While the majority of cruisers enjoy a vacation with no health issues, norovirus outbreaks still make headlines. Cruise ships are engaged in a never-ending battle to keep passengers from catching the virus. However, all the cleaning in the world is usually no match for travelers who board when they are sick.
While, no doubt, some people know they aren’t feeling well when they board, others can have symptoms come on suddenly. And, with the, “It’s my vacation, I’ve paid for it, I’m going to enjoy it” mentality, not to mention the cost of an onboard doctor’s visit, many travelers may avoid visiting the infirmary.
A co-worker on a recent Celebrity cruise felt sick and feverish a few days into a two-week cruise. She visited the medical center where a nurse discovered a high fever along with stomach issues, which meant the ship was quarantined for four days as a precaution. (Her fever, 103 degrees, was probably high enough to mean it wasn’t norovirus. But, whatever the illness was, it wasn’t good.)
Being quarantined on-board a ship is no fun. Fortunately, my coworker felt better within a couple days and she had a balcony and a number of books. Celebrity brought her room service for all meals, gave her two free pay-per-view movies a day, refunded her for the nonrefundable shore excursion she had booked during her quarantine and didn’t charge her for the medical visit.
Plus, as an added bonus, Celebrity also told her they would be sending her a discount voucher for a future cruise.
Was any of this, other than the room service, necessary? No. But it helped make her tough situation better and it helped keep the rest of the ship from getting whatever she had. Such treatment, announced up front, might keep ship passengers healthier in general.
Yes, it means cruise lines would lose some money on medical appointments and shore excursion fees. (Plus, a future cruise discount costs something only if someone actually booked another cruise.)
On the other hand, if cruise lines announced up front that in an effort to protect everyone on board, onboard medical visits for suspected norovirus would be free, and any quarantined passenger would have prepaid extras refunded, it might nudge passengers to get checked out; more so if the ship offered a future discount for a partially ruined vacation.
Of course, free offers often result in people trying to take advantage, but I doubt they would in this case. Who wants to risk being quarantined just to save money on a doctor’s visit? Such an upfront policy might make others who have seen or heard horror stories more comfortable with the prospect of cruising.