Cruise Guest Denied Boarding After Not Reading the Small Print

A woman was denied boarding for her cruise and will not be receiving a refund, but how clear is the policy for potential travelers?

A female guest who had hoped to cruise from Brisbane, Australia, was denied boarding with no possibility of a refund. The woman was 26 weeks pregnant at embarkation, two weeks past the cruise line’s limitation for pregnancy, which is outlined in the cruise ticket contract.

Understandably upset, the woman is contending that she ought to have been prompted at the time of booking or otherwise better informed of the terms and conditions for passage and that the policy is discriminatory.

Woman Denied Cruise Vacation Due to Pregnancy

Kaylee Farrington was eager for a 3-night cruise vacation aboard Carnival Luminosa, what was to have been a birthday celebration with her family, when she was denied boarding at the terminal due to being 26 weeks pregnant, according to local news reports. She did have medical clearance from her obstetrician, to no avail.

Farrington’s mother, who paid for the cruise, is being denied a refund for the cost of the vacation, as the terms and conditions of pregnancy are clearly laid out in the cruise ticket contract.

The woman at first thought “they were joking” when she was denied boarding, and believes the rule about pregnancy should be made clear when travelers book a cruise. She and her mother both agree that the policy is “discriminatory” against pregnant women, particularly since airline policies – another form of travel – typically accept passengers up to at least 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Neither woman has clarified when the cruise was booked and whether or not Farrington was pregnant at the time of booking. Since many travelers book sailings many months – even years – in advance, a pregnancy prompt at the time of booking may not be entirely effective and could be quickly forgotten by the time the cruise arrives.

Carnival Cruise Pregnancy Policy

Carnival Cruise Line’s pregnancy policy is outlined in detail on their website, clearly stating:

“Any Guest who has entered, or who will at any time during the cruise enter, the 24th week of estimated gestational age in her pregnancy, agrees not to book a cruise or board the ship.”

The policy goes on to restate the restriction in other ways to ensure there is no confusion.

“Due to limitations of medical care, both on board and in various ports of call, women who have entered or exceeded their 24th week of pregnancy, at any time during the cruise, will not be allowed to board or sail with the ship,” the policy states.

“Accordingly, I hereby acknowledge and agree that I will not enter my 24th week of pregnancy before or at any time during my cruise. I understand and agree that any pregnant woman who tries to board the vessel, who has or will enter her 24th week of estimated fetal gestational age at any time during the cruise, risks denial of boarding and/or disembarkation without compensation or refund.”

Carnival Luminosa in Australia
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Furthermore, the cruise ticket contract also includes pregnancy under the fitness to travel clause, section 6(d): “Any Guest who will at any time during the cruise enter her 24th week of estimated gestational age, agrees not to book a cruise or board the ship.”

All passengers agree to abide by the terms and conditions outlined in the cruise ticket contract when they confirm their travel reservation. The contract also notes that no refund or compensation will be provided to a guest in violation of the pregnancy restrictions.

“Carnival reserves the right to debark, deny boarding, or cancel the reservation without refund, compensation, or payment of any Guest who is unfit to travel and/or who will be in excess of their 23rd week of gestation at time of sailing.”

Travel insurance could have provided compensation for the change in travel plans, depending on the type of insurance purchased and when the cruise was booked, though it is unclear whether or not Farrington or her mother had purchased a travel insurance policy.

Why Can’t Pregnant Women Set Sail?

Carnival Cruise Line states that the potential for specialized prenatal or infant care is not available onboard or in ports of call, and therefore, it is unsafe for women in the second half of pregnancy to set sail.

Carnival Luminosa
Carnival Luminosa (Photo Credit: Ian Dewar Photography)

“Prenatal and early infant care, in particular, may require specialized diagnostic facilities and/or treatment that are not available or obtainable during the cruise on board the ship and/or ashore in ports of call,” the policy reads.

It should be noted that other major cruise lines have very similar policies regarding pregnancy and travel. Royal Caribbean International, for example, also denies boarding for any guests who is more than 23 weeks pregnant.

On Norwegian Cruise Line, guests may not have entered their 24th week of pregnancy by the time the cruise ends, and the same limit is applicable for Disney Cruise Line.

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