This was the second phase of a back to back. Towards the tail end of the cruise, I contacted a stomach virus from the ship. I believed it was not noro virus as there was no vomiting or other symptoms that accompany this illness. On the ... Read More
This was the second phase of a back to back. Towards the tail end of the cruise, I contacted a stomach virus from the ship. I believed it was not noro virus as there was no vomiting or other symptoms that accompany this illness. On the last night of the March 4th cruise I had blood in my stool, so I decided it would be best to go down to see the ship's medical staff in morning. The doctor examined me, decided not to treat me himself, or bring on board someone who could, and ordered me to disembark.
Three years ago, my wife and I took the most memorable cruise we have ever taken, a month long journey around South America. For context, we have taken over one hundred cruises, including over 80 on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean alone. We decided that the experience was so incredible, that we would repeat this same journey again. At the start of our cruise on the Celebrity Infinity on March 4th, we anticipated another wonderful adventure from a cruise line that we greatly respected and felt respected by. Little did we know that this would be at the most horrendous and nightmarish journey that we would ever take.
We were abandoned in South America by Celebrity. A 78 and 75 year old husband and wife were dumped with their luggage, feeling ill, feeling the effects of the trauma they had already experienced, and no knowledge of the local language or customs, and surrounded by very few people there that spoke English. The cruise line showed no compassion nor did they take into account our many years of loyalty. How can anyone treat older people this way? Would these same people ever consider doing this to their parents or grandparents?
I was specifically told by the doctor that there was not a good hospital in San Antonio and I would be transferred by ambulance to Valparaiso, Chile. It was in the paperwork handed to me. This was also confirmed by an officer on board. It turned out we were actually taken to a clinic in San Antonio, Chile, where the sole doctor there could not treat us. We tried to tell them that we were supposed to go to Valparaiso, but no one there spoke English and so communication was very difficult for us. Celebrity's port agent never came with us and would not answer his phone. Thankfully, the ambulance person used Google translate on his phone and we were able to translate a bit, and conduct basic conversation.
We were then transferred to the local hospital, the one the ship's doctor said was no good, and sadly he was correct. This was part of the nightmare. We were kept in the emergency area with dozens of ill people, with no separate room for each patient. The area was not clean by anyone's definition. We worried about what other illnesses we might contract. We also felt bad that these poor people had to endure the same thing we did. It was so underfunded that people had to bring their own toilet paper as there was none and the bathroom I had to use, along with all these other ill people, had no toilet seat. We did not know how blessed we were with such good and sanitary facilities back at home.
These were just a few of the many reasons we should have been sent to Valparaiso. I do not know if it was a question of cost or some other factors. What was clear was that they just wanted me off the ship rather than treating me there and by telling me we were going to better facilities in Valparaiso, I would not raise a row even when the doctor said there were no good medical facilities in San Antonio. There was another person in Medical with the same condition. I never saw him again and I believe he was allowed to stay onboard.
Thankfully there was a US-trained doctor at the hospital in San Antonio who treated me. She did cultures and blood tests and determined that I had a NON CONTAGIOUS bacteria in my stomach causing the blood. She gave me an intravenous with antibacterial medicine and a prescription for medicine.
Before we got out of the hospital, the ship provides a caregiver to those put off because of emergency. The person assigned to us spoke some Spanish and got us to a hotel. He was in communication with the ship and the Celebrity port representative, who was essentially worthless in terms of help or communication. The caregiver had problems getting callbacks and answers from the ship's staff and so we were basically helpless.
We had to go back to see hospital doctor next morning where she checked me and said I was getting better. But our rep was still trying to get an answer if I could meet the ship in the next port, Arica, Chile. We had to checkout at 12 at the hotel but he still did not have an answer about re-boarding the ship. We were stranded and helpless with no communication from Celebrity's medical staff. We waited in the hotel lobby until 5PM and I finally told him we could not travel to Arica that night as it was far too late. To get to Arica, we had to go to Santiago and then take a plane to Arica.
We stayed at the hotel a second night and late that evening our caretaker had finally gotten information that the ship medical staff required us to get confirmation from the doctor that I could travel. We went back to the hospital the next morning and obtained the clearance that the ship asked for. Then we had to take a cab to Santiago for flight to Arica. There was no travel van companies that we could use and a local bus was the only other alternative. The ship rep was not going to travel with us. As you can understand, we were not up to taking a bus. We lost our rep and we were on our own. Two elderly people who do not speak the language with all our luggage. On our own, we had to get online and book a hotel in Arica for our night's stay there.
We got up next morning in Arica and I was feeling physically better, staring to get my appetite back, and so we skipped breakfast as we would be onboard in time to eat, and set out for the ship. Then the next part of the horror and trauma began. The port security would not let us get on until they talked to the management even though we had our new key cards for the March 18th leg of the cruise. They did not have us in their manifest as joining the ship. Actually, we went through the ship manifest listing all the passengers with the port security officer and our names were not there. My wife said they must have given our room away, and that was another indication we should have recognized beforehand that they never had plans to let us back on the ship from the start. They just strung it along and caused more and more agony.
Some Infinity representatives came to us on the dock, talked to us, and went back to the ship. I told them I was fine, that my diarrhea had stopped and I no longer had any blood. The medicine was working, but I guess my word was not sufficient enough, nor was the note from my doctor in San Antonio. The Guest Relations Manager, an old friend, came out to tell us we were again being denied for boarding the ship. This, they said, was base on the doctor saying I had some diarrhea. But that letter was two days old! I had stopped but they would not believe or test me. We could go up to Lima, on our own expense again, find a doctor there to confirm my problem was cleared, and maybe, they would let us back on the ship. Another three days alone in a foreign country with no communication tools or knowledge that there was ever going to be an end to this horrendous and tragic journey.
My wife has celiac disease so finding food is trouble enough, but not knowing the language magnifies the problem. Another thing the doctor should have known was that the antibiotics for this treatment can cause things like nausea, dizziness, etc. And I was experiencing these, but they never asked. Just get off and find your own way. No support, security, comfort, or assistance, you are on your own, best of luck!
You must understand, we were paying for all these expenses - airfare, taxis, hotels, food and drink, etc. - out of our own pockets. What little cash I was carrying was fast depleting. Very few people or businesses would take a credit card. For example, it cost $100 USD for my medicine and $142 for the cab to Santiago from San Antonio. Three more days on our own, tired and frustrated, again in a country where we essentially spoke no Spanish, and uncertain if we were going to continue this same exhaustive pattern to get back to home. No, you cannot get on in Lima, go to Manta, no cannot get on yet, go to Panama. I told the Guest Relations manager that my problems were gone, that they could test me themselves, that they could quarantine me all the way home as we could not continue with this agony and uncertainty. She says the ship refused and that the decision was made in Miami.
Is Miami's policy so rigid that they would abandon older people in a strange country with no compassion? Abandon us with the problems we had experienced, would not test me to determine if I was alright. Use other options like quarantining me to insure I was alright. Forget our past loyalty. Forget mercy.
I am certain it was the doctor that made the decision. The indications that they never planned for us to get back on the ship started to kick in. We should have paid attention to the warning signs like our representative not getting information, and not traveling with us to ship; our name not being on the manifest; no emails or calls from ship; being ordered to take all of our luggage. By this point, we decided Celebrity did not want us and we had no more willpower or stamina to continue dragging luggage, putting ourselves in possible danger by being alone, and continuing with this frustrating and humiliating process. So we decided it was time to go home.
Celebrity's port representative was there to "help" us. You have to understand, at his time we were tired, angry, beaten, not thinking clearly, dejected and feeling the side effects of the medicine. In retrospect, I realized how little he actually helped us. Here is how he "helped." He got us tickets back home at a cost for us of $6000 dollars, which he originally had said was around $4000. His explanation for the difference was “all the other things they add on”. Also, rather than start flying us north, to say Lima, he kept us in his own country and sent us south to Santiago to start our trip. It was longer and probably more expensive.
Thankfully, some wonderful people helped us here and there through this tragedy. It appears that in South America they are more considerate to older people than is Celebrity. But we definitely needed help. Two older people essentially on their own in a foreign country without the necessary language skills is a recipe for disaster. We travel by cruise ship for that reason and not alone by land. We relied on Celebrity to keep us protected and safe, and take care of our well being.
I contracted my illness on the ship, yet they abandoned us. They would not consider our age and our lack of ability to speak the language. There were other options to consider for letting us back on the ship. The medical staff would not test me, would not believe me, nor would they take assurances from the doctor in the town that they sent me to. I gave the option of quarantining me even though my problem had gone away. At home, after we finally got home, a friend told me how he had experienced the same problems, diarrhea and blood, on another cruise line. For him, they brought a doctor on board to check him and kept him on the ship.
We mistakenly felt we were considered family, the many times we have cruised with Celebrity. We always praised them and recommended them to many others as the best line to cruise. What disillusionment we have suffered. We have many friends in the crew that we met on our various Celebrity cruises. I was thrilled to be on this ship as it had many of the officers we knew and considered friends. We felt Celebrity was family. But it was all an illusion. Is Miami's policy to abandon the elderly no matter the consequences? Do they not leave any flexibility due to circumstances? I wonder if they would do the same thing to their own parents or grandparents. This was a nightmare that we still experience at night, and will be this way for a long time. For a business that advertises hospitality and loyalty, I think not. Cruising is extremely important to us. This took away a lot of that enthusiasm. No way would we cruise so far away again in a country where we are not proficient in the language Read Less