A cruise company is charging passengers a hefty “medical exam fee” if they become ill on board and receive a negative coronavirus test result at the ship’s medical center.
The policy, which waives fares if a passenger tests positive, comes as Australia enters peak cruise season and coronavirus cases suddenly spike in every state and territory. There is a possibility that
Sydney businessman Dennis Cohen has been told his 76-year-old father will be fined US$150 (A$235) if he tests negative for coronavirus while on a cruise from Hawaii to his hometown. , I was appalled.
They boarded Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas last month, but Cohen’s father developed a sore throat about 10 days into the 19-night, $3,000 trip.
Dennis Cohen’s father was told he would have to pay $150 for a coronavirus “consultation” if his rapid antigen test came back negative during a cruise from Hawaii to Sydney last month.
Cohen said his father visited the ship’s medical center and requested a rapid coronavirus antigen test (RAT), primarily to protect the other 3,500 passengers on board.
“He didn’t think he had coronavirus, but he just wanted to do the right thing,” Cohen said.
Cohen’s father was told that the test kit, available at a pharmacy for just $5, was “free,” and that if he received a positive result, Royal Caribbean would pay for his treatment.
However, if the test result is negative, they will be forced to pay a US$150 (A$235) ‘consultation fee’, a procedure that normally takes around 15 minutes and can be completed by a competent person themselves.
“He had a sore throat,” Cohen said. “He wasn’t going to pay $150.
“He just wanted to be 100 percent sure he didn’t have coronavirus so he could infect other people. That’s what irritates me.
Cohen’s father developed a sore throat last month while aboard Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas (pictured), about day 10 of the 19-night trip.
Cohen’s father offered to take RAT to his cabin and perform the test himself, but was told it would need to be done at a medical center.
He refused to pay the fee and left without receiving any treatment.
“It seemed ridiculous,” Cohen said. “I called them and they confirmed what his father said was correct.”
Cohen said cruise lines would face a much greater financial liability if passengers who test positive for the coronavirus are deterred by the $150 charge and choose not to get tested.
“It’s foolish and financially counterproductive,” he said. “There was a bad odor everywhere I looked.
“What they’re actually doing is spending dollars on passenger safety, and they’re not even saving dollars. It’s going to cost them more.”
“If someone is infected with COVID-19 and cannot afford to take the risk if they test negative, they will infect others and Royal Caribbean will cover all of their medical costs. That will happen.”
Cohen’s father was told that testing at the pharmacy would be “free” and that Royal Caribbean would cover the cost of treatment only if he tested positive. However, if the test results are negative, he will be forced to pay a “consultation fee” of US$150 ($235).
Cohen said cruise lines have a duty of care to passengers and should offer coronavirus tests for a nominal fee, such as $10, regardless of whether they test positive or negative.
When he pitched the idea to the ship’s senior crew, the person said, “I’m with you,” and explained that the current policy was a “corporate decision.”
“I think what they did was pretty egregious,” Cohen said.
“I don’t often complain about things, but every time I see this it totally stinks. It makes me angry and irritated when I think how stupid it is.
“I want to get the word out and let people know what they’re getting into before they even get on the ship, because to me that’s such a stupid policy.”
A Royal Caribbean spokesperson confirmed that passengers on the company’s ships were charged a $150 “doctor’s fee.”
“If you test positive for coronavirus, your fee will be waived, and if you test negative, you will receive treatment for the cause of your illness, including medication,” the spokesperson said.
“We strongly recommend that all customers purchase travel insurance before setting sail.”
A Royal Caribbean spokesperson confirmed that passengers were charged a $150 “doctor’s fee” if they tested negative for the coronavirus.
Ovation of the Seas is a Quantum-class cruise ship that sails primarily from Seattle during the northern summer and from Sydney during the southern summer.
Passengers on the Grand Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, have been battling a combination of gastroenteritis and COVID-19 since it docked in Adelaide on Monday.
No one infected with either virus would be allowed to disembark, and South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas said the Grand Princess’ coronavirus infection rate was relatively in line with infection rates elsewhere. He said there was.
The Grand Princess was scheduled to depart for Melbourne on Wednesday.
Last week, 6,550 new coronavirus cases were reported across Australia, with the Department of Health and Aged Care confirming an average of 936 new cases a day.
New South Wales has seen an increase in coronavirus activity “on all indicators” over the past two weeks, with more than one in 10 PCR tests coming back positive.
The latest numbers are likely to be a significant underestimate because fewer people are getting tested and information about self-reported RAT tests is no longer being tested.