A Tampa Bay news station is reporting that a couple that purchased a "dream cruise," to travel the Panama Canal on the Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star are now saying they are reluctant to step foot on a cruise ship again after one of them got extremely sick with what was believed to be the norovirus and then was left in Cartagena, Colombia. The Colemans went aboard the Norwegian Star with expectations of it being a memorable cruise through the Panama Canal. However, Ronald Coleman got extremely sick during the cruise. "He was so sick, he couldn't sit up long enough to sign his name," reported his wife, Betty Coleman.
The couple was then dropped off in Cartagena, Colombia to receive further medical care and treatment. Although their son was listed on an emergency contact form with the cruise line as the next of kin to be called in case of an emergency, the son was not notified by the cruise line about the fact the Colemans were left in a foreign country to receive medical care and treatment. The cruise line responded by saying the couple was given a chance to call their son prior to disembarking the vessel, but chose not to do so.
Mark Coleman, the son, stated that he first heard of his father's sickness on Friday after he received a frantic call from his mother. His mother was so frantic she was unable to state where she was. The son then called Tampa's 10 News after NCL could not tell him of his parents' exact location in Cartagena, Colombia. It was reported that he was told his parents were on the ship.
A State Department official was contacted who assisted in locating his parents. The Colemans have requested an apology from the cruise line, but the cruise line officials have responded by saying that the Colemans didn't express any dissatisfaction with their care, and issued a statement, which is obviously from their Public Relations Department. I have previously handled a case against this particular cruise line where discovery revealed an extensive manual dealing with how to respond to crisis situations and adverse publicity. A cruise line is prepared for adverse publicity, and typically issues sworn statements to the public in an attempt to diffuse any adverse publicity. In one case involving the cruise line allegedly heading into the teeth of a storm despite the forecast, and allegedly endangering the lives of the passengers, the cruise line promptly got into the media outlets with a response that the cruise ship had struck what was called a "freak wave" which was unavoidable. The characterization of a "freak wave" was to portray the incident as an avoidable incident with a wave that could not have been anticipated. However, through discovery in that particular case, the captain who was operating the ship at the time denied the fact that there was a "freak wave" that struck the vessel despite the fact the cruise line had issued statements saying there was in fact a "freak wave". This illustrates the tacts of "spinning" factsin a certain way in response to adverse publicity.
In this particular case, NCL issued the following statement in response to the ordeal suffered by the Colemans: