Eaten by bedbugs on my Mexico cruise — is this enough compensation?

By | September 22nd, 2016

A cruise can be a terrific culinary experience, from fine dining restaurants to the midnight buffet. But customers don’t expect to be on the menu.

That’s exactly what Robbin and Paul Coaxum say happened to them when they sailed from Los Angeles to Mexico on the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Jewel this spring. They say they were eaten — by bedbugs.

“A few days into the trip I noticed I had a few bites,” says Robbin Coaxum. “Paul notified the housekeeper, the front desk, and an officer on the ship. Later that day, we returned to the room to find several NCL staff going through the cabin.”

At first, the cruise line said it would only have to change the bedding. But later, they admitted they’d found a “bedbug infestation” and told them they would have to change rooms.

Things just got worse, she says.

We were moved to stateroom 11562, which had a horrible creaking sound. I put on earplugs, and Paul stayed up most of the night.
The next couple of days were spent with different engineers coming through cabin 11562 to resolve the noise issue.
On Friday, we were offered another stateroom, but the damage had been done — our vacation was ruined, and we just wanted off the ship.

When the Coaxums returned to Los Angeles, they consulted a doctor, who verified that the bites were, indeed, bites.
“I had numerous bites over 75 percent of my body,” Robbin Coaxum says. “My doctor stated that my bedbug bites were the worst case she has seen. My husband also went to the doctor and was diagnosed with bedbug bites.”

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The couple missed work while they recovered from the ordeal. But that wasn’t the worst part.

“I was left with permanent scars — dark spots — over most of my body,” she says.

While on the cruise the Coaxums were given a $300 credit, and NCL has offered $500 toward a future cruise, and $200 for onboard credit within 1 year.

They asked for more. Between the medical bills, the lost vacation time and the emotional scars, the Coaxums felt the least NCL could do for sticking them in a bedbug-infested cabin was to refund their cruise. Here’s how the cruise line responded:

It has been brought to our attention that our efforts have not satisfactorily resolved your concerns. As requested, your file was reviewed once again for a comprehensive evaluation.

After a thorough review of your file, it was determined that your concerns were appropriately addressed and the offer extended to you is in line with our compensation guidelines. While we are sorry to learn of your continued disappointment with our previous responses, our position in this matter remains firm.

NCL agreed to turn the onboard credit into a cruise credit, if they wanted. But otherwise, the offer remained the same. Take it or leave it.

“I feel that NCL knew before we got on their ship there was a bed bug problem in stateroom 11112,” Robbin Coaxum says. “Given the extent of my injuries I feel we should be reimbursed the $2,714 we paid for the cruise. Is this unreasonable?”

It is not. We decided to contact the cruise line on the Coaxums’ behalf. The response? Another “no.”

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There’s not much more we can do, except to issue a warning about stateroom 11112 on the Jewel. Bedbugs can happen anywhere. Even when a cruise line or hotel admits that one of its cabins or rooms is infested, the damages are entirely up to the company. The Coaxums could hire a maritime lawyer to go after NCL, but it’s probably not worth their time.

What an unfortunate ending to this story. But I know there are some of you out there who love cruising and will probably say NCL’s offer was generous and appropriate. I guess this is your chance to tell the Coaxums how nice NCL was to offer a cruise credit. You’ll forgive me for not being so enthusiastic about the settlement offer.

Did NCL offer the Coaxums enough compensation?

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  • mbods2002

    Taking them to court might actually be worth their time. Their cruise was ruined, they missed worked to heal, doctor’s bills and black scars. NCL may end up paying more than $2,700…..

  • Jeff W.

    There will be many opinions as to what the amount should be. But what is really disappointing is that the amount offered ($1000 from what I can tell) was in onboard credits and for a future cruise. That is the bigger insult, that you need to spend more money in order to get our settlement.

    NCL did not offer any compensation, as they would have to purchase another cruise to collect what they offered. As I doubt they would ever cruise on NCL again, this is worthless.

  • 42NYC

    Legally, yes. Realistically, no.

    The bad press from this story is more than the damages being requested. Further, as cruise lines always try to sail out full (amazing deals to be had if you want to book a cruise 48 hours in advance) im guessing they new there was a problem with the 2nd room.

  • For most bedbug attacks, the worst aspect of it is not getting a few bites at the hotel, but having your home infected when you return. Not everyone has the foresight to throw away their luggage and clothing before arriving home and walk into the house naked. Usually you face months of expensive pest control.

  • Rebecca

    I will start out by saying bedbugs in your cabin can certainly ruin a cruise. I don’t feel the compensation is appropriate, especially considering they have to spend more money with the company to use it.

    That being said, I think a big problem here is the tone of the OP’s complaints. Using phrases like “the worst ever seen” and “completely ruined” make you sound very melodramatic. I’m not saying it’s not true, I’m just trying to put it in perspective. The person reading your request reads these requests all day. And when you say something is the worst ever, when they have recently read another email from a customer that experienced a real, true tragedy, it makes them lose sympathy for your situation.

  • Kerr

    Yes, they should probably seek legal advice for this case,

  • mbods2002

    Didn’t think of that. That’s another cost to add to the lawsuit…

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    The compensation is with company scrip or ‘funny money’ so it is worthless UNLESS the OP takes another cruise with NCL which is unlikely.
    The tone of the OP probably stack the case against them. They should consult with a lawyer.

    Medical bills: NCL should compensate the OPs for their onboard and off-shore medical costs

    Lost vacation time: the OP should consult with a lawyer

    Emotional scares: The OP should consult with a lawyer

    Permanent scars — dark spots: The OP should consult with a lawyer

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Unless this story ended up on the evening news, the newspaper, trending on Yahoo, Facebook, etc, the public will never know and there is no damage to NCL.

  • alsous

    So I posted this link on Cruise Critic on the NCL forum. Hopefully this will get their attention.

  • ChelseaGirl

    The cruise line should, at the very least, have paid for medical expenses. If the OP has permanent scars, then it seems there is a legal case. A credit toward a cruise, which they obviously don’t want to take, is useless.

  • Jim

    The only problem is that they will in all likelihood have to sue in federal court in Florida (where most cruise claims must be filed, check your cruise documents) which is so slanted on the cruise line industry side its sickening.

    International/maritime law sucks…

  • MF

    Small claims court (at least in California), too late for a chargeback.

  • greg watson

    Wow, I am a little amazed that they came here, to this site. A full refund or ‘free’ cruise offer is ridiculous compensation. A nightmare like this, stays with you for a long time, mentally & physically. A lawyer would lick his lips at this case ( I think ) & would probably receive a nice fee from a decent settlement.

  • disqus_wK5MCy17IP

    My first thought was they took the bedbugs to the new stateroom with them.

  • Fishplate

    I saw a photo the other day of a chalkboard outside a restaurant – “Come in and try the salad that one woman on TripAdvisor said was the worst she’d ever had in her life”

  • Naoma Foreman


  • Naoma Foreman


  • Naoma Foreman


  • DepartureLevel

    That’s exactly what happened to my sister after a USAir flight a few years ago. She was visiting me so the bag became a “host” once she was on the plane. She retrieved the carryon bag from the overhead compartment, took it home and in her son’s bedroom it went. Needless to say after a $1200 pest control removal later, money she really didn’t have to spend, they were finally rid of the bedbugs. Also out went the bedroom furniture, mattress, box spring etc. Once they get in your house they don’t only remain in the bedding; they seek out wall sockets and other places. Ugh…..planes are not immune from this.

  • cscasi

    Why are you always shouting? Writing your comments in all capital letters?

  • joycexyz

    Bedbugs in just one room? The entire ship needs to be treated. And the intransigent attitude of NCL puts them on my no-fly (or no-sail) list.

  • joycexyz

    Good point. Just the facts, ma’am!

  • Jim

    The best lawyer will tell you not to waste the time because of the horrible jurisdiction.

  • Tricia K

    You can also put your suitcase and whatever you brought with you in plastic garbage bags and leave them in the sun or heat (inside a car works) until an exterminator can come help you out. Of course that should be paid for by the cruise line as well.

  • Richard Mengelkoch

    Is your caps lock on?

  • llandyw

    One thing I didn’t see mentioned here. If there is a bedbug infestation that bad in one room they have already migrated to other rooms. It’s the same thing in hotels. Once there’s an infestation, they have to handle it like cancer. Cut wide and deep or they won’t get rid of them.

    Anyone in the rooms near that one probably also got bit. I wonder if a class action suit isn’t in order here.

  • LFH0

    While I am not an expert on admiralty law, my understanding of personal injury cases at sea, like this, is that there exists concurrent jurisdiction with both state and federal courts, and that an action need not be brought in federal district court (though the cruise line might have the right to remove a case filed in state court). See, e.g., Lewis v. Lewis & Clark Marine Inc., 531 U.S. 438, 445 (2001). Do you know of authority that vests exclusive jurisdiction over such cases in federal courts? (While true that passenger ticket contracts typically limit venue to Florida or Washington, but that’s a different question.)

  • greg watson

    I feel sorry for you, would you please suffer all that they did & get back to me about that experience. It sounds like you have shares in that cruise line & a small heart.

  • greg watson

    I am not feeling your compassion for human suffering. I believe I have a right to comment, just as you do, Next !

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