Travel Insurance, Grandma, and Balconies... Oh My!

In January 2013, our then two-year-old son, my husband, and I traveled to Orlando, Florida, to witness our friends’ wedding onboard the Carnival Dream.  We arrived in Orlando, Florida, on the day before the wedding, and we stayed at a nice hotel as a part of the wedding group.  Two of my siblings reside in Orlando, so we welcomed the opportunity to have them visit us at the hotel.  We ordered dinner, and my son, my nieces, and nephews spent a nice evening at play while the adults talked, laughed, and had a good time.  After my siblings and their children left the hotel, we went to sleep to recuperate from a day of traveling and to prepare for the next day's wedding and cruise. 

What does this have to do with travel insurance, you ask?  Well, the next morning, we woke up to prepare for the wedding, as well as to prepare to set sail.  My husband and I got ready first, and then woke our son up so that we could get him cleaned up too.  My son sat on the bed as I got him dressed.  As I write this, I’m picturing it in slow motion because it really seemed, for a moment, as if time slowed down.  I sensed that something was wrong, as our son paused and stared at me.  When I looked at him, his eyes seemed to get really big as he looked me in the face.  Then, it happened.  Vomit came spewing out all over me!  Yup, we were miles away from our home in New York, his pediatrician in New York, and my mom who is the best nurse I know, also in New York, and we had a vomiting two-year-old in Orlando, Florida, preparing to set sail through the Caribbean and Mexico for 7 days.  Seeing the connection to travel insurance yet? 

Sigh.  So, at that point, in the hotel room, we let him throw up until it seemed to stop, then we cleaned him up, got him dressed, and made our way to the hotel’s breakfast, hoping to get some hot tea to help ease whatever was taking place in his tummy.  While in the hotel’s lobby, he threw up again, and there were a number of episodes of him throwing up at the hotel.  The plan for that morning was that the wedding guests who stayed at the hotel were to get on the chartered bus that would take us all to the cruise ship.  In the moment, we felt as though we really had no choice about what to do because we were in Florida – miles away from home, his pediatrician, and Nurse Grandma – and we DID NOT PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE!  Why did I have no Pedialyte?  Why did I have no Mommy’s Bliss or Hyland’s upset tummy medicine?  Why did I not have travel insurance?  Not my proudest mommy moment – so, please, to those who would like to pile on the mommy guilt, spare me, because I already piled enough of it on myself.  Although this cruise was my second cruise ever, it was my very first cruise with a child, and the lessons I’ve learned from that experience prepared me very well for the cruises that I have taken since, and for those that we will take in the future, as you’ll see reflected in these blog posts. 

Although we would have likely stayed to witness the wedding we had traveled to attend, we would have had more options if we had travel insurance.  With travel insurance, we may have decided to return to New York immediately after the wedding ceremony, and we could have possibly received a refund and/or credit that would have allowed us to take that cruise another time. 

So, without travel insurance, what did we do?  My husband and I decided that we would ride with the group to the ship, and once on the ship, we would locate the medical center, and hopefully, have a doctor examine our son.  We took a plastic bag with us on the bus, so that, if he threw up again, he could do so into the bag.  We attempted to have our son nibble on crackers and sip on ginger ale, but each time he ate or drank anything, he would throw up soon thereafter.  When we boarded the ship, we took him to the ship’s medical center, and the person who examined him told us that he likely had a 24-hour stomach bug, and that we should not give him anything to eat or drink for a while.  He said that we should allow his digestive system to settle down, and once he stopped throwing up, wait for approximately an hour, then offer him a drink of water, and if he kept down the water, then we could gradually increase his liquid intake, and then gradually start feeding him solids again.  That advice worked, and by the next morning, our son seemed to be much better. 

What else could go wrong, you ask?  Other than having a vomiting two-year-old on the first day of your cruise, which was also your friends’ wedding day, while you’re miles away from home and have no travel insurance?  Thankful that our son was feeling better, and we were now at sea, my husband and I decided to relax for a moment on our bed in our oceanview stateroom.  We both realized, at about the same time, that we were starting to feel queasy, so I reached for the acupressure bracelets that I had packed.  Although our son was fine, I had him wear acupressure bracelets too, so all three of us were wearing acupressure bracelets.  Then… uh oh!  My husband ran to the bathroom to throw up.  Then, within minutes... ughhh!  I ran to the bathroom to throw up.  After finishing the few chewable Pepto Bismol tablets we had, I went to the medical center, and when they took my temperature and asked about my symptoms, they quarantined me, and suggested visiting them the next day after getting some rest and Pepto Bismol, which they provided.  It was a really yucky feeling, and a challenge because both of us were experiencing the 24-hour stomach bug, but we also had to take care of our two-year-old son.  Thank God for the “Thomas and Friends” Play-a-Sound books that accompanied us on this cruise.  As a result of us not feeling well, we missed going onto the shore in Cozumel, Mexico, during that sailing – a port I planned to return to and have returned to, with my family, since then.  Thankfully, when I returned to the medical center on the day that the ship was in Cozumel, my temperature had gone down, my husband and I were feeling better, and we would now be allowed to go and come from the ship.  Thankfully, we all got to explore in Belize, Honduras, and Costa Maya.    However, as a result of that experience, there are a number of things that we now do when cruising as a family:

  • Always Purchase Travel Insurance;
  • Travel with Nurse Grandma who is the most trusted human being when it comes to us allowing someone else to care for our boys;
    • We tend to cruise as a family of 5; my husband and I in one room, and my mom and our two boys in another room.  It makes for a great balance.  Grandma gets to enjoy traveling with her grandchildren, while my husband and I get to spend some quality time together knowing that the children are in great hands.  We get to make memories together as a family, and we all love it. 
  • Consider booking a balcony stateroom, even if the second stateroom is an inside or interior room, so that, in the event that anything like the quarantine situation should ever happen again, we could at least have time in the fresh air on the balcony. 

That all being said, that January 2013 cruise made me realize that cruising is DEFINITELY our thing because, through all the challenges we faced on that cruise, we had a wonderful time, and booked another cruise while on the ship, which included Nurse Grandma and two balcony staterooms.  

Do you purchase travel insurance?  Do you consider any of these things when traveling?