Man Kicked Off Cruise, Says He Couldn’t Fight Captain’s Decision

Cruising is the vacation of choice for Robert and Esther Gaines. It is how they spent their honeymoon 40 years ago and how they enjoy their free time.

"We've never had a bad experience," Esther Gaines said.

"We're loyal NCL customers and that's what the biggest thing is, it's the shock that this happened to us," Robert Gaines said.

In May, Robert said they were on a 7-night cruise aboard the Norwegian Breakaway that was supposed to take them to the US and British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. But Robert's vacation was cut short.

"The worst part of it – it was the beginning of our cruise," Esther said.

Robert said it all happened because of an interaction he had with a crew member who denied him access to a show on the ship his family had reserved in advance. He told NBC 6 Responds the exchange got heated.

"I said 'Listen you idiot, I'm telling you right now that my family is in the show. Why are you keeping me out of the show?' Robert said.

The crew member, he said, told Robert he did not have a reservation and called for backup.

"They started calling security and I may have made a comment that said you better get more than a couple because I'm a big guy," Robert said of the interaction. "They were really scaring me."

Robert said things never got physical and that he reported the incident to the concierge. He said he cooperated with security and gave a statement. But the couple said a security officer still showed up at their cabin early in the morning more than 24 hours after the exchange.

"She said because of the incident the captain has reviewed everything and he's decided Robert has to disembark in Tortola," Esther said. "I gasped, I couldn't believe they were saying that."

Esther added she believed it was a drastic decision.

"I was like public enemy number one," Robert said, as he described how he felt when he was kicked off the ship.

Robert said he had to spend hundreds of dollars to get back home and didn't have the opportunity to dispute what happened or appeal the captain's decision.

"I want to see their statements," Robert said. "Prove it to me what I did."

But according to Brett Rivkind, a maritime lawyer, the cruise line does not have to.

"If something happens and they want to kick you off the ship, they are not only the police," Brett said. "They are the judge and the jury."

He explained that when you book a cruise, your passenger ticket is essentially a contract giving the cruise line broad discretion in how they interpret and apply their rules.

"The cruise ship companies draft those contracts so they don't really give passengers any rights," Brett said.

Robert, meanwhile, said even though they have been on many cruises they have never taken the time to read the contract. But he said he will do that before booking his next trip so knows what he is agreeing to. He said he wants others to do the same.

"The public needs to know," Robert said.

A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line sent NBC 6 Responds the following statement in response to an inquiry:

"We have a zero-tolerance policy aboard our fleet when it comes to inappropriate or discourteous behavior. Guests are advised of this in our Guest Conduct Policy, which is agreed to by all guests upon payment of the cruise fare. Any guest that violates these policies is subject to removal from the ship by order of the captain and is responsible for all travel arrangement expenses incurred. All travel companions of a removed guest remain in good standing and receive the exceptional service for which our crew members are recognized. Please know that we do not take the removal of guests from ships lightly."

The cruise line also said they do not discuss details of any incident aboard, out of respect for their guests' privacy.

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