Cruise ships can be a great way to explore foreign lands and see the world, however, a dream vacation can become a nightmare if something goes wrong while traveling abroad. Problems that arise while cruising internationally can be particularly difficult, as travelers often don’t speak the native language or have any familiarity with the area. Disturbingly, many cruise lines will do little or nothing to assist passengers that run into problems while traveling abroad and, in some extreme cases, will abandon individuals altogether.
This is exactly what happened recently to an elderly couple, Jill and Dodge Melkonian, from Clearwater Florida who were passengers aboard an Azamara Club Cruise in Turkey. On August 19, 2013, Dodge fell aboard the ship and broke his hip. The ship dropped the Melkonians in Bartin, Turkey, so Dodge could receive medical treatment at a local hospital.
To the couple’s dismay, the ship abandoned the couple in Bartin, and, when they asked the cruise liner to assist in having Dodge transferred to another hospital in Istanbul, they were informed they would have to file a written claim against their traveler’s insurance.
According to a statement given by Dodge, none of the hospital staff spoke English, the hospital was dirty, and, due to Turkish custom, women were not permitted to enter the hospital room. In addition, the hospital was not equipped to perform reconstructive surgery on Dodge’s hip. Fortunately, Dodge was eventually transferred to an American hospital in Istanbul with aid from the United States Embassy.
When asked about the situation, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson from Florida, stated, “[I]t’s outrageous that they would leave an elderly couple in a foreign country without adequate support. Royal Caribbean has a responsibility to take care of their passengers, even when they have to put them in a foreign hospital.”
Tammy Levent of Elite Travel, the agency which handled the Melkonians travel arrangements, expressed concern for Dodge, “The man could be dying. He is 89 years old with a broken hip. You have insurance, shouldn’t it cover you? They drop you in a hospital that’s not capable of even doing the surgery.”
Passengers of international cruises are usually required to file legal claims in Florida courts, which can be inconvenient and expensive for many travelers, most of whom don’t live in the state. This is because the relationship between the cruise line and passengers is outlined in the passenger ticket contract, which generally requires claims against the cruise company to be filed in a Florida court.
As this blog has mentioned before, because cruise ship claims are subject to different laws and much shorter statutes of limitations, sometimes as short as one year, they are best handled by experienced cruise ship accident attorneys.
The Florida cruise ship accident attorneys of Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing the victims of cruise ship negligence for over four decades. If you or someone you know has been injured in a cruise ship accident or has been the victim of a crime while on a cruise ship, contact the Miami, Florida personal injury attorneys at Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.