Thomas Wheeler had planned a “…dream of a lifetime cruise” aboard Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Sea, where he booked a stateroom with a balcony to enjoy an unobstructed view of the ocean and sky during his trip.
“The ship was magnificent,” the 66-year old Portland, Oregon resident said. “My first night was incredible… Dinner with some interesting people, a highly entertaining show in the ship’s theatre and a brief visit to the casino for a little 3-card poker. It was truly a dream come true,” Wheeler recounted.
According to Wheeler, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare that ended in him being forcibly expelled from the ship, his passport confiscated, left in a strange island country for a day… and when Wheeler explained that he was a diabetic and needed to eat, the person in charge gave him a banana! “It was humiliating… I was treated like trash,” Wheeler said.
On October 17, 2011, prominent Boca Raton attorney, Robert C. Stone, filed a law-suit against Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for their negligence in forcing a passenger to disembark for no legal reason.
In recounting how the bizarre set of circumstances began, Wheeler said that it was at the first night’s dinner where he had his fateful encounter with another passenger and his wife; “a lovely couple,” as he described them. When Wheeler discovered that his dinner mate happened to be a hospice minister, he engaged him in conversation about the recent passing of his long-time girlfriend and what advice the minister might offer in getting over such a loss.
Wheeler claims that later that night, he got a call from the service desk advising him that they had an important message and he should come to the service desk personally to retrieve the message. Wheeler recounts that when he arrived, the Guest Services Manager, Savio Lopez told him that he was waiting for medical personnel to be present before they gave him the news. Mr. Wheeler was terrified that some type of tragedy had befallen his children or grandchildren and was visibly shaking from anxiety. When the medical personnel arrived, they told Wheeler that they were informed that he was depressed and he might be suicidal.
“Thomas Wheeler explained he was in no way suicidal. In fact, on two separate occasions, the ship’s doctor said Wheeler was not suicidal and informed Mr. Lopez. Particularly disturbing is the fact that Mr. Wheeler, a Vietnam War veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, was placed under guard in a locked cabin and denied food for a significant amount of time before being removed from the vessel,” said Robert C. Stone, a cruise law maritime attorney Wheeler hired.
According to Wheeler, the doctor reiterated he was not suicidal nor in any way a danger to himself. As if the doctor’s opinion was of no consequence, Wheeler claims Lopez proceeded to evict him from the ship. Wheeler was then left in the hands of a stranger on the small island… his passport held by the stranger… and forced to endure a terrifying three-hour car ride on remote and dilapidated roads. The stranger dropped him off at a motel for the night, gave him his passport and said he would pick him up to take him to the airport the next morning… and never returned!
Wheeler took a taxi to the airport… found the ship didn’t make airline reservations and had to pay $380.00 to rebook a flight home. “He was not only wrongfully disembarked from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, but essentially abandoned in a foreign country with an unfamiliar language and left to find his own way home. The lack of sensitivity and incompetence by employees of Royal Caribbean showed a total lack of compassion and regard for Wheeler’s civil liberties,” Stone added.
With more than 35 years of experience, over 100 completed jury trials and hundreds of state and federal cases defending individuals and corporations throughout the United States, South Florida personal injury and criminal defense attorney Robert C. Stone has a well-deserved reputation as a top-tier advocate.