On October 31, 2011, two very dear friends of mine thought they were beginning a week of paradise. They boarded your ship at Port Canaveral and it was a well-deserved and needed break for the both of them. Shortly after the boat left the dock, my friend suffered a massive heart attack. Paramedics were called to their room and the boat was turned around. He was flat lined for 15 full minutes. Your medical crew did everything they could do to keep him alive until they met the ambulance at the port and he was transported to the nearest hospital.
He immediately went into surgery and for the next 7 days was on life support. His wife was by his side 12-15 hours a day not knowing what was going to happen. Their lives were turned upside down in one second.
The one thing my friend told me during this time was how surprised she was that a representative from Royal Caribbean called the hospital every day to check on her husband and it comforted her in knowing they were so concerned. The representative also told my friend that anytime my friend, her husband (if he survived) and their family wanted to reschedule a cruise, they would sail for free. Again, my friend could not believe how thoughtful this was. During one of these calls with your representative, your personnel told my friend that along with the insurance she bought for the cruise (cost:$45.00), there is a clause that would cover medical costs as a supplemental insurance. This representative also said she had been in touch with the hospital billing department and for her not to worry about anything. With her husband’s dire condition, this was information that put her mind at ease as the medical bills were piling up by the second.
I want to repeat, every day for 6 days, your company representative called the ICU unit to check on the status of my friend. Every day she was given support, reassurance and those calls helped her get through some very stressful moments.
On day 7, my friend on the way to the hospital (50 miles from home) stops to get gas and her debit card is denied. She cannot believe this is happening while everything else is falling apart. She is far from home and has no one to help her out. She makes some calls to the bank and finds out that Royal Caribbean has made a withdrawal from her account; not just a small withdrawal-they cleaned out her checking account and her kids’ accounts that were associated to hers. This amount taken was in excess of $4000.00!! They used the debit card that she gave them when boarding the ship. Funny, she put a spending limit of only $25.00 on that account with the ship, how is it they were able to withdraw over $4000.00? My friend never authorized more than $25.00. Royal Caribbean claims the money is for payment to the medical crew on the ship; doctors licensed to practice on the ship, but based outside the United States.
Royal Caribbean tells my friend that when she was leaving the ship with her husband clinging to life, she signed papers that gave them authorization to get payment for services. REALLY? A woman is near hysteria watching her husband dying right in front of her, no family, no friends, running from the ship into a waiting ambulance and you have her sign papers regarding payment-and you expect her to know what she is doing? This is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. I can see sending a bill, I can see calling her regarding any outstanding medical costs, I can understand that medical personnel get paid for the services they provide, but to clean out her bank account without her knowledge is deplorable. If I go to the doctor, emergency room, or walk in clinic and I have a balance due, THEY SEND ME A BILL!
You have a woman with her husband on life support, not sure what the next second will bring. She has kids at home that she cannot take care of because every second possible she is at her husband’s side, she is barely holding it together and then you do this?
Never in my life have I been so disgusted with a situation. Your so called “caring”, “supportive”, “don’t worry about anything”, “cruise with us for free” representative is a joke. Your company should be ashamed of yourselves.
I will post this on every blog, web site, and anywhere else I think it might help someone decide not to cruise with your line. Your so called insurance that was said to help her is a farce. The fact that you couldn’t even call her or warn her of the charges is despicable. Leaving this woman literally penniless is disgraceful.
On a positive note, her husband is off life support and has a long road ahead of him (not that you care). That is what she cares most about; she has her husband, their kids have their dad. This is not about the money as much as it is about the way you handled this tragic situation.
I hope this letter really gets to someone who cares, although it probably won’t. I wouldn’t want to see another person have to go through what my dear friend just experienced with your cruise line.
I understand what your friend is and has gone thru. My DH had a massive heart attack 2.5 years ago. He did recover but it was really touch and go for the first 10 days. We had been scheduled to leave about 10 days or so after that. Obviously we didn't go.
We did have insurance. We had private insurance. I would never ever take ship's insurance and always advise my client's against it - suggesting instead private insurance.
The problem is - they do have the right to charge for medical services onboard the ship and normally they do. The way they have handled your friend is terrible - of that there is no doubt. This shows something else - never use a debit card.
I'm not sure RCL or any of the cruiseline insurance actually offer cash back. I believe it's only 75% refund applicable to another cruise. That would explain two things - why she was told she could have another cruise for "free" and why they took money out of her account.
I would advise your friend to re-read the cruiseline insurance policy and hire a good lawyer.
A horrible situation to find oneselves in, no doubt.
But, to clarify, when boarding a ship (any ship, any line) one is required to put down a deposit... either by credit card, debt card, or cash to cover your onboard expenses. The minimum (I believe) is $250 if you're using cash).
There's no way giving a card one could put a $25 limit on.
The use of a debt card is an issue, because unlike a regular credit card, where the vendor can simply get a pre-authorization for a deposit amount, with a debt card that amount is withdrawn immediately.
I'm not sure of the insurance RCI sells, but if it covered hospitalization expenses, it will also likely cover the cost of the onboard medical care.
Like alot of insurance companies, it may require you pay the bill first, then submit the receipt to be reimbursed.
All charges onboard, whether it's drinks, alternate restaurants, and , yes, medical care are automatically billed to one's shipboard account.
I do hope everything settles out in the end, and the gentleman recovers, and the insurance reimburses all expenses (other than the insurance cost) which is normal.
Kuki, the cruiselines don't as a rule, require cash upfront when setting up an onboard account by cash. I've been doing it for the last few years simply because I don't want them taking that daily amount and I especially don't want them changing my U.S. charges into Canadian funds when it isn't necessary and going to cost me 3% more.
We are not big spender's onboard anyway but normally about the third or fourth day I will give cash - usually around the $300 mark to bring my account up to date if necessary.
$4,000 was a lot of money to take out of someones account. Having her sign authorization when she was under such stress is also nasty. And you're right, you can't put any limits on your onboard account unless you are limiting a child.
Again, there are always exceptions. When my nephew was sailing with us he ran into some issues. I applied my cc against his account thereby taking responsibility for him and his girlfriend, (they were over 25). Everytime he used his card they would call me. I finally had to go to the front desk and tell them to stop. I hadn't limited him - they had no right to if I hadn't.
I'm wonder if they were more conserned that the passenger would die and they would not be able to get any money then.
I'm sorry that your friend and her husband have been through such heartache. I do have to say, though, that it is the policy of the cruise line, be it Royal Caribbean or any other that we have traveled, that all onboard medical expenses be paid before leaving the ship.
I have had to use the doctor on the ship and had to pay in full for the doctor's visit, the meds and other incidental charges. I, too, had insurance and I had to submit the bill to the insurance company and I was re-imbursed. I think the problem that faced your friend is using a debit card. This is one of the reasons we won't use our debit card on a cruise. We only use a credit card so that should something happen, our "cash" funds won't be wiped out.
I know it's a hard lesson and I do feel this charge might have been explained to your friend, but with all the frenzy she didn't hear it or pay attention to it. I know I wouldn't and I don't fault her for not realizing it was going to happen.
I do think Royal Caribbean was caring and that those checking in on her husband were thoughtful. I'm sure when you all calm down and her husband is back home and well, you will be able to better understand the situation.
What a horrible expierence for you all, surly hope your husband is on the mend....Having a member of my family need the medical services while onboard Royal Caribbean, the charge is added to your account to be paid in full when you leave the ship. Having had taken out the travel insurance, this charges had to be filed with our regular health insurance and the balance sent into the travel insurance company. When all is said and done, they did pick up the unpaid balance from our regular health insurance. Yes, this does take some time and you have to keep good records. As for Royal Caribbean, it is a charge that occured while onboard, so yes, it would be expected to be paid.