Don't Lose Your Cruise Cool

Something strange is happening lately; People have been denied boarding, put off ships and even banned from ever taking another cruise for a variety of reasons, some of which we have never heard before.

We can't say we definitely know the reason why this happening, but the cruise lines could be required soon to report all claims of onboard incidents (theft and other crimes) to the Coast Guard, whether or not they are ultimately confirmed as valid complaints. These reports would eventually be made public. Maybe some cruise ship captains have decided to prevent incidents before they happen - if that is possible.

Last week a man was put off an expensive European cruise when he showed moderately aggressive behavior after being provoked by another passenger. He tried to douse the fellow with the contents of his drinking glass. The "offender" was put off the ship in the first port of call and lost almost his entire cruise with no refund.

In another case, a family man was made to sign an affidavit saying he was banned from another cruise line - when the room steward claimed he marred the surface of a stateroom cabinet. I was just told by the line that "management" (shoreside) got involved later and "decided it was better to give the passenger the benefit of the doubt, lift the ban - and issue an apology." That was a very good idea, in my opinion.

Another man was put off a cruise ship in the Baltic because he was disruptive during an art auction he felt was questionable. He was apparently pretty disruptive, but there is no indication he was a danger to anyone.

You don't need to display aggressive behavior to be considered a public hazard. The appearance of ill health is another reason. One gentleman was ready to board a ship at Southampton when he was given the now perquisite form asking if he'd had any flu or cold symptoms lately.

He answered that two days earlier he had a little scratchy throat, but he felt fine now. He thought it would lead to an interview, maybe a nurse with a thermometer, and his cruise ticket stamped "all clear."

No - he was told he could not board the ship. He protested, "I'm fine now, really, I was just trying to be honest." There was no second chance - or any refund.

Talk about not losing your cool; MSC just announced a plan to use thermal scanners to identify people with a fever. What happens when the alarm goes off? I hope they will have a nurse or physician on duty. I will know later today, at least MSC is courteous enough to promise me an honest answer.

In fact, there are many examples of people denied or off-loaded from cruises due to the appearance of an illness, and sometimes that makes sense if emergency surgery might be required, but in those cases at least you have the ship doctor's informed opinion.

We are just about to enter "Swine Flu II." It is predicted the H1N1 virus will resurface to cause travel delays and restrictions. Most travel insurance policies only cover illnesses that begin during the trip, not before, so filling in that questionaire affirmatively might be a problem. Some policies also will not cover any illness considered a "pandemic" and the WHO declared H1N1 a pandemic last year. If you purchase trip insurance we recommend the "cancel for any reason" variety. If you are sick before the cruise you can cancel, but if you try to board and are denied the policy may not pay out. Read your policy and take it literally.

The reaction to these cases has been very strong in our message boards. Cruisers do not like the prospect of anyone having the power to deny their cruise with no recourse. The primary responsibility falls to the the captains of cruise ships, and how long this apparent vigilantism will last we don't know, but we doubt it will be long. But for now we suggest you just mind your own business and keep cool.

We certainly don't mind cruises losing the losers, but we don't want any good people losing their cruises.

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