A routine cruise in the Pacific onboard Carnival Luminosa took an unfortunate turn for a guest when she had a bad fall while onboard. The guest, a Virginia native, had to leave the vessel in Manada, Indonesia, for suitable medical care. However, a local hospital was unable to provide the care needed.
Denise Hammond’s ordeal has led her on an unexpected trek across Southeast Asia in search of medical treatment, accompanied by escalating medical expenses and an unwilling insurance company.
Hammond’s challenges underscore the importance of comprehensive travel medical insurance and the sobering realization that even the best policies may sometimes fall short.
Accident on the Pacific Ocean
On the morning of October 4, 64-year-old Denise Hammond of Tappahannock, Virginia, faced an unexpected ordeal aboard the Carnival Luminosa. She slipped, leading to fractures in her hip and arm.
While immediate medical assistance was provided onboard by medical staff of the 92,600 gross tons Carnival Luminosa, the injuries required extensive and advanced medical care not available onboard.
As the cruise ship anchored in Manado, Indonesia, three days after the incident, Hammond was transferred to a local hospital. However, it soon became clear that the hospital could not provide the medical care that was needed.
The challenges didn’t stop at medical care. A hefty bill awaited the family as they were informed that a medical evacuation to Singapore for Hammond would come at a staggering estimated cost of $60,000. Additionally, a deposit of $40,000 was demanded by the Singaporean hospital, where Hammond would need to be transferred.
Transfer to Bangkok, Thailand
Luckily, a different solution has been found. Denise Hammond was airlifted to Bangkok, Thailand, on October 13 with the help of a GoFundMe page set up by her daughter, Rachel Matthews, which has already received over $30,000 in donations.
“I am so happy to share that my mom and aunt arrived safely in Bangkok earlier today! My mom was immediately seen by her doctor there, and she has received the whole gamut of scans and tests. She is settled into her hospital room for the night, and the doctor will be back in tomorrow morning to discuss treatment plans,” Rachel states on her GoFundMe page on October 13.
Since then, another update provided by Rachel shows that Denise will finally have her surgery today, October 16, an incredible 13 days after the accident happened onboard the Carnival Cruise ship:
Rachel Matthews: “Mom is scheduled for surgery at 5 AM EST today. The doctors expect her to spend about one week recovering in-patient and then another week recovering out-patient in Bangkok before she is ready to fly home. Please continue to pray for positive outcomes and a smooth recovery! Thanks again to everyone!”
Carnival Cruise Line has addressed the situation surrounding Denise Hammond’s medical predicament through a statement provided to People.com. The cruise line emphasized that Denise received adequate medical attention while onboard, ensuring their medical team provided the necessary care.
“Carnival Luminosa’s medical staff cared for the guest while on board and helped to coordinate further treatment with the guest’s insurance providers.”
“Our CareTeam members have been in regular contact with the guest and her family, and we are pleased that the guest’s insurance, which we always encourage guests to have in case of emergencies, will help organize her return home,” the statement continued.
Mounting Insurance Hurdles
The hurdles Denise Hammond has had to take to get the medical care she needs after her fall onboard Carnival Luminosa highlights the need for adequate medical insurance and ensuring you know how and if you are funded for the wide variety of issues that can occur while onboard a ship.
While many insurance companies might cover some medical care abroad, they don’t always cover complex medical procedures and medical evacuations. For example, many expedition cruise companies require guests to have medical evacuation coverage ranging from $50,000 to as much as $300,000.
But even then, being able to get that coverage from your insurance company can prove harder than it should be.
Matthews: “Although she has travel insurance, at this time, the insurance company is refusing to cover these costs. We are terrified that she will die while being denied access to safe and appropriate medical care.”
“My mom had done everything right. She had great travel insurance that was supposed to cover all of this. Still, even so, we faced so many hurdles just to get her the care that she needs.”
While the ordeal has been daunting for the Hammond family, it serves as a reminder of the unpredictability of international travel emergencies, even when one believes they’ve done everything right.
As for Carnival Luminosa, the cruise ship concluded her 30-day transpacific cruise in Brisbane, Australia, yesterday, October 15. During the voyage, the vessel visited ports in Alaska, Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Through March 2024, Carnival Luminosa will sail on a range of cruises around Australia and to the Pacific islands. On April 1, the cruise ship will return to Seattle, sailing to Guam, Japan, and Alaska before arriving in Seattle on May 1.