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poormom 08-24-2013 10:01 AM

Is it just me?
Did anyone else see this segment? Technically it's Azamara, but they mention RCL because the name is more familiar.
On the one hand, it gives me pause, because really, what would I do, especially as I often travel alone.
But then it makes me ask...what is expected of the cruise line. And should 89 year olds travel abroad in some of these not too terribly modernized parts of the world?

Elderly Couple Says Cruise Line Left Them in Turkey to Face Medical Emergency - ABC News

Cruise Fanatic 08-24-2013 12:44 PM

It starts out with the media and a large portion of the public that don't cruise, not understanding policies and procedures. Royal Caribbean cruise lines has the same problem that Carnival cruise lines has. That is; that their parent company name is the same as one of the cruise lines it owns, so that cruise line gets blamed whenever something happens to a sister company. The parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited (RCCL) trades under NYSE as (RCL). Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is actually the proper name of the cruise line itself. Formerly, it was known as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Parent company RCCL owns RCI, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, Pullmantur (the European company that is taking all our beautiful old RCI ships), and they also own a couple other foreign cruise lines. Sorry to get longwinded there. Alas; that is where all the media will say it was a Royal Caribbean ship, when it was actually Azamara. Not distinguishing it was a parent company owned ship!

Now for the story. I'm not sure we're really getting all the facts. It seems like the cruise line followed all normal procedures. It says the wife wasn't allowed in the hospital but yet she says the hospital was dirty. How does she know if she wasn't allowed inside?

I travel by myself sometimes too. I think the best thing we can do is have good travel insurance. Most people probably won't do it, but research and write down addresses and numbers of the American Embassies/Consulate in the country you are traveling. I wonder how many people know that on Page 6 of a US Passport #3 talks about Health Insurance and states Medicare/Medicaid doesn't cover health costs outside the USA. It gives advise to look at a medical brochure on Welcome to Travel.State.Gov

Dave 08-24-2013 04:56 PM

I think it would be smart for Carnival and Royal Caribbean to change their corporate names.

Lots of hyperbole in this story (surprise!) and from the various reports you'd think the man and his wife were tossed on a flatbed truck and carted off to POW camp infirmary. No doubt Jay Rockefeller (trust fund baby) couldn't believe his good fortune when he read about it.

I was also left wondering why an 89 year old couple would be by themselves on a cruise in the Med, visiting less familiar ports which Azamara likes to do. All I can say is, I wouldn't do it unless I had our son or someone else younger with us, just in case something happened that needed some intervention. "The hospital was filthy"...gratuitous comment that is purely subjective, and perhaps applies U.S. sanitary standards to a hospital in a country that is just barely not in the 'third world' category. What did they think they'd see? The Mayo Clinic?

I know I am not sounding sympathetic because, well, I'm not. The couple did not adequately protect themselves prior to the cruise by having adequate insurance (i.e., not the cruise line's coverage).

Wheels87 08-25-2013 03:24 AM

I completely agree...this was a non-story from the beginning. They blame the cruise line for lack of adequate insurance, which anyone who cruises regularly knows is readily available from dozens of other sources.

I sure hope that I am never on a cruise that changes its itinerary and such because one person has a health issue. I go in knowing full well the consequences of traveling to foreign countries. Being on active duty in the military, our insurance covers my family and me worldwide. We are taking my mother-in-law and her husband on our upcoming cruise in January, and purchased travel insurance for them specifically because they are a little older and you never know what is going to happen. It seems to be a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Oh well, the media is going to say anything they can to demonize any money making corporation because it is en vogue right now. Someday, when most of the private corporations are run out of business, everyone will be looking around, wondering what happened to our once rich nation because no one will have jobs.

Take care,


billybuzzy 08-26-2013 04:25 PM

Three good rules for cruising emerge here:1) Travel Insured 2) Have the number of the US Consulate/Embassy with You when You go ashore in a foreign country and 3) Have the number of the cruiseline's port agent handy (Usually listed in your daily shipboard bulletin). Let us all learn from this prime, by itself, is not enough!!!

Better and more active cruiseline assistance during any medical crises for needed and necessary Humanitarian Aid would also go a loooong way here. Concern for passengers injuries should not cease once your ship pulls out of port!! Age is not an issue here...lack of Humanitarian Assitance is!!! Shame on Azamara!!!!

Wheels87 08-30-2013 09:40 AM

Just curious...what exactly do you mean by "More active cruiseline assistance during any medical crises for needed and necessary Humanitarian Aid."?

When a ship has thousands of passengers, the odds that someone will need significant medical assistance are actually pretty good. Are you referring to the ship waiting a few extra days in port for someone to get out of the hospital? Or perhaps paying for the medical care of the displaced passenger? I really think you should clarify what you meant here.

The cruise lines responsibility should include calling for emergency medical care when needed and notifying an emergency contact and local authorities when a passenger doesn't return to the ship while in port. What is the cruise line to do if they are in a port that lacks adequate hospital facilities? The prudent thing to do is to transport the patient to the nearest facility to be evaluated, at which time a decision can be made as to the best course of action. The spouse was complaining that Royal Caribbean expected her to file a claim before authorizing to pay to transport her husband to the hospital in Instanbul...So what? That is standard practice here in the U.S. as well. You usually have to get permission from your insurance company to be transferred.

So, I am seriously interested in what should have been done differently in this case. Remember, there are two sides to this story. Royal Caribbean says that they did help after the ship left port, so please clarify for us where they went wrong.

Take care!

Dave 08-30-2013 12:12 PM

As it ends up, the cruise line is going to cover everything, either by the insurance or directly. Follow up story

Wheels87 08-31-2013 05:35 AM

Thank you, Dave for posting the follow up article. I cannot understand why the cruise lines keep taking hits in the public opinion polls, only to end up spending the money to rectify a situation anyway. Why not make the smart decision up front? A few thousand dollars is nothing to their bottom line, however, the bad press probably costs hundreds of times that amount.

Now, to my original point...I am tired of the media publishing stories from disgruntled passengers that are full of half truths and incomplete information that are designed to drum up drama and create corporate backlash. Once again, the follow-up article states:

"The cruise line left Melkonian and his wife, Jill, 65, at a rural Turkish hospital that had no intensive care unit.

Pain-ridden, Melkonian waited 24 hours before an insurance-issued ambulance with no doctor or nurse transferred him to an American hospital in Istanbul."

So the hospital had no intensive care unit...and that means what, exactly? Did the patient need to be in the intensive care unit? It is never stated in the article, and based on my experience with broken hips, I doubt that he did. Also, apparently there was no doctor or nurse in the ambulance that he was transferred know what? I was transported in an ambulance to the hospital two weeks ago, and by golly there was no doctor or nurse with me, either. What does that even mean? A broken hip by itself, while a serious injury, is not usually life threatening at all. Of course, the patient was 89 years-old, but again, we have no idea about what was really going on with him, other than his wife was complaining.

Seriously, folks, if you are going to take cruises to foreign ports, you have to take some measure of responsibility for your own safety. The insurance company cannot help it if the local nation's policies refuse to accept a promise of payment and demand payment up front. In fact, this is the policy in much of the rest of the world. This is the exact reason why I take extra credit cards with high limits with me when I go on cruises...just in case something like this happens.

I am sorry for the ranting, but one of the problems in America is our lack of understanding of personal responsibility. Read the cruise contract and tell me where it says anything about the cruise line being responsible for any of this.

Take care and have a great weekend!


Dave 08-31-2013 07:58 AM

Plus, the update story still tosses 'Royal Caribbean' around recklessly with barely a mention of Azamara.

From my personal experience when my wife WAS in immediate need of emergency care, the only time a nurse or doctor was in the ambulance was the flight nurse for the medevac. A 90 mile drive to Birmingham a month later - in a halo for her broken neck, and with broken arm, pelvis, and leg, was only with the EMTs in the ambulance.

To me, these type of stories are a form of extortion on the part of the press and the willing participants in pumping up the issue and not telling the whole story.

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