Coast Guard Makes Long Distance Evacuation From Disney Cruise Ship

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The United States Coast Guard (USCG) successfully evacuated a passenger from Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy on Monday, April 15, 2024, in a long-distance operation dramatically captured on video. The evacuation took place 180 miles (290 kilometers) northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, while the ship was en route to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

Woman Evacuated From Disney Fantasy

A female guest was successfully airlifted from Disney Fantasy on the morning of Monday, April 15, when the cruise ship was enjoying a day at sea after having departed Port Canaveral on Saturday, April 13.

The woman, described as 35 years old, pregnant, and a US citizen, was said to be experiencing health complications that “required a higher level of medical care ashore.”

To safeguard the woman’s privacy as well as that of her traveling companions, the nature of those health complications has not been revealed. Her name has also not been officially released.

US Coast Guard Evacuation from Disney Ship
US Coast Guard Evacuation from Disney Ship

The evacuation was carried out by a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft, both of which were dispatched to rendezvous with the cruise ship.

“Our crew was able to quickly, safely, and efficiently execute a long-range MEDEVAC for the patient to receive the higher level of care she required,” said Lt. Cmdr. Todd Stephens. “This case demonstrates the value of good crew resource management and the capabilities of our Jayhawk helicopter.”

Read Also: Disney Cruise Ships – Newest to Oldest

Once the rescue crews arrived, the Jayhawk aircrew deployed their rescue swimmer while the Ocean Sentry monitored the conditions and provided support. The woman and the cruise ship doctor were successfully hoisted aboard the aircraft and then transported first to the Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport in San Juan, then taken by local emergency personnel to a nearby hospital.

“We are glad everything came together to help this passenger,” said Ensign Michael Riccio, Coast Guard Sector San Juan operations unit leader for the case. “The competency displayed by the Disney Fantasy crew and the Coast Guard personnel and units involved made all the difference.”

US Coast Guard Evacuation from Disney Ship
US Coast Guard Evacuation from Disney Ship

Disney Fantasy is currently sailing a 7-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary and was northwest of Aguadilla on Puerto Rico’s northwestern coast at the time of the evacuation. The ship visited Tortola on Tuesday and will be visiting St. Thomas on Wednesday as well as Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island destination in The Bahamas on Friday, before returning to Port Canaveral on Saturday.

The 129,690-gross-ton, Dream-glass ship can welcome 4,000 guests onboard, and is also home to 1,450 international crew members.

Cruising While Pregnant

It is unknown whether the woman’s health complications that required the evacuation are related to her pregnancy. According to Disney Cruise Line’s frequently asked questions, women must be no more than 23 weeks pregnant in order to set sail. If they enter the 24th week of pregnancy during the sailing, they will likewise be refused embarkation.

Furthermore, Disney Cruise Line cannot be held responsible or liable for complications related to pregnancy at any stage, no matter when a guest sets sail.

Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock

Just a few weeks ago, a woman was denied boarding on Carnival Luminosa due to her pregnancy. She was 26 weeks pregnant, and Carnival Cruise Line also requires that guests be no more than 23 weeks pregnant to set sail.

All cruise lines have similar policies, though the exact cut-off dates for safely sailing while pregnant can vary for individual lines. Doctor’s notes authorizing cruise travel later in pregnancy are not accepted to circumvent this rule.

While all cruise ships are equipped to handle most medical conditions onboard, including emergencies, specialized prenatal and newborn care is typically not available.

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