On February 12, 2006, we took a 6 night Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Liberty. On the second evening, after we had departed Free Port, Bahamas, the captain announced that a passenger was gravely ill and would be airlifted off of the ship by U.S. Coast Guard helicopter.
It was after midnight when the helicopter arrived. It was very dark out and between the speed of the ship and the headwinds; the helicopter pilot was trying to hover over the ship in 30 mph winds. While the helicopter hovered over the aft portion of the ship, a Guardsman was lowered to the deck. Then a stretcher was lowered to the deck. While they were putting the patient in the stretcher, a basket was lowered to the deck and picked up a nurse who traveled with the patient. The helicopter then picked up the patient in the stretcher and finally picked up the Guardsman. All the time this was occurring the helicopter pilot was battling high winds while trying to hover over the ship in the black of night. I was very impressed with the skill and bravery of the Guardsmen.
The patient was then flown to Miami. Although the patient was safely off the ship, the patientís family was not able to leave the ship until two days later when we stopped in Grand Cayman.
I donít know what this rescue cost, but I am sure it was very expensive. This is a perfect example of why you need travel insurance.