Cruise passenger on stretcher rushing to ER was stopped by Royal Caribbean staff — pay up, buddy!

A passenger on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the Bahamas had a medical emergency that included multiple seizures, breathing difficulties, and broken blood vessels that looked like stripes across his chest. But while on a stretcher, about to be rushed to a rescue boat, cruise staff said he could not leave the ship — not until he paid his bill.

No matter that the 31-year-old Michigan man, Vincent Wasney, had just had three seizures, the last being a grand mal, and was disoriented. Royal Caribbean had more important things to worry about, like making sure the debilitated man with blood coming out of his mouth give them $2,500.22 for what was mostly medical charges.

"Are we being held hostage at this point?" his fiancée asked at the time, according to NPR. "Because, obviously, if he's had three seizures in 10 hours, it's an issue."

And when Wasney groggily argued that the couple couldn't afford $2,500.22, a cruise member shot back, "How much can you pay?"

From NPR:

They drained their bank accounts, including money saved for their next house payment, and maxed out Wasney's credit card but were still about $1,000 short, he said.

Ultimately, they were allowed to leave the ship. He later learned his card was overdrafted to cover the shortfall, he said.

Once on land, in Florida, Wasney was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, where he incurred thousands of dollars more in medical expenses. …

Wasney said the couple returned to Saginaw with essentially no money in their bank account, several thousand dollars of medical debt, and no idea how they would cover their mortgage payment. Because he was uninsured at the time of the cruise, Wasney did not try to collect reimbursement for the cruise bill from his new health plan when his coverage began weeks later.

The couple set up payment plans to cover the medical bills for Wasney's care after leaving the ship: one each with two doctors he saw at Broward Health, who billed separately from the hospital, and one with the ambulance company. He also made payments on a bill with Broward Health itself. Those plans do not charge interest.

Although a disheartening experience, Wasney isn't against going on another cruise — even with Royal Caribbean. But he said next time, he will read the fine print before embarking.