Cruise Ship Departs With Dialysis Machine, Leaves Owner Behind

May 22, 2012
carnival destiny (3:05 p.m. EDT) -- The mother of a dialysis-dependent woman is questioning why Carnival Cruise Lines didn't know her daughter's portable dialysis machine was onboard ship, forcing them to remain behind without the device or their luggage when Carnival Destiny departed Miami Saturday afternoon.

According to West Palm Beach TV station WPBF, Lillian Hensley, her disabled daughter Christine and two other family members were set to depart for a five-day cruise to Jamaica onboard Carnival Destiny. Because her daughter requires nightly dialysis, the family checked in a portable dialysis machine and their luggage with a porter at the port. She had received authorization from Carnival beforehand to bring the machine onboard.

For its part, Carnival told Cruise Critic today in a statement that when Hensley notified the line she would be bringing a dialysis machine onboard, she indicated she would be hand-carrying it onto the ship -- per the line's standard procedures.

But shortly after checking it in, WPBF reported, she got a call from a crewmember saying their luggage and the dialysis machine could not be found.

"It felt like a nightmare," Hensley told the TV station. When she informed the crewmember that her daughter's life depended on the nightly treatment, she said she was told the group would have to disembark.

Carnival told the TV station on Monday that the crew believed the dialysis machine had not made it onboard the ship (though in fact it had). The ship's staff decided that the safest course of action was for the Hensleys to remain behind.

Hensley fought the order, but she said the crew showed no signs of caring. "Not one sorry, nothing from anybody," she told WPBF. "They just escorted us off the ship."

Carnival explained the move in today's statement: "Given that it is imperative that Ms. Hensley have her dialysis equipment in order to sail, it was decided it would be in her best interest that she disembark the vessel."

When the ship sailed away it took the dialysis machine and luggage with it. Hensley administered manual dialysis for two nights before finding a medical clinic. Carnival said it will deliver the dialysis machine to the Hensleys' residence in Boynton Beach, Florida, when Carnival Destiny returns to Miami on Thursday.

In today's statement, Carnival offered its apologies: "Carnival Cruise Lines sincerely apologizes for this most unfortunate situation and is providing everyone in the Hensley party with a full refund of their cruise fare, as well as a credit for a future five-day cruise with Carnival."

Carnival has also offered to pay for any out-of-pocket medical expenses associated with any treatments necessary while Christine Hensley awaits the delivery of her supplies.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor