Holland America Cruise Made Stroke Victim Wait 17 Hours For Help, Husband Claims

"They were careless, inefficient and heartless," he said.

A medical emergency ruined their vacation and now a suburban family is suing Holland America, claiming the cruise line waited too long to help.

Lila "Lisette" and John Gale were on one of several vacations they’ve taken together. The two were just a few hours, and a few hundred miles into a Caribbean cruise on Holland America’s Zuiderdam Cruiseship, when Lisette suffered a stroke at dinner.

"This was a brain hemorrhage," her husband said. "This was serious."

The ships senior doctor diagnosed her with a severe stroke, saying she needed a cat scan and that her condition was deteriorating. Instead of contacting the Coast Guard for a medevac or turning back to the Fort Lauderdale port they’d just left, the ship continued toward the Bahamas.

"They had a cat scan machine, but it was broken," Gale said.

John says it was 17 excruciating hours until Lisette got adequate medical treatment.

"They were allowing a cruise ship with 1,700 old people on it without good medical equipment," he said.

John believes she will never leave the Highland Park nursing home where the formerly vivacious bilingual therapist is now struggling to walk and talk.

"They were careless, inefficient and heartless," he said.

Holland America declined to comment "out of respect for the family involved."

Contact Us