Sick Cruise Passenger Got Stranded at Caribbean Cruise Port

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For one Georgia couple, a cruise to paradise quickly became anything but. Loretta Cox, 54, and her husband embarked on a Carnival Cruise to the Caribbean on Sunday, May 19, 2024. By Tuesday, the mother of six and grandmother to nine was so sick she had to be placed on life support. 

She collapsed and two teenagers helped her and called a medic. They had to put her on the ventilator on the boat,” her daughter, Aldes Brooks told a local news outlet.

Fluid had filled Loretta’s lungs, rendering her unable to breathe. During the ship’s scheduled port call in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, May 22, the couple was transported to the local hospital so the ailing passenger could receive proper care.

Loretta Lowe Cox
Loretta Lowe Cox

As Loretta fought to recover, the family’s nightmare really began. They learned the hard way that international cruise ports may not accept standard health insurance plans that apply in the US. Judging by the amount of expenses, it seems like the Cox’s may not have opted for specialized travel insurance that would have covered medical expenses while abroad. 

According to the family, it cost $28,000 to transport Loretta to the hospital via ambulance and have her admitted to the intensive care unit, and the hospital wouldn’t accept her insurance. Each day in the hospital racked up another $4,000. 

Loretta’s loved ones couldn’t immediately afford to send their beloved mother and grandmother back to Georgia either. She required specialized transport through AirEvac International, which cost more than $25,000 and needed to be paid upfront. 

“Besides the thousands that had to be paid up front for them to allow her into the hospital, plus the $4,000 a day, the cost to fly her home on AirEvac International is almost $30,000,” a friend of the family wrote on a GoFundMe dedicated to bringing Loretta home.

The family worked with media outlets to share their story, and thanks to the kindness of strangers, was able to raise $18,000 between donations to Brooks’ Zelle and Cash App, as well as the GoFundMe. 

Worth Reading: Carnival Cruise Crew Member Airlifted from Ship While at Sea

With the additional funds, the family was able to bring Loretta back to the United States. She was transported via air ambulance to a hospital in Florida at approximately 2 a.m. local time on Friday, May 24.

Carnival Ship at Amber Cove, Dominican Republic
Carnival Ship at Amber Cove, Dominican Republic

“I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude to the news stations, family and community. Your selfless contributions and the support during this time is truly inspiring and appreciated. We are still accepting donations for we have a long road ahead,” Brooks shared. 

Loretta will stay in the hospital for the foreseeable future, where her condition shows signs of improvement but she remains heavily sedated and on life support. 

Carnival Cruise Line Has a Big Presence In The Caribbean

It’s unclear which Carnival ship the couple was sailing on – as multiple vessels from the large cruise line’s 27-strong fleet are currently cruising the region. 

In fact, two Carnival ships were docked in the Dominican Republic on the day that Loretta was rushed to the hospital – Carnival Mardi Gras and Carnival Freedom. 

Additionally, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Glory, Carnival Elation, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Sunrise, and Carnival Pride are all actively operating Bahamian cruises ranging in length from three to seven nights, as of the time of publication.

Carnival Ships Docked in Dominican Republic
Carnival Ships Docked in Dominican Republic (Photo Credit: Ihor Koptilin)

Read Also: Amber Cove, Dominican Republic: Everything You Need to Know

When the Cox’s ship docked in the Dominican Republic, they would have disembarked in Amber Cove. This Eastern Caribbean destination, which is located around 7 miles northwest of Puerto Plata, is home to Carnival’s private resort destination. 

The 30-acre retreat, which opened in 2015 on the island of Hispaniola, is used exclusively by Carnival ships and its sister companies, such as Princess Cruises. The private destination can accommodate up to two large cruise ships at a time, or up to 8,000 guests per day.

While in Amber Cove, visitors are encouraged to enjoy watersports, dining, shopping, pristine beaches, and shore excursions offered by the cruise line.

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