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What Can Happen With Death At Sea

Not that there’s ever anything funny about death at sea, but here are three situations that are…well, unusual…that we have picked up in our travels (names of individuals and cruise lines not included):

* * *

A family of four is on a cruise from New York to Bermuda. The father has a heart attack and dies on the ship and in as sensitive a way as they can cruise line officials consult with the wife and her teenage children about what to do. One option is to fly the three of them with the body back to New York but they can also remain on board because the cruise is New York return.

Tearfully, the family decides to stay.

For the remainder of the cruise, ship officials keep in touch with the family — when the family can be found. The bereaved wife and children get off the ship in Bermuda, presumably to see the sights and when they get back on, there is much partying.

A day before the ship returns to New York, they visit the morgue…and there are more tears.

* * *

Newlyweds are on a Caribbean cruise, probably their honeymoon. The groom has a heart attack somewhere in the Caribbean Sea and the cruise line’s medical people can only do so much in caring for him. He has to be flown to the nearest major center, Miami.

The bride is told she can accompany her ailing husband but she declines and decides to stay on the ship. So here he is, in hospital in Miami with a serious health issue and his new bride is continuing the week-long Caribbean cruise.

It gets worse.

The wife is seen by mystified cruise people on the dance floor, night after night, and in the bars with a variety of male passengers.

* * *

This one is from a Baltic cruise, Again, it’s the Dad who collapses and dies, leaving this distraught widow and adult daughter alone early in a cruise that was almost two weeks long. Caring ship officials offer to make arrangements, as they always do, for transporting the body back to wherever his wife would like.

The wife opts to leave it in the morgue until the cruise is over.

Again, it gets worse. One of the first ports is in Finland. Off the ship go Mom and Daughter. When the ship leaves, they have not returned. They fly to the next port to get back on and take great delight in telling fellow passengers that they missed the boat because they were drunk. They went ashore at every port but didn’t miss any more departures.

Before the cruise ended in Amsterdam, the woman asked cruise officials if they could make arrangements for her husband’s body to be stored in the Dutch port because she and her daughter wanted to extend their stay in Amsterdam for a few days.

After all, isn’t that what Dad would have wanted?

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Holland America Westerdam
18 nights
October 9, 2014
San DiegoCabo San LucasPuerto ChiapasCorintoPuerto CalderaMantaSalaverryLimaLa SerenaSantiago
Inside: $1,199
Cost per day: $66

Food allergies and cruise ships

There was an unconfirmed report on the weekend that a 21-year-old Norwegian Epic passenger died at sea from a heart attack that was alleged to have been brought on by a food allergy. When the Epic returned to port in Miami, the investigation began, and already there is innuendo and rumor that the authorities will eventually validate or not.

The death, which was confirmed by Norwegian, brings attention to the whole issue of food allergies, whether they were a contributing factor or not. Most of us for years were ignorant of, and generally indifferent to, people with serious food allergies. Our family was never knowingly affected, but is now.

Today, we have a grandchild with celiac disease, which means she has intolerance for gluten, essentially wheat that is used in more of the food we eat than we imagined before her diagnosis. We have a son-in-law who is allergic to walnuts, and nuts of any kind are a big one for people with food allergies. A friend of ours, but for the quick insertion of an epipen would have been in worse trouble than he already was. He had asked about nuts in the food on the menu, but there was some obscure “nutty” ingredient that became a problem.

Forty years ago, it wasn’t so serious, or if it was we didn’t know it. Today, it is serious stuff and the people in the cruise business didn’t need this weekend’s misfortune to get its attention. In the end, however, it’s still buyer-beware, and the onus is on those of us with serious food allergies to make sure we ask all the right questions.

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