Not exactly the "Love Boat"

April 1, 2001
I read with great amusement the article titled, "Cruisin' with Dr. Begalla" in the January issue of Dental Economics. I couldn't help but laugh when I read on the first page that you should not worry if your front tooth broke while on a Holland America Caribbean cruise.

I read with great amusement the article titled, "Cruisin' with Dr. Begalla" in the January issue of Dental Economics. I couldn't help but laugh when I read on the first page that you should not worry if your front tooth broke while on a Holland America Caribbean cruise. The very problem happened to me while taking a perio course with 15 to 20 dentists on the Rheindam last January.

During lunch on the second day of the cruise, my upper left lateral broke off. There I was, with the crown in my hand at the beginning of the cruise. I thought to myself, "Nothing to fear. There's a dental clinic on board." The only problem was that it wasn't open and there was no 24-hour emergency number. There was no pain, and I wasn't in a hurry, so I waited until the clinic opened at 2 p.m.

At 2 p.m., my classmate (Stan Czerwinski) and I went to the clinic. There we met the nurse who could have been a clone of Nurse Ratched from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

We were informed that a dentist was not on board. We then asked if we could use the dental facility and some temporary cement. We were denied, as Nurse Ratched bluntly informed us that use of the dental office was for staff only and not for passenger use. When we advised her that we were dentists attending a dental seminar on board, she didn't believe us, even though we showed her our dental licenses. She refused to give us any assistance, including the use of temporary cement. We asked her what she would do if someone had an acute abscess, and we were promptly told that the patient would be given an antibiotic and an appointment would be made at the next port of call. "What a nice way to spend a cruise," I thought to myself. Fortunately for me, one of the other dentists on board carried some cement and I was able to muddle through the situation very carefully.

When I returned home, I wrote to customer service at Holland America. They never responded to my initial letter. I finally received a noncommittal reply - the kind which leads me to believe you better not have a problem if you have to travel on the Holland America line.

The intent of this letter is to inform readers of Dental Economics that Dr. Begalla's experience will not necessarily be the same for all Holland America passengers.

Dr. William B. Dragan
CEO & Chairman, Centrix, Inc.
Shelton, Conn.

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