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Royal Caribbean Abandons Man With Broken Hip in Turkey

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Aug 23, 2013 12:00 PM EDT

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Taking a cruise is looking less and less appealing. In the latest cruise-gone-wrong situation, a couple was abandoned in Turkey after an elderly man broke his hip on the ship.

Royal Caribbean is in hot water after a Dodge Melkonian fell and broke his hip on board an Azamara Cruiseline ship, which Is owned by Royal Caribbean.  He was left behind in Turkey, along with his wife, Jill, ABC Action News reports.

"Dodge got up and he fell," Jill said. "He basically broke his hip and I don't know if he would have survived."

The 89-year old man was treated on board but needed additional medical attention, so he was taken to a hospital in Bartin, Turkey, a small town where no one speaks English and women aren't allowed in the hospital.

Jill had bought travel insurance through Royal Caribbean in case of such emergencies, but the company told her that she had to file a claim before her husband can be transferred to another hospital. Meanwhile, the cruise departed for its next port of call.

"I think Royal Caribbean needs to be held accountable," Jill said.  "They have to revamp policies for international accounts."

Jill reached out to the owner of her travel agency, Tammy Levent of Elite Travel to try to get help with their problem. Levent is very upset over the incident.

"The man could be dying.  He is 89-years old with a broken hip," Levent said. "You have insurance. Shouldn't it cover you? They drop you in a hospital that's not capable of even doing the surgery."

Levent contacted an English speaking tour guide, Okan Kutla with Turkey Tourist Specialist. Kutlu tried to help the couple by calling the US Embassy and arranging for help to transfer Dodge from Bartin to Istanbul, which is a six-hour trip. However the cruise line wouldn't let it happen.

"He (Kutlu) tried to arrange transport yesterday, but Royal Caribbean insurance company told them to cancel it," Jill said.

The situation has gotten worse as Dodge needs blood for surgery. Kultu was a match and donated the blood himself. Levent is still concerned that the nightmare might not be over.

"How are we going to get him back? Are we going to wait until he does rehab in Turkey for six months in Turkey?" Levent asked.

ABC Action News reached out to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson in regards to the issue.

ABC Action News took the Melkonians' plight to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. "Royal Caribbean has a responsibility to take care of their passengers, even when they have to put them in a foreign hospital," Nelson said. Nelson reached out the the family and contacted the embassy to make sure the family is taken care of.

The Melkonian's are active travelers. They've been on nearly 30 cruises. This current cruise that they were on was a free trip from Royal Caribbean  after a fire broke out on the last cruise they were on.

Royal Caribbean released a statement saying, "We helped arrange transportation via ambulance to the closest area hospital. Once ashore, we worked closely with the travel insurance provider, as they have the expertise to deal with local authorities and medical facilities. ... One of our care team specialists is still in contact with them today."

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