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Weekend feature: No more cruises for us

27th February 2016 @ 6:06am – by Geoff Farr
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Anne and I don't cruise any more. We have been to many places but not East of Suez. We might have enjoyed India, China or Australia but I don't imagine that will happen now.

You see in October 2012 we boarded Celebrity 'Eclipse' to cruise the Eastern Atlantic and on 19th October we docked at Tenerife. We arrived after breakfast and were scheduled to leave at 6.00pm that evening. We decided to have a day ashore and so took the shuttlebus to town.

As we strolled through the town, Anne quite suddenly said to me that she didn't feel well and needed to sit. I steered her towards some nearby seats but before we reached them she suddenly became unconscious and collapsed with me trying to support her. We both fell in a heap and she cracked her head on the pavement.

After a few minutes trying to revive her and failing, a local Gentleman seeing our distress phoned for the ambulance.

I was by this time frantic, very worried and imagining that I could be arriving home with a corpse.

When the ambulance arrived the paramedics took Anne into the vehicle and pushed me away and locked me out. After a few minutes they drove away with blues and bells but without telling me anything. I found myself standing in the road alone.

Two policemen arrived at the scene and asked if I would like a lift to the hospital and so I was despatched and told to go to the waiting room.

After a time a liaison officer came to me to tell me that Anne was still unconscious and that valiant attempts were being made to revive her.

The man later came to me and said she was now conscious but that I could not go to her as many tests were being carried out to determine the cause of the collapse. Would I now return to the ship and recover for them Anne's passport and her European health insurance card.

Collecting the documents from the ship and knowing that we might not be able to board before the 6.00pm sailing, I advised the purser of our predicament and returned to the hospital.

About 3.00pm the hospital registrar came to me and gave to me a full written report of Anne's condition together with the results of scans etc. He also advised that she had made a good recovery with no underlying illness and was fit to resume her holiday. Would I now take her back to the ship and provide her with food and drink. She had received in the hospital a cup of tea, I had had nothing since breakfast and it was now 4.00pm.

It was emphasised to me that no further treatment or medication were necessary.

I was not only overjoyed at having her restored to me, I was very grateful for the excellent care and attention she had received, and that you might think was that.

But it wasn't. As we climbed the steps to the ship with the intention of taking her to our cabin for further rest and some light food and a drink, all the bells and whistles sounded as we entered the ship and we were unceremoniously frog-marched down a corridor and literally dumped in the medical centre of the ship.

We were told in no uncertain terms that we remain there until the medics came back on duty and cleared us for re-boarding. The only alternative was that we should be dumped on to the quay side with our cases and left there.

I tried to explain that the onshore medics had cleared Anne to resume her holiday and I handed to them the sheaf of papers that I had received from the hospital detailing the results of the tests and scans.

It all made not the slightest difference and we did not leave the medics before they had made a further detailed and intrusive examination which took several further hours. This included drawing blood from her for tests and without asking her or my permission.

Report back here for further tests at 9.00pm to-morrow, we were told, and if you don't you will be put off at the next port of call. So she had to undergo further humiliation at 9.00am the next day. We were by now, however, creeping towards home and safety. We did not dare leave the ship at any other port of call for fear of a repetition. The ship had by now lost its friendly atmosphere and assumed an oppressive stance to us.

You may be aware that when you board a Cruise ship, you hand details of your credit cards to them to enable them to charge you for the myriad extras that creep up on you. Paying your simple fare is never enough.

Usually the day before you dock you are presented with a provisional bill of extras. This, not to say, you will be charged. It is to say you HAVE been charged.

It was at this point that I discovered that I had been charged $541 for medical services. I pointed out that I had not sought, approved or requested any medical services. To no avail.

We were very happy on reaching Southampton to go home and leave this experience behind.

After a prolonged battle I did recover the fee but that alone was no recompense for a ruined holiday.

You might by now begin to see why we don't cruise any more, especially when you note as we have, that almost all of the cruise companies are headed by the same American group. Their customers will all be controlled with the same worded contracts and the small print will be identical.

I dare not submit our care to these people and ships ever again.

I am also conscious of the debt I owe to the doctors and officials of the Spanish island.

Bye for now
Geoff


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