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Review: TUI Cruises

Cruise - Ocean Cruise

Medical emergency on board ship in the Caribbean

  • By SilverTraveller Frances

    6 reviews

  • January 2018
  • Husband
  • Regular holiday
  • Outside
  • La Romana

A year ago we booked a Caribbean cruise at fairly late notice. We flew on 17th January 2018 Gatwick to the Dominican Republic where we boarded the Marella Celebration for a 2 week cruise around the Eastern Caribbean. After 10 days my husband had a ‘funny turn’. He thought it was too much rum/sun and brushed it off, but decided not to take the snorkelling trip he had booked for the following day. Over the next 2 days he had a few more small ‘turns’, then he had a major syncope event. We were in the lighter about to take a tour of Bequia (St Vincent and the Grenadines), when he appeared to freeze. I called for the doctor who appeared within 2 minutes, together with two other ship’s nursing staff. He was quickly stretchered to the ship’s medical facility where he received first class treatment. The ship’s doctor was puzzled at his condition and contacted cardiologists in Europe for advice. He was constantly monitored, the one nurse having had only 2 hours sleep in 24 hours. I sat with my husband to allow her time to catch up on sleep for another 2 hours.

Bequia had a small hospital, but with no cardiac specialist. We were given the choice of leaving the ship and taking a ferry to St Vincent, or staying on the ship and being hospitalised on return to the Dominican Republic in 2 days time. We chose the latter. After wonderful care on board the Marella Celebration, we were first off the ship and into an ambulance upon arrival at port. We were accompanied by a Social Hostess who knew the staff and the ropes at the Centro Medico at La Romana. She made contact with our insurance in the UK, and introduced us to all the people she knew we would need during our stay in the hospital. My husband received immediate medical diagnostic tests and was quickly diagnosed with a severe aortic stenosis – a bad heart valve condition. He was given a private room which had en suite facilities, wifi, TV, medical monitors, plus a put-you-up bed for me. I received ‘full board’ with no questions asked. Over 2 days his condition was stabilised and we made arrangements to fly back to the UK, having been given a ‘Fit-to-Fly’ certificate from the cardiologist.

The medical treatment was excellent both on board the Tui ship and in the hospital in the Dominican Republic. I would have no hesitation in travelling again to the Caribbean given the quality of the treatment received. We were told that the excellent Cuban national health service provided training for doctors and nurses throughout the Caribbean. We believe that this keeps the medical treatment to a high standard – and of course – it is private medical treatment rather than the NHS type of medical system which faces severe pressures constantly.

After many months back in the UK my husband is now fully fit again following a double bypass and aortic valve replacement.

The biggest difficulties for me were:
Having a pay-as-you-go phone, and not a contract
Organising the trip back to the UK

The Marella Social Hostess had indeed given us all the right contacts, but she obviously had to leave when the ship departed port again the following day. My phone used up all the credit plus two top-ups in just a few minutes. But I had to spend hours on the phone trying to arrange flights. We eventually found a flight back using Tui again, as it was the only direct flight within the subsequent few days. As a result, I now have a phone contract – for the just-in-case event in the future.

Because of the phone difficulties, my son booked and paid for our return flights from the UK. The Insurance was also very good once we were home, and within 2 months we had all our expenses reimbursed.

Reassured about the quality of medical service abroad and on board, we have just booked our next cruise – this time sailing through the Western Caribbean.

Don’t let your medical condition put you off taking a holiday…..but do make sure you are properly insured!

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 4 Comment(s)

  • maritravel
    4 months ago
    My main worry about travel these days is being left alone in a foreign country.
    My husband collapsed in Thailand and had to be hospitalised a couple of years before he died. He had an essential operation on his back in that hospital which, unfortunately, did not work as well as it should due to his age. I was looked after very well in an adjoining room during the 3 months we had to stay there until he could get a Fit-to-Fly docket but my Insurance company passed our Policy on to an Australian company which hounded me to go home, even threatening that they would refuse to pay the bill if I didn't and telling me they could bankrupt me. Fortunately, I am of a strong, bolshie disposition and I argued as good as I got, but I was 75 at the time and their efforts to intimidate me almost wore me down. When my husband had to return by air ambulance which meant travelling First Class, they tried to push me into travelling economy. I refused, of course, not least because we'd travelled out Business Class and the Insurance company had checked in our tickets and got the refunds, but because I refused to leave my husband's side! But it was all very upsetting and the memory lives with me still. I wonder if I could cope today with the same thing, or if I could cope if I were left alone in a foreign hospital with no companion? Since the death of my husband I have travelled solo only three times but each time I have restricted my outings due to fear of an accident.
    The lesson I took from this is that you need not just a 'phone, but money to pay for someone you trust/love, to fly out and take charge of you and any arrangements that need to be made.
  • Frances
    5 months ago
    I went to a phone counter and asked them to sell me a phone, telling them that my usage was minimal. I am very happy with the resultant phone and contract. After being given advice on which phone would suit me best I questioned why the others were not recommended. Satisfied with all their answers I ended up with a £10 phone and £10 a month contract. Although foreign usage could still be expensive, I will always have the means to contact the UK in need.
  • applegroupie
    5 months ago
    I have heard some horror stories of people with medical problems stranded in foreign countries with no insurance so your was a tonic to read. Very pleased to hear that your husband has recovered and fully fit. I also have a pay-as-you-go phone and your experience has now spurred me to look at a phone contract pronto.
  • Debbie
    5 months ago
    Thank you for this super review and salutary tale.