This weekend we reported on a lawsuit which had been filed against Royal Caribbean over the death of a 56 year old passenger, Barbara Davey (photo below left).  The deceased passenger’s husband, John Davey, stated to the Scottish and U.K. media that "Barbara was tossed around like a ragdoll and was seriously hurt" during the violent storm which rocked the Brilliance of the Seas as the cruise ship approached Alexandria Egypt.  Three days later Ms. Davey lapsed into a coma and subsequently died.  Doctors apparently diagnosed a "brain ­hemorrhage" as the cause of death.

Barbara Davey - John Davey - Brilliance of the Seas - DeathThis morning USA Today’s CruiseLog picked up on the story in an article "Passenger on Storm-Tossed Cruise Says Event Led to Wife’s Death."

Royal Caribbean responded to the USA Today article with a rather remarkable spin:

"Royal Caribbean is disputing the notion that the stormy weather encountered by Brilliance of the Seas had a role in Davey’s death, telling USA TODAY that her illness was the result of a pre-existing medical condition.  Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Michelle Nadeem says the ship’s doctor was called to Davey’s cabin on the second day the vessel was in Malta, three days after the ship hit rough seas, and the doctor quickly determined she had an acute medical emergency and called an ambulance.

‘She was taken to the hospital where she remained in critical condition,’ Nadeem says, adding that Davey never lost consciousness while on the ship. "The Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Medical Department has determined that Mrs. Davey’s acute medical emergency was caused by a preexisting medical condition unrelated to the listing of the ship.’ "

I have seen some pretty nasty cruise line PR statements over the years, but this one takes the cake. 

Medical information divulged by a patient to a doctor is strictly confidential in most civilized countries.  In the U.S., patients have privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Michelle Nadeem Cruise Line PR - Royal CaribbeanAccountability Act ("HIPAA") which prohibits medical providers (including cruise doctors) from releasing any information about patients to anyone (including newspaper reporters to say the least!) unless there has been HIPAA-compliant medical releases executed.

But this is the anything-goes world of cruising where privacy rights be damned.  And this is Royal Caribbean which has the worst cruise reputation in the world.  Only the "Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Medical Department" could justify disclosing to the world that Ms. Davey not only had a "pre-existing" medical condition but definitively state that the alleged "pre-existing" condition killed her.

The USA Today article quotes Royal Caribbean spokesperson Michelle Nadeem (photo above right) as the source of the leaked medical information.  The cruise line’s PR release when it hired Ms. Nadeem indicates that she is experienced in crisis management, reputation management, social responsibility, and healthcare issues.  She reports directly to the cruise line’s CEO,  Richard Fain.   

Now that the death of Ms. Davey has reached the national media, Royal Caribbean wants to set the record straight  –  it’s Ms. Davey’s fault that she is dead, not the violent rocking of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship which threw her around her cabin like a rag doll.   And the cruise line was prepared to reveal the confidential medical history of a dead woman to prove its point. 

January 31, 2011 Update:  Ms. Nadeem again released Ms. Davey’s medical history and information from her medical records to the popular on line cruise community, Cruise Critic.    


For additional information about Royal Caribbean’s unique style of manging its reputation, consider reading: The Cruise Industry’s Reputation – A Sinking Image

Photo credits:

Top      The Courier UK

Bottom        Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

  • Mks

    Hmmm… Sad situation but somethings fishy. She was violently tossed around but the other 3000 people and their cabins were not tossed ?
    Just Saying

  • The ship was violently rocked with over 100 injured.

  • Paul Roberts

    My experience after sailing with RCCL over 30 yrs is that they are by far the safest and passenger concious of all Cruise Lines.The incident refered could have been much worse if the Ship had continued into the port of Alexandria.Brilliance could have collided into another vessel or gone crashing into the Dock both would have caused several fatalities and massive injury.

    Unfortunatly Courts dont judge on Hyperthetical situations but on evidence that is presented.Interesting to note that damage on board been of a cosmetic nature was rectified within 48 hrs.The Media was invited onboard to film and report and got nothing.People continue to Die on Cruise Ships regretably but basically bacause of pre illnesses.

    The real cause of this ladies Death will come to the fore,but indeed a sad time for her family.Fierce criticsm of without doubt the Worlds leading Cruise Line on passenger safty and care must not be ignored and the Captains experience over many years.

  • JSK

    A late comment, but as a passenger on this voyage, I am surprised more people weren’t seriously injured or killed. I find it plausible that the severe tossing we ALL endured could lead to a brain hemorrhage, since people were pinned by sliding furniture and hit by flying debris. My husband and I have never been so scared in our lives. The crew should never have attempted to port in Alexandria, knowing what conditions awaited us and the terrible seas we endured even before the incident.

    I can also say from firsthand experience, the damage to the ship was NOT rectified within 48 hours, and was FAR more than broken things and rattled nerves. After three horrific days at sea, when we finally ported in Malta, the debris was only beginning to be tossed from the ship into giant dumpsters. Some of the ship’s functionality and many of its cosmetic features were never restored. At least by that time, we were no longer waiting in line for food.