A reader of Cruise Law News sent me a article appearing today in the British newspaper, Daily Mail, titled Grandmother, 83, is kicked off her 6-star cruise for having a panic attack: Dementia sufferer and her veteran husband claim they were thrown out of their £8,000 suite after she fell ill.

84 year-old grandmother Marguerite Hayward was traveling with her husband, war veteran Fred Hayward, on board the Regent Seven Seas Cruises Explorer when she awoke late one night suffering from a panic attack linked to her dementia. The ship doctor and nurse responded to the incident along with the chief of security who appeared in the couple’s luxury suite, reporting yelling at Mrs. Hayward to “keep quite,” according to the tabloid. The medical team injected Mrs. Hayward with a sedative and she Regent Seven Seas Cruises Explorerquickly fell asleep “with her husband cuddling her.”

The following morning, Ms. Hayward appeared “calm and relaxed,” remembering nothing about the preceding night’s events. The couple was about to go to breakfast when the ship’s officers summoned them to a meeting. The officers informed them that the ship had reported the incident to the home office in Miami which ordered the couple to immediately leave the ship.

The Haywards were handed a medical bill from the ship infirmary of over $1,300 and then, after quickly packing, ordered into a tender to be taken ashore to the Italian port of Sorrento. The ship doctor reportedly informed the Italian doctors that he suspected that Ms. Hayward was suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia,” a diagnosis which Mr. Hayward denied applied to his wife.

The Italian doctors put Mrs. Hayward on a drip and placed her on oxygen, and she quickly became unconscious, according to her husband. The Hayward’ son learned of his parent’s plight and traveled to the hospital in Sorrento where he found his mother “sedated, on a drip and wearing a t-shirt covered in blood.” Her son arranged for Mrs. Haywards to be flown via air ambulance back to the U.K, where she was hospitalized for stress and trauma, with severe bed sores and extensive bruising.

The Haywards’ sons have written to CEO Frank Del Rio, a cruise executive who has earned a reputation of penny-pinching and being indifferent to bad press, who reportedly did not reply.

This is not the first time that a cruise line booted an elderly passenger with dementia and her husband off of a ship.

Several years ago, Celebrity sent a woman with dementia and her husband, involuntarily from the Millennium cruise ship. Like this case, the cruise line made no effort to communicate with the passengers’ family or emergency contacts, or to transport the couple back home. The cruise line essentially abandoned the couple ashore.

Carnival handled a similar situation better after the Carnival Legend disembarked a guest ashore in Cozumel after he had a “minor Alzheimer’s episode, leaving his stateroom alone at 4 a.m. for a cup of coffee.”

Carnival claimed that they found the husband disoriented and the ship doctor declared him to be a danger to himself, so the ship disembarked the couple off the ship at the next port. But when a news station contacted Carnival, the cruise line “quickly admitted that the situation was mishandled” and reimbursed the cost of the cruise and the airfare home.

The passenger tickets drafted by the cruise line’s lawyers state that the cruise lines can disembark passengers for any reason. However, from a public relations point of view, I would think that the couple should have been treated more sensitively and respectfully. The cruise line should have provided its guests, at a minimum, with transportation back home and a full refund of their costly fares.

Photo credits: Daily Mail

  • Dwight G. Ayala,MD Ship Physician Contractor

    They should fight back with an elderly abuse claim which is federal offense. Was consent given for treatment?
    Such case should require their primary care doc to clear for cruising.
    Which i agree, would not qualify to cruise.
    Dr a

  • tinikini

    This story strikes a personal note with me. I am a full time care giver to my father who has dementia. There is nothing more exhausting than taking care of someone with this horrible disease. A person with dementia is like a problem child you can not control and teach and a pet that you can not contain all rolled into one. You have no idea and not near enough compassion unless you have cared for someone in this condition. When you do not handle things delicately, things can spin out of control quickly. Anything could have made the wife panic….like a toothbrush being out of place…something that simple can cause a person with dementia to have a melt down or become violent. While to some it might be or look like huge deal from the outside looking in, but from the inside looking out, it is just a normal day or a normal thing. You expect the unexpected.

    EVERYONE needs to be more aware and concerned about the epidemic of forms of dementia that is taking over the elderly as they live longer thanks to modern medicine. The older crowd tends to favor cruising. You will never stop people who are not fit to travel or well enough to travel from traveling. Cruise lines need to step up and be educated on the disease and how to handle situations properly. Dumping people of in port is NOT the way to handle things. Imagine how stressful it would be for a normal person to be ejected of a cruise ship, even if they deserved it. Then add in the fact that you are elderly, you are a tired caregiver, with a stressed out person who has dementia and is sick. I can not imagine how the poor husband felt and what he went through. It is a small wonder he is not ill as well.

    I am not going to judge the husband, as some might. Maybe it was the last trip of her life, and he felt confidant in taking her and taking care of her. Or, he was so exhausted, needed a change of scenery and was trying to live his life too, that he made a poor decision. It happens. My thoughts and prayers go out to this family. How sad.

    Please, everyone, get educated on this disease!!!

  • Kathy

    I think there is total lack of sensitivity. They put out good money, that the cruise line was willing to take and to put that elderly couple off the ship without helping them make arrangements for a family member to escort them off or to just let them stay on board til they got home, confining them to their room, what lack of compassion for probably a long standing customer. Just so sad. This is purely cold-hearted.

  • steveO

    If you have a serious medical issue even if you purchase insurance you should notify the cruiseline when making the booking with their special services form. If this isn’t filled out and they go on a cruise and have a attack or episode I feel it is the passenger’s fault. If they filled out the form and the cruiseline accepted their money then the cruiseline should be at fault.

  • Jen

    I’m not entirely sure how the lady could have suffered severe bed sores in the short time that she was in the Italian hospital, but I feel badly for the entire family. They certainly need to shoulder some of the blame for what transpired, but the cruise line could certainly have handled this a lot better. As a previous commenter noted, this could have appeared to be a very different situation than what was actually taking place, and the lack of awareness of this from a doctor on a line that predominantly sails with elderly clients is startling.

  • Nate

    One of the basics of caring for a dementia patient is to keep them in a familiar environment, a cruise ship is about as far away from your regular, comfortable home environment as you can get. A cruise ship is no place for someone with severe dementia, also the ‘severe bed sores’ makes me think this lady had problems long before she boarded the ship, I think the family is not telling the whole truth here.

  • Randy

    People with dementia can become disoriented and agitated when faced with unfamiliar surroundings or activities. I think that caregivers need to reflect on whether a cruise is worth the consequences for the person with dementia.