Carnival Cruise Lines Turns Away Pregnant Woman At Dock

Huey Tsao, an expectant mother, was looking forward to a family reunion aboard the Carnival Glory. Along with her boarding pass, she received a document entitled “Welcome Aboard: Things to know before you sail” which stated that guests who are 27 weeks into their pregnancy are not permitted to sail because of the risk of premature labor. Huey was not concerned because she was only 26 weeks and had a note from her physician stating that she was fit to travel. She and her family arrived at the dock only to find out some very bad news. Unbeknownst to Huey, Carnival had changed their no-sail pregnancy policy from 27 weeks to 24 weeks. Despite her doctor’s note and attempts at escalating the issue, she was denied passage onto the boat. Her letter, inside…

Huey writes:

In preparation for our family reunion

On June 21, 2008, the Tsao family was ready to board on the Carnival Glory at Port Canaveral, FL for our family reunion. The traveling party included: Fred Tsao (Grandfather), Alex Tsao(father), Huey Tsao (mother, 26 weeks pregnant at the time of voyage), and two very enthusiastic daughters (Elise 5 yrs. old, Natalie 3 yrs. old) We were ready to meet up with Byron Tsao (brother in law) and Tetsuko (sister in law) who were flying in from Nicaragua to meet us at the next port. All members of the Tsao party flew in from out of town: Virginia, California, and Nicaruaga.

Mommy Tsao (aka Huey Tsao) was prepared with the doctor’s note declaring it was safe to travel and to confirm the gestational period of 26 weeks. According to the pregnancy policy from their “Welcome Aboard: Things to Know Before You Sail” document (which was sent along with their boarding passes) “Guests who are 27 weeks or more into their pregnancy at the time of the voyage will not be permitted to sail because of the risk of premature labor,” (page 10.) Since we were at 26 weeks at the time of sailing, we thought we were within the Carnival pregnancy policy.

Denied at the terminal (misinformed by Carnival Cruise)

It was not until after we were given our boarding cards (Ship & Sail room card) that another Carnival agent, Patricia Lyons approached us to ask about my pregnancy. She asked how far along I was. I responded that I was within the “safe” 26 week travel period and handed her my doctor’s note stating that I was at “26 weeks gestation without any complications permitted to go on cruise to leave on 6/21/08″

Ms. Lyons said that according to the Carnival website, their NEW policy was revised from 27 weeks to 24 since January 1 2008. She proceeded to talk with her supervisor, Kathy Bianchi, who reiterated to us that their policies have changed.

When we asked for written proof of this new policy, they were unable to show us any documentation of the new policy. When we asked to speak to the manager at the port, Ms. Lyons said that Ms. Bianchi was the highest authority—the supervisor at the terminal.

Ms. Bianchi claimed to have made a call to their corporate office in Miami to clarify their new policy. According to Ms Bianchi, “You have an obligation to check our website in case we change our policy. We cannot let you board the ship.”

Carnival Unwilling to accommodate our requests (to document their decision)

We again asked for Carnival to show us this new policy in writing. However, Ms Bianchi they said they did not have the new policy in written form available, and that we should check online. Obviously, we thought that was unreasonable given that we were at the check-in counter and did not have any access to the Internet.

We asked to speak with the authority in Miami that Ms Bianchi allegedly spoke to. Again, that reasonable request was denied.

We asked for Carnival to document this incident so we can refer it to their corporate office. Again we were denied: Ms. Lyons said “I am not allowed to do that.” Ms. Lyons only handed me a card with the Carnival Reservations Administration Research Department contact information and stated that she will be writing up an internal report regarding this decision.

I asked if I could have a copy of this internal report, and Ms. Lyons said “I am not able to do that.”

I finally asked for a refund, they said that I needed to call the Miami office to settle that with their corporate office.

In short, Carnival changed their policy on pregnancy, but neglected to state the change in the Welcome Aboard document. If Carnival even sent an addendum to notify of this change policy, we would have made alternative arrangements such as booking an earlier cruise comply with the new policy.

Instead, they tell us we should have checked their website, a typically arrogant corporate remark. Then they refuse to show us the new policy in writing. They would not allow us to talk to their corporate office (to whom they allegedly talked to) to confirm the policy. Any they would not document this incident in any way for us. We cannot even prove they denied boarding.

When it became clear they would not let me board, I insisted that the family go on without me because I was concerned that the entire family would lose the tickets if they did not board. I stayed with Mike and Alison Lee, who were our good friends in Orlando.

Two days later, I was interviewed by Mary Nguyen of WFTV (ABC affiliate in Orlando) regarding this experience. CNN picked up the story, and we suspect the resulting bad publicity caused Carnival’s PR department to issue a cruise credit to me.

It was Carnival’s negligence in sending the incorrect outdated policy that lead to me getting literally stranded at the dock. I felt the cruise credit was the least they could do. (Also, they did not even include the fuel surcharge and the port taxes in the cruise credit, which we already paid but never used.) Considering their extremely unhelpful attitudes and the fact that the family reunion was ruined for everyone in the group, I believe it would be more appropriate for Carnival to issue cash refunds for everyone in the group.

We agree that Carnival should have done more to inform you of their policy change. Since you had a clean bill of health from you doctor, it would have been nice if they had made an exception for you, but they are not required to do so. Considering the rest of your family already took their cruise, we think that asking for a cash refund for the entire family is unrealistic. However, if you focus on trying to get a cash refund for just yourself, you may get better results.

Comments

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  1. Norsehawk says:

    With all the problems you hear about on the news of infections running rampant on cruise ships, do you really want to chance having a baby on one?

  2. They should have sicked the General on them. I fear the wrath of General Tsao.

    @Norsehawk: Do you really want to trust the Dr on a cruise ship to deliver the baby?

  3. chiieddy says:

    24 weeks seems odd, but it’s reasonable. 25 weeks is the current minimum gestation time for a baby to survive. However, the baby WILL NOT survive on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, or even in some of the hospitals in some of the countries you will be visiting on the cruise. You would need advanced care in a NICU. I have a friend who gave birth at 25 weeks last year and it’s been a hard year for everyone.

  4. fishbane says:

    chiieddy – all the talk about if the policy is reasonable or unreasonable is moot. Carnival published one policy then changed it without notifying her.

  5. I’m not sure I agree with consumerist on this, with regards to the amount of refund being asked for. Does anyone think that the family enjoyed the cruise the same amount they would have if their family member would have been permitted to join them?

    There is no obligation to “check the web site”. The traveler was given information at the outset which confirmed that “their entire party including the pregant mother-to-be” could go. After booking, they again received confirmation, in writing, that their entire party would be permitted to go.

    I’m sure the family spent most of the time stewing over how “Mom/Wife/etc.” wasn’t able to be with them, and there’s no reason they should have to pay full price for that.

  6. wheresmysamuraii says:

    If she gave birth in international waters, her child would have a very hard time ahead of itself. I had a friend in highschool who was just getting his citizenship at the age of 16 because his American mother (dad was American, too) gave birth to him while on a flight back to the US. He complained about how screwed up the system was, it really affected his life. His just happening to be a few weeks early really caused some problems. The last thing you probably want to do while in late stages of pregnancy is to go out of the country.

    However, the cruise line did mislead her and I’m sure it sucked to be left at the dock while all of her family went on to have a good time. I would have been steaming mad. The cruise line should have offered her a full cash refund instead of another cruise voucher. What is she going to do, go by herself after she has the baby? I doubt it.

  7. Catebb says:

    I side with the family here. If I make a purchase and the company mails me the rules and regulations associated with the product, I will not feel the need to research these rules further just in case the company was only kidding! It was the responsibility of the company to send the changes in policy. The womans doctor cleared her to travel.

    A family reunion cruise is not the same as eating out and one meal being returned to the kitchen. In that situation, the single meal would be comped, not the entire ticket. However a family cruise holds much higher expectations. The family paid to cruise together. I am sure the absence of the mother dampened the families enjoyment.
    The cruise company ruined this familys vacation, they should make it right.

  8. Jubilance22 says:

    If Carnival really has changed its policy, then they need to update their written literature. Telling someone to check the website is not enough.

  9. razremytuxbuddy says:

    I agree that Carnival, by changing the terms after the tickets were purchased, and by its ghastly response to the situation, ruined the entire family’s vacation; not just the pregnant woman’s. For that, damages are appropriate. It is probable that the family actually planned its trip around Carnival’s published 26-week pregnancy rule. Carnival didn’t begin to acknowledge any of its mistakes or their cost to this family. I can understand why a refund for all wouldn’t set well with Carnival, but they can issue free vouchers for all to take another cruise once the baby is born. Including one for the new baby.

  10. faedra says:

    [www.carnival.com]

    They do have it on the website. At least the rest of the family got to go. However, they really do need to update the written material.

  11. @wheresmysamuraii: If a child is born to US parents, the child is an American Citizen by right of blood. John McCain was not born in the US, but b/c his parents were both citizens, he is a US citizen.

  12. Murph1908 says:

    @Git Em SteveDave has a new Lego set:

    I think you are right, but I don’t think your argument is.

    McCain was born on a military base, if I remember correctly. That is the same as being born on American soil, as far as citizenship is concerned.

    On a plane (or a ship) over international waters may be different.

  13. Jon Mason says:

    @Murph1908: Yeah, was just about to write that: There is a special rule for military personnel serving overseas, so would be a completely different case – although theres no reason that being born out of the country to US parents would screw up your citizenship, but it might mean your kid cant be president… ;)

  14. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @Murph1908:

    The child of US citizens has the right to US citizenship, period, whether born in Paris, TX, or Paris, France.

    The McCain issue is whether being born to US parents overseas qualifies you as a “natural born citizen” under the Constitutional requirement to be eligible for the presidency. It’s a higher tier of requirement. It’s clear that Ah-nuld doesn’t qualify, since he’s a naturalized citizen, and generally accepted that McCain does qualify (US parents, born on US-controlled territory), but the Supreme Court has never exactly defined what “natural born” means for this purpose.

    In any case, it’s irrelevant to the case above: US parents, qualifies for US citizenship.

  15. TWinter says:

    @wheresmysamuraii: Your friend’s parents screwed something up if he had that much trouble claiming his citizenship. It’s not that complicated, but you do have to do some paperwork when the kid is born, which it sounds like they didn’t do.

  16. apotheosis says:

    If you’re born on a ship in international waters, by birthright you’re a pirate.

  17. willray411 says:

    I don’t see the big deal with Carnival Cruises. The whole issue was handled badly, do something right and organize a new cruise for the whole family.

  18. SaveMeJeebus says:

    [insert obligatory "floating prison" comment here]

  19. BlueTraveler says:

    For those curious like I was, here is the link to Carnival’s Pregnancy Policy. No mention of when it was changed.
    Carnival’s Pregnancy Policy

  20. dj55 says:

    My daughter had the EXACT same experience a few months back. She was surprising her husband with a relaxing 3 day cruise to enjoy some quiet time together before they statred their family. The last thing it was was quiet and relaxing. The cruise not honoring their own published criteria was bad enough but the worst part was the unbelievable rudeness of the PR person. After being rude to them for the afternoon she just walked them out to the curb and said get a cab.
    They did get a refund for both of the cruise tickets (which carnival never told them, it just apeared on their Visa statement) but they are looking to get reimburst for the air fare also.

  21. AnderBobo says:

    I could see refunding Huey’s portion of the trip, but refunding everybodys trip is just ridiculous, there is no reason they should get a free cruise. If the rest of the family was that upset with Carnival’s new policy they should have just not gone on the trip and demanded refunds.

    I imagine if Huey had gone onboard and god forbid something horrible had gone wrong with her pregancy she would be even more mad that they had allowed her on ship b/c they had “told her earlier it was ok, but changed policies”.

  22. @BlueTraveler: I checked google cache of the page, and as of 4 Jul 2008 21:06:57 GMT, it was 24 weeks.

  23. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @apotheosis: If you’re born on a ship in international waters, by birthright you’re a pirate.

  24. milk says:

    The Ticket Contract on Carnival’s website says:

    “(d) Guest acknowledges receipt of Carnival’s applicable brochure and “Welcome Aboard” booklet. Guest agrees to abide by the terms and conditions of Carnival’s brochure and “Welcome Aboard” booklet.”

    I didn’t see anything about checking the website.

  25. satoru says:

    @AnderBobo: That’s the main problem in that cruise ships aren’t floating hospitals. They don’t have the facilities to deal with complications of a pregnancy on the high seas.

    On a side note, the last name Tsao indicates they are Chinese. It’s surprising any of them even allowed her on the cruise to begin with. There are so many complex rules about what you can and cannot do, and I’m pretty sure getting on a boat isn’t on the ‘do’ list (as a side note you can’t eat mangoes for some reason). They might have been ABC’s so maybe there wasn’t anyone who follows all those Chinese rules hard core.

  26. BlueTraveler says:

    Another interesting thing I found researching this is that the cruise was booked in May of 2008

    Why did Carnival not have updated material to send to this family regarding the pregnancy policy when it was changed 5 months before they booked their trip? This family should never have had to look for an updated policy on the website because the policy was never updated after they recieved their documentation from Carnival.

    Because Carnival communicated to this family that the cutoff was 27 weeks 5 months after the policy had actually changed to 24 weeks, I feel Carnival does indeed owe a full cash refund for the entire party. According to Carnival’s own refund policy this family could have gotten a full refund for the trip if they canceled a minimum of 61 days before scheduled departure. If the documentation about the Pregnancy Policy this family had recieved from Carnival would have been updated properly, the family would have canceled the trip in plenty of time to recieve a full refund.

  27. BStu says:

    @Murph1908: McCain was born on American property, not American soil. I’m pretty sure that there are exceptions to prevent foreign citizens from rushing onto a military base of embassy and giving birth to an American citizen. With McCain, the important point is that he was born to American citizens. Doesn’t matter where that happens, you’re still a natural born American citizen.

    I strongly side with the family here. This isn’t the first time a customer did their due diligence only to be undone by a late change in rules by a cruise line. The mom-to-be should get a cash refund. I don’t get how that’s even an issue. They took money for services they decided not to fulfill. How on Earth do they get to keep the money in that circumstance? The rest of the family I’d be fine getting vouchers. This DID ruin their trip. That they didn’t want to risk losing all of the money they paid by not going at all is immaterial.

  28. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @Git Em SteveDave has a new Lego set: I aggree with Murph, you’re right in principle. We covered this is law. If the water ‘breaks on a plane’ (he he he he) and your born, it’s basically whatever airport you left from, assuming you’re over international waters and not over the landmass of the departing or destination country.

    On a ship, ha ha, it’s a lot tougher, military is U.S. soil, otherwise it’s all about what flag you’re ship is sailing under. That baby may have ended up nigerian or something.

    Either way, the baby would never be president. :(

  29. teapartys_over says:

    Their policy seems excessive, and in any case they failed to inform this woman who did all the preparation one could reasonably expect. i don’t know about refunding the entire family, but they should definitely issue her a cash refund – it’s not like she would use the credit alone, so Carnival makes out when she returns with a few other paying customers to join her? I don’t know that I’d want to give them my business after their poor performance. Why not require pregnant women to sign wavers saying they understand Carnival isn’t equipped with a NICU? The truth is that pregnancy isn’t a disease, and it’s extremely rare to go into labor that early. If you choose to take those very good odds, that should be your choice.

    @Git Em SteveDave has a new Lego set:
    Actually, I’m pretty sure the U.S. operates under the law of soil, not the law of blood. Thus all the stories about pregnant women crossing the border to have their babies here – automatic citizenship. If we operated under the law of blood, as many European countries do, those babies would still be considered Mexican.

  30. chrisjames says:

    Hopefully they haven’t accepted the cruise credit yet, or it’s case closed for them. They should stand firm on a complete cash refund for the single unused ticket, plus compensation for splitting up the group, screwing up the rules, and giving everyone a hard time about it all. It doesn’t have to be anything near a full refund–that’s going overboard–but something along the lines of one free night on a future cruise.

    In general, I think consumers should eschew all credit or discount refunds in cases of bad service. Don’t let them sucker you into experiencing their failure all over again. Let them know that they must earn your business, not trade on the money you’ve already given them for a transaction they wouldn’t or couldn’t honor. Consider the refund, first, a cancellation of the original transaction on the part of the business, not a courtesy.

  31. jenl1625 says:

    @teapartys_over: There are two ways to automatically be a citizen – be born here (on our soil) OR be born (anywhere) to parents who are American citizens.

    From the USCIS [www.uscis.gov] website, it sounds like there may be more paperwork involved if a child is born outside the US (the parents probably have to show that they are citizens and get a US passport for you or something, as opposed to simply having a birth certificate that shows you were born on US soil).

  32. quagmire0 says:

    As a past cruiser, I think Carnival is in the wrong here. The documentation she received with her ticket would have been sent months after the policy change. So, you would think that Carnival would be responsible enough to print up NEW documentation with their new policies as of Jan. 1. They were cheap, and decided to just use what they had. I think if they were going to be petty and block a woman who had a doctor’s note, they should have refunded the whole group. As someone else said, it’s not the cruiser’s responsibility to check the website for new policy changes.

  33. AnderBobo says:

    I doubt that this incident ruined the reunion for the entire family. Clearly the OP knew that there were issues regarding pregnancy and cruise travel. I have to side with Carnival on this one, they issued her a refund and the rest of the family got to go on the cruise. Yes it was inconvenient and she should have been informed of the policy change ahead of time but her entire family shouldn’t get a free cruise b/c of it.

    Carnival doesn’t want to have yet another potential liability to worry about, and honestly if I were pregant I wouldn’t want to be stranded on a cruise ship.

  34. enm4r says:

    @teapartys_over: It’s “law of blood” when the parents are Americans.

    Having dealt with citizenship issues in the past, all I can say is that the above mentioned story is either half told, wrong, or a fabrication. Two American parents will have an American child, regardless of where they are born. They might even additionally qualify to be a citizen of the host country for some time, but there is no question that they are an American.

  35. IrisMR says:

    frankly, if I was pregnant the last thing I’d do is go on a cruise ship… It’s just the worst place in the world to be if you need to stay healthy.

    Come on, lady. Be more careful about yourself.

  36. aighmeigh says:

    @wheresmysamuraii: If a child is born to an American citizen mother, the child is also an American citizen by birth, no matter where they are born. It is a bit different if the father is American, the mother is not, and the child is born out of the country. All it take is filing the required paperwork–typically something called a record of foreign birth.

    I’m moving out of the country and have researched the topic exhaustively.

  37. Turcicus says:

    Yet another reason not to cruise with Carnival. They suck anyway – this just adds to the suckitude.

  38. ThunderRoad says:

    Seems like an ADA violation for sure.

  39. mannyv says:

    @aighmeigh: Actually, your research was a bit wrong; there’s no difference if it’s the father or mother that’s a citizen. My daughter was born overseas, and my wife wasn’t a citizen at the time.

    All you really need is the consular report of birth abroad and a certified birth certificate. Depending on the circumstances, the embassy might require a DNA test.

  40. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @teapartys_over: Actually, I’m pretty sure the U.S. operates under the law of soil, not the law of blood. Thus all the stories about pregnant women crossing the border to have their babies here – automatic citizenship

    This is way too oversimplified.

    Amendment XIV: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States… “

    Other than that, the Constitution gives the task of “establish[ing] a uniform rule of naturalization” to Congress. The first naturalization laws were passed during George Washington’s first year in office: “… children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond sea, or outside the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens.”

    Wikipedia has a very readable discussion of this: [en.wikipedia.org]

    And since it’s not too crazy long, I’ll just include the entirety of 8 USC 1401

    The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:

    (a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;

    (b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe: Provided, That the granting of citizenship under this subsection shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of such person to tribal or other property;

    (c) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person;

    (d) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth of such person, and the other of whom is a national, but not a citizen of the United States;

    (e) a person born in an outlying possession of the United States of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year at any time prior to the birth of such person;

    (f) a person of unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to his attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in the United States;

    (g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years: Provided, That any periods of honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or periods of employment with the United States Government or with an international organization as that term is defined in section 288 of title 22 by such citizen parent, or any periods during which such citizen parent is physically present abroad as the dependent unmarried son or daughter and a member of the household of a person
    (A) honorably serving with the Armed Forces of the United States, or
    (B) employed by the United States Government or an international organization as defined in section 288 of title 22, may be included in order to satisfy the physical-presence requirement of this paragraph. This proviso shall be applicable to persons born on or after December 24, 1952, to the same extent as if it had become effective in its present form on that date; and

    (h) a person born before noon (Eastern Standard Time) May 24, 1934, outside the limits and jurisdiction of the United States of an alien father and a mother who is a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, had resided in the United States.

  41. coolkiwilivin says:

    I know this family and yes there are risks associated with pregnancy that doesn’t mean you need to live your life in a little plastic bubble. Huey wasn’t bungie jumping or going to the Antarctica, it’s normal standard cruise while she is in her second trimester. She was checked out by a Dr. the week before and got a greenlight. The major issue is that Carnival is sending out extremely outdated brochures. It’s ridiculous to claim she should have checked the site, she got a brochure from Carnival two weeks before she left. She like 99% people in the world would have gone by that. I could understand if they sent this brochure out in January, but it’s friggin June? They are mailing out brochures that are 6 months out of date. How about at least an insert saying, the Policy on page x has changed.

    The slap in the face is offering a cruise credit. Why would she go all by herself? As she said, everyone flew from far away to get to Carnival. It’s not like she can she just hop in a car and drive 30 minutes down the street and get on board. Carnival denied her boarding and then just abandoned her. Heck the only thing they did was take her back to the airport and even then the bus I’m sure was already going back. To deny her boarding which was to be her room and board for the week and then give in nothing in exchange is ridiculous.

    I know I’m a bit biased b/c I know these people but in this case it only helps me to know the full story and see how wrong Carnival is. Lesson learned: Stay away from Carnival.

  42. lemortede says:

    I hate to say it but I agree with Carnival in denying her travel, but disagree with how they did it.

    My wife and I were planning a trip this summer back east to see our family. My wife would have been in the early 30’s week wise while we were traveling. Needless to say that our daughter was born premature at 30 weeks and is in the NICU doing very well. I cant imagine haveing something like this happen at sea…..

    The minimum age for most NICU’s to give intensive care is 24 weeks. Anything earlier than that and the baby gets hospice care and generally doesn’t survive (Every situation is different, this is a generalization of policy)
    If the baby is born at 26-27 weeks it will NEED a NICU to survive. That age group has very good survival rates with few long term physical problems.
    If she is at sea there will not be a NICU. If she is not near a US port she will goto a non-US hospital where they might not have the same NICU technology we have in the US. The chances of life long complications would go up.

    I think that Carnival should refund her ticket and possibly give her a voucher for her use after the baby is born. I do not think they should let her on.

  43. dragonvpm says:

    I was under the impression that, in general, printed material overrules websites (which can be changed after-the-fact and which in the past were often not up-to-date). Unless the paperwork they gave them clearly instructed them to check the website and/or call ahead of time for any changes to the rules/regulations, I think Carnival is completely in the wrong on this one.

    Plus, given that older folks are often the lifeblood of the cruise ship industry, denying her boarding because she might have medical complications (despite apparently getting her doctor to weigh in on the matter) is completely non-sensical. Does this mean that they’ll start requiring full medical reports from all of the older passengers in case they have a problem in the middle of the ocean? For that matter if they’re so concerned about their passenger’s health (all those mass illness issues not withstanding) should they get all their passengers to give them doctors’ notes saying they are fit to travel and won’t have any medical problems during their cruise?

    I think Carnival handled this atrociously. I’m not entirely sure what the appropriate compensation might be, but I’d be wary of booking a cruise with them if their policy for rule changes is “look at the website” and “we won’t give you documentation of our decision.” Coordinating a cruise with a family can be tricky enough without worrying that you show up on the dock and find out that they changed the rules on you and it’s your problem for not looking on the website.

    @AnderBobo: Actually they only gave her a cruise credit so the only way she can use that is to go on a cruise with them which she might very very reluctant to do at this point (I certainly wouldn’t want to do business with a company who pulled something like that on me or anyone in my family. IMO this kind of screw up warrants a full cash refund of the ticket in question and ALL related fees (which weren’t included in the cruise credit she did get).

    @teapartys_over: I’m not sure what you would call the it (soil or land) but in general anyone born in US is a citizen and anyone born to a parent who is a US citizen can also claim US citizenship. Some folks are lobbying to do away with the born in the USA part, but so far they’re not making too much progress.

  44. ibored says:

    Given that they denied her boarding because of how ‘late’ in the pregnancy she was, I would ask for a cash refund for two tickets since they seem to be trying to deny boarding more to that cheapass/lazy/etc. fetus of hers trying to sneak on board withotu paying than anythign else

  45. campredeye says:

    They were probably dumbfounded that a “Huey” was pregnant and figured he/she was smuggling booze onto the boat.

  46. aighmeigh says:

    @mannyv: Actually, it wasn’t wrong, but needed a bit of clarification on my part. The gray area comes about if the parents are not married:

    Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Father: A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen father may acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 301(g) INA, as made applicable by Section 309(a) INA provided:

    1) a blood relationship between the applicant and the father is established by clear and convincing evidence;

    2) the father had the nationality of the United States at the time of the applicant’s birth;

    3) the father (unless deceased) had agreed in writing to provide financial support for the person until the applicant reaches the age of 18 years, and

    4) while the person is under the age of 18 years –

    A) applicant is legitimated under the law of their residence or domicile,

    B) father acknowledges paternity of the person in writing under oath, or

    C) the paternity of the applicant is established by adjudication court.

    Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Mother: A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 301(g) INA, as made applicable by Section 309(c) INA if the mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth, and if the mother had previously been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year.

    from travel.state.gov

  47. teapartys_over says:

    @dragonvpm: @TinyBug: @enm4r: @jenl1625: Interesting! Thanks to all for the correction.

  48. Canino says:

    Mommy Tsao? Gag.

  49. picardia says:

    Carnival has a right to set whatever reasonable limit they want on passengers traveling in late pregnancy — I don’t think anybody would argue that, and nobody would want to have their baby on a cruise ship. OTOH, the huge majority of healthy pregnancies (as this one was, per her doctor’s certification) are not going to deliver anywhere near 26 weeks. Mommy Tsao was not behaving irresponsibly; in fact, by double-checking with her doctor, she was behaving very responsibly.

    Carnival, on the other hand, switched its policy without contacting current customers. That’s a pretty big failure on their part, and it did screw up a reunion that this family obviously went to a whole lot of trouble and expense to arrange. Nor does it sound like Mommy Tsao was treated considerately or reasonably by the staff there.

  50. SharkD says:

    @Git Em SteveDave has a new Lego set, @JustThatGuy3, @Murph1908: Totally OT, but the question on McCain’s citizenship is whether, being born in the Panama Canal Zone makes him a “natural born citizen” of the United States, one of the requirements in order to become president.

    Given that his parents were both U.S. citizens, his citizenship was never in question, but given that the Canal Zone had somewhat ambiguous status at the time of his birth, and was not mentioned in the list of territories and holdings where birth conferred “natural born” status, questions were raised in 2000. However, it seems clear in that anyone born to U.S. citizens, no matter the locale, is a natural born citizen, although the odd wording of the Constitution leaves the door open to a legal challenge, should the U.S. elect a candidate born outside the U.S., or its territorial holdings (which so far, has not happened).

  51. bostonmike says:

    Carnival’s behavior here was despicable. Once they decided to deny boarding to one member of the group, they should have offered a full cash refund on the spot to her as well as to any and all members of the group who decided not to go. That still doesn’t make everyone whole for their lost plans and any other travel expenses, but it’s a start. Since they didn’t do that, how were any of them supposed to believe that they would get any sort of refund if they didn’t go on the cruise?

    Carnival could make this better by offering an apology, a full cash refund to the mom, half cash refunds to the rest of the party, and free upgrades on a future cruise. That says “we’re sorry we screwed up your plans, we don’t want you to think we profited from our mistake, and we’d like you to give us another chance.” Anything less makes it clear that Carnival benefits by doing this to people.

  52. hexychick says:

    What about the fact that she had a written policy in her hands right then and there to show them? What if you don’t have internet access (rare, but possible) to check this new policy? If a policy changes and you’re already booked, isn’t it the responsibility of the cruise line to notify all passengers prior to departure? I side with the family on this one and I think asking for the full refund of everyone is not out of line. They could not share in the experience with the entire family because a key member was not there. If they hadn’t gone on the cruise, Carnival would probably tell them that since they chose not to board, they can’t be refunded.

    @campredeye: Now that’s just an ignorant thing to say. Just because a name doesnt fall within YOUR gender guidelines doesn’t mean it isn’t appropriate in another language.

  53. whytheladyisatramp says:

    @chiieddy: I know this isn’t the main topic – but the lower limit of viability is 24 weeks, or now, in some places, even slightly younger. Exact policy varies from hospital to hospital, often depending on the level of the NICU and what their outcomes have been. But at my hospital they are currently offering to resuscitate infants as young as 23 weeks and 5 days, but parents can refuse initial resuscitation and choose only ‘comfort care’ up to 25 weeks gestation. After 25 weeks the pediatricians will perform an initial resuscitation and then work with the parents on making future care decisions (like whether or when to withdraw care based on the baby’s prospects). So, this lady is well into the window where, were she to have a preterm delivery her baby could survive, but only with immediate access to very high level care.

  54. SinisterMatt says:

    I would think that the terms under which she bought the cruise would constitute a contract that both Carnival and this family would have to abide by. Thus, if the terms said 27 weeks, then they should have taken her. In that case, then yes, Carnival is in the wrong here and the woman should be entitled to a full refund. However, if there is a stipulation in the terms and conditions that says that Carnival can change their terms without prior notice, then, I would say the family is in the wrong, and they should have checked prior to leaving if the terms changed.

    Anyone know what the case is here?

    Cheers!

  55. Kajj says:

    @satoru: She’s Chinese AMERICAN, and I don’t really understand what you’re trying to say there anyway.

    @Canino: I don’t know what the hell you’re saying either.

  56. darkrose says:

    I sailed on the Carnival Glory once. That’s all it took, I will never sail with Carnival again. They are the McCruiseline. I did pwn them on the casino tables though, so it wasn’t a total loss.

    Disney is expensive but so much better (even for adults). Norwegian is cheaper most of the time and just about as good as Disney.

  57. TPS Reporter says:

    I lived over in Germany when I was a teenager, and my friend was born in Germany. Her dad was american and was military, her mom was German. She told me on her 18th birthday that she had to officially choose which country she wanted her citizenship to be of, as she had dual citizenship until that time, both German and American. But that was 1988.

  58. JiminyChristmas says:

    @SinisterMatt: Tell me how this works exactly. Am I supposed to take my ticket and all of my cruise information, pore over the corporate website, and go paragraph by paragraph looking for changes? Can I just call up Carnival and say “Wassup? Anything I need to know?” and then go on my merry way? If I have a printed copy of the company policies in my hands, to what extent am I supposed to go in order to make sure it really means what it says?

  59. Canino says:

    @Kajj: Ok I’ll spell it out. The manner in which she is incongruously referred to as “Mommy Tsao (aka Huey Tsao)” is neither necessary nor relevant to the issue. It’s just cutesy pandering.

    While I’m at it, so is the phrase “typically arrogant corporate remark” (pandering that is, not cutesy).

    The facts stand on their own merit without this nonsense.

  60. jswilson64 says:

    Blame the victim for wanting to sail on Carnival in the first place…

  61. Tmoney02 says:

    I can’t find who brought it up initially but I would like to know if anyone has an answer.

    If two foreigners go into an American embassy and have their baby, is the baby American since it was born on American soil?

  62. Geekybiker says:

    I’d file in small claims for all my related expenses. Wasted plane tickets, hotels, meals away from home, lost vacation time, etc. All sorts of money lost because Carnival refused to live up to their end of a contract as stated.

  63. formergr says:

    @satoru: Dude, just because the family has a Chinese name, doesn’t mean they live in China and need special permission to go on the trip or whatever the hell you’re trying to say.

    Maybe they are American, Brazilian, or British citizens? You can be any of those (and more, obvs), and still have a Chinese name.

  64. Samby says:

    There’s a lot of misinformation about American citizenship in this thread- I can clear some things up. (my husband is American, I’m not and all of our children have been born overseas)
    You need to go to the nearest consulate or embassy and apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. If only one parent is American, you have to bring proof that they resided in the States for 4 (or 5, I don’t remember) years after the age of 14. Tax returns, school transcripts, rental contracts- that type of thing. You pay the money, have a short interview with the consul to make sure you are legitimate, and that’s it.

  65. Posthaus says:

    I’m still having a hard time why a pregnant woman would want to spend anytime on a cruise ship in the first place- I personally file the very idea under “Accident Waiting to Happen.” I’m sure Carnival’s legal dept is thinking the very same.

  66. redsoxgirl1 says:

    I went on a Carnival cruise in January 2007 at 25 weeks pregnant. I specifically scheduled the vacation around the fact that I couldn’t be past 27 weeks. My hubby and I wanted to have one last vacation before our lives changed with a kid. I had my doctor’s note so I was fully prepared. But I was DYING to find out if someone would actually question if I was pregnant. I was wearing a loose t-shirt and it would be somewhat difficult to tell if I was chubby or pregnant. And what would they do if I said I wasn’t pregant? Of course, nobody even glanced at me a second time and everything went off without a hitch.

    But boy, if this story had happened to me, I would have been so enraged you would have to peel me off the wall. Also, I can’t believe how uncompassionate the Carnival employee was. I’m sure she saw the pregnant Mommy there with her whole family and her small children. No doubt the little girls were crying as they had to go on without Mommy. There is no way this employee could be a mother and do something like that. It’s not as if the mother was purposely breaking policy or trying to get away with something. It would have been so simple for the employee to just let them go.

  67. mythago says:

    Why is everybody freaking about about NICUs? The woman had a note from her doctor. She was not at any unusual risk of early labor. Perhaps cruise lines should start barring men over 50 from going on cruises–in case they have heart attacks, because you know, a cruise ship isn’t a HOSPITAL.

    As for the morons posting about what they would do if they were pregnant (not that they are or ever have been, but when did ignorance stop anyone from posting comments?), 24 weeks is second trimester. It’s not the huge, house-sized, waddling stage. Plenty of women are up and active at that time and would be perfectly happy to take a cruise. Contrary to what the Internet scare stories will tell you, pregnancy is just NOT that fragile.

  68. daniinpa says:

    I think Carnival is all wrong.

    Sending outdated documentation? WRONG

    Denying her boarding when she was only a few weeks over their new limit and had a doctor’s note along with Carnival’s own WRITTEN policy? WRONG

    Not allowing her to document the experience in any way, or giving her a contact in corporate? WRONG

    Giving her a “cruise credit” for one person that is completely and utterly useless (all fares are based on double booking and there is a lot of travel involved)? WRONG

    The whole situation is messed up. She should get a full cash refund including fees. That won’t compensate for the family’s diminished experience or for her having to make her way in another state for however long the cruise was, but at least it will be money with which she can do whatever she wants. And they should apologize for the ill treatment.

  69. SinisterMatt says:

    @JiminyChristmas:

    I would imagine that you could probably call them up if you were really concerned about it. But I would also bet that Carnival would have a provision that allowed you to get out of it/get a refund. At least, they should. But that is neither here nor there. My point was that if Carnival changes their terms without notice, then there is probably not a lot the family could do about it. Otherwise, they would be contractually bound to take her,

    Cheers!

  70. JerseyJarhead says:

    Carnival – The most unpopular cruise line in the world.

    This amounts to fraud.

    And hey, asshole Posthaus, the issue is NOT “why a pregnant woman would want to spend anytime on a cruise ship in the first place.”

    The issue is that yet another asshole corporaion took a customer’s money and therefore made a contract of carriage with that person. The contract, in writing, was then changed without notice. And no they DON’T have the right to change the policy willy-nilly when they have already been paid under the original terms. And they couldn’t even provide proof that THEIR OWN policy was changed!

    Clear cut case of, er, RIPOFF.

    Carnival sucks. So does Kathy Lee Gifford.

  71. SadSam says:

    This is probably a dumb questions, but how does Carnival get to discriminate against pregnant women in the first place? I’m sure there are a ton of seniors that cruise that have health issues, do they have to provide a doctor’s note or are they blocked from boarding?

  72. brian25 says:

    It sucks but it’s their policy and they have a right to refuse service. They probably revised it because of some of the comments about having babies at 25 weeks – you never know. Personnally, I don’t think I would be going on a ship at 6-7 months pregnant. Those are critical times. But it is all a personal decision. I imagine Carnival was afraid of getting sued nor do they have to show you the website. If you have ever been on a cruise at Port Canaveral, it is pretty busy.

  73. regarding the issue of premature birth, i in 9 births are premature.

    [www.marchofdimes.com]

    Granted most of them are going to be born between 33 and 37 weeks so the odds of having a baby at 24 or 25 or even 26 weeks is rare. That said, it is a HUGE health risk to baby and mother. One of the most common reasons is pre-eclampsia (super high blood pressure) and it can cause a stroke or even be fatal if not quickly treated. I know because my son was born 11 weeks early and my wife’s BP at the time was 210/140 when i got her to the hospital. Had she gone another 12 hours she’d probably be a vegetable or dead.

    I completely support the Carnival policy because it is there to protect the passenger, as well as themselves (I’m not stupid).

    That said, if they make a change to their policy, they have an obligation to notify anyone who has already booked a trip. Failure to do so is their fault and they should bear the responsibility here. I think she’s entitled to a refund for her trip, but only her. I think if the rest of the family went, then they get no refund. If they had turned around and gone home then I would support them getting a refund as well. Carnival dropped the ball and anyone who didn’t go should’ve been entitled to a refund.

  74. Birki says:

    I wholeheartedly recommend not vacationing more than a few hours by car from home after 24 weeks pregnancy. You never know what can happen and if your insurance doesn’t cover 100% out of network, the expenses can add up if mother and/or baby are in the hospital. It happened to me: had a baby at 26 weeks 2000 miles from home, while visiting my hometown. Everything is fine five years later but the baby spent weeks in the NICU out of network and the insurance company had to be persuaded to pay for a special medical flight to get the baby back to a hospital near our home. Luckily, we were able to stay in a Ronald McDonald house near the hospital, otherwise hotel bills would have been astronomical in an expensive city. Not to mention all the time off work we had to take. Our NICU nurses said that this sort of situation happens quite often in places like HI where the parents-to-be take one last vacation before the baby arrives. At least in my case, I had family in the area for support and insurance paid everything. The insurance we have now would not pay 100%. Really, pregnancy is unpredictable and as tempting as a faraway vacation is, I’d say please stick close to home.

  75. coren says:

    @BlueTraveler: Actually, it would be impossible to cancel a trip in June booked in May of the same year 61 days in advance. Clearly, they wouldn’t have bought the tickets, though, if they had knowledge of the wife being pregnant (and she’d have to be like 4 and a half months or so by then)