Heart attack scuttles cruise on Royal Caribbean — refund, please?

By | September 28th, 2016

Michael Smith and his wife booked a dream cruise to Alaska on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas, only to have it stopped cold by a medical emergency.

They hoped Royal Caribbean would sympathize with their plight, but rarely will a cruise line take responsibility for an unavoidable life event that is not their fault. The couple is hoping we can persuade the cruise line to reconsider.

Almost immediately after the Smiths boarded the ship in Vancouver, Michael began to feel that telltale ache in his left arm.

“I reported to the ship’s doctor, and he immediately called for an ambulance to take me to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver,” he says. “I was then diagnosed with a heart attack.”

By the time he was released from the hospital, the ship was already in Alaska, so the Smiths were forced to cancel their cruise and go home. Although their vacation was over, their problems weren’t. The couple faced bills and a cruise line that refused to refund their cruise fare.

The Smiths had prepaid for a land tour and two beverage packages to be used during the cruise. Despite the line’s normal cruise cancellation policy, Royal Caribbean reimbursed Smith for those expenses, along with the taxes and fees he paid on his cruise fare.

Some of this can be considered a goodwill gesture by the cruise line, since the cruise contract does not mandate that all those items must be reimbursed. But at the same time, the reimbursements were mostly for shipboard services the Smiths never had a chance to use. I think it is fair to say the cruise line refunded as much as the ship’s purser would allow.

Related story:   I don't want to go to England anymore. Can I skip that flight?

But Smith was hoping for more — that he could get a full refund for the cruise he and his wife were unable to take. Unfortunately, cruise line policies are very similar to those of airlines. They make their money by selling a “perishable commodity,” meaning that once that ship sets sail the suddenly vacant stateroom cannot be sold to anyone else.

Smith tallied the cruise line expenses for us:


  • The total amount the Smiths paid to Royal Caribbean was $3,276.
  • The cruise line refunded the beer packages ($644), and the shore excursions for two people ($759).
  • The taxes and fees (port charges, for example) were also refunded, but the cruise line kept $2,870.

“They are not going to refund one penny of the cruise fare even though we only spent maybe three hours on the ship,” says Smith.

That’s a lot of money.

But even worse are the medical bills Smith received. Smith is from Arizona, and his U.S.-based Blue Cross medical insurance does not cover any of his hospital expenses in Canada, so now he also owes more than $11,500 ($15,000 Canadian) to the cardiologist and an assistant.

Most medical insurance for U.S. citizens will not cover you in foreign nations. That includes the vast majority of ocean cruise vessels, which are registered under foreign flags.

I don’t know if Smith knew he was at risk of a heart attack, but even pre-existing conditions are insurable as long as you reveal the condition well in advance of the cruise, typically before or with the final payment to the cruise line. The time limitation exists to make sure people do not try to buy “pre-existing condition” insurance just before a cruise sets sail. Yes, this is confusing, and so travel insurance policies must be compared carefully before purchase. Using a reputable agent to help you is also highly recommended.

Related story:   They were a "no show" for their flight home -- should I keep pushing for a refund?

A good travel insurance policy would have also refunded the cruise fare and other unexpected travel costs, such as hotels and the return flight to Tucson. (For more information, see our FAQ section on travel insurance.)

Of course, no one ever likes to think about all the things that can possibly go wrong during a vacation, but in this case $1,000 in travel insurance for both Smiths could have saved them about $14,000 in expenses.

Smith wants us to ask for an exception to the cruise line’s nonrefundability policy. After all, he suffered enough with the heart attack and hospital costs. Shouldn’t the cruise line show some compassion?

Should we take Michael Smith's case?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...


  • LDVinVA

    The cruise line DID show some compassion by refunding the excursion and beverage packages. I have sympathy for their plight, but…that is what insurance is for!!!

  • Regina Litman

    Why is the Yes answer in a situation where it should really be interpreted as “YES, of course!” trailing by a 7-1 margin?

  • Mel65

    So, they were willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a beer beverage package but decided insurance wasn’t worth it…. Sigh.

  • SierraRose 49

    I voted “no.” There are some unknowns about Mr. Smith, primarily did he have a pre-existing heart or any other condition? Did his TA recommend travel insurance and did he refuse to buy it? Whether you book directly though RCI or through a local or online TA, travel insurance is usually recommended. I would suggest the Mr. Smith write a brief, polite letter to Royal Caribbean using the contacts at Elliott.org.They might offer him vouchers for a future cruise. They are certainly not responsible for his medical bills. Mr. Smith took a chance and lost. It’s an expensive lesson. If you do take this case, I would find it punitive to those of us who always do purchase travel insurance.

  • Pat

    Despite the fact I sympathize with their situation, this one was an easy decision voting no. This situation is why you by travel insurance. My dad had a mini-stroke on a cruise up the Atlantic seaboard. He had to have a boat ambulance take him and my mom to a hospital on PEI. There they stabilized him until he recovered to the point he could fly home. Because they had (the proper) travel insurance, everything was reimbursed and got the help they needed. None of this was cheap (the Canadian hospital stay was a lot cheaper than what the same services would have cost in the US) but the travel insurance cost was well worth it.

  • Kristiana Lee

    Before I start, here’s a disclaimer. I am a small business owner and have never worked in the corporate world. The business math is very much simplified but I want to give you a taste of the other side of the story.

    The Smiths paid $3276 total. Royal Caribbean’s profit margin according to a quick Google search is 9.1% so their profit from the Smiths would have been about $300. By refunding $1403 they’ve already lost money. While it’s true the Smiths weren’t there to drink the beer, eat the food, use the excursions, etc, Royal Caribbean had already paid the excursion company, bought the food, and hired the people to serve them. If Royal Caribbean were to refund the whole $3276, it would wipe out the profit from the Smiths and 10 other cabins whose occupants paid about that much. Again, simplified but you get the idea.

    I feel for the Smiths. I really do. And if they cancelled months in advance I’d feel differently. Businesses can’t consistently absorb their clients’ problems. They have bills to pay too. That’s why I buy trip insurance. I haven’t had to use a policy yet but I’m still happy to have someone else assume the risk.

  • AAGK

    I’m so glad he was ok. It sounds like he was able to access good life saving medical care and get a bunch of expenses refunded. The medical costs are not relevant to the cruise. I think 2800 is a fair loss considering he started the cruise and got a portion back. Of course it would be nice if the cruise refunded but sounds like it made a good compromise. Perhaps it could offer him a beverage package and excursion gratis if he rebooks with them, but it doesn’t have to.

  • Lindabator

    because of course is NOT the answer – he was on the ship when he took ill – THAT is why you take insurance – for all of you refund everyone folks, who did you think they could sell a berth to day of? why should the cruise line pay because he did not choose to cover unforeseen circumstances?

  • John Baker

    Easy … The cruise line offered to sell the couple a product that would have covered this exact situation. The couple declined to purchase it.
    The cruise line had already purchased everything for the cruise. They aren’t getting a refund there. They can’t resell the cabin after they leave port. They did refund the drink package, excursions and taxes.

    Why should the cruise line take a financial hit for this situation? They did nothing wrong and offered the couple a product just for this situation

  • Charles Owen

    I am hoping that this story will resonate with others. Whenever I hear travel insurance discussed it’s nearly always in the context of “can you afford to lose the cost of your trip”. But, people should recognize that having medical insurance when travelling is critical. The OP is out a few thousand due to the loss of their trip. But, they are out more than $10,000 in medical expenses. I usually don’t care about losing the cost of a trip that much. After all, it’s likely already been paid for and I planned to spend that money. However, a medical emergency can easily wipe out your savings or worse, costing large amounts of money you didn’t anticipate spending.

  • Steve Rabin

    This is not a case of a heartless (sorry, no pun intended) company trying to hide behind its contract. The ship sailed, so there is no way they could resell that cabin. It might have been nice if they did refund the money, but as a business that sells perishable product (a cabin that is useless once the ship leaves port) they can’t afford to.

    I think it was a nice gesture to refund the port charges and packages. And I hate to rub it in, but as others have said here and in the past, this is what trip insurance is for. It covers medical cancellations and pays for your medical benefits where your insurance will not pick it up.

  • Alan Gore

    Thusly is a pretty clear case of needing insurance, ESPECIALLY for medical. Here in Arizona we get a lot of Canadian visitors, including those who hike with my local club. Last year one of our Canadians developed gall bladder problems while here. The Canadian government sent a private jet to bring her home to Vancouver, even though all she had was the standard governmental medical coverage. Apparently this was still much cheaper than having her treated at a US hospital.

  • Jeff W.

    I also voted no for many of the same reasons others have mentioned. The cruise was sailing that day. They had even boarded the ship. There was no way for the line to resell the cabin — and even it could — it would never be near a price the Smith’s paid. Royal Caribbean has salaries and expenses to pay as well.

    If anything, I hope this is a lesson for all us to make sure that we have medical coverage when we cross the border. Doesn’t matter if you are 80 or 8, things can happen and medical costs can be significant.

  • Lindabator

    and heaven forbid there is a passing – expatriation of remains can be a pita as well! and quite costly to arrange

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “Shouldn’t the cruise line show some compassion?”
    They show SOME compassion by refunding the excursion and beverage packages which they were under NO obligation to do so.

  • KennyG

    I guess my web browser is acting up on me. I see the list of all the money they paid that they are “out” and want refunded, including the critically necessary “beer package”, but for some reason my web browser must not be formatting this site correctly because the money they paid for their travel insurance policy for some reason doesn’t seem to be showing up.. Hopefully one of those Windows experts that always call me to fix my PC will be calling again soon so I can get this technical problem fixed ASAP.

  • Michael__K

    FYI, the product this cruise line offers to sell would NOT generally cover this type of situation.

    It does NOT cover pre-existing conditions and it also has a medical expense cap of $10,000 in any case.

    http://www.royalcaribbean.com/content/en_US/pdf/RCC_Version_4_9-2015.pdf

  • Michael__K

    The insurance Royal Caribbean sells to their passengers does not cover pre-existing conditions and also does not cover more than $10,000 in Medical Expenses.

  • sirwired

    They refunded things that are technically listed as non-refundable, but will save the line money because he wasn’t there to use them.

    They are not refunding something that cost the line the same whether he was there to use it or not.

    This seems like a totally fair resolution to me, and not at all lacking in compassion. As I have said many times here, “Companies like their money just as much as consumers like theirs, and have no inherent lesser claim to it.”

    On a positive note, at least this article DID mention that the consumer should have obtained trip insurance, and it likely would avoided all this. (Although it might be useful to note that 1st-party policies do NOT have a pre-ex waiver; that’s usually 3rd-party policies.)

  • Michael__K

    even pre-existing conditions are insurable as long as you reveal the condition well in advance of the cruise, typically before or with the final payment to the cruise line. The time limitation exists to make sure people do not try to buy “pre-existing condition” insurance just before a cruise sets sail.

    Read the policy very carefully. In the case of policies purchased from Royal Caribbean, pre-existing conditions are NOT insurable. And the cap on Medical Expenses is $10,000 (which this passenger would have exceeded). He would have needed a third party policy with stronger coverage than what Royal Caribbean sells.

    http://www.royalcaribbean.com/content/en_US/pdf/RCC_Version_4_9-2015.pdf

  • Charles Owen

    #1 rule of Travel Insurance: Never buy from the travel provider. This is exactly why.

    #2 rule: Never buy TI that does not have a preexisting condition waiver. “Heart attack? You clearly had a heart before, so that’s a preexisting condition.”

  • sirwired

    Yeah, I noticed that error too; it’s only the 3rd-party policies that have pre-ex waivers. (And most of them have also have more generous medical coverage.) And of the 3rd-party policies that DO offer a pre-ex waiver, most require you to purchase the policy within a couple weeks of deposit; only a couple carriers let you wait until final payment.

    On the other hand, 1st-party policies commonly have more-generous CAFR coverage, and they are generally cheaper if you are elderly. (1st-party are not age-rated, while 3rd-party almost invariably are.)

  • John Baker

    Look back on the Cancellation Penalty Waiver is 60 days so unless he had another heart attack in the 60 days prior to them signing up for the trip, they’d be covered. Even if they weren’t covered, they would received a cruise credit for 75% of their fare for travel in the next year.

    The insurance portion would have covered $10,000 in medical expenses and $25,000 in emergency evacuation. If part of the $11,500 bill is an ambulance bill, it would be covered under the evacuation portion of the bill.

    So to recap… if they buy the cruise’s insurance, they have no more than $1500 in medical expenses and a cruise credit for 75% of their fare. Best case is that its covered at 100% and they get a cash refund for their fare.

  • Michael__K

    Iron rules don’t work. You have to read the policies, understand your needs, and compare prices and benefits.

    Some travel providers may cover pre-existing conditions. Sometimes medical insurance already includes coverage overseas.

    Third party travel insurance companies are priced based on age. Travel providers policies are not. For young and middle-aged people, third party policies are usually a much better deal. But for someone 70 or 80+, a third party policy can cost four times as much (or more) without providing anywhere near four times the benefits.

  • John Baker

    Actually their look back on preexisting conditions is only 60 days for the cancellation waiver

    “Royal Caribbean International will not waive their cancellation penalty
    and provide a cash refund, should you cancel or interrupt your cruise
    vacation for any of the following reasons:
    • a condition that first presents, worsens, becomes acute or has
    symptoms causing a person to seek diagnosis, care or treatment,
    or prompts a change in medication, during the 60 days before you
    purchased this waiver…”

  • Michael__K

    No, that’s not how pre-existing condition exclusions work as we’ve seen before on this site when claims are denied

    If he had some arm ache (or any other ache which could have represented a heart issue) during the look-back period, that could be used to deny all claims.

  • Michael__K

    There’s always a look-back period with Pre-existing Condition Exclusions. Royal Caribbean, unlike many third party insurers, does not offer a waiver when the insurance is purchased within a time limit.

    And we’ve seen before that these pre-existing exclusions are interpreted very broadly. If the passenger had some “arm ache” or a foot ache or any other symptoms which may have seemed inconsequential at the time but which could in hindsight be construed as symptoms warning of a heart attack, then that’s enough to deny the claim.

    http://elliott.org/blog/why-doesnt-travel-insurance-cover-dads-illness/

  • Rebecca

    And they can’t even make the argument we always seem to see here. Royal Caribbean sailed with an empty cabin, because there’s no possibility of reselling it.

  • Rebecca

    Just imagine if this OP had a heart attack in the middle of the ocean, or in a Mexican or Caribbean port. I know someone that had a serious medical emergency in Mexico and was medically evacuated via private airplane back to the US. It literally would have cost nearly $100k to charter a private plane equipped with medical supplies and staff. She would literally have most likely died had she not been able to have her husband immediately on the phone with the insurance company, who arranged the flight and had her home within hours. I really believe that cruise lines should make medical travel insurance, including evacuation necessary. If you want to buy liquor instead of travel insurance and eat the loss, that’s your prerogative. But this man is so lucky he was in Vancouver, where the doctors were able to effectively treat him and didn’t require thousands of dollars in cash up front, as would be required in many cruise ports.

  • AAGK

    I didn’t see he had a pre-existing condition.

  • AAGK

    Because not everyone agrees with you.

  • Michael__K

    The author doesn’t know one way or the other. I quoted the relevant portion from the article.

  • disqus_wK5MCy17IP

    That’s not a reason not to buy insurance. People who have their claims paid don’t write in to tell about it.

  • Annie M

    Tired of reading about these people that don’t buy travel insurance and expect the suppliers to “goodwill” them. Look at all the cases you have here on just this website. Everyone thinks they are the “exception” yet they all have the same thing – they didn’t buy insurance.
    Enough of these cases. Stop taking all of them. Maybe people will decide to buy insurance.

  • Annie M

    Why would you think he had a pre-ex condition? If he never was treated for this – he didn’t have a pre-ex.

  • Annie M

    Where are you coming up with him having a pre-ex condition? No where in this does anyone state he had a problem before. You can’t keep reading into something in a story that isn’t there.
    Third party insurance would have given him much higher medical and emergency evacuation too.

  • Annie M

    Many third party policies cover pre-ex if bought within a certain time period after deposit. And what some may think is pre-ex may not be if there were no changes in the medical condition within the look back period. If a person buys a third party policy with pre-ex coverage and is able to travel on the day they purchase the policy, there are plenty of policies that will cover it.
    Many people have heart attacks with no warning so you can’t read into him having a pre-ex condition.

  • Michael__K

    If he never was treated for this – he didn’t have a pre-ex.

    Completely false. As the policy language states, any one symptom alone — even if it seemed innocuous at the time — is grounds to fully deny a claim as a “pre-existing condition.”

    Which we’ve seen examples of before. Jessica Kamzik’s father was never diagnosed with, let alone treated for stomach cancer before she bought insurance. And yet her claim was denied as a pre-existing condition. http://elliott.org/blog/why-doesnt-travel-insurance-cover-dads-illness/

  • Michael__K

    Where are you coming up with “the cruise line offered to sell the couple a product that would have covered this exact situation?”

    *You* can’t keep reading something in a story that isn’t there and assume he had no prior symptoms which could possibly be construed as related in hindsight. Because if he did, then he cannot expect to be covered.

  • Michael__K

    Sure. But it is a reason not to promote the false narrative that “insurance” (any insurance) is the magic bullet answer.

  • Michael__K

    I noted that many third party policies offer waivers within a purchase time limit in one of my replies to John Baker.

    However, when no waiver applies, the flip side is that pre-ex clauses exclude coverage in many cases where most people would not dream there is really a pre-existing condition.

  • disqus_wK5MCy17IP

    Nor is it a reason to reply to every comment about insurance with something negative about insurance. Or to rely solely on travel providers making exceptions rather than researching an appropriate policy.

  • ctporter

    Thank you for publishing this story, not that I believe the Cruise line deserves to suffer the loss by issuing a full refund. Rather the amount of money it cost the Smiths for the medical treatment when not in the USA was very enlightening. I view travel insurance in a much different light now!

  • Michael__K

    As is all too often the case, there are lots of comments exaggerating or misrepresenting — often snidely — what insurance covers. Which is irresponsible and does a disservice to readers.

  • disqus_wK5MCy17IP

    In this case you’ve also been arguing that a policy that would have covered this situation would be more expensive due to the age of the travelers. Choosing not to insure your trip, or yourself (medical bills) does not shift the responsibility to the cruise line. It’s also a disservice to readers to tell them not to bother when there are policies that would cover many of the things which you claim are not covered with higher premiums. And again, giving an example of a few times when insurance denied a claim does not take into account all of the times claims are paid, but those people don’t write in to this site because they have nothing to complain about.

  • Michael__K

    Actually, in this case I warn of the all-too-common misconceptions about pre-existing conditions.

    And we see claims denied because the language of the contracts allows this. Why would you encourage people to expect that insurance companies will waive their contractual rights and pay claims they don’t have to, but discourage people from believing that cruise companies would or should ever do so themselves?

    And why would you insist that passengers should spend 4x as much in premiums unless they have a specific need to do so? Many people already have health insurance which includes coverage abroad. And overseas medical coverage can also be purchased standalone.

  • joycexyz

    Your paragraph about travel insurance says it all.

  • joycexyz

    Totally right! And they didn’t have to purchase the insurance RC was selling; there are plenty of other choices.

  • joycexyz

    There are plenty of options for travel insurance. You buy the one you are comfortable with, not necessarily what is offered by the cruise line or the tour operator.

  • joycexyz

    Very good! Answer: your PC is totally correct.

  • joycexyz

    Yes, we need to do research to find the appropriate policy. There are a number of factors to be considered, e.g., age, general health, pre-existing conditions, where are you traveling…But the Smith’s apparently had none at all, although they did purchase a beverage package. Priorities, folks!

  • Michael__K

    Sure. Except you and others endorse inaccurate and misleading statements to the contrary such as:
    “the cruise line offered to sell the couple a product that would have covered this exact situation…”

  • joycexyz

    I never agreed that the cruise line offered the correct product. I said there are plenty of options to choose from.

  • Regina Litman

    Why do you have 15 upvotes for your totally unsympathetic reply, and I don’t have any for my heartfelt one? Where is the fairness in this world?

  • Regina Litman

    But of course it is.

  • Regina Litman

    But they should!

  • Mel65

    Why would it possibly be “YES, of course!”? These people prioritized BEER over protecting their investment with insurance. The cruise line was actually exceptionally generous in returning the amount they did return. What monies they kept was for a room they were not able to resell. It sucks this happened to the OP and I sincerely hope he’s back to full health, but the attitude that businesses somehow are supposed to cheerfully bear the burdens that befall their customers is wrong–although there are of course always exceptions in extreme circumstances, but not every “awww that sucks” situation qualifies. It’s called business because it is by definition not personal… it’s business.

  • Regina Litman

    Why do the heartless direct replies to my heartfelt comment have a total of 42 upvotes, while mine doesn’t have any? Someone please upvote my original message below, and also please post a note of agreement with me. Thanks in advance.

  • Mel65

    More accurately, NOONE agrees with her!

  • Regina Litman

    Because it is “YES, of course!” Businesses can bear a $15,000+ loss better than retired individuals taking a pleasure trip.

  • cp556

    Of course I sympathize with the passengers … a sudden heart attack is a horrible situation. However, as others have said, that is what travel insurance is for.

    If your home burned down and you did not have fire insurance, would they reimburse you anyway? Same analogy applies here.

  • Michael__K

    Ok, noted. I inferred that you (and many others) did from the up-votes on the comment I replied to and quoted above.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    My wife is a nurse and she used to work for an insurance company as a case manager. It costs between $ 90,000 to $ 120,000 to transport a patient from a hospital in Alaska to a hospital in the state of Washington.

    I wonder what would be the cost to evacuate someone from Europe, Asia or Africa back to the US. This is why it is so important to have travel insurance with evacuation benefit when you are traveling internationally.

  • Suzanne

    Thank goodness the patient survived, but this is ridiculous. The couple did not buy travel insurance and want their money back the day of departure? Gimme a break. This is why a good travel agent sells insurance independent of the cruise line. The cruise lines have inferior insurance, and it’s usually more expensive as well as being secondary medical. Expensive lesson here. I hope the travel agent has a signed waiver in hand.

  • SierraRose 49

    Businesses can bear a $15,000+ loss? Is this ANY business or just a major cruise line business like RCI? Would this $15,000+ loss apply to every passenger on RCI’s 23 ships? In my experience, ANY loss means a cut in income. And income pays the bills.

  • Michael__K

    Everyone should make sure they are covered for medical emergencies when they travel abroad, absolutely.

    Note that it’s possible to purchase such coverage standalone, for less than the cost of a full-fledged travel insurance / trip cancellation policy.

  • C Schwartz

    Businesses can bear a $15,000 loss? $15,000 Canadian dollars (US $11,500) was for the hospital and dr in Canada. They likely saved the patient’s life. A majority of the funding for health care in Canada comes from Canadian government which means it comes from Canadian tax payers.

  • C Schwartz

    Why should they agree with you? Most people would think that spending over $600 on beer packages, ie unlimited beer on the trip , but not buying insurance for a trip that involves a foreign country, is a little short sighted.

  • Mel65

    So you want the cruise line to pay the medical bills, too? Only a portion of what the OP is out was for the cruise. Or do you want the healthcare system to also swallow the loss, since surely they can afford it too. After all the OP had a heart attack, so he shouldn’t pay for anything. In fact, really why should ANYONE EVER have to pay for healthcare, or buy insurance, or take responsibility for their economic choices? I make a good income–by your reasoning if I’m hit by someone who has no auto insurance, I should not only swallow my loss, I should pay for theirs too, since I can “bear it better” than they can. If someone can’t afford to bear a loss, they either hedge their bet with insurance, or they don’t take the risk. It’s that simple.

  • Carrie Livingston

    Wondering why you’d have to evacuate from Europe? There are modern hospitals in the rest of the world. I agree in some countries the hospitals are sketchy, but you would get stabilized and then would probably be flown to a better hospital to handle any further care.

  • Carchar

    When foreigners visiting the U.S. suffer illnesses, should our hospitals and doctors treat them for free? In the long run, you are footing the bill along with other citizens.

  • Rebecca

    I really seriously want to like this comment indefinitely. You summed it up perfect. I have a savings account, so if some guy blew his paycheck on beer and can’t pay the rent, I should really pay it for him!

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Emergency Evacuation arranges to medically transport a to an appropriate medical facility.

    Medical Repatriation arranges for a patient to return home to receive care.

    Repatriation of Remains arranges for return of deceased remains back to the place of residence.

    some individuals prefer to receive medical care at their home…also, there are limits ($ 50,000 to $ 200,000) to medical coverage of travel insurance policies.

  • DChamp56

    While I feel sorry for him, he probably should have known better. Like many here, I voted no.

  • Lindabator

    so EVERY company, because they have deep pockets should just eat YOUR expenses??? Ridiculous!

  • Lindabator

    Michael ALWAYS has to argue, even though the facts are against him. THIS is the perfect example of why to use insurance, and have HAD it happen to a client, and ALL monies were refunded, and even the cost of the medevac was as well.

  • Lindabator

    Agreed! Had a couple in Morocco hit by a drunk driver in their cab one evening. One was killed, and the other critically injured – the insurance (which lost only $250) covered the repatriation of remains for the deceased – taking the body to the funeral home HERE —AND flew the other home to the hospital of their choice, and that medivac with 2 nursed and 1 doctor cost over $65,000 – the client paid $250, were rebated the lost days of the trip, and the remains and medivac were paid in full – which is why you take out insurance!

  • Lindabator

    can be a matter of preference when rehabilitation can be a long time

  • Lindabator

    correct – a heart attack, unless you already had a condition in treatment, generally is NOT

  • Lindabator

    true – evacuation/medical coverage is always recommended, ESPECIALLY when out of the country!

  • cscasi

    I looked at travel insurance policies that would have covered these folks and reimbursed the total amount of their cruise $3276 (100% of trip cost), plus cover up to $50,000 of medical expenses and help getting back home (trip interruption) and other assorted coverages for a cost of between $170 to $263 (depending on when one wants “cancel for any reason” included. That certainly seems to be reasonable to protect one’s trip, plus have coverage for any unforeseen medical issues/expenses. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.
    People cannot expect the airlines, cruise lines, etc. to reimburse them for non refundable costs. And, people should check with their medical insurance provider in order to know whether their insurance is valid outside the United States before taking international trips.

    I am glad that the cruise line refunded a portion of their prepaid expenses, but they are lucky they got that. also hope that he has fully recovered from his “heart attack” and that he did not suffer major damage to his heart or vessels.

  • cscasi

    Where did it state these folks were “retired individuals”? But, that is not the real issue. It is that when people buy non-refundable things and choose not to self insure, then they have to be responsible for any consequences that keep them from using what they purchased.
    People see others getting an exception then many want exceptions to be made for them and soon it becomes a “river” of exceptions and companies would be broke not long after.
    Exceptions should be for when the airline, cruise line, etc. is at fault; not when the customers are at fault. That may seem harsh, but it is the truth.

  • Annie M

    But in this case there is no evidence of a pre-ex condition so none of that applies.

  • Michael__K

    We have no evidence one way or the other in this case.

    Generally speaking, heart attacks (and many other medical emergencies) are often foreshadowed with warning signs. And those warning signs generally correspond to symptoms which are contractually defined as “pre-existing conditions”, even if the symptoms seemed inconsequential at the time. And even if the symptoms were not necessarily even connected to the subsequent medical emergency(!)

    This is a very important limitation with pre-ex coverage for travelers to understand, and it does readers a disservice to disregard or minimize it.

  • Carrie Livingston

    I understand wanting to receive medical care at your home. What I don’t understand is why someone would not buy trip insurance that includes medical for their specific needs. Even the more expensive insurance he could have purchased through the cruise line would have made him more whole that he is now. I bet he wishes he had spent that $500(?) when booking the cruise. And he probably won’t take that gamble again anytime soon.

  • Carrie Livingston

    I understand that but just to get stabilized and then fly back home for further care and rehab if necessary.

  • Blamona

    That’s awfully entitled. How can a business stay in business if it can take a loss for persons living above their means? Insurance covers that. Business would not be in business. That’s rediculous.

  • Mel65

    Oh well with such a logical, well reasoned, persuasive argument how can I disagree with that?

  • Mel65

    … And yet another persuasive and well thought out argument there.

  • Annie M

    If it doesn’t state it in the letter you can’t read into it.

  • Michael__K

    You are reading into it when you insist he would have been covered and when you advance one-sided sales pitches (“what some may think is pre-ex may not be”) and ignore the gotchas.

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.