Boarding denied on cruise because of positive COVID test

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DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: My husband and I booked a cruise of the British Isles with Princess this summer. Before we boarded in Southampton, a cruise line representative gave my husband a rapid COVID test because his PRC test (taken in the U.S.) had not yet been sent to his email. My husband tested positive. Princess would not let us board.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

We had purchased insurance for this cruise, and we have submitted the letter we received from Princess to the insurance company. But the insurance company requires a doctor’s note or other documentation of the test and results in addition to the letter.

We have asked Princess for that documentation, but so far, it has been unresponsive. In my last call with Princess, I waited four hours, only to be given incorrect information and no verification from the ship’s doctor.

Princess also promised to compensate us for meals and lodging while we waited for a flight home, but that has not happened either. Please help!

— Linda Martin, Anacortes, Washington

ANSWER: Princess was correct to deny you boarding. But the way it handled your insurance claim and expenses was incorrect. The cruise line should have done what it promised — cover your expenses and help you file an insurance claim. So why didn’t it? Well, we’re still picking up the pieces from one of the busiest summer travel seasons in recent memory. Everyone wanted to go somewhere. As a result, there’s a backlog of travel insurance claims and long hold times for customer service. Princess is hardly alone.

The cruise line has already refunded you $1,051 for the shore excursions. But you were still out on your cruise fare and the extra expenses of having to quarantine in the U.K.

I like the way you kept careful records of your expenses. You saved every receipt and then presented them to your travel insurance company. Nice work! Unfortunately, your insurance company needed a letter from Princess verifying your husband’s COVID-positive status when you boarded.

I guess it’s come to this: If you’re bumped from a cruise or tour because you’re sick, you need an official test result. A doctor’s letter would be even better. Don’t wait until you get home to ask for the letter — get it right then and there. Otherwise, you may not be able to file a successful travel insurance claim.

I think a polite, written appeal to one of the Princess executives I publish on my advocacy site ( would have helped. I also publish a free guide to cruising (found at, which includes a section on how to resolve any cruise problem.

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