Two guests from Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Paradise never returned to the ship after a day in Cozumel, Mexico, and family members have learned they were in a scooter accident.
The two women are now in a private hospital in Mexico with significant medical bills and it is unknown when they may be able to depart for home in Florida.
Two Cruise Guests Injured in Mexico
Two women sailing aboard Carnival Paradise have been injured in a hit-and-run accident while visiting Cozumel, Mexico. The women – Natalia and Ashley – set sail from Tampa on the Fantasy class vessel on Sunday, September 10, 2023, on what was to have been a roundtrip cruise to Mexico. Cozumel was the only port of call on the 4-night itinerary.
According to local Tampa news reports, Carnival Cruise Line reached out to Natalia’s mother, Maria Ortega, with the news that the women had not reboarded the ship after the call to Cozumel on Tuesday, September 12.
“About an hour later, my daughter somehow got ahold of me through someone’s phone, and she told me they were in an accident. It was hit-and-run,” Ortega explained to Fox 13 News.
Further details provided by family members through an online fundraiser note that the accident occurred while the women were returning to the ship. They had rented scooters from a third party earlier in the day to visit a local beach club.
The accident was severe enough that the women lost their personal possessions and were unconscious for several hours. Their injuries include severe bruises, a possible broken foot and broken arm, cuts, and more.
One of the women was reportedly discharged from the hospital because she did not have insurance, while the other is still in the hospital until medical bills – amounting to as much as $10,000 to $20,000 – have been settled. This is common practice at hospitals in Mexico, especially when treating foreign visitors.
Lack of Travel Documentation
To further complicate matters, neither woman has a passport to facilitate their return to the United States. Passports are not required on closed-loop cruises to Mexico, though Carnival Cruise Line does highly recommend that all guests travel with a passport valid for at least six months after the conclusion of the cruise.
“This will enable guests … who must disembark the ship before their cruise ends, due to an emergency, to fly back to the United States without significant delays and complications,” the cruise line’s website reads.
Family members, who are traveling to Mexico to help, have been in touch with the US State Department about gaining permission for the women to return to the country, which requires immigration approval.
Cruise Line Warnings Against Scooter Rentals
Carnival Cruise Line does strongly warn guests against renting scooters in ports of call, as the rental companies are less regulated than in the United States.
The condition of the vehicles and roads, somewhat lax enforcement of local traffic laws, and other challenges make the scooters very hazardous. Similar warnings are offered about renting cars, jet skis, or other vehicles through non-approved tour vendors.
Read Also: Do You Need a Passport to Go on a Cruise?
Because the women were not on a shore excursion booked through the cruise line but rented the scooters independently, the ship had no way to know their location or condition, and did leave port without them. This is standard practice on all cruise lines if guests are late returning to the vessel.
Accidents and injuries can happen in any port of call, even to the most cautious traveler. Travel insurance can help cover emergency treatment costs as well as transport back home if necessary, depending on the type of policy and its exact terms and conditions.
It is not known whether or not the women involved in this incident had any sort of travel insurance.