- Stephen Cassidy, 60, booked a luxury cruise to Norway with his wife Carol
A cruise passenger has told how his dream vacation was ruined when he was airlifted from the ship against his will and stranded more than 800 miles from home.
Stephen Cassidy had booked a luxury cruise to Norway to celebrate his birthday with wife Carol, but claims it was ruined due to a misdiagnosis by the ship’s doctor.
On doctor’s orders, the 60-year-old was flown by coastguard helicopter – although he protested it was not necessary – to the nearest hospital in Shetland.
And although the on-board doctor diagnosed him with a serious infection, he was relieved – but not surprised – when doctors at the hospital told him he had nothing more serious than a muscle sprain.
However, the unexpected helicopter trip left Mr. Cassidy stranded. Not only did he miss his wife’s birthday, he also had to pay for two flights to travel from Shetland to Poole in Dorset.
He is now asking the cruise line to reimburse him for his ruined vacation and the cost of his return flights.
He told the Mail on Sunday: ‘I didn’t feel like I had an infection – I just had pain in my leg. The doctor misdiagnosed me and caused so much havoc.
“It was rotten that my wife and I were separated under these circumstances. It ruined our vacation and cost me a fortune to get home.
Mr and Mrs Cassidy, who run a music teaching business, paid £3,598 for a two-week cruise on the Sky Princess, sailing from Southampton to Iceland and the Norwegian fjords. The party was their first since lockdown and was a postponed double celebration for their 60th birthday and 40th wedding anniversary.
Sky Princess is the newest addition to the Princess Cruises fleet, with 19 decks and 1,830 staterooms. It boasts that its “medical staff includes doctors and nurses capable of caring for a wide range of medical conditions”.
After a week afloat, Mr Cassidy – who had previously undergone hip replacement surgery – went to the ship’s medical center complaining of a sore leg.
“I asked if it could be sciatica because I’ve had that before,” he said. ‘[The ship doctor] said it could be, but he had to treat me for an infection because that could be it.
‘[He] told me I had an infection in my prosthetic hip, which could be really nasty and would require scans and possibly surgery.
Mr Cassidy was given three days of intravenous antibiotics, racking up a medical insurance bill of £2,400.
On May 24, he was shocked to learn that the Coastguard had been alerted to airlift him and two other passengers to Lerwick. Within ten minutes, the former army reservist was on deck where he was quickly winched into the helicopter as it hovered above the ship.
At Lerwick Hospital, the doctors “told me it was just muscle fatigue”.
Mr Cassidy added: “I never needed surgery, I didn’t need to see a surgeon and I didn’t need scans, which the on-board doctor m ‘said.”
He claims the other men who left the boat were also misdiagnosed and were all released without needing treatment.
Mr Cassidy is reluctant to make a claim on his travel insurance for fear it will increase his premiums and instead filed a complaint with Princess Cruises, who referred him to their lawyers.
Last night a spokesperson for Princess Cruises declined to discuss Mr Cassidy’s case in detail but said the allegations were ‘unsubstantiated’.
A spokesperson for HM Coastguard said: ‘HM Coastguard has carried out a medical evacuation as part of our duty to respond to calls for help at sea.