Brian and Loretta Shaw were sailing from New York to Barcelona on the Norwegian Epic when they caught covid on their cruise.
And after days of isolation and IV therapy they were handed a $21,000 medical bill. And asked to settle it before they disembarked.
When they refused, they were made to sign a deed agreeing they would pay.
“Norwegian Cruise Line’s Financial Officer made me sign a promissory note as I was not willing to settle the amount with them,” Mr Shaw told Cruise Passenger.
It was three days into the sailing, when the couple displayed symptoms and tested themselves with their own RAT kits.
“On day three at sea, we had tested positive for Covid and we notified the medical centre onboard. The medical staff came to our cabin and photographed our certificates and results,” said Mr Shaw.
The couple over the coming days, received treatment according to medical protocols.
“We had three days of treatment which included IV therapy, an antiviral drip, tablet medication and six days of cabin isolation.”
But during their quarantine period, the couple who are in their 80s, received a bill of $21,000. And, the cruise line demanded payment on the spot.
“The cruise line insisted we pay the outrageous account for three days of treatment. I refused to pay and informed them this is not the way insurance works.
“I believe in all honesty, that the medical report for the final bill for the $21,000.00 medical expense, was not fair. We spent three days attending the medical centre for around three-and-a-half to four hours each day. We were connected to an IV drip which comprised of antibiotics, blood pressure taken and recorded, and blood tests taken and recorded.”
The couple also complained about the food, saying the meals they received were not hot.
“The food was appalling, except for the cereals and fruit juices. Everything else that was ordered for either lunch or dinner was delivered cold. We didn’t bother ordering anything hot after the first day.
“But, NCL did supply us with free access to the movie channel and 500mins of free WiFi.”
What happened next?
Mr Shaw and his wife though, were lucky. And had purchased travel insurance prior to their trip.
“While we were in quarantine, our insurance company Zoom, kept in touch with us and asked whether we needed any financial assistance.
“NCL expected us to settle the bill before we left the ship.”
But Mr Shaw had put his foot down and refused to pay the claim without the help of his insurance company.
“NCL’s Financial Officer made me sign a promissory note, as I was not willing to settle the amount with them.
“When I returned home, I handed over all documentation to my insurance company. They handled everything and completed the claim with NCL. It was amazing how many people continue to travel without insurance.”
The Insurance Council of Australia said it is more important than ever, that travellers purchase travel insurance.
“Travel insurance remains essential for all the reasons it was pre-pandemic: to provide protection when the unexpected occurs far from home.
“Some insurers are now offering cover for a range of COVID-related situations. And they provide additional protection for travellers if they want or need this as part of their travel insurance.”
But despite the bill shock, Mr Shaw and his wife, who have cruised over 25 times say they weren’t unhappy with the experience. And it wouldn’t stop them from going again.
Cruise Passenger has contacted Norwegian Cruise Line for a statement. They have contacted their head office for comment.
Which lines pay for Covid-related medical expenses?
Prior to the lifting of the United States COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, a number of cruise lines offered complimentary medical assistance. Royal Caribbean covered the cost of COVID-19-related medical treatments if a passenger tested positive on the ship. This applied to bookings made on or after August 8, 2022.
The company also offered a pro-rated cruise fare refund if a cruise was cut short for reasons related to COVID-19. This applied to cruises departing on or before September 30, 2022.
Celebrity Cruises too, offered to cover medical assistance to COVID-19-related issues.
Virgin Voyages will also cover medical care and testing expenses onboard their ships and also offer complimentary ShipEats, on-demand entertainment and WiFi.
A Twitter user by the name of Scrub Jay earlier this year, shared a receipt of medical expenses his girlfriend had to pay while sailing on the Norwegian Getaway.
Mark from This is Cruise Life shared the receipt on his website, which showed an itemised bill the cruise line had given his reader’s girlfriend. She was charged USD$879 for one treatment, USD$1,685 for another treatment and USD$1,16.47 for medication. Her total bill amounted to USD$4,180.47.