A British pensioner has described the ‘terrifying nightmare’ of being stranded in the Philippines when his cruise ship left without him after he fell into a coma.
Furious holidaymaker Christopher Capel, 72, boarded a P&O Cruises vessel at the start of the year and had been just over halfway through a 100-day journey around the world when disaster struck.
After the ship docked on the island of Palawan in the Philippines on March 4, Christopher began feeling unwell and tried to go back to his room for a lie-down.
But the doctor on board the ship sent him to the hospital instead.
By the time medics had carried out all their tests and given him antibiotics for heatstroke, the cruise ship he was on had left port – leaving him stranded around 7,000 miles from his home.
Furious holidaymaker Christopher Capel (right), 72, boarded a P&O Cruises vessel at the start of the year and had been just over halfway through a 100-day journey around the world when disaster struck. After waking from a coma, he contacted his niece Karen Williams (left) who has been working to help get him home from his ‘nightmare’
His insulin was still in his cabin, so his blood sugar fell dangerously low, causing hypoglycemic shock which led to a brief diabetic coma.
He has now been left in limbo and struggling to find a way home.
Mr Capel, a retired youth worker, from Swindon, Wiltshire, said: ‘It’s been an absolute nightmare, and terrifying at times.
‘P&O have failed in their duty of care – I would not recommend that anyone over 70 go alone on one of their cruises, because I have no one fighting my corner.
‘I kept telling the nurses ‘I need to get back to the ship’ but they kept taking more tests and asking about my breathing difficulties and chest pains when I didn’t have either of those symptoms. I don’t know what they had been told by the P&O doctor.
‘When I went into a coma, I wondered if that was it, that might be the end, but I came around the next morning.
‘I was then stuck in a hospital bed with nothing wrong with me, it was ludicrous. I should have been allowed back on board, it wasn’t a serious health issue.
‘I can’t believe the power one person can have over your life, to just leave me in this mess. I’ve been treated so badly by these companies.’
After stabilising, Chris borrowed a laptop to email his niece Karen Williams, who helped him contact P&O and Nationwide, his insurance company, in an attempt to resume his journey.
Chris says he feels left in limbo, though he has now managed to get an insulin prescription. He has an intense fear of flying, so getting the nearly 7,000 miles home without the cruise ship is no easy task.
As of Wednesday, he had tentatively agreed to have a doctor and nurse fly over and sedate him for the flight back, but this has now been cancelled as he has been deemed to ill to fly.
Christopher said: ‘I have two options, there is a cruise ship coming in April otherwise I am stranded here. I don’t know how long I will be out here – it is ridiculous.
‘I want to get home [but] P&O have made sure I can’t get on any of their cruise ships because of my medical issues. Everyone is telling me I have complex medical issues but they can’t tell me what they are.
‘I seem to be stuck in the middle of a stupid game,’ he said.
His niece Karen Williams, 51, an office manager from Cornwall, said: ‘If he had no next of kin, I don’t know what would have happened because these companies have not been helpful, they’ve left him to sort it out himself.
‘I worry about him being alone on the other side of the world in a place where he doesn’t speak the language. I just want him home safe.’
Mr Capel, a retired youth worker from Swindon, has been left stranded on the Philippine island of Palawani – some 7,000 miles from his home
Pictured: A P&O cruise ship (file photo) is seen sailing the seas. Christopher Capel has accused the cruise company of ‘failing in their duty of care’
A P&O Cruises spokesman said: ‘We are so sorry this has happened to this guest.
‘Having taken advice, we have been advised that due to his critical medical needs, it is not feasible to return to the UK by ship.
‘So, our customer care team has been in constant liaison with the guest and his insurance team to find an acceptable and safe alternative solution as his physical health and mental wellbeing is the priority in this case.’
Nationwide has been approached for comment.