Elderly couple left in Turkey by Royal Caribbean after husband breaks hip



TAMPA, Fla. - A Tampa woman said a cruise line left her and her husband stranded in a foreign country.

Jill and Dodge Melkonian, 89, were on an Azamara cruise, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, when Dodge fell and broke his hip.

Jill Melkonian praised the doctors on board, but she questioned the people in charge.

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

The couple said the ship left them at a hospital in Turkey, where no one spoke English, and because of strict cultural rules women weren't allowed inside.

"The hospital was so dirty and I was worried about infection," she said.

Jill said she bought insurance through the cruise line and tried to get her husband transferred.

She said the cruise line told her to file a claim first.

Desperate, she reached out to the owner of her travel agency, Tammy Levent of Elite Travel.

Levent said she has not slept, trying to get them help.

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

Levent said they managed to reach an English-speaking tour guide, Okan Kutla, with Turkey Tourist Specialist.

Jill Melkonian said Kutlu has been a savior. She said he called the US Embassy and got help transferring Dodge from Bartin to Istanbul, a six-hour trip.

Once again, Jill Melkonian said they reached out to the cruise line.

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

Sen. Bill Nelson said he is working to bring the couple home safely.

"Royal Caribbean has a responsibility to take care of their passengers, even when they have to put them in a foreign hospital," said Nelson.

Royal Caribbean has not replied to Tampa news station WFTS' email for comment.