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Stranded, elderly cruise passenger suffered stroke on Norwegian trip and left to find way back to US, family says

todayApril 3, 2024 15

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An elderly American woman suffered a stroke during an African island excursion on the Norwegian Cruise Line voyage that stranded six Americans and two Australians — and was left “alone” and “helpless” to find her way back to the US, according to her family.

Julie Lenkoff, 80, began experiencing vision and memory loss last week while on a cruise-sponsored tour of the island of São Tomé, according to WPDE.

“That happens, that’s not their fault, we get that,” her son-in-law, Kurt Gies told KTVU of his mother-in-law’s medical emergency.

“It’s how you treat that person and how you tend to that person, and how you tend to that person is what they failed at.”

Julie Lenkoff, 80, returned home to the United States on Sunday after she was allegedly left abandoned by a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. Jill and Jay Campbell

Cruise ship personnel evaluated Lenkoff on board and took to a local hospital, where she was treated for a stroke. She was released 24 hours later — at which point, the Gieses say she was left to fend for herself.

During this time, the cruise ship never contacted him or his wife, even though they were listed as emergency contacts — and were not taking their calls, Gies said on Facebook.

They also said the Presenters returned her passport and belongings, but her money and credit cards were missing.

In a statement to the Post, a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line said Lenkoff was evaluated by the onboard medical team on March 27, which “thought it best” for her to disembark so that she could receive “further assessment and treatment” from a local hospital.

“Following her disembarkation from the ship, our Care Team was immediately activated to provide support to the guest,” the spokesperson said.

Kurt Gies and his wife Lana Wilken-Gies said they received a call last Wednesday that her mother had suffered a medical emergency on board the ship making a 20-day voyage across Africa. Facebook/Kurt Gies

“We attempted to call the guest several times, and as we were unable to reach her, we worked directly with our port agents in  São Tomé and Principe, an African island nation, to receive updates about the guest.

“In instances such as these, as the guest was released from the hospital and in a coherent state, our protocol is to contact the guest directly, as we would not have the authority to share any medical details with anyone else without their expressed consent.”

Lenkoff was touring the island of São Tomé when she reportedly started suffering vision and memory loss. Facebook/Kurt Gies
Jay Campbell was seen escorting Lenkoff through the streets of the Central African island. Jill and Jay Campbell

Fortunately, Lenkoff ran into Jay and Jill Campbell, of South Carolina, who say they were also left stranded by the Norwegian cruise ship with four other Americans and two Australians  after their tour of São Tomé ran late and the vessel left port without them.

The couple were seen escorting Lenkoff through the streets of the Central African island in footage obtained by KUTV.

They then reached out to the Gieses in San Francisco, and were able to help coordinate a flight from Africa to Lisbon, Portugal and then from Portugal back to the United States.

“We put an Air Tag on her… so that her daughter could keep track of where she is,” Jill Campbell told WPDE.

Lenkoff is now recovering at the Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif. before she can return home to Eugene, Ore. Facebook/Kurt Gies

Lenkoff finally landed in California on Sunday and is now recovering at the Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, before she can return home to Eugene, Ore., her son-in-law wrote on Facebook.

“She’s a trooper, successfully completing the 30 hours of flights with a smile on her face when she saw us,” he wrote.

“What a great Easter gift!!!”

The Gieses say they are now grateful to have their mother back, as she continues to recover at the hospital.

“It’s really hard to experience that, that she was helpless, that she was alone — and yet, she made it,” her daughter Lana Wilken-Gies said.

Now, Gies said they want Norwegian to get the Campbells and the rest of their Presenters back on the ship.

“We truly feel they saved Julia’s life,” he wrote on Facebook.

“No one should ever be treated this way — especially [by] a company that was paid almost $20,000 for the cruise,” he added.

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Written by: TNT Radio

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