Royal Caribbean Tells Family To Abandon Ship

There are few things in life more decadent and luxurious than a cruise vacation. Unless of course, you are on a Royal Caribbean cruise and your child gets a cold, and then a paranoid crew kicks you and your family off the ship at night in your pajamas at a foreign port where you then have to spend thousands dollars for passports and tickets to get home. It sounds like a nightmare but that’s exactly what happened to this Florida family according to WFTV. Read the details of their misadventure, inside…

Last Monday night, the Cortes family boarded the Majesty of the Seas for what was supposed to be a lavish, 5-night cruise. On Tuesday, the Cortes’ 7-month-old Zoie, started getting ill and the ship’s doctor was dispatched. With symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, little Zoie was diagnosed with dehydration and the doctor said she needed immediate treatment, but off the ship. According to the family, a security guard gave them 10 minutes to pack their bags and leave the ship. “I asked if my wife could get out of her pajamas and there was no time for that. We had to leave,” said Luis Cortes. The Cortes’ speculate that the doctor suspected Norwalk virus since Zoie exhibited symptoms similar to the virus’.

At 11pm the Cortes’ rapidly disembarked into Nassau and sought treatment at a local emergency room. However, Zoie was diagnosed with a cold, not the Norwalk virus. Additionally, the family said she had seasickness. The Nassau doctor deemed Zoie fit for travel, however the cruise ship had already left. “We had to find our way to the U.S. Embassy. All of this on foot. A family of five in this town we knew nothing about,” said Cortes. The expenses that ensued were to the tune of $3000 for the cost of the emergency room, emergency passports (passports are not required on Caribbean cruises but RC recommends them), and plane tickets back to Florida. Royal Caribbean responded to WFTV saying that they were concerned because the child was so young and didn’t want to take chances. Royal Caribbean is giving the family free vouchers for another trip, but will not reimburse the cost of the passports and tickets “because the family didn’t purchase trip insurance.”

We’re not impressed, Royal Caribbean. It’s difficult to understand why you would have to kick a family off the boat within 10 minutes because of a case of “dehydration.” And now you won’t even pay for the family’s trip back to Florida? We would think that the reimbursement would be a small amount compared to the money you could be losing from any passenger with a slight cough who may now be afraid to board your ships. We understand that Norwalk virus is the bane of cruise ships but your knee-jerk reaction put this family through a boat-load of unnecessary grief. What would have happened if the ship was at sea? Plank time?

Update: According to Fox News, Royal Caribbean has recanted on not reimbursing the Cortes family. Royal Caribbean says, “Despite the company’s strong disagreement with the manner in which the Cortes family’s situation has been recounted in the media, as a gesture of good will, Royal Caribbean is providing the Cortes family with a refund of its cruise fare and reimbursement for its flights home.”

Family Says Cruise Ship Kicked Them Off Boat Because Child Was Sick [WFTV] (Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)
Royal Caribbean International Statement [Fox News]
(Photo: Getty Images)

Comments

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  1. rellog says:

    If this doesn’t beg lawsuit, I don’t know what does. Maybe someone should find the CEO, and drop him off in some other country with no way home… I’m thinking North Korea would be suiting…

  2. EricaKane says:

    Yeah well, the law of the high seas is basically no law. The ship’s doctor probably has authority under maritime rules to do what he did.

  3. christoj879 says:

    “boat-load of unnecessary grief.”

    You guys should do standup.

  4. spinachdip says:

    @EricaKane: If nothing else, monkey knife fights are legal.

  5. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    A 7 month old on a cruise? Sure what the cruise line did was wrong, but taking a 7 month old on a cruise is not a wise choice to begin with. I would travel long distance on plane/train/boat with a child under three years old unless absolutely necessary.

    Royal Caribbean should refund the ENTIRE cruise (not a voucher, but a refund) and re-imburse the family the $3000.

  6. hypnotik_jello says:

    @spinachdip: or rebroadcasting Major League Baseball with implied oral consent, not express written consent!

  7. homerjay says:

    @EricaKane: I’m not sure if thats accurate when the ship is in port- as it was here.

  8. kimdog says:

    Okay, Royal Caribbean screwed this one up for sure. But who takes a 7 month old on a cruise?

  9. humphrmi says:

    @EricaKane: You are right, the boat’s captain (probably acting on the advice of the ship’s doctor) has ultimate authority to remove them from the ship.

    BUT

    Leaving a family in Nassau with no assistance or transportation to either an E.R. or home is unacceptable.

  10. joellevand says:

    Royal Caribbean are a boat load of dicks for this and absolutely should be sued for abandoning the passengers in a foreign country (hello!) without any way home and should reimburse them for everything except the passports. I have the utmost sympathy for EVERYTHING the family went through except for the passports. I mean, you’re not going to be able to reenter the US from *anywhere* soon without them, so why the f*** didn’t they have them? THAT makes no sense.

    Everything else, though, is totally the responsibility of Royal Caribbean. Yes, I get that the Norwalk virus is very serious and we’d be screaming at them if they’d continued the cruise with the family on board and the entire ship became ill. However, only giving them 10 minutes and, essentially, abandoning them? Not Okay.

    (I’d also like to second the “who takes 7 month old on a cruise” comment, though. Really? First my local bar has screaming brats in it and now this? My brainchild — a gated, child-free community complete with restaurants, bars, and coffee shops that are all No Kids Allowed — seems better every day.)

  11. thirdbase says:

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of a few

  12. BMRFILE says:

    This is why you do not take an infant on a cruise. You don’t know how that child would handle seasickness, and they’re that young, the misery multiplies, both on the poor kid, the parents, and everyone around them. And when you display similar symptoms close to a serious illness known to pass around on cruise ships, what do you expect RC to do? I feel sorry for the family, but they should’ve known better.

    I have been on two RC vacations and they all have been great. For the safety of 3,500 other people on the ship, I don’t blame them for playing it safe.

  13. thirdbase says:

    @bmrfile: How’s that job with Royal Carribean goin?

  14. nekussa says:

    @joellevand: I recently went on a cruise where the cruise ship collected our passports and returned them to us when we got back to the U.S. This family may have been in the same situation.

  15. Why didn’t they have their passports? Never been on a cruise but aren’t they required? 7 Month old on a cruise ship is a big no no. They should get some of the 3 grand back

  16. bohemian says:

    Who the heck takes a 7 month old on a cruise? Really?!? I would be rather annoyed if I spent the time and money to go on vacation and have to deal with someone’s screaming baby. Unless this was one of those specifically family cruises, even then under maybe 4yrs is still stupid.

    Another article made it sound like they didn’t even get to pack their bags and were left standing on a dock with nothing.

    The ship did the right thing by not subjecting an entire ship to what could have been norwalk virus. But they could have easily helped get these people home. Much cheaper that a boat full of sick people. But these people also didn’t have travel insurance, that’s pretty stupid the way things work these days.

  17. misslisa says:

    @joellevand: Joel, I DO live in “a gated, child-free community complete with restaurants, bars, and coffee shop”. It’s called Sun Lakes, Ariz., and you only have to be 40 to live here. All adult community – well, kids are allowed to visit, but I don’t see too many of them. I moved in on my 40th birthday & I love this place. So get your ass out here & be my neighbor!

  18. Buran says:

    @joellevand: The kid didn’t HAVE Norwalk. There was no risk.

    And will you people complaining about their taking their kid on a vacation lighten up? I get that some people don’t want to be around kids but horning in on other peoples’ lives and blaming them when they get abused by a megacorp over a trumped-up imaginary “charge” is just ridiculous.

    And no one has stepped forward yet to say “Vouchers!?!?” I know I wouldn’t want to give my business again to a company that abused me like this one did.

  19. mac-phisto says:

    i hate, hate, HATE travel insurance, but it’s stories like these that make me fork over the extra $100 or so. if you’re going to spend a few grand on the perfect vacation, why not insure it (i just vomited in my mouth a little for saying that).

    even so, i took a little peek at royal caribbean’s insurance policy –> [www.royalcaribbean.com]

    there’s certainly a lot of wiggle room in there for rc. for example, the cost of getting their documents replaced is not covered under section C (see page 6). i can’t tell if the cost of getting home is included or not – it certainly seems as though, but get this: economy-class minus any refunds on air travel. so, if you scheduled first-class travel to/from the port of call, you’re going home in a sardine can & there’s a good chance the cruiseline just made a few grand off you.

    i think the decision made by the ship’s doctor was a wise one, but the mess that resulted from it shows a lack of basic customer service. booting a family from a cruise ship, offering them no help once on land & then refusing to pay for the mess that you helped create? BOO!

  20. Dashrashi says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: @kimdog: I think you meant to say IBTV. Way more concise.

  21. So If I go on a cruise and get diarrhea and vomiting, Will I get kicked of as well? Are they allowed to do that? What if you refuse to leave? Lots of bugs can cause that. We really need the full story along with the doctors notes.

  22. cronick says:

    I was planning a Royal Caribbean cruise for my family reunion. Fat chance we’ll do that now. Thank goodness Consumerist reported this just in time to save us from making a huge mistake by booking on Royal Caribbean.

  23. Jay Slatkin says:

    @hypochondriac: Currently passports are not required for Carribean cruises however, RC recommends them.

  24. sickofthis says:

    @misslisa: That’s interesting. If it’s true, it would be a massive violation of the Fair Housing Act.

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    That’s AWFUL customer service.
    They could have at least offered to let the family continue on so long as they left the baby on the wharf.

  26. @rellog:

    Totally agree. Maybe they could put him in Iraq too. (Or maybe I’m being too mean).

    RC has now lost me as a potential customer. I have taken two cruises on Disney (one of which probably has similar ports of call to this RC cruise) and they have been great to us, both times.

  27. SaveMeJeebus says:

    A 7 month old? This situation sucks and all, but on our first and last cruise we left our 3 year old with his grandparents. How can you have any semblance of fun with a little anchor?

  28. Islandkiwi says:

    “The Cortes’ speculate that the doctor suspected Norwalk virus since Zoie exhibited similar symptoms to the virus.”

    What does this mean? Did the doctor say it might be the Norwalk virus, because what is listed is extreme dehydration, and nothing more. And why no passports, no changing of clothes, no ambulance waiting at the pier?

    This just sounds too bad to be true.

  29. I don’t understand why it is so imperative to give these people crap for taking a 7 month old on a cruise. Maybe they should not have, but that still gives RC no right to boot them like this AND THAT IS WHAT THIS IS ABOUT! RC allows little kids on cruises and that is the end of that issue.

  30. Eoghann says:

    I’ve never been on a cruise. This isn’t necessarily making them attractive enough for me to consider it, either.

    I’ve been seasick on a boat, and it’s one of the most miserable experiences of my life.

    Why in the world would I pay through the nose for that “privilege” again?

  31. AcidReign says:

        In a fair and just world, people would NEVER take a seven-month old on a vacation. There’d be reliable family members and/or hired services, and everything would be grand. Or else, failing that, such folks would NEVER take a vacation. You know, having a new-born/infant/toddler isn’t the least bit stress-producing, and young parents don’t NEED any relief whatsoever…

        Ahem. Yeah. In most cases, the seven-month-old is easier to travel with, than kids between 2 and 10. Food, diaper-changes, naps, eye & skin contact with Mom. That’s all a seven month needs. They’ll sleep through a metal concert, at that age.

        We were warned on our last two cruises, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER seek out the ship infirmary, unless you are bleeding out through an arterial wound, or the broken bone is showing through the skin. Bring your own meds, and stay in the cabin, otherwise…

  32. mrjimbo19 says:

    I am in shock right now that a business would attempt to operate like this. Leaving someone at a port of call can be expected if they have a medical condition (or signs of one) but what about transportation or at least a contact to assist them in area? What about at least dropping them at the embassy to find their way from there with the proper authorities involved? This just flat out sucks and I will NEVBR cruise this line. Been on 3 cruises so far since last year between Princess and Carnival and we loved them all…

  33. missdona says:

    @nekussa: Really? What cruise line and what’s their reason for collecting?

  34. dragonfire81 says:

    Refusing to refund the $3000 is the wrong decision in my opinion. Sure they did not purchase insurance but these were pretty extreme circumstances.

  35. ideagirl says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010:My children, now grown, traveled with me by car, plane, and bus many times before the age of 3. As long as the adults are prepared for traveleing with young kids, it’s not that hard. They did not cry on planes, suffer motion sickness, or any of the other things that you read about. I was prepared to make them comfortable, and because they were comfortable, they had fun. When the kids have fun, I have fun. They were, and are now, excellent travelers. People are too paranoid.

  36. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Cruises are for lame asses that don’t know how to travel.

  37. TechnoDestructo says:

    @AcidReign:
    Otherwise elipses?

  38. jamar0303 says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: Or, you know, people that don’t feel like taking a plane and the associated stress that goes with that.

  39. jamar0303 says:

  40. shikkaba says:

    Okay, wait a second. This doesn’t make sense. [cbs4.com]
    I was on that cruise when it was struck by the virus. They DID NOT kick anyone off. They just took major preventative measures. MAJOR measures. That’s it. No kicking off. People were quarantined for the entire cruise if they had it, which must’ve really sucked for them…

    I didn’t get sick, btw.

    Are they kicking people off because of what happened on Liberty of the Seas?

  41. woogychuck says:

    Hey everybody, if Royal Carribean had a problem with infants, why to they advertise an aqua babies program for 6-18 month olds.

    Also, for those that have a problem with bringing kids on a cruise, it’s actually a solid family vacation. It’s very difficult to find activities where kids from different age groups can have fun. Cruises provide a way to have activities for the kids and provide some nice break time for the parents.

    Finally, for any doctor to knowingly leave a sick infant in a foreign city shouldn’t be allowed to practice. I can’t imagine they don’t have a protocol for dealing with a sick passenger.

  42. camille_javal says:

    @mac-phisto: yeah, how much do you want to bet that, if they had purchased the insurance, RC would now be talking about what isn’t covered by insurance…?

  43. @humphrmi: From what I learned of maritime law from Star Trek and various war movies, the only person who can override the ships captain is the medical officer.

  44. spinachdip says:

    re: age of the baby
    To play devil’s advocate, taking a 7-month-old on a cruise isn’t as unreasonable as you might think. YMMV, but around 4-6 months, babies make the leap from being totally helpless to being pretty manageable. Their sleeping schedules are more predictable, they can eat solids, they don’t cry as much, and they can entertain themselves. In fact, at 7 months, they’re probably more manageable than a toddler because they can’t run off on their own. Plus, unlike driving or flying, you’re not confined to a seat on a cruise.

    @stanfrombrooklyn: You’re absolutely right. People who enjoy things that don’t appeal to you are complete, utter idiots.

  45. SkepticalJim says:

    Hmmmmm…something’s fishy with this story. I don’t think there is enough information to make a decision.

    I’ve been on several cruises and I don’t think the ship has ever been in port at 11 pm. Most of the time the ship is out to sea by that time.

    Also I’m a physician (although not a pediatrician which is probably also the case for the ship’s doctor) and if the kid was dehydrated he may have needed more treatment than was available on the ship. Or the physician may not have been comfortable treating (or able to treat) the child. Most patients on the ship are probably a little older than 7 months and treating children that young is different than treating adults.

    Could the child been sick enough to need to leave the ship? Or maybe the ship was about to leave port (or had already been held up) and needed to leave to make the next port of call. I think we need more information before we can all call RC a horrible company.

    This is another case of sensationalism. There’s one line from the company and the rest of the information comes from the family who might be a little biased. No statement from either of the doctors who treated the child.

    Also doesn’t everyone from the US need a passport to travel to the Caribbean? I thought was the policy after January 2008.

  46. Snaptastic says:

    So I can get kicked off a cruise for appearing to have symptoms of some dreaded boat virus by being dehydrated, vomiting and having diarrhea?

    Damn, remind me never to drink on a cruise…those symptoms sound like me when I’ve had a few too many shots, or the wicked hangover in the morning.

  47. OfficeMaxie says:

    This is exactly why cruise lines recommend you take passports, even though they are not mandatory. If you want to save a few $$ by not purchasing a passport, you assume this risk.

  48. DanPVD says:

    Not to go all “blame the consumer” but let me say the idea to travel on a cruise nowadays without a passport is just dumb and situations like these show why it is worth the cost. It also shows why trip insurance can be a good idea.

    But just consider the other side of the story. A dehydrated infant is not a good thing, and it sounds to me like the doctor was going on the safe side. While I don’t know the exact itinerary for this sailing, the Majesty was probably going to be at sea or be at CocoCay, Royal’s private island in the Bahamas after Nassau. Getting good medical treatment would be harder in these situations. Personally, I’d rather play it safe and go to a hospital than an infant getting worse at sea (and smaller ships don’t have helipads like the bigger ones, so no medical flights).

  49. nekussa says:

    @missdona: It was Crystal Cruises. We were passing through several countries and they had some sort of agreement with border authorities to manage the processing this way. When we got back to US territorial waters they had everyone show their shipboard ID and get checked against the passenger list; we picked up our passports later. It seemed odd to me but I have heard of others with similar experiences.

  50. @rellog:
    Good idea, drop the CEO at a foreign location with young children in tow. N.Korea is too harsh. I’m thinking smack in the middle of Havana, Cuba with only 20US dollars and a gold watch. Once he burns thru that then it’s onto the raft and set sail for Miami.

  51. Sanveann says:

    I agree that the doctor was smart to have the child seek medical attention in the port, in case the illness was serious.

    HOWEVER, I think RC should have helped the family get their belongings together and helped make arrangements for them in the event that they couldn’t get back on the boat. The “solution” of a voucher also seemed pretty cruddy, as I frankly can’t imagine this family will want to take another RC cruise.

    Incidentally, contrary to what seems to be popular belief among many people, not all babies scream 24/7. My son just turned 1 and has always been a very pleasant, good-natured baby.

  52. metaled says:

    A 7 month old? How dare they take a kid on vacation with them!!!! While we are at it, how about getting rid of those whiny old people that move to slow everywhere and how about the disabled in there wheel chairs. And noisy teens.. even better get rid of all those drunk 20-something know-it-alls!!!
    What the F&*$ right do you have to decide how people get to spend their vacations? I took my son on every vacation from the day he was born till his 16th (now).. had a wonderful time each time.. Never had a complaint.. he never cried like you generalize it… one time threw a fit in a resteraunt (was 3), he was standing outdoors in less than a minute. NEVER did it again.
    It’s only people that hate and discriminate that ruin things… people who enjoy complaining but I guess that’s why you’re commenting….
    I wouldn’t trade a moment (good or bad) with my son, for anything in the world! It’s obvious you guys who feel that way don’t have kids..and will probably never know real love. If you ever do have kids, you’ll know true unconditional love!
    I’d keep going, but I hear some kids running across my lawn, got to go chase them away .

  53. Veeber says:

    @Sanveann: I think most of the people who complain about babies/kids have either never had one, or have never been near one in a non-stressful situation.

  54. spinachdip says:

    @Chris Vee: More likely, they only notice the babies and kids who scream and/or run all over the place, while the quite/well-behaved ones stay under the radar.

  55. redsoxgirl1 says:

    To all those talking about the audacity of bringing a 7-month old on a cruise – - We just came back from a cruise with our 10-month old. She was fantastic. She doesn’t cry, she sleeps through the night, and is overall a happy baby. We had a great time. We love cruising and go every year and didn’t see the need to give up our vacation just because we now have an infant. Furthermore, if you are breastfeeding, it makes it difficult to leave her with someone for a week. Honestly, the spring breakers drunkenly running through the halls in the middle of the night were much more disruptive than my baby. But, I will say that if you do not have a baby that cries a lot and doesn’t sleep well, I’m not sure why you would want to go on a cruise in that situation. You probably won’t enjoy yourself or get your money’s worth especially since you are all in one room.

  56. ninabi says:

    Compare this to the child that developed appendicitis on a cruise ship off of Mexico. She wasn’t dropped off in some port- the US Navy came and got her, did surgery on one of their ships, then airlifted her to San Diego.

    If the 7mo baby was so critically ill, then why didn’t they put in an IV line for fluids? Why not transport the child via ambulance instead of dumping the family in Nassau?

    I can’t imagine dragging suitcases and vacation crap on a trip to the ER.

    RC should definitely reimburse. Their
    “too bad so sad” policy isn’t sitting well with a lot of readers here.

  57. t325 says:

    @Jay Slatkin: I’m going on a Carnival Caribbean cruise in May and we all had to get passports because our travel agent told us they were required.

    Ah well, even if they’re not required, It’ll come in handy soon enough.

  58. Raanne says:

    is it possible that they were kicked off because, due to the age of the child, they were afraid it might be something that would be significantly dangerous, and they didn’t want to be somewhere where the child didn’t have access to healthcare? I knew someone who had a heart attack on a cruise ship, and they didn’t make it because there isn’t a hospital you can take them too… I’m sure the cruise ship didn’t want that on their hands.

  59. StevieD says:

    RC is not a floating hospital. The onboard Doc is not a pediatrician. When presented with a very young child that is sick with multiple symptoms and prone to quickly dehydrating (or worse), the proper course of action is to seek competant medical care.

    RC did exactly that.

    End of news story.

  60. dugn says:

    You might want to lighten up on the “7 month old on a cruise” stuff. It works well for a lot of us. Less chance of injury, lots of outings, they can’t escape and less chance someone can steal the child while at sea.

    We took our 7 month old on a Holland America cruise since it’s one of the few vacations you can really take with your child.

    The freedom to leave a show, a dinner a movie while on an all-inclusive cruise because the baby needs to go down is a freedom land-based outings with babies and toddlers just can’t match.

    Granted, we also have great kids. They never scream and never have fits. People on airplanes and cruises always come up to us – clearly astounded – and comment on what wonderful kids we have (the subtext I sense is often, “Holy cow, I expected your baby to wail during the entire flight and I was pleasantly and unexpectedly surprised how quiet she was”).

    It works. It’s a great week-long family outing and we do it often.

  61. fullmetalgenesis says:

    A couple of people have mentioned the general idea – a company truly concerned with the child’s health rather than just not wanting anything to happen on their watch would have consulted with the parents, and if the parents wanted to seek medical attention would have made sure medical personnel were standing by at the port.

  62. WEGGLES90 says:

    Disgusting.

    You’d think they’d give them a few hours to get back with a Doctors note stating the child doesn’t have Norovirus… instead of ditching them.

  63. Landru says:

    @StevieD:
    shill

  64. @StevieD: Well, yes. But they were sort of asinine about it, at least the way the story portrayed it. They probably could have hooked the family up with someone to help them sort things out. They could have arranged for transportation to an embassy (sorry, but I recently took a cruise, although not with RC, and if they can arrange for private tours and such, they must have some kind of contacts to help out travelers in trouble). Dealing with a sick infant is a very serious matter, and it’s probably incredibly difficult to do in a foreign country. The ship reserves the right to kick people off in these situations, I’m pretty sure, but better decisions could have been made.

  65. hmk says:

    That’s pretty heinous of the cruise line. You can’t just dump a family at a foreign country and say “best of luck, hope you find the ER and your way home!” There have got to be some procedures in place that were not followed.

    BTW, I hate children. But it’s my understanding that the majority of people who go on these vacations are families, you know, people with children? Parents have every right to bring every member of their family with them, even babies. I just try to avoid the screaming brats. Not every child is horrible.

    I’d love to hear the follow up to this story, and I hope it’s a good one.

  66. 8abhive says:

    RC follow-up was complete crap but I can’t fault them for wanting to hand off to someone more qualified. The parents absolutely share some of the blame for this miserable experience.

    I would not head out on a cruise with my infant. The little guys don’t have a terribly well developed immune system, nor do they have margin for problems. When things go bad for an infant they tend to get worse quickly. Go out on a ship and not only is there a lack of competent medical care, your presence there is exposing your child to a known breeding ground for dangerous pathogens. Even simple motion sickness could ruin your trip. A dehydrated child is very bad news.

    My sister lost her 11mo-old to an infection. That event and the accompanying education completely changed my thinking on so-called “brave” parenting. Use your head. In this case the decision should have been easy. It was a predictable possibility, and the child wasn’t the one having fun before everything hit the fan.

    To those who say it’s the only place they can take a vacation, BS. Selfish much? Go ahead, lay into me, but maybe place some of your anger into better consideration next time.

  67. Who takes a 7-month old on a cruise?

    Folks who plan their vacations 18 months in advance, then 2 months later discover they are pregnant.

  68. WraithSama says:

    “Last Monday night, The Cortes family…”

    Maybe I’m just really tired, but that’s AWESOME. Whenever I see my family name in print, I want a capitalized The in front of it, too.

  69. Jay Slatkin says:

    @WraithSama: Fixed, thanks. :)

  70. maztec says:

    I always wonder how people get seasick on a cruise ship…. Especially babies.. yeesh.

    From the sound of the fact pattern – it appears that they were probably being ushered off within 10 minutes because they were leaving port. That would explain why the ship was gone when they returned. The doctor wanted them to go to a real hospital, they probably were not going to be at another port within however many hours or a day, and they did not want to take on the responsibility for a dead baby.

    Can’t blame them much on the last bit.

    Nevertheless, I think they should help reimburse the $3000. I don’t see their excuse of “no travel insurance” as viable – since that insurance should cover their tickets, which they reimbursed . . . so why not this also.

    Then again, if you can afford a cruise for a family of five, you can afford $3000 in my opinion.

  71. forgottenpassword says:

    How hard would it have been for RC to arrange transportation? Even if they were scheduled to leave port immediately they could have called/radio’ed in for someone to pick them up & take them to the hospital/hotel.

    Leaving their passangers standing on the docks in their pajamas with noone to take them anywhere is pretty unexcuseable.

  72. Concerned_Citizen says:

    I find this to be reasonable. There was no way to confirm which virus the baby had. What would happen if they let the family stay and the baby died? Babies are probably more susceptible to the disease. You can’t ignore the what-if part of this. The family would probably be praising them if their kid had the worse virus and was saved by kicking them off the boat. So I would say this case is based on the information the family had about travelers’ insurance before hand. Were they explained what travelers’ insurance was? Were they told a reasonably priced placed to get it? If they were not informed of this “necessary” protection by cruise line, the cruise line should be paying. But if the cruise line made it known that without insurance you are even responsible for all rescue costs if the ship sinks, then the family is at fault. If someone tells you something is necessary and you ignore their warnings to save a few bucks, that is your own problem. This case is about what information was exchanged before the cruise. Nothing more.

  73. bdgbill says:

    People take kids on cruise ships??

    Another reason to never step foot on one.

  74. landsnark says:

    @Concerned_Citizen:
    “But if the cruise line made it known that without insurance you are even responsible for all rescue costs if the ship sinks, then the family is at fault.”

    This is wrongheaded IMHO. The doctors/captain made a judgement call, but it was clearly wrong – the child did not have the Norwalk virus. The cruise line made the wrong call and caused monetary damage, therefore the cruise line should eat the cost. Whether the family was insured is irrelevant.

    Put another way, if the fire department came to your house out of nowhere and flooded it with water, would you be okay with them asking whether you had fire insurance before they paid for the damage? Of course not, because there was no fire.

  75. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @tmccartney:

    Umm, is the idea of a retirement community new to you? Arizona is chock full of them. But get this, even in your own town, there are apartment complexes just for older folk!!

    Maybe you should protest! That would go down well.

  76. MaliBoo Radley says:

    Ok, my feeling on this is that the boat was right to get the family off the boat, but … RC should have made arrangements for accomodation and transportation back to their port of origin. That way, everything is covered. Baby is safe, cruise is safe, RC doesn’t look like an asshole.

  77. leastcmplicated says:

    Sorry, but when it comes to a 7 month old, EVERY sickness begins with vomiting and diahrrea. My daughter just finished with Rotavirus, and extremely common virus that affects almost every kid at some point, also has the same symptoms. Unfortunately a 7 month old cant tell you is she has a headache or her muscles hurt.
    I can’t imagine that the first person to show symptoms (bad enough that the doctor has to be called) of Norwalk virus is a baby that doesnt even eat table food yet (the common fecal-oral route the virus is transmitted).
    I took a RC cruise a couple yrs ago and had a blast! *shrug*

  78. MrEvil says:

    Unfortunately cruise ship probably flies a flag of convenience. And the country’s flag they fly most likely has very lax standards for medical practitioners. Still a very dick move on their part.

    @AcidReign: I understand that having children is quite stress-inducing 90% of the time. HOWEVER, having a child is a choice. Part of choosing to have kids is understanding the personal sacrifices you make in order to provide for them. If you want to go on a cruise so badly, either don’t have kids, or wait till your kids go to college.

    Life isn’t fair, and having kids can make it the least fair sometimes. Them’s the breaks.

  79. bohemian says:

    @leastcmplicated: Rotavirus depending on the strain can still cause an epidemic even in adults. You think it is no big deal but someone thinking that could have then infected an entire ship. I will take the doctor’s decision over a guess by a parent that was foolish enough to take a baby on a cruise.

    From the doctor’s perspective I can see why he would not want to be basically hospitalizing a baby on a boat vs. having it in an actual hospital with proper staff and equipment.

  80. Concerned_Citizen says:

    @landsnark:
    What are you talking about. Were they supposed to flip a coin? The fact is the child showed symptoms of a deadly virus. Letting them stay at the expense of their own child’s life is ridiculous. This whole case just seems like the family had no problems with what happened until they found out their baby wasn’t in danger.

  81. RC must have some pretty bad Dr’s employed by them… It’s not that hard for a qualified and EXPERIENCED Dr. to distinguish symptoms and environment. Lets face the obvious, shall we? The Noravirus takes 24-48 hours after exposure to rear it’s ugly horned symptoms. If a 7 month old had it, most likely her mother would being a primary care provider being that it’s pretty contagious. A qualified Dr. would be able to see that sea-sickness could be responsible for the vomiting, and sometimes children as young as Zoie can have diarrhea over just teething. P.S.- It isn’t that hard to place an IV for fluids, give proper medication to control diarrhea… Every mother who’s faced these sicknesses knows what to do, it happens all the time.

    I think RC should reimburse this poor family for their severe lack of judgement in hiring a Dr. without specialized training for COMMON SENSE.

  82. VeteranMilitaryWife says:

    With all these stories (this is not the first one), I can’t understand why a traveller would not fork over $100 for trip insurance!!!!! I never go on a cruise without it…you never know what will happen!

    I feel for the family but they should’ve known the risks..especially with an infant..they are lucky they got the vouchers!

  83. bdgbill says:

    @metaled:

    Yes, every parent seems to be convince that their Little Miracle is perfect in every way and has never bothered a soul.

    I must be a very unlucky traveler because I have had to sit through having my seat kicked for hours at a time, have had apple juice spilled on me, have sat in bright orange cracker mush on an airline seat and have had people change shitty diapers in nearby seats. I have had screaming kids sitting next to me in a bar at 9:00 PM and screaming behind me for hours on a red eye out of Vegas.

    I guess I just have not had the good fortune to travel with a high quality child such as yours.

    Leave the brats at home until they are old enough to understand and obey the phrase “shut up and sit down”

  84. ThunderRoad says:

    RC should all DIAF! We were actually looking at a 10-day cruise with them in January, guess who just go scratched off the list.

  85. leastcmplicated says:

    @bohemian: So everyone that is vomiting and has diahrrea should be kicked off the ship because it *might* be Norovirus? he kicked them off diagnosing her with “severe dehydration” thats the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard. Quarantine the family, give the kid some gatorade or pedialyte (if its available) and get on with it… kicking them off the ship was a complete overreaction, and yes i realize the ships doctor is not a pediatrician but if you’re going to allow children under 18 on a ship then the doctor available should really know a bit about them, otherwise limit the cruise to 18+
    and for the record i do not agree with bringing your 7 month old on a cruise.

  86. dustinwwhite says:

    Should they have been kicked off? No, they could have been quarantined in their cabin for 24 to 48 hours or until symptoms subsided. That is RCI policy.

    The medical facility on board has a test to see if the Norwalk virus is present in the person. This only takes a couple of minutes. It sounds like this was not done.

    The final decision for disembarking a guest due to medical reasons rests with the Doctor. He will consult with the Captain before, but the final decision is his/hers. That also means that if anything happens to the patient that could have been prevented or treated had they been landed, the liability rests with the Doctor. This often leads to a knee jerk reaction in cases like this.

    When you book a cruise read the “Cruise Agreement” you sign. Very few (if any) people read this document before they cruise….it pretty much states that RCI can do what they want and in the event of anything your shit out of luck.

    …and never leave the country without a passport. Thats just common sense.

  87. landsnark says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: What are *you* talking about? No, RC should not have flipped a coin, they should have made the right call, and they didn’t.

    The child showed symptoms consistent with:
    1- “deadly virus”
    2- seasickness
    3- a cold

    If RC wants to err on the side of discretion and take the extreme measure of kicking the family off the boat, fine, but RC should then bear this cost if/when it turns out they made the wrong call.

    And of course the family wasn’t angry until they found out their child was misdiagnosed. If your child was misdiagnosed with a deadly disease you would react the same way –
    Stage 1) thank God my child isn’t going to die, then
    Stage 2) whose going to pay the thousands of dollars that this misdiagnosis cost us?

  88. aka Cat says:

    Wow, that really sucks for the family. Not only is their kid sick and their vacation ruined, but they’re out $3k.

    Unfortunately, RC doesn’t owe them a dime (or a voucher.)

    * There’s small print stating that you’re responsible for all medical expenses and that your home insurance may not cover it. *Including* medical expenses incurred onboard. (Seasick meds are usually free, that’s the one exception.)

    * There’s small print stating that you may be put off the ship if you’re contagious *OR* if you have any illness that the infirmary can’t handle. (Would the family have sued if the baby had died in the ship’s infirmary? You betcha. And the cruise lines try to avoid that.)

    * There’s small print stating that while a passport isn’t required for your cruise, it will be required if for any reason you have to fly back to the states.

    The only thing that’s a little sketchy is the ship only giving them ten minutes to disembark, 30 minutes would have been the least they could do. But for all we know, the ship had already been held in port for an extra hour while the doctor examined the kid.

  89. DHT says:

    Our 18-month-old son just came back from his fourth cruise with us. His first one was at 5.5 months. I don’t fault the family for bringing a 7-month-old on a cruise. But I certainly DO fault them for not purchasing trip insurance, and for not having passports. After my wife got pregnant, we started purchasing trip insurance for ALL of our cruise vacations. It typically costs us a little over $100 to cover all 3 of us, so when you’re looking at a $2k or more vacation, it’s worth it. Especially when you consider that it covers not just events during the cruise, but also allows us to cancel the cruise if he (or any of us) gets too sick to travel beforehand.

    If the family was truly kicked off the boat at 11pm, that means the boat turned around to drop them off. The Majesty is scheduled to be in Nassau from 8am to 6pm on Tuesdays, so the doctor must have been worried enough about the child’s condition to turn the ship around. That’s probably why the family only got 10 minutes to get off, too. The ship’s captain was probably worried about not being too late getting to Coco Cay the next day. And I realize now that if RCCL had to turn the ship around, the family would have known about it, and should have had at least a couple of hours to pack up their stuff.

    I also wonder how the ER doc determined it was just a cold. Did he actually run a PCR test and wait a few hours for the results?

    When I first read this story yesterday, I was a little incensed at how the family was treated, but after thinking about it for the last day, I have to side with the cruise line on this one. (And I’m not an employee of RCCL or anything.) The ship’s doctor was concerned for the little girl and erred on the side of caution. Had it been one of the adults, they would have been confined to their cabin until after the symptoms abated.

    The family tried to cheap out (no passports, no trip insurance) and got burned. And now they want someone else to pay for their irresponsibility. I’m sorry, but people have to take responsibility for their actions (and inaction.) Could RCCL have left a crewmember or found a local employee to help the family in Nassau? Absolutely. But does the family deserve to be reimbursed for the cost of getting home, or a refund of their cruise? Nope, sorry. I think the vouchers are a good compromise, as long as RCCL doesn’t cheap out and make them pay port fees and taxes on the second cruise as well. Now that the family is raising a stink about it and crying to the media, though, I won’t be surprised if RCCL refunds their cruise just because of the publicity. But it doesn’t mean I think that’s right.

    And for anyone considering it, we never buy the cruise line’s trip insurance. Too limiting and overpriced. We go through http://www.InsureMyTrip.com to find one we like. The first time we made sure to choose one that would cover pregnancy complications, so that required a lot of boring reading into the actual policy, but the peace of mind was worth it.

  90. Nighthawke says:

    RC executed rule #1: Cover thy ass. When they discovered the sick infant, they hit the panic button and kicked them off to prevent the rest of their cash cows from getting infected.

    I agree, Norwalk is a nasty bugger to deal with, but what they did was asinine and did nothing to ensure their return as paying clients, save for promises on paper that they can easily take away.

  91. MitchV says:

    The cruise line did the right thing, no doubt about it.

    If the doctor suspected the child was infected with the Norwalk virus, the child needed to be removed from the ship immediately.

    What if the child had the virus and the doctor had not removed the child and other passengers had been infected? This thread would be full of people complaining that the cruise line was negligent and should have taken the child off the ship.

    If you have ever been on a cruise, you know that it is a tightly scheduled affair. They do not screw around. They arrive at ports at a specific time and they leave at a specific time. If they made allowances to get the child off the ship, it shows how serious the cruise line took the infection.

    Lastly… It would be nice if RC covered things like this, but they are under no obligation to do so. It is an unfortunate event, but the cruise line acted responsibly.

  92. MeOhMy says:

    A few comments from me:
    1. At the moment passports are not required if you are re-entering the US on a cruise ship (but it’s in the works). But they are still required for other points of entry, which is to say that if you happen to become separated from the cruise ship or if something happens to you in a port of call, you will be screwed, screwed, screwed. You would not believe the people in message boards like Cruise Critic whining that they don’t want to spend the extra money to get passports, but we can see how useful it is when you need it! Don’t cruise without a passport.

    2. If you are on a cruise itinerary that includes a lot of foreign ports of call outside north america/caribbean it’s not out of the ordinary for the ship to hold your passport. This is also sometimes the case with international rail travel (particularly if you hvae a sleeper and there will be overnight border crossings) and in some countries, hotels will want to hold your passport. I have no idea why and I’m glad it has never happened to me because I’d be pretty nervouse about it.

    3. Maybe RCL made the right call that the child needed real medical attention, but to just drop the family off on the pier without even trying to help them get to the hospital or embassy is really poor.

    4. I agree with whomever said they do not visit a cruise ship infirmary unless they are really in dire need.

    5. I think (hope) most of the people wondering about a 7-month -olf on a cruise ship are less worried about beindg disturbed by a screaming baby are more wondering how you could have any fun on a cruise ship with a baby in tow.

  93. SabrinaFaire says:

    I took that same cruise in February. I would not call it lavish.

  94. flyingphotog says:

    1. That’s what travel insurance is for – emergencies and interruptions.
    2. Who seriously thinks it’s a good idea to take an infant on a cruise? Yes, I have a kid of my own.
    3. The last place I’d want my sick infant to be treated is in a cruise ship infirmary. They act like leaving the ship was a bad idea.

  95. MrMold says:

    How many posts have there been where poor ‘customer’ cries about being horribly treated and then later we discover that there is more to the tale?

    A dehydrated child is something a cruise ship is not likely to have resources for. Most cruise mishaps are industrial(crew), death(old age), or moderate illness(seasick, GI bug, or hangover). Given how quickly a child’s condition can go from bad to life-threatening, a non-specialist MD of any training would send the patient to a better facility-which are land-based. The parents crying about this make me wonder about their priorities and ability to adapt to minor issues.

  96. IrisMR says:

    They threw the kid off the ship pretty rudely with a bad diagnostic from the doctor. I say that this warrants for a refund of the whole shebang. Insurrance my rear end, this was the fault of the SHIP CREW.

  97. bobblack555 says:

    Who takes cruises anyways? They’re a waste of money. Just fly to a nice Caribbean locale and enjoy a normal vacation.

  98. @flyingphotog: Thank you for giving us a good setup to play “shill or drano-huffer?” I vote drano-huffer, since a shill would probably at least try not to sound so ridiculous.

    Yeah. How dare you not buy insurance? People who don’t buy insurance deserve to be stranded in foreign lands in the middle of the night by the company they paid good money to for a vacation, darnit!

    ::huff huff::

  99. Also, REFUND? Are some of you HIGH?? This is first-class, four-star LAW SUIT MATERIAL. This isn’t about getting *bad service*, for pete’s sake, it’s about being put in a LIFE-THREATENING situation that they were lucky *only* cost them a fortune to resolve.

    Companies who plan on stranding their customers and their sick infant in a dangerous place in their PJ’s had better have good enough reason to do so to cover their asses in court!

  100. Tom Servo says:

    Thanks to Consumerist, I have a whole list of companies not to patronize. Add RC to that list.

    If we ever do a cruise again, we’ll pick Carnival. They’ve been good to us in the past. At least a crew member didn’t leave us in a port of call because they heard me cough.

    @flyingphotog: Does travel insurance cover bad decisions by the crew and faulty diagnoses by the ship’s doctor?

  101. Saboth says:

    Yeah, I agree…lawsuit time. That is just reprehensible…when I take a trip, I don’t expect to be abandoned out of country left to the mercy of who knows what.

    On the other hand…why the hell were they taking a 7 month old on a cruise? Children don’t need to be on cruises, and barely born infants DEFINATELY don’t need to be subjected to the various viruses, pathogens etc you will encounter with so many ppl in small confines. To say nothing of the other passengers’ comfort…do I go on a cruise to relax and enjoy myself, or to listen to infants screaming at my dinner table?

  102. unklegwar says:

    They wanted to have kids, they get to enjoy all the fringe benefits. They need to stop whining.

    And, it’s good to know that RC will get rid of sick kids in the name of protecting other passengers. They go to the top of my cruise line list!

  103. unklegwar says:

    @Saboth: I agree with your latter point. Infants don’t belong anywhere that is supposed to be relaxing and vacation oriented. Hell, kids in general don’t belong anywhere that is supposed to be relaxing or vacation oriented.

    Is there a cruise line that only allows adults? And by adults I mean over, say, 25?

  104. @SaveMeJeebus: Who cares if you wouldn’t have fun lugging around a seven month old?

    Maybe they enjoyed travelling with their child before the whole getting kicked off the boat thing.

    Remeber: your personal preferences are not the personal preferences of others.

  105. SJActress says:

    Just wanted to apologize to the OP for the death of their parents.

    They ARE dead, right? That’s why you had to bring a BABY with you? No one to babysit? Obviously, you could AFFORD a babysitter, what with $3000 at your disposal.

    Anyway, what you went through totally sucked. It would have been about as bad as being stuck on a boat my vacation being ruined by sick, germy, sticky, screaming kids.

  106. SJActress says:

    Double post…

  107. sickofthis says:

    @radleyas: Having practiced Fair Housing Law for 13 years now, I think I can say I know what I’m talking about when I tell you that a 40+ development does not have the right to advertise itself as “adult” and keep out kids. The only developments that can legally do that have to be 55+. 40+ won’t cut it.

  108. Geekybiker says:

    I for one applaud the cruise line for getting potentially infectious people off the ship. Sickness spreads like wildfire on those ships and is a HUGE issue.

    They could have handled how they did it better perhaps. Maybe directing them to a local land based agent who could help them make arrangements?

  109. UASteph says:

    @unklegwar: Infants don’t belong anywhere that is supposed to be relaxing and vacation oriented. Hell, kids in general don’t belong anywhere that is supposed to be relaxing or vacation oriented.

    So, kids just never get to go on vacation? Ever? Oooookay…so I guess all of the family-oriented vacation spots should just close their doors then, huh?

    If you want a kid-free cruise, take one on a ship that doesn’t have amenities for children. Then you can gripe about the little monsters running around ruining your vacation. Otherwise, it’s your own damn fault for going somewhere that clearly expects and welcomes children.

  110. doireallyneedausername says:

    @EricaKane:

    I agree. North Korea indeed. Good luck Mr. CEO finding a flight on Air Koyro back to America…bru..ha..ha..ha..ha.

  111. spryte says:

    @tmccartney: I’m wondering if this bit from the Fair Housing Act info is relevant:

    “The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.”

    Looking at the Sun Lakes website, it mentions “country clubs” all over the place, so I’m wondering if it falls under the “private clubs that limit occupancy to members” situation. It looks like a pretty expansive and modern place so I doubt they’d be getting away with something if it was downright illegal. I’m sure they know what they’re doing and if they were violating the FHA, I imagine someone else would have noticed that by now…

  112. modenastradale says:

    @VeteranMilitaryWife:

    Have you ever tried to *use* travel insurance? It’s a complete scam. The policies are filled with so many exclusions that they won’t cover 90% of what happens to you. Further, even if you do have coverage, you’ll go through unbelievable red tape before you’ll ever see a penny from the insurance company. Total joke.

  113. spryte says:

    @SJActress: You know, I don’t even like or want kids, but that doesn’t mean I think people taking family vacations with babies is a crazy or stupid idea. The baby is part of the family, no? Just because he/she won’t exactly get much out of the views of the rolling sea and the light jazz on the cocktail deck doesn’t mean the parents have no right to bring the baby along.

    And I imagine on something as large as a cruise ship, you wouldn’t have too much trouble putting distance between yourself and any offensive child. It’s not like the family is going to trail behind you the whole time holding out a crying poopy baby covered in jam and necrotic tissue. Trust me, a screaming baby is like fingernails on a blackboard to me, but you’re overreacting to say it would ruin your vacation unless you’re being forced to bunk with said baby.

  114. bigmac12 says:

    It will be worth every cent to them when the child grows up and they can re-tell the story to him/her, and everyone else, several thousand times.

  115. joellevand says:

    @Buran: Yes, but my point was that the child was exhibiting the *symptoms* of the Norwalk virus and, had the child actually had the disease, these forums would be screaming about how much Royal Caribbean sucked for not doing something about it when they suspected they could have a problem.

    Secondarily, families are totally entitled to vacations, but a seven month old? Really? What’s a seven month old going to get out of a cruise? Wait until the child is older and can, you know, enjoy themselves. It’s like when I took my niece to Disney World a few years ago and saw a family of three: mom, dad, and 3 month old, and I couldn’t help but think “Really? What a waste of money.”

    What ever happened to people staying home to bond with their child during infancy rather than going out and doing things the child will have no memory of?

  116. HungryGrrl says:

    Vomiting and diarrhea are very serious in a child that young, they get rapidly dehydtrated. Infantile Diarhea used to be the biggest killer of children under 1 in this country… and still is around the world.

    I don’t blame the cruise line for playing it safe and getting the kid to a hospital where it could receive IV fluids. If the kid continued to be ill and ended up dying of dehydration they’d be seeing a much bigger lawsuit than this is going to turn into.

    However, they should have covered the flight back to the USA for the family.

    Taking a child that young on a cruise is more objectionable to me on the fact that you are putting the child’s health at risk than potentially disturbing other vacationers.

  117. TPK says:

    And here is the Royal Caribbean version of the story… IMHO, judging from some of the actions taken by the complaining family, it’s not hard to decide which version is the most accurate…

    [www.foxnews.com]

    Sadly, it appears to me that this is a case of using media coverage to bully a big company into paying for the customer’s extremely poor decision making.

  118. PaperBoy says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: Yes! the first “blame-the-victim” post! You win – my contempt.

  119. PaperBoy says:

    @thirdbase: Good one!

  120. Worst company in America 2009? That family is so lucky they had the credit card power to secure the passports, tickets, etc. after the fact.

  121. humphrmi says:

    So I’m just curious, what does everyone think of taking a baby on vacation?

    And please, don’t sugar coat it.

  122. ryaninc says:

    This surprises me a LOT. I’ve been on Royal Caribbean cruises several times and they’ve always been wonderful. Great service, great experience, great all the way around. This story certainly won’t make me stop cruising with RC, but it does worry me a little. Here’s hoping it was a VERY isolated incident. :-/