ABC.Net.Au:- A molecular biologist who has a genetic form of motor neurone disease (MND) has been denied permission to travel on a Royal Caribbean cruise due to his disability.
Justin Yerbury, a Professor in Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Wollongong, was boarding the cruise from Sydney to New Caledonia on Sunday when he said he was informed he would not be allowed to travel due to his condition.
He said he was told the doctor onboard the ship, the Explorer of the Seas, did not have his medical documents, despite him taking steps to notify Royal Caribbean of his condition in November last year, including booking a disability room and lodging a special needs form.
“Apparently the special needs department that we were dealing with did not communicate anything to the [ship] itself, so the ship captain and doctor said they weren’t equipped to look after us,” he said.
“Despite the fact we brought two carers and my wife, who is trained to look after me.
Professor Yerbury said he and his wife had tried “relentlessly” to get in touch with the company, but that “at no stage was there anyone who would talk to us, help us or give us any information”.
He said staff onboard the vessel maintained they only worked for the ship itself, and would not take any responsibility for the Royal Caribbean’s “mismanagement of the situation”.
“As well as the courier company with all the equipment, who had spent all morning loading up the truck and getting it to Sydney and then had to turn around and take it all home.”
Professor Yerbury, who was featured on Australian Story for his work researching potential effective treatments for MND, has a genetic form of motor neurone disease and underwent a tracheostomy and laryngectomy last year.
“We have had such a difficult 12 months and were looking so forward to this important family time,” he said.
In a statement, Royal Caribbean described the incident as “regrettable” and said it was working with Professor Yerbury to arrange a refund for him and his family.
“Regrettably, a male guest was unable to take his planned seven-night cruise to the South Pacific onboard Explorer of the Seas, which departed Sydney on Sunday,” the statement said.
“Upon presenting to the terminal for boarding, a decision was taken by the ship’s doctor to deny boarding on the grounds that the ship would be unable to provide the level of care required in the event of an emergency at sea.
“Royal Caribbean is assisting the guest to make arrangements to return home and refunding his cruise fare, as well as the fares of his travelling companions.”