Disabled Passenger Put Off Ship Mid-Cruise

When I first read Jerry Wolffe’s article about Jim Kreskeny’s experience on a February 2011 Celebrity Cruise, I was a little confused as to what exactly happened.

According to the article, Mr. Keskeny, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, “paid extra to have a butler assigned to him to help him since he was traveling alone.” The article didn’t really elaborate on what duties Mr. Keskeny required of the butler, but it did mention that the butler refused to help him over the threshold to the bathroom. The article further states that Mr. Keskeny later slipped off the toilet, was taken to the infirmary and was subsequently put off the ship in Guadeloupe.

Today an article on Cruise Critic filled in some of the blanks. Apparently Mr. Keskeny was scheduled to cruise on a nude charter with his wife, but she had to cancel at the last minute. According to the charter operator, Mr. Keskeny’s needs were “very extensive,” and apparently involved personal care.

Celebrity Cruises’ policy regarding personal care assistance is very clear. “We do not require that a guest with a disability travel with another person as a condition for traveling on our ships. However, guests must be self-sufficient and note that our personnel are not required to perform personal tasks (e.g. assisting with eating, dressing, toileting or lifting) and therefore, guests requiring assistance with these functions should consider these needs when making a booking.”

The Cruise Critic article also reports that Mr. Keskeny was given the option of hiring a private nurse after he slipped off the toilet, but when he refused he was put off the ship in Guadeloupe.

Was Celebrity acting within the scope of the law when they did this? Well I’m sure lawyers can argue it both ways, but Celebrity’s own Contract of Carriage states that a guest’s passage can be denied under the terms of their Refusal to Transport policy, which states that a guest may be removed from the ship if (among other things) their behavior is hazardous to himself/herself, the crew or other guests.

I’m sure we haven’t heard the end of this, but what can you do to prevent this from happening to you? What would you do if somebody who greatly assisted with your care had to cancel their cruise at the last minute?

Well, if the cancellation was due to illness, and if you purchased the right type of travel insurance, you could cancel and get your money back. Yes, you would miss out on the cruise, but you wouldn’t risk getting put off the ship mid-cruise and incurring even more travel expenses.

If you didn’t have travel insurance, you options would be pretty limited. But I’d say, call your travel agent or the special needs department to see if anything could be done to salvage your cruise. You never know, sometimes they can work miracles. It’s at least worth a shot.

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