A local news station in Tampa, WTSP 20 News, has a story about an elderly couple’s cruise horror story.
Betty and Ronald Coleman from Port Ritchie Florida were sailing on a Panama Canal cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl when Mr. Coleman contracted what is described as norovirus. NCL put the Colemans ashore in Cartegena Columbia without contacting the couple’s son Mark, even though they listed him as the emergency contact on paperwork the cruise line required them to fill out.
Ms. Coleman, who was obviously overwhelmed by trying to take care of her sick husband, complains: "My son is on the paper you sign, for next of kin to be called in case of an emergency. I would have thought they would have notified him if they are leaving me in a foreign country."
The couple’s son first learned of his parent’s plight after receiving a frantic call from his mother. She did not know where she was. NCL subsequently told him that that she was still on the cruise ship. Finally, Mark had to contact the State Department to find his parents.
NCL claims that it provided the couple with an opportunity to call home, but the Colemans allegedly "chose not to." How and why this allegedly occurred is not explained. But a cruise line should never disembark an elderly couple like this in a foreign country without first making sure that it contacted the emergency contact. It’s far fetched to believe that the couple instructed NCL not to call the emergency contact. It’s inexcusable for NCL not to have done so. Ms. Coleman seemed stressed out and Mr. Coleman, described in the video as " . . . so sick that he could not sit up to even sign a paper," was obviously so ill NCL didn’t want him on its cruise ship.
NCL issued a completely unrepentant press release. NCL side stepped the norovirus issue, denied responsibility for not telling the family of the emergency, and claimed that the Colemans were, in fact, "appreciative" of the cruise line agent’s assistance ashore in Columbia.
The guest relations team on a cruise ship should always contact the emergency contact number whenever it forces a family off of a cruise ship in a medical emergency.
Blaming the sick elderly guest in a case like this reflects poorly on the cruise lines’ manners.
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