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4.29.2008
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editor's notes
by Paul Motter

Trip Interruption Calamities

There have been two incidences on different cruise lines recently where families were forced to leave a ship mid-cruise because one of the family members became ill.

With the most recent incident, a Florida family of five was hurried off a ship in Nassau, Bahamas, apparently with only about 10 minutes to prepare because the ship was about to sail. It is said the mother was not even allowed to change out of her pajamas because there wasn't enough time.

This family was on the the second day of a five-day cruise. Unfortunately, they did not have trip insurance and they had boarded the ship without passports, which is still legal for sea travel until June, 2009, but not for entry into the U.S. by air.

The child, a 7-month old girl, was diagnosed by the ship's doctor as being dehydrated. Apparently, the ship did not have the facilities to treat the girl and the doctor decided she needed emergency treatment that could only be given in a land-based facility.

This family was put off the ship with no assistance from the cruise line, the mother in pajamas, walked off the gangway and presumably pointed in the direction of town about 11:00 p.m. The family found an emergency room, and the baby was diagnosed with a cold and immediately discharged. There was nothing left for the family to do except seek out the U.S. embassy and pay $455 for emergency passports so they could fly home. Air tickets cost them $650 all together.

Adding insult to injury, the cruise line refuses to reimburse them for the cost of the cruise, only offering a voucher for a free cruise. All together, this two-day fiasco was not only emotionally devastating, it cost them $3000. The cruise line says it is not responsible for any of it, because the family could have purchased travel insurance but did not.

I was curious whether it would have been cheaper for them to rejoin the ship instead of buying passports and airfare home, so I looked up the itinerary in an online cruise agency. Possibly they could have chartered a boat to the private Bahamian island owned by the cruise line the ship was sailing to the next day.

But the most ironic thing of all? The cruise agency I consulted to check the itinerary for this ship offers free cruise insurance with every cruise they sell on this cruise line. Oh, the woes we endure for not being careful consumers with our vacations.

And by the way, if I ran that cruise line, I would have paid for their airfare home and kept in touch with the family to make sure they were all right. Is it really OK to kick a family off of your cruise ship in a foreign port with no regard for what might happen to them? I don't think so.

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