Cruise responds after couple left in Colombia | News
Tampa, Florida - "I'm so happy to be home, so happy," says 79-year-old Betty Coleman.
She and her husband Ronald flew back to Tampa Sunday night after taking a cruise they say they'd rather forget.
"It's going to make me think a lot about getting on that cruise ship. I never had anything like that happen to me before," says Betty.
The couple says their dream cruise down the Panama Canal on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl turned into a nightmare. First Ronald came down with what appeared to be the norovirus. "He was so sick, he couldn't sit up long enough to sign his name," says Betty.
The Colemans say medical treatment on board did not work for Ronald, so on Wednesday, the ship dropped the couple off at a clinic in Cartagena, Colombia. But it didn't notify anyone in the U.S., not even their son.
"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," says Betty.
But in an NCL statement, the cruise line says the Colemans had a chance to call their son: "Prior to disembarking the vessel, the ship's Guest Service personnel assisted Mr. and Mrs. Coleman with packing their belongings and making arrangements for their transfer to the hospital. At that time, the couple were given the option to contact their family via phone before disembarking, but chose not to."
Mark Coleman first heard of his father's illness on Friday, after a frantic call from his mother.
"She couldn't tell me where she was," recalls Mark.
On Saturday, Mark called 10 News after he says NCL could not tell him of his parents' exact location in Colombia.
"They told my son I was on the ship."
Mark reached out to a State Department official, who helped find his parents.
Records show the Colemans bought trip protection through NCL, but neither the Colemans nor NCL contacted the insurance carrier. Instead, they maxed out their credit cards on medical bills and plane tickets back to Tampa.
"We are doing better. My husband is still weak and very emotional," says Betty.
The Colemans say they'd like an apology from NCL, but NCL officials say the Colemans never showed any dissatisfaction with their care.
Below is the complete statement from NCL:
On Wednesday, October 12, Mr. Coleman was medically disembarked from Norwegian Star while the ship was in Cartagena, Colombia as he needed shoreside medical attention. He was accompanied by his wife.
Prior to disembarking the vessel, the ship's Guest Service personnel assisted Mr. and Mrs. Coleman with packing their belongings and making arrangements for their transfer to the hospital. At that time, the couple were given the option to contact their family via phone before disembarking, but chose not to. Since the guests had travel insurance, they were also provided with the relevant contact information for emergency assistance through their travel insurance company.
Norwegian Cruise Line's port agent in Colombia assisted the guests and accompanied them to the hospital, ensuring that all necessary paperwork there was accurately completed so that Mr. Coleman could receive the care he needed.
The port agent provided his contact information to the guests and offered to assist them in purchasing toiletries and/or clothing, but the guests declined the offer. Mrs. Coleman was offered assistance with a hotel room, but she declined and chose to stay in the hospital.
On both Thursday and Friday, Norwegian's port agent visited the couple in the hospital in the morning and the afternoon. The port agent also assisted the couple in obtaining plane tickets for their return to Tampa.
On Saturday, Norwegian's port agent visited the couple at 2 p.m. to again tend to their needs. At no time during their stay in Colombia did the couple express any dissatisfaction with how the situation had been handled. To the contrary, the port agent advised that the couple were so appreciative of the efforts on their behalf they wanted to send an email thanking them.
On Sunday, Norwegian's port agent assisted the couple with transportation to the airport for their flight to Tampa which arrived later that day."