Celebrity rewards an honest cruiser with potential norovirus. Is this a model for other lines?

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Celebrity Eclipse
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.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Sensible precautions, good outcome.

    As for worry about “the cost of an onboard doctor’s visit,” I had a different experience. On the QM2 last year I had to visit a doctor not because of any bug, but because I had wrenched my back so badly I was in extreme pain and could barely walk. She gave me a thorough exam, prescribed medication, and gave me advice about how to proceed. The entire bill, including meds, came to just over 100 bucks. A bargain in my book.

    Now maybe that’s because the ship is Cunard and the docs were all British, and the UK has a sensible health care policy. (Cunard is now owned by Carnival UK, though Carnival overall is a multi-national consortium.)

    I bet everything would’ve cost more had I been on an American ship. The doc’s visit alone might’ve been $150, and god knows what the four different medications would’ve cost. Maybe somebody who’s had experience on a different cruise line can chime in and let us know.

  • dcta

    You know, I feel as though I’ve heard about outcomes like this in the past though the passengers experiencing the line’s attempts at “good will” have simply been outraged nonetheless.

  • Charles Smith

    A lot of the “noro” and other virus outbreaks could be minimized if the Cruise Lines (and airlines, etc) would allow passengers with a doctor’s note to change their reservations to another cruise (or flight) based on space available, at no charge.

    I have been in line during embarkation day and see people who are obviously sick. But Nyquil and aspirin can make anyone look well enough to board.

    If someone is too sick (and should be home in bed) and they can get a doctor to write a note, the transportation company should honor the fare at a different time to protect the other passengers.

  • http://upgrd.com/roadmoretraveled MeanMeosh

    To play devil’s advocate for a minute, the cruise line’s reply would be “you should have bought insurance”, which will usually cover you if you get too sick to cruise. To which I say, the cruise lines do have a point. I personally have to question anyone that drops big money on cruise fare, airfare, hotels, etc., but then claims they can’t afford a few hundred extra dollars for insurance. If your finances are stretched that tight, you should seriously consider whether plopping down that kind of cash on a vacation is the most appropriate use of resources. But your point is well taken.

    Some cruise lines do exactly what you suggest, I might add. Celebrity had a norovirus outbreak on our ship on the voyage before ours, and when we arrived at the port, they were offering anyone not feeling well, or just too uncomfortable to proceed, the option of rescheduling at a later date at no extra charge (I think there might have been some vouchers thrown in for good measure, though I don’t recall for sure). FWIW, Celebrity took extra precautions the first few days, and the cruise proceeded without incident, but it was nice of them to offer a re-do for those who wanted one. Seems that Celebrity goes above and beyond in this area – which is more than I can say for the actual service on our cruise, but that’s a different story…

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Mean Mosh, totally agree about insurance. I think we had this very discussion here a couple/few weeks ago. To wit: if you can’t afford to lose the cost of the trip and you can’t afford insurance, then you can’t afford the trip.

  • Charlie Funk

    It’s amusing that the story is about Celebriy but the vessel shown is Cunard’s QM2

  • Charles Leocha

    Thanks Charlie, Fixed.

  • http://blaze.com/ mathchopper

    Outstanding suggestion.