A couple, one of whom was bleeding internally aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise, said they were kicked off in a foreign country more than 3,000 miles from home.
On Jan. 6, Carol and Bertram Palk of Whippany, N.J., set sail on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, on a seven-day trip from Miami and stopping in the Bahamas, Mexico and Honduras, as first reported by the North Jersey Record. On the third day, Carol discovered blood in her stool. “I knew the signs and I suspected it was a bleeding ulcer,” the 79-year-old tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Carol says she visited the ship’s infirmary but was told to return later due to a backup of patients. She decided to return the next day, giving blood and a stool sample. But when Carol’s hemoglobin levels started dropping, which can indicate different illnesses, doctors grew concerned. “They weren’t equipped if I had needed a blood transfusion, so they wanted me off the ship,” Carol tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “The doctor said he would ‘kick me off.'”
On Jan. 11, two days before the boat was due back in Miami, the Palks say they were asked to disembark in Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico. “They rushed off us with our bags and me in a wheelchair,” Carol tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “A woman at the concierge desk said she would make our travel arrangements home.”
The Palks were told to take a $600 cab ride from Puerto Costa Maya to Cancun, a five-hour trip. From there, they would fly to Mexico City and after a layover, to Miami, for a reported price of $1,039. To enter Mexico once they stepped off the ship, the couple say a police officer charged them a $75 fee.
“I told them we didn’t want a flight to Miami and that we wanted a flight to Newark, but they said it was too late,” Bertram, 80, told the North Jersey Record. “They didn’t even ask us.”
The Palks were so ill at ease that in the car, Carol penned a second will in the event of an emergency. According to the North Jersey Record, they drove through the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, where the U.S. State Department has issued a Level 2 travel advisory warning due to an “increased risk” of crime. The couple told the outlet they didn’t think to call the U.S. Embassy.
After tipping the driver $20, the Palks entered the airport in Mexico City, and after three hours of waiting in lines and trying to communicate with airport personnel, they purchased Jan. 12 plane tickets to Newark, beating their cruise back to Miami by one day.
The couple went straight to the hospital where Carol had an endoscopy. She’s now recovering. “We spent about $3,500 on the travel home, but our travel insurance reimbursed $1,300,” Carol tells Yahoo Lifestyle. She says Royal Caribbean issued them $314 in credit and offered a 20 percent coupon off their next cruise.
“We don’t want to go” Carol tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “If they were worried, they could have airlifted us. But they didn’t want the responsibility.”
A Royal Caribbean spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “Our onboard medical team initially treated the guest in our medical facility, then determined that, for the guest’s health and safety, additional medical attention was needed that could best be provided by a hospital in the area. The guest declined our professional medical recommendation to seek immediate local care and decided instead to return home.”