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Should cruise lines allow "no fly" passengers on long/distant cruises?


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With the announcement of a 30-day pause in operations for most cruise lines, several lines have lengthy cruises that are being cut short, including some world cruises -- very difficult indeed for those who must have planned for these trips for a long time.

 

It has startled me to read of a much higher number of passengers than I would have imagined who either cannot fly due to medical issues, are unwilling to fly (presumably for other reasons) or are otherwise so elderly/frail that there is question whether they can negotiate the long-haul flight(s) needed to reach home.

 

In your opinion, what is the cruise line's responsibility to these passengers?  How much "extra" help or care should be expected to be received by them?  Should they consider asking passengers to sign some kind of waiver about this (e.g., the cruise lines will make "efforts" to ensure passengers get home, such as booking flights, but cannot be responsible for passengers who cannot or will not fly)?

 

I also consider it somewhat alarming, given all the possibilities in our modern world, that "no fly" passengers would cruise without some kind of plan or forethought as to what they would do should they have to leave the ship -- for whatever reason, not necessarily illness -- in a far-distant foreign port.  

 

I'm not necessarily rushing to judgement, but am curious what others think. My own elderly parents were willing and able to fly up until they stopped cruising/traveling, but I understand that cruising has been attractive to those for whom air travel is unpleasant, a nuisance, or perhaps a risk to their health.

 

I'm sure cruise lines do the best they can, but they have hundreds of other passengers to deal with also when a cruise is canceled or cut short, and they are not superheroes.

 

Thoughts?

 

 

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I don't have any answers, but I too share your amazement at some of the things that have been posted in connection with the interrupted World Cruise and other longer cruises.

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I don’t know if there is an answer but personally, DH and I started travelling and cruising more when we saw a lot of people with nurses, oxygen and wheel chairs on an NCL TA.

We decided after that cruise that we will cruise and travel while we are healthy.  The day we would be having difficulty managing on our own, we’ll be doing easy trips at home or stay at home.

I know a lot of people don’t like flying.  I too was surprised at the posts.  Is it possible that many are ok to fly but just don’t want to?  

 

I do think every person has to use some common sense and realize that things will not always work out as planned and plan accordingly.  It’s time to take some responsibility for your decisions and plan accordingly.  

 

For example, (and not picking on anyone) a post on an elderly couple in a Neptune Suite on the World Cruise - if they need assistance, I would think they could afford to hire someone to assist them.  A Neptune Suite on a World Cruise would be a phenomenal amount of money.

 

When we can’t manage we won’t be cruising or doing long distance travel.  We’ll miss it and I hope it is a long ways off - but no way, will we travel thinking we are special and it’s owed to us to give us special treatment.

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We are also amazed at some of the postings and the aversion to flying.  We understand the gut wrenching feeling when someone is told that their plans are going to be thrown in disarray by circumstances outside of their control and how brain freeze and panic could set in, but to deliberately set of on a cruise to the other side of the world when they know that they will not fly, is mind boggling.  

What would happen in a medical emergency?  No helicopter removal from the ship?  No repatriation, so stay in a hospital in Fiji or similar until recovered?  And still need to get home!

Perhaps part of the Cruise lines thought processes are reflected in WC pricing?  It is not exactly $100 a day cruising.

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I'm a big believer in personal responsibility - you have to be able to manage things yourself, or bring along a caregiver to do the tasks you're unable to do.  I don't see a cruise line being responsible for a passenger who is being offered a flight home in an emergency situation but who has a medical condition making flying unsafe.  Those with no medical condition, but just a fear or dislike of flying need to put on the big girl panties (or big boy briefs) and suck it up - sorry if that's harsh, but our "preferences" have to go by the wayside in an emergency situation that's not under our control.  If it's truly unbearable, then those people shouldn't risk cruising.

 

Sue/WDW1972

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I remember a HAL 7-day cruise I took from San Diego that seemed to have an unusually high number of very elderly passengers, some of whom looked like they weren't sure where they were and what they were doing there.  I commented to someone in our group and we wondered if someone just dumps them off at the cruise terminal so they can get a break from caregiving.  Sad....

 

To me, when I reach the point that I can't mentally make arrangements to get myself home in the event of some unusual occurrence, and then physically take the trip, it's time to hang up my suitcase and look back on all the fond memories I have of the places I've been. 

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7 minutes ago, wdw1972 said:

I'm a big believer in personal responsibility - you have to be able to manage things yourself, or bring along a caregiver to do the tasks you're unable to do.  

 

Sue/WDW1972

 

I've also had that philosophy but wondered whether it is partially because I tend to travel solo (and often independently), so I know that ultimately the buck stops with me...

 

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I think the cruise lines should quietly make exceptions for some people, allowing them to stay on the ship until they are closer to home rather than on the other side of the world.

 

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6 minutes ago, kazu said:

 

When we can’t manage we won’t be cruising or doing long distance travel.  We’ll miss it and I hope it is a long ways off - 

This has also been a big takeaway for us too. My parents stopped travelling when my dad's condition got to the point they knew it would be dangerous for them to be too far from home should a crisis occur. It was a hard decision as my mom loved to go. After dad passed she started travelling with us, for which I am very thankful. 

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Just now, cruisemom42 said:

 

I've also had that philosophy but wondered whether it is partially because I tend to travel solo (and often independently), so I know that ultimately the buck stops with me...

 

Perhaps - I often travel solo, but even if it's a cruise with my husband then WE should need to be responsible for us as a couple/family.  We've never had a situation like we're experiencing today - hopefully it'll serve as a wake-up call for people who have been taking risks they perhaps can't handle.  Very sad to learn that lesson this way, though.

 

Sue/WDW1972

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1 minute ago, catl331 said:

I think the cruise lines should quietly make exceptions for some people, allowing them to stay on the ship until they are closer to home rather than on the other side of the world.

 

they may not be able to because of agreements that had to be made

 

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Coastal cruises where one could take a train home, yes.  International cruises where one could be stuck on the other side of the world, with unknowable medical care...caveat emptor.

 

I am super surprised to hear that many on the WC are frail and traveling without a companion.  Perhaps they've made the decision to do the bucket list "come hell or high water," which is personal choice, but not the responsibility of the cruise line.

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10 minutes ago, AncientWanderer said:

Coastal cruises where one could take a train home, yes.  International cruises where one could be stuck on the other side of the world, with unknowable medical care...caveat emptor.

This is how I feel.  

I can't imagine taking a world cruise (or any cruise on the other side of the world) if I was in poor health or cannot fly.  Ship happens, sad but true.  

 

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I do not think there is a answer to the question that fits everyone.  This is where personal responsibility comes to the front. We finally had to make the decision to stop cruising late last year. DH has Alzheimer's and our last trip was very difficult not only for him, but for me.  Up until then all was well despite his problem, but finally the problem reached the point that the flight, hotel, and cruise was just too much. So, after over forty cruises and traveling all over the world, we will stay home and remember (as well as we can) our wonderful trips. I am still quite capable of traveling and hope to do so some day, but not now. Will not put the burden of our frailty in someone else. Others need to think of what could happen if they travel as they get older and might need help if something happens they cannot handle alone. Just my opinion!

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35 minutes ago, Roz said:

I remember a HAL 7-day cruise I took from San Diego that seemed to have an unusually high number of very elderly passengers, some of whom looked like they weren't sure where they were and what they were doing there.  I commented to someone in our group and we wondered if someone just dumps them off at the cruise terminal so they can get a break from caregiving.  Sad....

 

To me, when I reach the point that I can't mentally make arrangements to get myself home in the event of some unusual occurrence, and then physically take the trip, it's time to hang up my suitcase and look back on all the fond memories I have of the places I've been. 

 

When we did the first leg of QE2 with friends a number of years ago, we noticed a significant number of very senior passengers. My BFF said there is a tendency of families to use a cruise as respite care. It may sound insensitive, but she called it a "granny drop." To be fair to the families, it's difficult to tell Mom and Dad "you're too old to do this." And when you're really close to someone who is going downhill, you often don't see how bad things are. Plus, Mom and Dad are probably making an effort to not show how bad things are. 

 

IF all goes well, a cruise is a good way to travel. People have lived on cruise ships as an alternative to going to an assisted living facility. But if there is a sudden change in plan, all passengers must be able to deal with it. 

 

I was brought up on the principles of consequences and responsibility (thanks, Dad!) and while I don't work out possible alternative strategies to things that may not happen, I plan well enough that I'm prepared to deal with changes. 

 

Kazu mentioned seeing passengers with oxygen and wheelchairs. I've seen them, too. Many do very well and I tend to see them as encouraging. They're keeping on with their lives despite problems. It reminds me of a line from a movie when a hockey player, trying to explain how he had been avoiding dealing with something says "I thought if I could just keep moving and checking, I could stay ahead of this."  Keep going until you can't. The problem is recognizing the point where you can't. I hope when I get to that point, I'll be able to say, it sucks, but I have to stop. 

 

 

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I don't do travel unless I can afford, from my own wallet or that of my insurance's wallet, to cover the disasters.  I always assume that travel is "every person for themselves" not meaning that in an uncivilized way but ultimately it is up to me to take care of me.  As I said in the original thread my plan would be to find a nice airbnb (which are probably plentiful) and stay put until I could arrange travel that made sense which might include telling the hubby that he is getting on that jet.  I would not take some of the circuitous routes devised in that thread - that would potentially be heaping insult on injury.  

 

My parents were obsessed with travel and when my dad had to be helicoptered out of a remote cabin in Montana after suffering a stroke.  We asked him if he thought he was finished traveling - no, he was not.  He paid the bill and said he would appease us by only traveling with a group to remote areas.    He was on notice that it was his choice and that we were not at his beck and call and actually that was never something he expected.  Because people are elderly does not mean they can't make decisions.  They get to choose and they get to fail or succeed.  

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Cruisemom42,

NO, I DO NOT think truly "no fly" folks should be allowed on long distance cruises such as the WC.  What are they thinking (or their family for that matter)?  I think that to go on a WC and unable to fly home (even with personal help) is totally irresponsible and selfish.  While no one probably thought - What if there is a worldwide Pandemic? - many other more common reasons could require an unexpected long flight home. (Like a fall, illness, etc.)

By the way, I am what medically is considered elderly so on one level I have empathy, but I also consider irresponsible to make irresponsible decisions, especially those that cause others stress, worry, etc.

 

Now, many do not  LIKE to Fly (I understand that).  However, it is easy to say Oh, I have a medical condition and I CAN NOT fly.  I suspect that many of those saying "I CANNOT Fly" really are just sudden converts from part of the "I do not LIKE to fly group." Sad! 

 

Mary229,

Yes they may be able to make their own decisions - but then live with the consequences - good or bad.

 

 

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@wander  that is what I said,  succeed or fail.  It is no one's business.  I could tell you a lot of people's conditions that I may not think should travel but it is not my business, they are adults, they get to live their lives and if someone wants to worry over them that is that person's issue not the travelers'. 

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3 minutes ago, wander said:

Now, many do not  LIKE to Fly (I understand that).  However, it is easy to say Oh, I have a medical condition and I CAN NOT fly.  I suspect that many of those saying "I CANNOT Fly" really are just sudden converts from part of the "I do not LIKE to fly group." Sad! 

I have thought the same.  Who of us enjoys a flight from Australia to the states (or Canada)?  I hate to fly, but I can.

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2 hours ago, catl331 said:

I think the cruise lines should quietly make exceptions for some people, allowing them to stay on the ship until they are closer to home rather than on the other side of the world.

 

Oh, for Pete's sake.

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1 hour ago, Mary229 said:

Because people are elderly does not mean they can't make decisions.  They get to choose and they get to fail or succeed.  

 

Fair enough. But I would also add that they should not then complain or blast the cruise line for not going far "above and beyond" to look after them, should situations occur where they might -- or will -- fail.

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I don't think these people are "no fly" they are "no want to fly". And I, too, am someone who doesn't believe exceptions should be made.  And no I don't think a cruise line should "quietly" make exceptions.  If older person(s) are going to travel but fear they can't manage in an emergency or really can't manage in an emergency then they need to bring someone with them or find a different hobby.  I admire my parents for "knowing" when they needed to stop traveling in their late 80s and they loved to travel, but after 911 traveling just became more "confusing" to them with all the regulations and TSA and juggling their tickets, passport and luggage.  And if younger persons have a "fear of flying" then they need to consider where and how they travel to ensure there is never a need to fly in an emergency. 

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18 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

Fair enough. But I would also add that they should not then complain or blast the cruise line for not going far "above and beyond" to look after them, should situations occur where they might -- or will -- fail.

 

I entirely agree.  Sure it's OK for them to make their own decisions, but not to expect others to get them out of any trouble they may run into when they are infirm or too scared to fly.   
We are not that old, but DH has a disability, and on our last cruise I, his caregiver, found it just a bit too much and we made the decision that it was our last cruise.  Land vacations not too far away for us in the future, though I may take respite breaks and do a short cruise myself!

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23 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

Fair enough. But I would also add that they should not then complain or blast the cruise line for not going far "above and beyond" to look after them, should situations occur where they might -- or will -- fail.

I totally agree.  The sense of entitlement is not age based nor is it based on other personal conditions (fear/dislike of flying)  

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