Watch above: Cruise line bars traveller after asking whether she’s pregnant. Sean O’Shea reports
TORONTO – Michelle Ligori and her husband had saved up to take a seven-day vacation aboard one of the world’s largest cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. But when the time came for the Hamilton couple and two young sons to board the 225,000 ton behemoth, excitement turned to shock. It all came down to a surprise question from a customer service representative checking the family in for the vacation.
“The girl at the counter said ‘any chance you’re pregnant?’ And I was taken off guard and said ‘yes, I found out a few days before we left’ and she said ‘do you have a note?’ She told us you cannot get on without a note,” said Ligori.
Ligori had shown positive on a home pregnancy test but had not yet been to her family doctor. She and her husband did not want to say anything to family members, or their two young sons, because the pregnancy was at the very early stages.
“We were treated like parasites,” Ligori said of Royal Caribbean, which refused to accept a hastily-written medical letter from a doctor arranged in Ontario. The note read that there was no reason Ligori could not travel.
With time ticking away before the cruise ship left, Ligori says she asked Royal Caribbean if she could be seen by the ship’s doctor. She says representatives refused and the family missed the departure. Ligori says she subsequently saw a doctor at a local Florida hospital who issued the note without even conducting a pregnancy test.
“My husband, my two children and I were stuck,” said Ligori, adding the family had to stay at a hotel, take taxi rides and then board a flight to the Bahamas at their own expense to catch up with the cruise ship. The family missed two days of the vacation and has not received compensation from Royal Caribbean, except for a $250 goodwill credit towards a future cruise.
Royal Caribbean did not return emails and phone calls from Global News to discuss the Ligori case. The company, which also operates Celebrity Cruises, discusses pregnancy on its website. It reads: “Royal Caribbean International cannot accept guests who will have entered their 24th week of pregnancy by the beginning of, or at any time during the cruise or cruisetour. A physician’s ‘Fit to Travel’ note is required prior to sailing, stating how far along (in weeks) your pregnancy will be at the beginning of the cruise and confirming that you are in good health and not experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.”
Many women asked by Global News say it’s unacceptable for companies even to ask about pregnancy in the first two trimesters.
“I don’t think you should ever ask a woman if she’s pregnant,” said one. Another put it this way: “Is it anybody’s right to ask (about pregnancy)? I would say no.”
On seven previous cruises, Ligori says no one ever posed the question. This was her first voyage with Royal Caribbean.
“I believe other cruise lines would have handled it better.”