CruiseMates Newsletter

3.06.2008
Kicked Off a Cruise?
by Paul Motter

A USA-Today article today tells the tale of a person who has asked to leave a cruise ship when he went to the ships medical facility and complained about blood coming from his mouth and stool. The ship's doctor advised the man that he mau need serious medical attention which the ship is not able to provide, and since the ship was about to embark on two days at sea he was asked to leave the ship.

The ship was in Roatan, and the man and his son say they had to scramble to get money together to fly home at their own expense. On the other hand, had he need emeregency med-evacuation at sea, it would have cost him tens of thousands of dollars.

Was the cruise line right to do this? That depends on whether the doctor made the right diagnosis, but since he was the only doctor there, and he was relying on what the patient told him, it is hard to argue with it. Right or wrong, it was what the doctor felt was the right thing to do. Ironically, my own mother who is also 89 has been complaining about "spitting up blood" lately and we had her thoroughly examined. Nothing was wrong.

Old people often say things lik this to get attention, or in my mom's case ner memory is so bad that if she had one event like this she tell us it happened "last night" every day for a week when it really only happened once.

Bottom line, though, there are things you need to know about ship's doctors. First of all, they are independent contractors, not ship employees. So their services are not included in the cost of the cruise. Next, it is part of their duty to avoid med-evac procedures when possible, and so people may be asked to leave the ship.

Another health aspect of cruising is that they do not want people bringing viruses onboard. If you are presenting symptoms of norovirus when you are checking in, they might deny you boarding the ship. In fact, every passneger is asked to fill in a form as to whether they have been vomiting, experiencing gastrointestinal pain or related symptoms in the previous 24-hours. It isn't my place to tell you not to tell them the truth, but be aware that if you lie to get on board you might end up infecting hundreds of other people.

Fortunately, the cruise lines do NOT kick off people who are sick with norovirus, they merely confine them to their cabins, where they are probably going to want to stay anyway. But I have heard stories of people being confined who say they were not that sick and wish they had not gone to see the doctor.

Getting back to the original case, the one thing the man should have had, at his age, is travel insurance. A web site called insuremytrip.com allows you to get quotes from a variety of sources for any vacation, including cruises. A search for myself and my wife, age 52, for a 7-day cruise came out to $159.19, or $79 apiece. Considering what you get (if you need it) this is a true bargain. here is what this covers:

  • Trip Cancellation (100% of Trip Cost):   up to $2,000.00
  • Trip Interruption (150% of Trip Cost):   up to $3,000.00
  • Trip Delay ($150 per Day):   up to $2,000.00
  • Baggage and Personal Effects:   up to $2,000.00
  • Baggage Delay:   up to $400.00
  • Accident & Sickness Medical Expense ($750 dental expense limit applies):   up to $50,000.00
  • Emergency Assistance (Emergency Medical Transportation):   up to $250,000.00
  • Collision Damage Waiver (Not available to residents of OR or TX):   up to $25,000.00
  • Air Flight Accident (AD&D - Flight Only):   up to $200,000.00*

Note: they don't really say what AD&D for Air Flight Accident stands for, but my guess is "accidental death and dismemberment".

Or they offer an enhanced policy (oddly called "Freestyle Luxe") which provides higher protection in the the following areas for $120 per person:

  • Baggage Delay:   up to $1000.00
  • Accident & Sickness Medical Expense ($750 dental expense limit applies):   up to $250,000.00
  • Emergency Assistance (Emergency Medical Transportation):   up to $250,000.00
  • Collision Damage Waiver (Not available to residents of OR or TX):   up to $25,000.00
  • ADDITIONAL: post event loss of life or limb, up to 180 days after the accident:   up to $100,000.00

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