The couple was on a 7-day cruise that they boarded in Miami, on Jan. 6. The cruise stopped in the Bahamas, Mexico and Honduras, Yahoo Lifestyle reported. The couple, Carol and Bertram Palk, live in Whippany, N.J.
On the third day into the cruise, 79-year-old Carol Palk discovered something wrong, finding blood in her stool.
“I knew the signs and I suspected it was a bleeding ulcer,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle.
She tried to visit the ship’s infirmary, but was told there were too many patients. She returned the next day and gave blood and a stool sample. Doctors were concerned about her dropping hemoglobin levels.
“They weren’t equipped if I had needed a blood transfusion, so they wanted me off the ship,” Carol Palk told Yahoo Lifestyle. “The doctor said he would ‘kick me off.’”
Low hemoglobin levels can be a sign of many conditions, including ulcers, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Palk’s hemoglobin levels continued to drop and the ship’s staff indeed kicked her and her husband off the ship, Yahoo reported. Two days before the ship was to arrive back at port, in Miami, the couple was asked to get off in Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico, on Jan. 11.
They said the cruise company did not make proper travel arrangements or even consult them first. The couple took a long and expensive taxi journey from the ship’s port, then they flew to Mexico City. They were then given tickets to Miami, which is not where they live. They decided instead to purchase tickets to New Jersey from Mexico City on their own.
The five-hour taxi ride from the cruise ship port also took them through an area of Mexico that the U.S. State Department deems dangerous, with a Level 2 advisory of “increased risk” of crime, reported Yahoo.
Altogether, the Palks spent about $3,500 to get home after getting booted from the ship.
“What would have happened to someone who didn’t have enough money to cover all of this?” Carol Palk told the North Jersey Record.
It was the couple’s 16th cruise. After telling customer service what happened, the couple was offered a voucher for 20 percent off their next cruise, according to the North Jersey Record.
“What makes them think we want to go on another cruise after all that?” added Carol Palk.
However, legal action would be tricky, as cruise companies often base themselves abroad and so have fewer legal entanglements.
“Legally, there is not much people can do in these cases,” said Jim Walker, a maritime lawyer in Miami, via the North Jersey Record. “If the couple were to sue, they’d have to prove injury or negligence to get anywhere.”
Royal Caribbean also told Yahoo Lifestyle their view of the story.
“Our onboard medical team initially treated the guest in our medical facility, then determined that, for the guest’s health and safety, additional medical attention was needed that could best be provided by a hospital in the area. The guest declined our professional medical recommendation to seek immediate local care and decided instead to return home.”