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About chocopipe

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  1. Hello, thank you to all the cruisers for the positive feedback and comments, the reason I tell our story is just to make people aware of how you will be treated should you fall ill on a cruise. Yes we have insurance and yes the insurance company took care of the bill but that is not the point, the point is that the cruise lines are ripping people off with charges as extreme as those we incurred. Anyway my wife was fine after surgery, thanks to the good doctors in Sitka. Happy cruising and good luck!
  2. SEARCH stands for: Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium SEARHC/Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center. First class facilities, awesome and friendly staff. We were extremely lucky to had surgery there! Thank you for your reply.
  3. TALK ABOUT SURPRISES This year for my wife’s birthday I planned a surprise. We threw a party for her and after blowing out the candles I asked my two kids to hand her an envelope. Inside there was a heart-felt letter that I had written to her. After reading the letter and getting quite emotional, I asked her to open the second envelope I had placed inside the first one. My wife was so very excited when she discovered that the second envelope contained boarding passes for our first cruise to Alaska which would be departing the next day from Seattle, WA. She was shocked and thrilled to find out we were going on vacation to celebrate her birthday, but more importantly to celebrate her life. She is a cancer survivor and every single day we thank God she is still with us. The next day we boarded HAL Oosterdam in Seattle for our seven days cruise. The first couple of days were uneventful, however on day three she woke up with abdominal pain that gradually increased during the day. Finally around noon we decided to visit the medical center to try to figure out what was going on, but it was closed. We then went back to the cabin thinking that the “stomachache” would go away. However, by about 5pm the pain had become unbearable, so we decided to return to the medical center. After a few minutes of running some tests the doctor diagnosed my wife with acute appendicitis. And then the real adventure began. The ship was en route to Sitka, Alaska where we were scheduled to dock the next morning. As this ship is not equipped to handle an emergency like peritonitis and due to the risk of an appendix rupture, the only choice was to medevac my wife. I was in disbelief after I asked the doctor if she had advised the captain about the potential medical emergency and she replied that the captain didn’t need to know because this was a medical issue and not an operational one. To the best of my knowledge the captain was never informed. The next morning, after a sleepless night, the ship docked as scheduled in Sitka and my wife was transferred by ambulance to SEARHC hospital where a group of doctors and nurses were waiting for her to perform a laparoscopy and have her appendix removed. Dr. Daniel R. Sparks, was very professional and explained to me after my wife’s surgery that everything went smoothly and to plan. His advice for us was to go back to the ship and continue our trip, so I started to coordinate our return. I called the ship’s representative to let her know that we were planning on continuing the cruise. You can imagine my frustration when the representative apologized but informed me that we would not be allowed back onboard. Dr. Sparks, was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to talk directly to the doctor onboard the ship. He explained exactly what the situation was, but the doctor onboard had already decided that we would not be allowed to return to the ship. I contacted the ship’s doctor directly and asked to talk to the doctor who had taken care of my wife the night before. He told me that she was unavailable and then proceeded to explain that the company policy was to not allow the return of any guests for the first 24 hours after a medical procedure. This was even though the ship’s doctor who had taken care of my wife the night before had told us that depending on the situation and if the local doctor gave us clearance, we should be able to return and continue our cruise. I told the doctor on the phone that I respected HAL policies and that we would find a way to get to the next port of call which was Ketchikan and re-join our cruise from there 24 hours later. However, after I mentioned this, he again apologized and informed us that we would not be allowed to return to the ship at all during this cruise. So just like that we were left there stranded in Sitka for the next three days. The next day, after breakfast my wife told me that she didn’t feel like staying cooped up in the hotel, so we went out and explored this beautiful town. We walked all day from the Alaska Raptor Center to Totem Park to downtown Sitka until late into the evening. A couple of flights later, we finally we made it home to California on day seven of our interrupted vacation. You can imagine the look on my face when I opened the envelope that was handed to me when we disembarked and noticed there was a charge on my CC for $3231 for the one night stay at the medical center onboard the ship. The same day I called HAL guest relations to tell them that I was not happy with this charge. I was told that they would “look into it” and that “a case“ had been opened for me, never to hear back from them. Mind you, this was a charge for the relatively simple diagnosis and the very limited treatment we received on board. Looking at these charges, one might assume the surgery was actually performed on ship as opposed to the treatment for pain and observation she received. I am a B-747 captain for a major airline with 29 years’ experience flying international routes. After having been pretty much everywhere in the world, I can tell you that the people in Sitka, Alaska are the warmest and friendliest people we have ever met. We are grateful to Dr. Sparks and his friendly staff for taking care of my wife in Sitka and making us feel at home and to Dr. Hefer, on board the Oosterdam, who setup everything so my wife could get the medical attention that she required. That all being said, I am very upset that we were not allowed to return to our cruise and that we were basically abandoned in Sitka to figure out arrangements on our own to get home. I would also appreciate a response from HAL guest relations to discuss the exorbitant charges for the relatively minor medical treatment my wife received in your medical center as well as to get an official explanation as to why we were not allowed to continue our cruise after getting clearances from medical professionals to return to the ship. We very much enjoyed the very little bit of Alaska that we were able to experience, and we can’t wait to return. Hopefully this time without any “surprises.” Luis F Salinas and Marianela Soberanes G, Murrieta CA.
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