would cover this contingency, then the cruise line should make the would-be cruiser whole someway upon verifiable illness certified by the ship’s physician.

  • jim

    Insurance. PERIOD.
    Any traveler who spends more than a thousand dollars on a trip and does’t buy insurance is gambling. That’s what these folks did and lost. No Way Carnival didn’t offer insurance, even if they booked online. Independent insurance companies offer coverage for pre existing conditions when purchased at deposit time. Another example of not using a good travel agent, doing it online yourself to say a 35 or 50 dollar booking fee, and then complaining when it doesn’t work out. INSURANCE!! And Chris you need to work on these questions, this one was not fair.

  • Bill___A

    This passenger was done a big favour by Carnival as it looks like she would have boarded unless they refused her.

    It is not Carnival’s fault that she had a kidney issue. If thee is some whose fault or issue it is, the finger must be pointed at the passenger.

    Kidney problems can be very severe, but heath and safety are most important. Why should Carnival’s shareholders pay for people’s kidney issues?

    I fail to see the logic behind expecting the tour operator or travel provider to pay for everything. “My flight was late, they must give me meal vouchers”. “I could have died if I stayed on the boat so they kicked me off”.

    There are risks to everything. Sometimes you have to accept these risks will cost you money. Although they gave her a makeup cruise, which was nice of them, I think we can all agree that they didn’t have to do it.

    My wife had a kidney stone when we were in the UK, and they couldn’t even diagnose it. Released her from the hospital with no diagnosis. We flew home, they fixed it.

  • Casa Mariposa Panama

    I feel compelled to weigh in a bit here. As a hotelier, I ask myself how I might have handled this situation if a guest were to become ill upon check-in. In my view, both parties were at fault in this case.

    First, the passenger should have bought insurance, either from Carnival or from someone else. To embark on an expensive holiday such as this without protecting your financial interest against some (perhaps) unforseen circumstance like personal illness is inconceivable to me. The fact that the OP became ill is, of course, not her “fault”. But not protecting herself against such a potential circumstance certainly is.

    Second, the CL should have treated her with much more compassion and care than what was given (as far as I can tell from the details of the case). I agree with an earlier poster that she should have been offered an ambulance service and some other compassionate measures to help ease her discomfort. The fact that the OP became ill is certainly not the CL’s “fault”, but how (evidently) they treated her certainly was.

    I also agree with an earlier poster that the CL could have showed more compassion by offering the OP a do-over, which they ultimately did (presumably not until Chris got involved, however), but were they obligated to? Putting aside some earlier comments about ship registry issues, profitability and so forth, the answer is no, they were not obligated to, according to the ticket contract.

    The general public (I believe) does not understand how difficult the travel/hospitality industry is. Airlines and Cruiselines have a nearly impossible job to do in trying to satisfy an enormous amount of people at any given point on any given day. It is no wonder to me that guests/passengers in situations like this are given the standard answer: “No.” Online Travel Agencies like Expedia and others of that ilk exacerbate problems of discontentment within the industry because (I believe) they unrealistically build guest/passenger expectations, particularly with regard to pricing and offerings. In addition, their marketing techniques are heavily skewed toward “Buy it now – only one room/cabin/seat left at this amazing price!”. Having said that, I do believe that large companies in this industry could and should do a much better job in how they handle complaints/concerns/etc.

    I also believe (and please excuse my irreverence here) that guests/passengers/etc should use much more common sense when booking vacations. Please, take insurance or some other means to protect your financial interest against potential problems that may interrupt your vacation plans. In addition, please do yourself a favor and do more research directly with the hotel/airline/cruiseline/etc, and book directly with them. In this way, you will get better service, and have much more redress should there be a problem with the cabin/seat/room/etc.

  • BKFlowerMound

    Was it nice that Carnival eventually gave them a do over, sure. Should they have been obligated to, I am not so sure.

    The bottom line is that a cabin sailed empty because Ms. Hatfield wasn’t in it. There is a cost to that. If Ms. Hatfield doesn’t pay that cost, other passengers do in the form of higher fares. Ms. Hatfield could’ve and should’ve insured for this risk. And Chris – as you’ve reported here – cruise line insurance though fairly inexpensive has gaps. There are, however, travel insurance companies that’ll insure for less money and cover some of those gaps, including for pre-existing conditions.

    While I might support consumer legislation, I do understand that it most certainly would result in higher costs – just as it has in Europe.

  • James Orth

    How long have you been an attorney/ judge? No one can say how any judge will rule ask any real lawyer Finally since Carnival is not a registered U.S. corp. I doubt that you could sue them in any U.S. court.

  • Charlie Funk

    Did Carnival state that the passenger was not offered insurance? If the passenger booked online, insurance is an automatic offering. If they booked with a PVP, the PVP has to follow a script that includes offering insurance. If indeed the passenger wasn’t offered insurance I am certain the PVP had a “continuing employment” discussion with a supervisor and retraining or the PVP is no longer with the company. As I’m typing this and thinking about it, the fact that Carnival gave them a do-over means the passenger wasn’t offered insurance, confirmed by listening to the recording of the passenger’s conversation with the PVP (yes indeed they record EVERY call) because there is NO way Carnival would have given them another cruise if insurance had been mentioned during the call.

  • BillCCC

    She would have been 1000x more unhappy if she had to go to a hospital in Mexico or pay for treatment she would have received on the ship if she had had stayed on and had her medical condition worsen.

  • MeanMeosh

    Trust me – I’ve had kidney infections before. You DON’T want to be on vacation, let alone in a Mexican hospital, when you have one. It’s a blessing in disguise that they kicked her off.

    Not much else to say besides what’s already been said. One, the OP should have bought third-party insurance. You buy it within 14-21 days of paying your deposit, and the pre-existing conditions clause is usually waived. Plus, I agree with others who point out that had they let her stay, and then offloaded her at a Mexican hospital a few days later when things got worse, this would have been a tailor-made lawsuit against CCL. It’s a lose-lose situation for the cruise line, regardless of what U.S. laws and regulations that might be getting around.

    On the other hand, CCL could have handled the incident better. At the very least, they could have shown some compassion by staying with the OP until an ambulance could be called to take her for proper medical treatment, instead of just tossing her off the ship. Based on the story as told, seems like CCL’s primary goal was to sail off on time; sorry, but delaying things by a couple of hours to take care of a sick passenger wouldn’t have killed anyone, and would have been the right thing to do. A voucher for a do-over seems like fair compensation for the customer service failure.

  • Guest

    comprehensive travel insurance, that covers illness

    Does this truly exist?

    Avoiding Mexican hospitals is not a covered reason in any policy I’ve seen. The illness needs to be “so disabling as to reasonably cause a Trip to be cancelled or interrupted.” If it turned out to be nothing truly serious then I would anticipate a denied claim.

    In this case, if the OP bought Carnival’s travel protection plan — and if Carnival couldn’t point to a pre-existing condition — then I suspect they would have had to refund most of her cruise — because it was Carnival’s own physician who made the decision.

    But we’ve seen repeatedly that the travel protection plans offered by cruise companies have all kinds of other big gaping holes in their coverage…

  • Regina Klapper

    I don’t agree. That’s what travel insurance is for, and you need to find a reputable company that will cover you if you get sick. Just because she wasn’t offered it doesn’t make her case – it’s up to you to get it – you’d have to be living in a cave to not know that. If the customer didn’t get insurance, it’s still a good customer service policy to offer a chance to take the cruise again, but the cruise line is not obligated to do so, and a refund is definitely not warranted. When are we going to stop blaming the cruise lines for everything and get some personal responsibility here? The headline is misleading as well – she was not “kicked off” her cruise – she was very ill and need medical attention. She said she was not given the choice to stay on board — how could she have stayed when she couldn’t even walk? This is likely the same type of consumer who, if she had decided to stay and had become deathly ill, would have sued the cruise line for allowing her to stay. (And no, I do not now, or have I ever had, any connection whatsoever to the cruise industry.)

  • James Orth

    Comment much too long “Not OP’s fault that she got sick. Not Carnival’ fault that she got sick. Next time protect yourself with good insurance policy which covers pre-existing conditions.” End of story.

  • sirwired

    Errr… yes, they are a US corp. They are based in Miami. (And, indeed, that is where you sue them if you have a problem; it’s right there in the cruise contract.)

  • sirwired

    Yes, and then the “somebody else’s” cabin went unsold.

  • James Orth

    Hope you still have the same attitude if you are ever the OP in a dispute with a company. But your smug attitude suggests to me someone who feels that they never make a mistake.

  • LFH0

    As with air carriers, I think here, too, there has been a race to the bottom. So long as the lines are going to compete on price alone, they will take whatever legal measures may be taken, and if that means hiring non-Americans and not registering within the United States, so as to offer rock bottom fares, it will be done. Of course, the price for doing so is the loss of the ability to transport passengers one U.S. port to another U.S. port (the same holds true for foreign-registered air, bus, and rail carriers), but the mass market lines don’t see enough of a market to make U.S. registration competitively worthwhile . . . look at NCL America having fallen short of its expectations. There are only a handful of U.S. registered lines, most of which utilize small vessels and charge fares 3 times as much as the foreign flag vessels (or, in the case of the Alaska Marine Highway, are government-subsidized). For the most part, people want the instant gratification of lower fares, and don’t consider the level of service offered at that price until something goes wrong.

  • TonyA_says

    I can’t blame passengers … But the big money game is …

    Politicians and political parties are just so happy collecting massive contributions from cruiseline owners.
    Why change laws or make stricter ones if there is no financial incentive :)

    And then this …

    Didn’t the father of Carnival change citizenship back to Israel because he did not want to pay US taxes?

    In 1990, he renounced his U.S. citizenship, in an effort to avoid estate tax in the United States …

    When will the gaming end?

  • Tincanrider

    I know most of you love cruises… But hasn’t Carnival proved that they don’t care about your comfort or safety?

  • TonyA_says

    Someones afraid to lose their commission.
    I got downvoted. ha ha

  • TonyA_says

    Re: I run a business myself, so I have to be aware of how customer satisfaction works.

    I suppose your business is financed internally or with some personal and business loans.
    I wonder how that compares to cruise lines. Where does their money come from? I have a feeling some others come first before the customer.

  • cruisecritic

    Carnival needs to be doing all it can right now to look like it gives a damn about it’s passengers. It’s had a run of incredibly bad PR. This is another case. No kidding they offered a do over, or this one would end up on CNN, they would love to embarrass this idiotic company further.

  • TonyA_says

    That’s a great idea – insurance; if it really protects you.
    But in my experience, so many customers are already stretching (financially) to buy the ticket (or in this case cruise) that they have no money to buy the insurance.
    I’ve noticed that the only people who buy insurance from me are those who know or think they will get sick (a pre-existing condition) because they already decided they need insurance.

  • TonyA_says

    Is this any different from an airline who will have unsold seats (i.e. Jetblue) because they do not overbook?
    So how come you don’t lose 100% of your money on an airline ticket if you get sick?
    What is so special about cruises that they keep all your money?

  • Guest

    “At the very least, they could have shown some compassion by staying with the OP until an ambulance could be called to take her for proper medical treatment, instead of just tossing her off the ship. Based on the story as told, seems like CCL’s primary goal was to sail off on time;”

    Even showing the compassion by staying with the OP wouldn’t require the ship to depart late. There are dock side employees that could stay with her. No need for crew members from the ship to have to wait.

  • sirwired

    Cruise lines haven’t priced their cabins to account for the reduced load factor, and JetBlue has. If cruise lines were to price that way, everybody would end up paying… no free lunch.

  • alsous

    I think the doctor may know more about this then we are getting in her side of the story. Some red flags are there. She was fine until about an hour after they boarded, then doubled over in pain. A kidney infection comes on slowly and antibiotics is the cure. With the doctor doing an ultrasound, he ruled out a stone which does have a sudden onset. Her comments about, all I wanted was something for the pain probibly triggered the doctor’s trouble light. If she is already screaming for pain meds only an hour into boarding he probibly saw just cause to send her home. Going from perfectly fine to doubling over in pain is serious and not being able to go on with out pain meds is also serious.

  • LFH0

    But we’re bumping up against international commerce here. Consider, for example, aviation where the fifth freedom allows a carrier based in country A to provide transportation between countries B and C, as part of a larger route structure connecting to country A (or the unofficial “seventh freedom” which does not even require a connection to country A). If the United States were to restrict those carriers which might serve a U.S. port to only U.S. flag carriers (or even a modified version of that type of restriction, say, any carrier, a majority of whose passengers are United States citizens), I think protectionist retribution which would likely follow would diminish U.S. international commerce to its detriment. If U.S. citizens constituted a majority of the passengers of, say,
    Virgin Atlantic, what would result if Virgin Atlantic were compelled to re-register in
    the United States? In the cruise industry, mass market carriers might avoid U.S. registration by simply buy-up and merge with European or Asian carriers so that U.S. citizens no longer constitute a majority of passengers. But in the end, where international commerce is at issue, single countries are limited in what they can do, and the situations described above, repugnant as they may be to U.S. citizens, are probably not changeable.

  • flutiefan


  • TonyA_says

    But B6 fares here in NYC is just as cheap as those that overbook. So that does not explain the load factor thingy you are talking about. If you are correct, B6 should be more expensive. But they are not. That’s why I fly b6.

  • Carchar

    Although I didn’t “downvote” you, I just want to point out that some people do want to relax on the boat without debarking at the ports of call. My aunt does that every so often because she likes the ocean, but cannot walk without a walker. Also, someone on my boat to the Antarctic could not debark due to a bad back and slippery terrain. He did enjoy viewing all the icebergs, birds and whales from the ship.

  • Grant

    But spot on… and funny. :-)

  • Guest

    I understand what you are saying, but what I felt the point was is that a US based company should register their ships in the US, not another country to get around certain regulations.

  • Carchar

    Right. Passengers will take the time to pack, take transportation to the port of embarkation (possibly fly) and then pretend to be sick so that they can take the cruise another time. That in itself is an expensive way to get out of taking the cruise.

  • Guest

    But you cruise to cruise, not to get to a destination since most cruises end where they start.

  • Bettina

    Hmmm.. I used to travel a lot for leisure, 3 to 4 times to the US from Europe per year (that was pre TSA scanners) and I had an annual travel insurance policy, mostly to protect myself should I become ill in the US. In Europe, if you are insured in one member country all you need is proof of it (there is a form) and you will receive emergency treatment at no cost to you, even on vacation. In the US, with health related costs as exorbitant as they are, I was happy to have my insurance – even though I never needed it.

  • Carchar

    Not exactly on subject, but Mexican medical care is not all bad, as many comments seem to imply here. Like in the U.S., there are good and bad hospitals and doctors. A friend of mine broke her arm very badly in a fall the day after flying to Mexico. Her traveling companions took her to the nearest hospital. The doctor she saw seemed knowledgeable and recommended a special surgery. My friend has a number of medical doctor friends at the University of KY in Lexington, so she chose to immediately fly home (assisted by Travel Guard) with the x-rays and recommendations of the Mexican doctor. The doctors at UK agreed that she had received expert care and performed the exact surgery already recommended.

  • Bettina

    Well, I do not know what is available in the US, but I do know that you can get comprehensive travel insurance that even covers pre-existing conditions (they have to be declared and depending on the risk, the policy would be more expensive), but I used to have an annual policy for years!

  • LFH0

    Carnival Corporation is a company based in Panama, not the United States. Carnival has its business headquarters in the United States. Many corporations have their headquarters in a country other than the country in which they are based, especially companies earning income from international operations where profits need not be repatriated to the United States (especially given its excessively high corporate income tax rates). Carnival advertises cruises originating from Canada, England, Italy, Spain, and the United States; Carnival provides service to (and might embark and/or disembark passengers) in many other countries. Carnival does business in many countries. Most of its vessels are registered in Panama; a few vessels are registered in the Bahamas. Is there really any rationale for registering vessels in any particular country? If so, should registration be required based on the country in which the corporation is based, or some other criteria?

  • Alan Gore

    Actually. debt free. When you treat customers right, they come back in good times and in bad. Because I’m not a travel company, I can’t just whine for a cushy bailout when the economy turns down. I have to deal with my competition by, well, competing. I can’t just think up an ugly word for competition like”scalping” or “cabotage”, invite my Congressman out for squab and cigars, and get laws passed against it.

  • Cybrsk8r

    I’m so glad I’ll never go on a cruise.

  • Matty B.

    I voted no. If you show up to and can’t board because you get sick, how is that the cruise company’s fault? They’ve sold you a cabin and can’t sell that to anyone else if you get sick as you’re boarding. Plus, in this case, even if they weren’t offered insurance, they could have asked, or poked around the website themselves. A little personal responsibility goes a lot way in life…

  • SoBeSparky

    If you live at the embarkation point, and many do nowadays, then it is not that difficult to pack, park and wait to board. According to American Cruise Guide, 18 major metro areas on the east, south and west coats have cruise departures. This is just about every city over 1 million people along the USA coasts. If you live in one of those metro areas, it is very little work to save the forfeiture of $2,000 or so. Of the top 10 metro areas, seven are ocean-going cruise ports and three, Dallas, Chicago and Atlanta, are not.

  • sirwired

    There’s a lot more to airline pricing than load factors. Labor contracts, fuel hedging, and competitive pressures all control their fares. No-show revenue loss is absolutely “baked in”, as it’s cost certainly isn’t free.

  • TonyA_says

    The question is why can’t they price in some compassion. At least in the airline if you get sick (with proof) you get to fly again. Are there too many old and sick people taking cruises?

  • TonyA_says

    LFH0, i use to work in the department of an airline (US Flag Carrier) that did presentation materials for the big guys who go to Washington (such boring work!). Anyway with airlines, at least we negotiated BI-LATERALs with real countries that also had big airlines. That is not the same case with cruise lines. They sail with the flags of countries we have very little trade with. Pure gaming.

  • TonyA_says

    Me too with one exception (and I do not consider them cruises). I like those small river boat (barge) trips that float along great rivers. Everything else, I fly. Only thing I need to worry about is my cramped seat now that so many articles here keep on reminding me.

  • delivron

    I voted yes on the pole. But this is really a tough question. At the time you boarded there was no way for the cruise line to refill you berth. The food was purchased the room booked. In light of the cruise lines recent history I think they made a good move on your part. But don’t expect treatment like that again.

  • Chester P. Chucklebutt

    In this case, the OP should have at least received the fare difference between what they paid and what the folks who were upgraded into their cabin paid. Otherwise, the cruise line receives free “good press” at their expense.

  • Chester P. Chucklebutt

    Partial refund for difference between their cabin and the folks upgraded into their cabin. Why should the cruise line get the free PR on the upgrade?

  • Chester P. Chucklebutt

    Was the cruise doctor correct in his assessment?

  • Mel65

    I have been on a cruise; I’ve had a kidney infection, and I devotedly watch both Gray’s Anatomy and Law and Order. Therefore I feel perfectly qualified to comment on this case. Carnival sucks, but there is no way that woman didn’t know she had something going on before she boarded that ship. My guess is they assumed that boarding and then being asked to leave would get them a do-over when cancelling out right would not. And, with Chris’s help, it worked. I do feel sorry for her, but anyone savvy enough to get Chris involved, also reads this column enough to KNOW TO BUY INSURANCE even if it isn’t offered to you by the cruise line. In this instance, all’s well that ends well, *shrug*.

  • tigger57

    Insurance, Insurance, Insurance!! What is the difference between getting sick while boarding or getting sick at the airport before you get to the cruise. If they had taken the insurance (there are many that cover pre-existing conditions) they would have been covered! I don’t believe Carnival didn’t offer her insurance.

  • Daddydo

    You have entered into a contract with the cruise line. Part of that contract has a cancellation policy. You got sick, you did not sail, you broke the contract. NO REFUND FOR YOU! Insurance most likely would have covered this incident, and I have never ever heard of a cruise agent not offering insurance, it is part of their script.

  • Tanya

    airlines are also subsidized by our tax dollars which is why fares are competitive. Not sure the same would occur (as directly) with a cruise line.

  • TonyA_says

    Ever read the story about the cruise port in Mobile Alabama?

    I guess it is empty now leaving the taxpayers (city) having to pay for the bonds and debt…


    Also who pays when the Coast Guard has to rescue these large lame ships?

  • Tanya

    Yes, in fact, if you purchase certain travel insurance policies within so many days of booking your trip, preexisting conditions are covered. I know the travel insurance I normally use says 21 days of booking the trip. The cruise line would have also been right to turn her away if she had simply shown up with a 24 hour stomach bug. It is not just her health and safety that they have to deal with, but the entirety of the ship.

    I do think that she should have been given more information at the time, but I also think Carnival made the correct decision. You don’t want to mess with a kidney infection.

  • Tanya

    Yes, and that is local, not federal, still a shame for those taxpayers. In the latest instance,

    Not sure it will even cover the amount of fuel, or anything else, but hey, it looks good, right?

    I, too, do not agree with the cruise lines registering elsewhere than in the US (I know it has much to do with labor laws and other regulations), but they all do it, except for maybe some of the river cruise owners. That does not make it right, unless you are a shareholder and concerned with the bottom line vs. doing the right thing.

  • TonyA_says

    If the US taxpayers subsidize an AMERICAN operation that pays REAL AMERICAN WAGES then I will not complain too much. But for a town like Mobile to lose that much money on a company that games the system, Halleluiah to the few big owners for such a class act.

  • Alan Gore

    Usually in this kind of case there is some degree of passenger culpability. The passenger schedules his airline connections too tightly, or forgets his passport. In this case, it was CARNIVAL’S decision not to let him sail, so Carnival has to pay or offer a do-over.

    Sorry, but travel industry logic is just too different from the logic we use here on Earth for me to get my head around.

  • jonricha

    I’m not sure the comments were meant to be a slam on Mexican hospitals. I think it was more of “would you rather be in a foreign hospital or your home country’s hospital?”. I think most people would prefer their home country’s hospital if given the choice over any country, mexican or otherwise.

  • MarkKelling

    Which airlines based in the US are subsidized?

  • EdB

    I guess you could say all the ones that have been bailed out by the taxpayers when the airline has gone bankrupt. But other than that, I’m not aware of any airline getting subsidized.

  • MarkKelling

    I think what was intended in the question is “verifiable” illness requiring a doctor to agree that the illness is something that would keep a passenger from sailing, not someone just saying “I don’t feel well, give me a do over.”

  • Tanya

    All of them in one way or another. Here is a pretty good article (although dated)

    Basically any airline that provides any service to the cities on the so called “essential air service” Plus, they have favorable treatment as they bribed, sorry, lobbied congress for.

  • Lindabator

    Not accurate, Tony. Look at the price difference with Norwegian Cruise Lines – or Disney. NCL in Hawaii has US workers, and Disney does as well. BOTH are priced higher than the competition, and a large part of that is the cost of employment.

  • TonyA_says

    No competition (cabotage restrictions), that’s why prices are higher.

  • Lindabator

    All the cruise lines’ ships are registered elsewhere – between the cost of employment in the US and the Jones Act, it would be impossible to do business otherwise.

  • Lindabator

    The upgrades onboard are generally not “sold” but given to their frequent travellers – have had it happen to me in the past, as well as to my clients.

  • Lindabator

    And then where do they draw the line? Anyone who has a change of heart could expect it.

  • Lindabator

    But we really don’t know what they did – most times when this happens, you are met at the pier by ambulance and removed from the ship for treatment. That covers them against a possible lawsuit.

  • Lindabator

    Actually, Travelguard would have covered for cancellation due to illness or injury, and if purchased within 14 days of the deposit on the cruise, pre-existing conditions would be covered.

  • Lindabator

    yes they would – you need to read the contract of carriage.

  • Lindabator

    Because they HAVE already factored in the loss of a certain percentage of fliers – and the cost of having to pay for overbooked space. A cruise cabin being held till the day of travel, with no option to sell at that point, can end up a high cost if they are expected to cover everyone’s reason for skipping. Insurance is offered in this case – and in the case of a package booking, escorted tour, etc.

  • Lindabator

    Or got into a fight on the way there????

  • Lindabator

    But where do they get to draw the line? The way the COC is written now, its simple. Cancel with a certain number of days – nonrefundable. Regardless of the reason. (I had a client pass away from a heart attack just after boarding – do you think ANY of the family was offered a refund?)

  • Lindabator

    Don’t see her “walking” off the ship at that point – they generally call ambulance service for a transfer to the hospital – don’t think we are getting the full story here.

  • SoBeSparky

    The airlines long ago gave up a “verifiable” illness requiring a doctor to agree…as every doctor agreed when the patient asked for it.

  • Lindabator

    You’d probably be the first to say they should pay if she stayed on board sick, too. HER illness, HER choice not to get insurance of any kind, HER loss in this case.

  • andrelot

    I’m usually sympathetic to the plight of travelers denied boarding because of issues where the cruise line or other service providers had at least part of the blame (such as misguiding information on travel documents given by its agent, or late flights used to reach port, or change in schedule cause by a hurricane watch).

    However, on this specific case, I think the cruise line acted properly: a renal infection is a serious medical emergency that warrant immediate treatment. Treatment for which it is not on the interest of the passenger to take on board at any circumstance (the ship doesn’t have a hospital room for that neither does it have fit people). So the cruise line did act right this time. Obviously, renal crises on the first hour of boarding cannot be, by any shape or form, the result of something the cruise line did.

    This is a typical case of ‘tough luck’, I think, and one that could be reasonably covered by travel insurance. The passenger had the health crisis upon embarking, so there is no reasonable expectation of “oh, they could re-sell the cabin to someone else”. This is not a more typical case of “I-had-knee-surgery-and-will-not-be-able-to-ski-4-months-from-now-anymore”.

  • andrelot

    The cruise line did take the passenger. It felt ill after being sent to their cabin already.

    Let’s stretch your reasoning: suppose a passenger falls from a staircase in some shopping mall 2h before boarding. The passenger is in acute pain and the ship’s doctor easily see he’s broken his leg and need surgery. Should the cruise ship be liable for a full refund? What if the passenger just suffered a stroke on the taxi between the airport and the cruise terminal?

    I’m all sympathetic to situations where the cruise line or its partners share the blame – like delayed oncoming flights, misleading passport requirment information given by agents etc. -. But a personal health ailment is a tough sell.

  • lmh

    Why did they refuse to continue to carry this passenger? Kidney infections are painful but not life threatening. This sounds like the cruise ship trying to avoid any potential liability if the doc was wrong. If she was given a chance to stay or go, accurately educated about the possibilities (medically and whether she could take the cruise again or not), left and complained – well…too bad for her. If the cruise line denied for a medical condition that is not dangerouse, misled her about crusing again and then won’t allow this..too bad for them.