It was supposed to be a fun trip that Easton Abt says was at the right price.
“It was a really good deal,” she said.
The recent college grad said she paid about $350 for a five-night Western Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.
“We’re like, ‘this is going to be awesome,’” she said. “This is going to be a great spring break.”
But for Easton, that trip never happened.
“The whole situation is just really unfortunate,” she said. “I was just crying the whole time … even my friends, they were crying too because they didn’t want to go on without me and I was like, ‘guys, it’s not your issue, it’s mine.’”
Easton said she received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine last year at her university and showed her card as proof. But when it came time to board, cruise employees questioned the validity of the card, she said.
“They looked at it and they were like, ‘oh, it looks like you got your first dose of Pfizer and not your second,’” she said. “And I was like, ‘I definitely got both doses, I’m fully vaccinated.’”
Easton said she was told her card was missing batch information for the second shot.
“Even though the vaccine card was dated and signed by the university, because that sticker for the second dose wasn’t on the card, they suggested that perhaps she didn’t get the second dose,” her father, Fred Abt, said.
“I was upset,” Easton said. “I’m like, I’m vaccinated, I’m fully vaccinated. I just want to go on a cruise with my best friends.”
The cruise eventually left without her, leaving her at the port in Tampa.
“It just pains me as a father to see what they made my daughter go through,” Fred said. “Literally stranding her at the port with no transportation. What if she had flown in from a different state? I was lucky enough I made an eight-hour round trip to pick her up in my car. What if I lived out of state and couldn’t come and get her?”
Fred said after the weekend, he called the university where Easton had been vaccinated.
“Not to complain,” he said. “I called the school to say, if this is an invalid card, I need to get it fixed.”
He said the school told him there was nothing wrong with Easton’s vaccination record card.
“And I said, ‘well, where’s the second batch sticker?,’” he said he asked. “She said ‘it’s the same batch. We don’t put a sticker on it twice if it’s the same information.’”
NBC 6 Responds sent Royal Caribbean a printout Fred shared showing the details of Easton’s vaccination record at the university, along with other documents. A few days later, the cruise line said in an email, “It looks like there was an error with this and we have refunded the guest fully. Our goal is always to make everyone’s experience pleasurable and fun, and we apologize for her inconvenience.”
NBC 6 asked Royal Caribbean about what is required for a vaccination card to be considered valid and whether passengers need to provide vaccination details before the sail date, but they did not answer those specific questions.
The CDC does not store individual vaccination records. So if you look at your card and you’re worried there may be an issue with it or if you’ve lost it, the CDC says on its website your best bet is to reach out to the vaccination provider to get a copy of your records.