Anyone ever try to collect for severe pain & $ losses caused by ships doctor on Oceania?

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May 30, 2016
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#1
ARRIVE BY SEA, LEAVE BY AIR, LUCKY TO BE ALIVE R.Z. PART ONE

I am writing this in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, January 24th Sunday to define an event my wife and I experienced on Thursday, January 14th. Writing this will hopefully serve several purposes, to explain the tortures that we experienced in detail for 6 days; to expose a doctor on the island of Barbados who should not be allowed to practice medicine and is well known as a “bad” doctor by cab drivers and others we met, to expose to the Cruise liner head office in Miami how one of their doctors completely mistreated, and is misdiagnosed me, sending me by ambulance to his chosen clinic for “a test” I did not need. And lastly with some hope for us to recover over $10,000 of expenses over 6 days of horror while missing our cruise of a life time:

In the early morning of Jan. 14, I experienced a 40 second bout of Vertigo. I had not had any episodes of Vertigo in six years and it has never scared me, I know the procedure of correcting the inner ear problem and the pill that helps. At 8:30am my wife and I decided to visit the ships medical center. We opened the door to an empty Medical Services office and explained that I have Vertigo and would like some help. The doctor and two nurses took me into the examining room and laid me down on table and proceeded to jam needles in both arms with no explanation. I soon noticed they were drawing blood and hooking me up to an I.V. bottle with no id or tags on it. A square milk like glass bottle with what looked like clear water. My wife asked what is that? He answered Prednisone, which alarmed both of us as we know what that is and knew I did not need it. We were very agitated; I said I think you don’t understand I have Vertigo, an inner ear problem. The doctor at that point took a little flash lite and looked in both ears claiming there is nothing wrong with my ears. He then put a tiny flashlight in front me and asked me to follow the (dull) light, I really did not hear him clearly or understand him, I did not follow the light, he became upset and repeated the demand, I followed the light but it was a little obvious he did not believe me. You need to have a test, which this small office cannot provide so I have to send you into town for the test. Both of us said NO, I need no test I feel find, he was not listing….my wife called my doctor in Connecticut USA and she explained to him what was happening, he spoke to the doctor and explained that I was in perfect shape, the doctor said something my doctor did not understand his ‘English” or anything he said the doctor abruptly gave the phone back to my wife. At this point the ships doctor asked me be to be calm , I am not sending you to a hospital, that would take all day. I have arranged for a private clinic to do the test and the doctor is waiting for you now…..you will be back in an hour. And at that point two men with a gurney enter and quickly strap me in with ONE strap and take me to a waiting ambulance for the trip to the “Clinic”, both my wife and I become even more extremely agitated, I am fine in every sense of the word.



I am strapped in this metal very uncomfortable gurney and they proceed to carry me out and down the very steep gang plank filled with newly arrival passengers…..I am bouncing around at a sharp angle trying with all my might not to fall off the gurney. I am tossed into the van/ambulance with my wife. They place an oxygen tube in my nose which I pulled out, there was no oxygen coming out of it and it was dirty. The siren was blasting in my good ear and hurting, the ride was so bumpy etc.…I could feel real pain in my left thigh from hitting a metal rod as well as the stress of staying in the gurney, I asked why the siren and was told we need it for traffic. About 15 minutes later we arrive at a two story small building that had a sign
on it that said SPARMAN CLINIC.
BARBADOS – INSIGNIA SAGA - R.Z. PART TWO

Please allow me to explain our situation at this point, this trip was planned two years ago, we wanted to be extremely careful to make sure we were back on the ship by 6pm, it is now about 11:30am as we enter what is supposed to be a clinic but does not have the feeling or look of one, we both just assumed this is Barbados! I will try to leave out any emotion and stick to the facts as we witnessed them, exact times please allow + or – 30 minutes, but I tell you as difficult as it sounds this is the true story of what we experienced and I swear to the truth.
I was carried into the clinic through the dark front reception hall into a room with a nameplate that said Recovery Room. It had a bed, and an I.V. stand with a bag on it, I was literally dumped on the bed holding the glass I.V. bottle from the ship in my hand. A doctor, tall, wearing full-length white garment looking more like he was about to operate. Three females that might be nurses but you could not tell from their uniforms and five youths 4 girls and one boy, each had a pen or a pencil with scraps (yes scraps) of paper in their hands. The room was crowed to say the least. The doctor came to head of the bed with some papers reading them he said my name and asked what kind of name is that? I answered I am from the U.S. and the name was Russian/Jewish. He said ok he was going to give me some tests to find out what was wrong with me and went to the foot of the bed to talk to the young people who tried their best to take notes one or two words at the most. There was no way I could understand him. Interrupting this group came in a young American looking girl who in perfect English said she was the Administrater she had clip board and told us the Doctor could go no further until I signed for $5000 fee on a credit card, she also said meals today and tomorrow would be additional, Dr. Sparman was a very “famous” doctor and required this amount to be sure he would be paid, she gave us no choice so my wife gave her a credit card which took her three times to record…..my wife had to sign three slips with her telling us that her machine was not working. Finally they ALL left. The next hour we were alone and extreme fear was setting in. My wife and I finally got up and went into the reception area where the Doctor said he was preparing the test, we said it was getting late, he said the technicians are preparing the first test, a cat scan. I said where is the machine, let’s proceed….he said it is around the corner, I do not have one….I will send you in the ambulance….get back in bed….I got back in bed and a young man came in dressed in street clothes and started to place wires on my body with rolls of scotch tape with a grin on his face….he than hooked the wires up to a heavy belt with metal box which he placed under my back , it was very uncomfortable, I assumed all the wires were attached to the box, when I asked what is that, he said instead of taking a picture of my heart it takes a video with big grin, he left, and the ambulance men placed me in the gurney to go around the block. It turned out to be a 20-minute ride full speed and siren blasting the whole way. The CAT scan hospital/clinic was right out of the U.S., beautiful, clean, efficient, and caring…..I was to have a BRAIN scan which shocked me…….why? About one half hour later a doctor came out with the disk and said who sent you here and why? There is nothing wrong with your brain, it was a waste of our machine. And asked me to sign for the $610 charge, which we did. And another 20 minute torture ride back to the Sparman Clinic. I think is now about 3 o’clock. We were left in the room again alone for about an hour. My wife went out to the reception area, I had become tired and very depressed, neither of us had eaten anything or had any water all day….they offered nothing and had not even touched me, not one test, not even a stethoscope touched me,

My wife noticed the doctor and “nurse” looking at and “reading” my brain disk, it was obvious that they wanted her to see them. My wife said we already know that my husbands brain is perfect, the scan doctor had informed us. The doctor became angry, and said I am your doctor and I have to read them, it certainly appeared from the time he was looking at them and his look, that he never saw one before.

The doctor then told my wife he would do the tests tomorrow. She yelled you couldn’t do that, we have no passports etc., he said the ship would send all of your things to me, do not worry. My wife yelled I want to speak to the American Embassy, he said there is none. My wife said you mean we are prisoners here, he answered YES, and this is my hospital you are a prisoner in my hospital, you cannot leave with out my permission. Now I am in a state of scared shock, we are both crying…..we go into the wait room, I am still holding the bottle, the water cooler in the empty dirty waiting room is empty, we have not seem one patient all day or heard any voice all day. We try all the doors leading out they were locked, we are hysterical and crying, finally one kind ‘secretary’ told us they are on their way from the ship to pick you up please don’t worry. An hour goes by, it is now about 4 o’clock. I beg her to call a cab and let us out which she did (my feeling is that she is no longer employed there). I told my wife if this Barbados, let us get off this island quickly! The cab driver changed my Barbados feeling, he asked us what the heck we doing in that place and told us about an aunt of his and the trouble she had. He said he is not from Barbados and everyone hates him and wanted him kicked off the island. He stopped the cab and wrote an address for us to write to about our experience. He than provided a nice friendly tour of the city on the way back to ship. Finding out that the Doctor was not from Barbados meant a great deal to us.



BARBADOS – INSIGNIA SAGA R.Z. PART THREE


Joanne and I got out of the taxi and as we approached the ship’s gang way we were shaking in disbelief with tears in our eyes, it was just before 6 PM. Little did we know that what lay ahead was to be a saga, though different, just as difficult and freightening for us:


As we showed our key cards in order to enter the ship we saw and were greeted by what looked like the ships Navy, one of which was the Captain who showed us a slip of paper with a check mark in a box that read UNSEAWORTHY as he informed us that according to maritime law he was forced to have us leave the ship before the ship could leave the port. We were now in a state of unbelievable shock as we began to tell of our experience with a doctor who had mistreated us so badly and HAD NOT EXAMIMINED ME IN ANY FORM OR WAY WHATSOEVER. He ignored us and said you go attend the drill and we will meet afterwards. We thought the ship had to leave at 6, so that indicated we would or could stay, yet we were certainly unclear. In pain from my thigh, dirty, sweaty and hungry we participated in the drill with great difficulty. After the drill we were taken down to the managers office (Victor). Without trying to explain the yelling that went on with NO appreciation for our plight, our feelings, or our visit to dr. sparman, we were shown up to our cabin where EIGHT persons were literally throwing all of our belongings into our 6 pcs. Of luggage and two carry-ons etc. (We were to be away over three months, which we were not used to and had packed a lot). Both of us were now just about passing out. The next thing we were on the street where two cars were waiting for us (one for the luggage)…..it was eight o’clock, we had delayed sailing for two hours!

As we were exiting hysterically, Victor told us to find another doctor to say we were seaworthy, although that gave us some hope that we might be able to rejoin the ship, it did at that time go over our heads. And gave us a new form for a Doctor.

By one of the vehicles a man by the name of Richard introduced himself and said he was the Port Manager and would be taking care of us, he would take us to the hotel and tomorrow find a doctor for us to go to.

We were taken to the Marriot Hotel….a tiny room where there was no way we could open our luggage we slept with our clothes on, we had nothing to eat all day. Early the next morning Richard called to inform us to tell us he would pick us at 8:30 for a 9am doctor appointment, we quickly showered and dressed in the same clothes. We were taken to Bracebridge Medical Center, I believe in the center of Barbados. It was sparkling white, clean and looking like a great Medical Center, it was full of nurses in uniform and people in the waiting room. I was soon taken by a nurse in uniform up an elevator to a second floor, taken to a room for an EKG. The room appeared to be just for EKGs, clean etc. The nurse was gentle and even shaved me where she placed the wires. After what seemed minutes she showed me three identical print outs, all the same and asked if I was familiar with one of the “bleeps”, I smiled and said yes my doctor at home had shown me the bleep. She said great then it was not important and she took me downstairs. After a few minutes I was shown to a Doctor Karen Collins, her name was on the door. She was a youngish blond women who told me (when asked) she was born on Barbados, but her mother was British. She asked me why I was here, I told her, when she heard Dr. Sparman, she gasped “oh no” why for heavens sake? She looked at the papers given her by Richard or our Cab driver, Stclair. As she read she said the blood report by the ships doctor is in error, we doctors know that unless there is pain associated with that test, it means nothing! She thoroughly examined me very carefully. She than asked me to lay down on the table with my head hanging slightly off the table, she said now I am going to move your head slightly to the right and to the left. I was surprised, but soon realized this was the routine to “cure” Vertigo AND IT DID, I immediate felt the difference. She said Mr. Zitser you really are in fine health and indeed did have VERTIGO, she wrote a report claiming my SEAWORTHYNESS. I ran out to tell my wife we hugged and cried for at least 5 minutes. A well dressed women called my wife into her office to give her instructions to write to the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners telling them of our experience with Dr. Sparman (we did send them part one and two of this saga), she then called American Express to help my wife explain that Dr. Sparman’s charge of $5000 was in error, he had provided NO SERVICES. She hugged my wife and said how sorry she was that his had happen on Barbados. We paid Dr. Collin’s charges of $610 and left on a high note. Again not aware of what lay ahead.


BARBADOS – INSIGNIA SAGA R.Z. PART FOUR


This documenting of our Saga has become a saga in itself….detailing our trials and tribulations has been difficult but necessary for my soul and to let those involved in its’ cause know of their mistake in hopes of correcting it. That said I will not detail the next five days, I will instead express the high lights of our awful advanture trying to catch the Insignia.


Reaching the ship in Belem Brazil on Jan. 21 included the following:


Checking in and out of two hotels, with all of our luggage.

Checking in and out three airports with all of our luggage.

Going through Immigration with all of our luggage.

Going through Customs with all of our luggage.

Flying a total of 11 hours. (Including a flight to Sao Paolo – 7 hours)!

(ALL AT OUR EXPENSE)!

Held up at one airport because our “papers” said seaworthy but not air worthy, they had to call the doctor to fax her ok at 7am on a Sunday morning. Thereby making us the last ones to board the plane.

Being boarded on a plane to the wrong city in Brazil.

Spending two days in a country where it was difficult to find some one who spoke English.

5 days I could not shave…..there was no way we could find my toilet kit.

Although we had our luggage in our midst they were two heavy and to poorly packed, we could not find anything except my underwear and a dirty shirt for me.

A full day unpacking on the ship where our luggage was just thrown into our cabin.

Two full days sleeping it off.

6 days of night mares, difficulty sleeping or even just sleeping.

Most days we had little if anything to eat.


Not to mention these last 7 days on the ship, with pain in my Thigh, and extreme trouble with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)…..causing us difficulty sleeping as well as trying to get help from Oceania Cruise lines in Miami which so far has been fruitless. We are very worried about the financial strain it has cost us as well as the lack a good time on our vacation!






 
Last edited:

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#2
What was the response when you turned all your bills & invoices into your Travel Insurance Company.

That coverage should have covered you completely financially for all your expenses.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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@RICHARD ZITSER, a couple of suggestions, one of which has already been mentioned by @JVillegirl541.....have you contacted your insurance company for any of these out of pocket expenses? If you did not have travel insurance, you will have a very difficult time receiving any cash compensation for your expenses.

Next, I would greatly edit your correspondence with the cruise line if you feel the need to share your experience with them. (Have you already sent the letter you wrote above?) For one, it is too long, too full of emotion and is an endless laundry list of complaints/gripes. My reason for these suggestions: any customer service representative for the cruise line will toss your letter in a heartbeat. The problems you list seem insurmountable. There are things that are in control of the cruise line and things that are not. One example is the size of the hotel room at the Marriott. The other is the vast amount of items that you and wife chose to bring with you on your cruise. You probably should travel with only enough pieces of luggage that you can manage on your own. And lastly, no cruise line has any responsibility for medical clinics outside of the ship.

Traveling can be very messy and unpredictable, flights are delayed, connections missed, ports skipped, etc. and having some sense of flexibility helps with your reaction to those mishaps. So, please take another run at your letter, filtering out those items that are truly in control of the cruise line and omit the other items as "that is just life." And remember, you initially visited the ship's doctor complaining of vertigo. If he did nothing and you suffered a catastrophic injury or death due to your symptom, they could be held liable. The cruise line will ALWAYS error on the side of caution.
 
Likes: AAGK

Carol Phillips

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Dec 28, 2014
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#7
@RICHARD ZITSER - First, I hope you've recovered 100% and have discussed your experiences with your family doctor.

A few questions:

- As my colleague asked, did you purchase travel insurance? Have you filed a claim with them?

- Have you already written to Oceania Cruises (the saga you posted above)? If so, has there been a response?

- How may we assist? We have a list of Company Contacts for Oceania Cruises and will be happy to direct you to them.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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#8
But the cab drivers all recommended him highly:)

Question, if you knew you needed a specific prescription medication then why didn't your US Dr call a pharmacy in Barbados and tell them to give it to you. You pick it up. That's all. Your wife could have taken a cab from the port and been back in 20 min. You probably could have also paid someone from the ship to do the pick up for you.
In Anguilla, I didn't feel like going to the pharmacy and I paid the cab driver to get it for me. I saw no point in us both going.

If you didn't know the issue then you had to see a DR but you didn't have to go to the one suggested by the cruiseline. Was this seasickness? I am surprised the cruise Doctor didn't have more expertise in this area.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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#9
There is also an injection for nausea, etc. I imagine a ship would be stocked with these in case an illness broke out.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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I had a nasty attack of vertigo once and it's no fun. I tried the Foster maneuver and it worked like a charm. http://www.webmd.com/brain/home-remedies-vertigo?page=2. This may be something you want to try in future if it happens again.
He mentioned that he knows how to clear it.

I have vertigo too and I know the epley maneuver to clear it.

Letter writer - WOW! I didn't get thru your whole ordeal but I cant believe you didn't decline all medical intervention when they started jamming needles into your body on the ship! I would have simply walked out....
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#12
Wow. As everyone else stated this was way too long a post. I did manage to get through it once.

Did the 5k charge from the 1st clinic go through?
Why didn't you decline medical on the ship? I would never let anyone put a needle in my person without knowing exactly what it was. What if you were allergic? I cannot believe that this was the immediate response of the medical staff.

Once you have submitted your claim to your travel insurance, then anything they don't pay, you can see about collecting from Oceania. But I think you have better avenues to collect from first.
 
Likes: AAGK
Aug 28, 2015
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#13
Wow. As everyone else stated this was way too long a post. I did manage to get through it once.

Did the 5k charge from the 1st clinic go through?
Why didn't you decline medical on the ship? I would never let anyone put a needle in my person without knowing exactly what it was. What if you were allergic? I cannot believe that this was the immediate response of the medical staff.

Once you have submitted your claim to your travel insurance, then anything they don't pay, you can see about collecting from Oceania. But I think you have better avenues to collect from first.
The post was so long I missed the parts @ 5K, etc entirely. @RICHARD ZITSER Brevity is your friend here, let us know if you need help editing.
 
Likes: sas80
#14
You could have walked out and rejected the medical care once you realized it was incompetent.

You could have refused evacuation.

You could have simply told the Captain and the helicopter pilot "I refuse this transport and I refuse to pay for this transport. I accept discharge against medical advice."

If you are not willing to stand up for yourself - then you are likely to see a $5000 bill.,
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#15
@RICHARD ZITSER we can't help you unless you come back and help us to help you. I can see you have been dropping by but we are unable to be of further assistance without additional information.

What has been the response from Oceania? You have contacted them?
How long ago did you file your insurance claim and how is that going?
We need to completely redo your letter in order to make it short sweet and to the point and we are happy to give you some guidance.
 
May 30, 2016
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@RICHARD ZITSER we can't help you unless you come back and help us to help you. I can see you have been dropping by but we are unable to be of further assistance without additional information.

What has been the response from Oceania? You have contacted them?
How long ago did you file your insurance claim and how is that going?
We need to completely redo your letter in order to make it short sweet and to the point and we are happy to give you some guidance.
Thank you so much for your interest in our plight. The concieige on the ship sent the 4 parts to Miami headquarters.....4 weeks later which some time in late Feb. early March we received a short letter claiming no responsibility. Since my daughter. a lawyer has written then but received no positive answer. I have spoken to four Miami lawyers in Miami who advertise to be 'great' travel lawyers, after several days they have all turned down my case claiming among other things that Oceania is too big to sue.....their legal dept is strong and large. Do not forget I am not asking for fortune, I guess that they would want 30-40% of - their words. I should add they all kept me waiting days before getting back to me.
As for the short and sweet, no problem....just advise me a little please.
As for insurance claims....they are in the works, but there are problems, (actually nothing was really wrong with me....

Thanks so much, again.
 
Nov 20, 2015
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#17
I may be wrong, but....

I believe that you were the victim of a scam, not merely the victim of incompetent medical care. One of my colleagues spent a year as a ship's physician after completing his residency. He was approached on 3 occasions by shady characters offering kickbacks for referrals in different ports-of-call. I don't believe it's a widespread form of fraud, but it does happen.

Many patients will go just along with what the doctor says, even if they have strong misgivings. There is no way you wound up at the "clinic" you went to without the complicity of the ship's doctor. You were brave/wise enough to fight your predicament by contacting your own physician and by fleeing the shady clinic. They did take your money, but they would have taken more if you hadn't fled. Unfortunately, you couldn't escape the authority of the ship's doctor to declare you unseaworthy until you'd been cleared by a real physician.

Proving your case is going to be tough. The cruise line executives need to know about what the ship's doctor did and find out why he sent you to that particular "clinic". They need to keep this from happening again, but will likely consider this an internal matter. The tourist board on the island might be able to help, but it may be corrupt or powerless as well. If you had travel insurance, they may be able to help you investigate the fraud, but I don't think they'll pay you anything because there was nothing wrong with you.(as you said)

I agree with the other posters that you could have refused to go along with the advice of the ship's doctor, but I don't blame you given the pressure you were under.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#18
Going to the ships store and buying Dramamine was probably all you needed to do. (My wife has vertigo and thats what she uses).

I don't think there is a chance you will get anything for pain and suffering, but did you have travel insurance that might have covered you for the days you paid for but were taken off the ship? That is really all you are out plus doctor or hospital expenses and any extra expenses to fly home.

We have company contacts for Oceania:

http://elliott.org/company-contacts/oceania-cruises/

If this is indeed a scam, they should know what happened. I would suggest you write to customer service (but you MUST cut that letter by 3/4 because no one will read through the entire thing). Tell them what you want - which should be any expenses not covered by travel insurance for the doctor, hospital and the days you paid for but were put off the ship.

Give them a week to response, if they don't or they say no, write to the first executive shown. Give him a week, then repeat until you go up the chain or get some satisfaction.

If this was a scam with the ships doctor, unless people report it,. this will continue. And if it takes you to expose this incompetence, than you have more than done your job.
 
May 30, 2016
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@RICHARD ZITSER - First, I hope you've recovered 100% and have discussed your experiences with your family doctor.

A few questions:

- As my colleague asked, did you purchase travel insurance? Have you filed a claim with them?

- Have you already written to Oceania Cruises (the saga you posted above)? If so, has there been a response?

- How may we assist? We have a list of Company Contacts for Oceania Cruises and will be happy to direct you to them.
Thanks so much for your offer to help/ YES we did or do have Trip insurance and have been filling out forms for the last two months, insurance claims we have to submit to medicare first etc. they are questioning that nothing was wrong with us etc. soon or later we do expect to collect some insurance. I sent the entire "SAGA" (written at the advice of the ships Manager and the Conciege) to the Miami offices a week after we re-boarded. Three weeks later they denied all responsibility. I could not get an answer from anyone as to who recommend that particular clinic but we have very good reason it had to do with the ships doctor, and it was indeed a scam!
 
May 30, 2016
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#20
Thanks so much for your offer to help/ YES we did or do have Trip insurance and have been filling out forms for the last two months, insurance claims we have to submit to medicare first etc. they are questioning that nothing was wrong with us etc. soon or later we do expect to collect some insurance. I sent the entire "SAGA" (written at the advice of the ships Manager and the Conciege) to the Miami offices a week after we re-boarded. Three weeks later they denied all responsibility. I could not get an answer from anyone as to who recommend that particular clinic but we have very good reason it had to do with the ships doctor, and it was indeed a scam!
And yes we did a few days ago send copies of the complete "saga" to the Presidents of NCL and Oceania listed by Elliot. I am in the process of condensing the saga with emphasis on their responsibility and participation in the scam and their complete lack of concern or even sympathy.....
 
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