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Grand Circle Cruise Line, A Medical Disaster

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Summary of Grand Circle Athena experience


The cruise itself was pleasant and easy. We went from Athens through Greece to Albania, Montenegro and Croatia. It was a small ship and the other passengers were quite congenial. My review is to let people know that my one (big) concern with the cruise line was the way that they handled my father’s medical emergency. One morning my father woke up quite ill. Because the ship was small there was no medical staff on board. The paramedics were called but the captain would not let them on the ship immediately as there was some issue about their not being able to leave Croatian territory. The captain spent precious time making phone calls. Then the captain refused to allow myself and my husband to use the oxygen on board for my father (although we are both physicians). My father was rushed to the hospital where he remained for 9 days. Grand Circle cruise line was absent for the first 8 days of an experience where my 91 year old father shared a room with four other men who smoked in the bathroom, where coffee was served in pans, and where no one other than his cardiologist spoke English. Grand Circle referred us to their insurance company , On Call. On call also did not show up but rather had a different 22 year old representative call and talk to my parents every day to check in. My father was cleared to leave five days after admission. On Call, the insurance company, who was supposed to escort him back, did not even start to initiate a plan to return him until the day he was cleared for release. He had to remain in the hospital for four more days waiting for a nurse to arrive from the US. Then he had to wait two more days before he was escorted home. He spent an additional 5 days in Croatia just waiting to go home. Meanwhile, the hospital was appalled at the lack of communication from both the cruise line and the insurance company. This experience cost myself and my siblings thousands of dollars in expenses and lost income. It turns out that Grand Circle contracts out their insurance to On Call but On Call contracts out the underwriting to something called Trip Mate. Basically everyone kept passing the buck and saying that it was the other organization that should have done something. Fortunately my father returned home safe and well. However, both Trip Mate and Grand Circle refused to reimburse most of our expenses. My 91 year old father is now trying to see what his health insurance will reimburse for the hospital bill and then we will see if that portion of cost will be reimbursed by Tripmate. What we did get finally was an apology letter from Grand Circle for our miserable experience… and a final denial to compensate us in any way. We did get some reimbursement from Tripmate but it was a fraction of our expenses and lost income (and we did not ask them to reimburse our lost income, just our expenses). If you have any potential medical issues I would strongly suggest NOT going on this ship as the captain, the company, the medical insurance company and underwriter were not responsible, professional, caring or respectful.

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