Royal Caribbean shows compassion to future-cruiser who underwent emergency surgery: 'Royal earned a customer for life!'

03 Jul 2024
Elizabeth Wright

Unexpected emergencies arise and prevent people from embarking on their long-awaited cruise, and those who don't purchase travel insurance are often out hundreds or thousands of dollars. One individual, however, took to Reddit to share a feel-good story about her experience with Royal Caribbean's customer service after undergoing emergency surgery. 

Passenger thankful for medical treatment on Royal Caribbean

Infamousunicornsocks was set to embark on a Royal Caribbean cruise in less than one month with her husband of seven years and five-year-old daughter. However, an emergency abdominal surgery and nasojejunal feeding tube placement postponed their plans. 

"Unsure how long I would be in the hospital for, much less how long the Dobhoff [tube] would be in for, I called Royal Caribbean customer service fully expecting to [lose] my entire deposit & cruise price as I didn’t buy the travel insurance," she writes

She spoke to a customer service representative who couldn't promise anything without first reviewing her medical documentation. However, within less than 24 hours, she received a call back with an offer to change the sail date for just $100 per person. 

Guest and crew member on FlowRider

Typically, if you cancel a Royal Caribbean cruise less than 30 days before sailing, you forfeit 100% of the cruise fare, regardless if the sailing is 4 or 10 nights. 

To receive a full refund, you must cancel your cruise 90 or 75 days or more before the first day of sailing. Even then, non-refundable deposits won't be refunded. Guests on shorter sailings (i.e. between 1 and 4 nights) have a longer window, as they can cancel for a refund up to 75 days before the cruise. 

Passengers on sailings 5+ nights must cancel 90 days or more in advance for a full refund, minus the non-refundable deposit. Those canceled between 89 and 75 days before will have to pay a 25% cancelation fee, while those who cancel the cruise 74 to 61 days prior to departure will pay 50% of the total fare. 


"Our sailing has been postponed to this fall and although I’m set to now have the [nasojejunal] feeding tube replaced with a G-J tube directly through my stomach and probably won’t get [to] enjoy much of any food, I’m so grateful for their kindness and compassion, fully knowing it was saw something they didn’t have to do," Infamousunicornsocks shares about their resolution.  

"My hope [is] that by sharing this, the next person going through something similar can be hopeful knowing that they’re dealing with a company that at least tries to help the consumer by listening and being understanding."

While Infamousunicornsocks had a positive experience with Royal Caribbean's customer service, do not neglect to add travel insurance to your upcoming cruise

travel insurance

Travel insurance plans provide financial peace of mind during stressful and unexpected situations, from lost luggage to medical evacuations. 

Policies purchased through Royal Caribbean include six benefits underwritten by Arch Insurance Company: 

  • Trip Interruption: Up to 150% of total trip cost if you can't start or finish your cruise vacation because you're sick or hurt, there's a death in the family, or another covered reason.
  • Trip Delay: Up to $2,000 ($250 per day) for catch-up expenses
  • Missed Connection: Up to $300 if you miss your trip departure for covered reasons by three hours or more. 
  • Accident and Sickness Medical: up to $25,000 if you get hurt and $25,000 if you get sick on your cruise vacation.
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation: Up to $50,000 for emergency medical transportation during your vacation. 
  • Baggage Protection and Delay: Up to $1,500 if your bags are lost, stolen, or damaged and up to $500 to buy necessary personal items if your bags are delayed.

Read more: Royal Caribbean will increase price of travel insurance policy

Sail away on Oasis of the Seas

If that's not enough, you can add a "Cancel for Any Reason Credit" for an extra cost by calling 1-888-722-2195 or informing your travel agent

Per the policy's contract, "This additional enhancement is offered by Royal Caribbean International as a special service to guests that purchase this cruise ticket Cancellation Penalty Waiver Addendum...Credits are valid for one year from issue date, are not transferable, and have no cash value."

"To be eligible for the credits: 1. The travel protection plan must be purchased prior to having made final payment for the cruise; and 2. Notification of cancellation must be given to Royal Caribbean International prior to the ship's departure."

Alternatively, those who travel frequently—for work or leisure—should look into annual policies, which provide insurance coverage for one year of travel, rather than on a trip-by-trip basis. 

Even if you plan on taking just one cruise this year, annual policies cover all types of trips for one set price, including land-based trips to Europe, road trips along the Pacific Coast Highway, all-inclusive stays in Mexico, domestic flights, and more. Typically, however, the destination must be 100+ miles from home. 

Travel insurance is helpful for situations that occur before and during the sailing

Medical center

In 2019, Vincent Wasney and his fiancée, Sarah Eberlein, were hit with a $2,500.22 medical bill from onboard treatment that had to be paid out-of-pocket since they did not purchase insurance, as KFF Health News and NPR reported. 

According to the invoice, the general ward admission and observation totaled $2,285.78, with the i-STAT blood test, out-of-facility services, and medication amounted to $97.99, $104.55, and $11.90, respectively.

The couple was traveling on Independence of the Seas on a cruise gifted by their real estate agent after purchasing their first home in Saginaw, Michigan in 2018.

Following three seizures, Wasney was evacuated by a rescue boat and transported to the emergency room at Broward Health Medical Center, where he incurred further debt.

Have you ever put a travel insurance policy to use? Let us know in the comments! 

Elizabeth graduated from New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with her M.A. in Journalism in May 2023. Growing up, she had the privilege of traveling frequently with her family and fell in love with cruising after sailing on the Oasis of the Seas her freshman year of high school. She wanted to pursue a career that highlighted her passion for travel and strengths as a writer. 

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