A Cruise Law News reader from Australia alerted me of a newspaper article published on Thursday discussing how Miami-based Celebrity sent an elderly couple packing from the Millennium cruise ship a month ago.

The Cairns Post reports on the disturbing story of Celebrity kicking 78 year old cruise passenger Adry Arnold and her husband off the cruise ship while it was docked at Yorkeys Knob, Queensland, Australia.

The Arnolds were enjoying their vacation cruise. Mr. Arnold went to visit nearby Cairns. While alone on the ship, Ms. Arnold apparently had difficulty locating her her cabin. She became upset and began to Celebrity Millinnium Cruise Shipcry.

The newspaper states that when Mr. Arnold returned to the cruise ship, he was not allowed back on the ship. Celebrity allegedly told them that their cruise was over “because the doctor did not think they were the kind of people who should be on the cruise … if she was left alone.” The article suggests that Ms. Arnold may have had dementia and that’s why Celebrity sent them involuntarily from the ship.

The Arnolds are pensioners and paid over $12,000 for the cruise.

The couple’s nephew told the newspaper “this is a disgusting way to treat anybody, let alone an elderly couple, without even trying to resolve the issue at hand.”

The Celebrity passenger ticket drafted by the cruise line’s defense lawyers states that the cruise line can disembark passengers for any reason. However, from a public relations point of view, I would think that the couple should have been provided with a full refund rather than left behind at a port with no transportation back home.

Celebrity said that it would provide a “pro-rata refund” for the remaining nine days of their sailing. But as of the time of the newspaper article, Celebrity had not issued the refund.

A mean corporation versus a nice, elderly couple? Should the husband have stayed with his wife? Should the cruise line have treated the retirees nicer including getting them safely home?

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

December 7 2013 Update: The popular cruise on line community Cruise Critic has comments about the story on its board under the topic “Bad Publicity for Celebrity.”  As usual, the Cruise Critic cruise line supporters defend Celebrity’s callous conduct and blame the passengers.  Cruise Critic is best known for being exposed as a paid cruise line cheerleader shilling for Royal Caribbean on its reviews and message boards.

December 9 2013 Update:  Watch the video below:



Photo Credit: Millinnium cruise ship – Wikipedia / Captain Tucker

  • Dwayne Turner

    I am a 44 year old adult that as a 19 year old young man, helped take care of my elderly grandmother that had Parkinsons. Although it is bad that they were left behind, the husband was completely at fault. If this woman had dementia, she was probably disturbing the other passengers.

    If you have $12,000 on hand to pay for a cruise, you should first have the common sense to buy cruise insurance. Secondly, this jerk of a husband had no right disembarking the ship and left his wife behind. In my opinion, he should be reported for elder abuse. It is not the responsibility of any cruise line to babysit an adult.
    I feel sorry for the woman, but in this situation, the cruise line is responsible for the other passengers on the ship. If this woman was not of sound mind and body, she had no right being on the ship in the first place.

  • tinikini

    WOW…this is really sad.

    I have learned some valuable life lessons with my parents as they age thanks to the cruise industry. All you have to do is take one cruise with elderly parents and you will find immediately that you should travel with them at all times because there are just too many things that can go wrong on any vacation.

    While I am not a professional cruiser, I have been on three cruises. The first at age 11 on the US Boheme, and two more with HAL at 45 and 46. I am now 48. At age 11 you could understand being “lost” on the ship. But at ages 45 and 46 I still got “lost” on the ship. Does that mean I have dementia??? Geez, I don’t know how many times I took the wrong elevator, got off on the wrong floor, went the wrong direction, etc.. I wonder if someone from the ship would have found me wondering around “lost” could they or would they have thrown me off????

    My father(81)and I were separated on our cruise through the Panama Canal. Everyone was out on deck and I was taking pictures and shooting video and lost track of my father in all of the people. He left the deck we were on for a higher deck and that only made matters worse. When I did finally find him he was upset and distraught because he had gone up and down so many times he didn’t know how to get back to where he started from. If someone would have found him wondering around upset, would they have thrown us off then????

    The ships we have been on have been small ships and it is still easy to get turned around until you become familiar with the ship. For older people it takes more time. I cannot image what it might be like on the ships that hold twice as many people, especially if you are elderly.

    I am not understanding why the cruise line thought that kicking them to the curb was the answer in dealing with someone who is so upset that they need to go home in the cruise lines eyes. How is that helping these people. They denied the husband aboard to help his wife, then dumped his distraught, elderly wife and belongings on him, in a foreign country, told them to get home on their own and shagged?? My God, how about an opportunity for the husband to console his wife, find out what happened, remedy the situation, not leave his wife unattended and cruise on. Or maybe call a family member and let them know that they need to meet them in the next port, so the family has time to make travel arrangements and fly home with them. I see ZERO compassion here by the cruise lines.

    Wonder what the outcome would have been if it had been a drunk passenger that couldn’t find their cabin?? Would they have been thrown off or escorted back to their room to sleep it off?? How much of a danger are they to themselves drunk with a balcony versus dementia with a balcony?? Falling down stairs or overboard drunk versus dementia??

    I love to cruise, we have been lucky, and have always had a good time without major issues, but I think we will take different vacations until the cruise industry cleans up their act and becomes more regulated.

    No matter what kind of vacation you choose, this page just makes a better traveler out of you and opens your eyes as to what can happen on vacation. Thanks for this site Jim.

  • Michelle Taylor

    The husband is at fault. He should have stayed with his wife. He probably already knew she had problems and should not left her on her own.

  • CB

    The woman’s husband is totally to blame for this sad situation occurring in the first place. Who would be callous enough to leave their spouse with dementia alone on a cruise ship, particularly in a balcony suite. How frightening for the poor wife when she got lost. The cruise ships are not nursing homes. It sounds like things could have been handled more compassionately by Celebrity, but none of this would have happened if the husband had been taking proper care of his poor wife. Shame on him!

  • Terri

    I have always found it interesting that the cruise line companies has more lawyers than public relations personnel. It`s so they can continue to screw people over. If it wasn`t for the avalanche of bad press they wouldn`t be issuing a pro rata refund, and it will be at least six months before they see it. But this will not stop people from cruising. Not even the catastrophic stupidity of the captain of the Costa Concordia slowed it down.

    I saw ill passengers, their companion and all their luggage disembarked at every port of call we visited on our cruise. I often wondered how they got home.

  • R

    I’m a harbor pilot. I’ve had ship’s officers get lost escorting me from the bridge to the pilot ladder.

  • Ken Wismer

    I was surprised to see this blog was written by a lawyer. Just the title is very misleading, and the tone of the story is almost slanderous.
    As an Elite member of Celebrity’s Captains Club, I have been on a few cruises with them, and have found nothing but courteous and professional staff. It would be much better to have more than a one-sided story.
    I am rather think that Mr Walker would be suing himself if he encountered this type of report against one of his clients

  • Get a life Ken.

  • Barry Lewis

    While I understand the situation clearly, that the husband shouldn’t have left his wife onboard alone, I think that it also the responsibility of cruise operators and travel agents, to ensure that passengers they are very eager to sell cruises to, understand situations that can occur with people whose overall health is perhaps not good enough to go cruising.

  • Don Sayman

    I am sure both sides have a point. when I was in nursing school we worked with Alzheimer’s patients in a locked unit. they were locked in for a reason. I will leave it up to you ??? thinking is a lost art today, too bad. doing 3 cruises in Jan 14 have fun. Jim you are doing a service that is needed (my opinion) thanks

  • mm

    I certainly can sympathize with this couple, however, I am very concerned that the husband may not have a clear understanding of his wife’s current situation. While he clearly understood that she was not able to handle a free-wheeling visit to Cairns with him (I think I understand he want solo, not on a ship’s shorex), he did not understand that she would not do well left alone on the ship. She was a danger to herself and possibly to crew if left to her own devices. What might have happened had there been an emergency? Say, an laundry room fire? This really is a shame.

    I have a client whose father is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and is easily rattled. He still has a few items on his travel bucket-list. His wonderful daughters and son each take a turn traveling with him and their mother to help complete his list (they have done four cruises so far.) I have another client – a couple – in a similar situation and they always take an “aide” with them. If one can afford $12k on a cruise, one can probably afford to bring a third party along for assistance. In the two examples above, the child or the aide stays in an inside cabin across the hall.

  • Frank B.

    The victim here is certainly Mrs. Arnold. Abandoned my her husband on a giant cruise ship to fend for herself. If he had left a 5-year old alone for an hour he would be in jail. How is this any different? The cruise line could have been more caring. But based on Mr. Arnold’s self-righteous attitude in the interview, they were better off with the couple off the ship. He is fortunate that no one turned him in for endangering an Alzheimer’s patient.

    I have sailed with Celebrity many times and I have found them to be wonderful. However, like most cruise lines, they only have rudimentary medical care. I am not surprised that Mrs. Arnold was sent to a hospital on shore for any evaluation or treatment. They packed all her belongings because the ship embarks regardless. That is why one should always carry travel insurance.

  • Markus

    I have searched thru the internet to find out, if there are other elderly couples with one spouse having dementia, taking a cruise. Too bad to have to find this kind of incident.
    My wife is in an advanced state of Vascular Dementia (age 80) and can’t do anything but walk, and clime stairs better than I can.
    I am her 24 hour caretaker and have learned that the home helpers are poorly trained and mostly with little English knowledge. After having gone thru about six agencies and a dozen helpers here in California, I have given up and only use Home Health Agencies once or twice a week for shower and occasional Catheter exchange. I have been hoping to find a cruise line who has at least some personal aid on their staff to help out in certain situations.
    I can understand that ships may not want to hire personal aides, they are not easy to find,if the have to take care of bowel and bladder incontinence. I have not found a personal aide yet I would want to take along on a cruise.If I find one, I will try for a cruise vacation I certainly need.
    My wife was admitted twice to a senior facility, but did not end up in either one for even one night. The first facility refused her during the last hour to accept her and the second senior facility did not supervise her, that my wife started knocking down ornamental trees in the hallway and got hurt herself such that she had to be brought to the emergency room, to check if she had a broken nose, which was not the case. We took her home again the same evening.

    I do not know how sound proof the cabins are in a ship.
    She does sometimes talk or holler loud during the night, in her sound sleep, but also occasionally during the day. We probably would eat mostly in the cabin unless there is an appropriate spot in the dining room where we would not be observed that much, I have to feed her like a baby.
    I know my wife would like the experience very much, she likes to observe other people and is still very much interested in children and tries to talk to them.

  • MK

    Just want to say sorry to the couple for being treated poorly by Celebrity. I do hope you get every penny back. Our 2012 Celebrity Cruise was overly, overly crowded, and our neighbours in our Balcony Room smoked profusely, invading our room, space, lungs and no fire-alarm went off – would like to know why not??? Why do cruise ships tolerate this and not have some sympathy for an elderly couple like in this story?

  • Great article! Thank you for sharing this.

  • Val O’Farrell

    My husband awoke early our first morning on board and went looking for his coffee and got lost, Approached by 2 security guards speaking broken English he got scared, couldn’t remember his room etc.We had 2 guards on our door so he couldn’t get out.We felt like criminals and the humiliation of it all was really stressful . We too were threw off at the first port and had to pay our air fare from Mexico.The whole trip was a nightmare.Okay, my husband has short term memory problems but we cruise every year and enjoy it. If these cruise ships don’t want elderly people on their ships with memory problems they need to write it in their rules before people pay big bucks to travel with them. I don’t have any memory problems but it takes me approx. 3 days to find my way around some of these ships. I must add, we were not refunded by either the cruise line or the insurance because it was an ongoing illness. Our cruise line was CARNIVAL.

  • Val O’Farrell


  • Jaime

    HI I was just also left behind after 2 days of isolation at the Celebrity Summit on a 7day caribbean trip. The ship was so boring for a 30 year old parties cancelled no friendly staff so one night at a bar I joke with the bartender and ask him to call the captain so I can borrow a lifeboat and go home. Well guess what they assume I was gonna kill myself by jumping overboard or else way and kick me out of the boat two days after doctors evaluations and so on. It was a nightmare they will never see a penny again from me and I want to sue that bartender.

  • STL C

    My daughter and I were dumped from our CELEBRITY cruise this morning after 24 hours in isolation. Separate isolation. In an airless room infested with bed bugs. Nodo food and a bottle of water.

    Our “crime” – having a minor mother- daughter disagreement over the placement of her suitcase that was overheard by a steward bringing ice. No yelling. No injury. It was a nightmare scenario – me scared to death for my daughter. Couldn’t stop crying as the treated us like criminals.

    Then the next day promising “meetings” to resolve the issue which were postponed FIVE times because crew was so busy. Decision before even hearing our side was to DUMP us for the “safety” of other passengers. I am a gray-haired granny- and my sweet daughter is extremely shy around others. We had to find own way home after being tendered out to an obscure french town – refund of many shore excursions and beverage packages, etc we purchased.

    AWFUL. ARROGANT. Celebrity crew reminds me of tales I’ve read of NAZI’s who get drunk with power.. Still in shock that our 12 day Mediterranean cruise of a lifetime ended as were unpacking.

    Don’t travelers have ANY rights?

  • maurice salander

    You must think when you go on a cruise,for actual plan and terms and conditions.Because of what happened Celebity should return some of the money, because they did not get the full trip.You want a good name to be posted, so people will travel on your ship.Think who takes the most trips the elderly, you must treat them right.People should be happy on a cruise ship not sad.You may need evaluations about your crew. or you will have a empty ship.

  • RK

    After only reading about this case recently, while I think the husband should have not gone off and left his wife for hours, the ship has proved very uncaring. As the couple had been on the cruise a while the lady was used to her environment, to then dump her ashore in a foreign place seems very cruel. I sail Cunard and we met a couple who’s husband had dementia, you could have a good chat with him, although he was a bit vague and we’d seem them on several cruises. One evening she came in to the restaurant saying she had told him to meet in the lounge while she went to the toilet and he wandered off. The Maitre d who knew him and my husband offered to go and look for him but after looking around that part of the ship she went to the stateroom and he was there as he thought she said meet back there. As we were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean , we had no ports to put someone off at anyway! The ship dealt with it in the way anyone would have, caring, sympathetic and no further issues. Could Celebrity not have reunited husband and wife which would have calmed wife down, reiterated to husband not to leave her alone on the ship and talked to them. As they had gone from Miami to Australia, she must have coped so far unless there were parts of the story we don’t know.