While no one expects to become ill during their cruise vacation, or while working aboard a cruise ship, sometimes these things just happen. Luckily, cruise ships are equipped with their own mini urgent cares.

But sometimes, passengers or crew members end up in situations that require more help than the onboard medical center can provide, which is exactly what happened to an unidentified crew member on Carnival Sunshineduring a 5-night sailing to the Bahamas. While details of the employee’s condition have been kept private, qualified personnel on board decided their condition was serious enough to require urgent hospitalization. 

On the afternoon of April 27, 2024, only one day into the sailing, the 35-year-old crew member was taken to the hospital via a Coast Guard airlift. First responders from the U.S. Coast Guard met the Sunshine-class ship about 160 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida, while the ship was heading in the general direction of Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida.  

A helicopter could be seen hovering overhead as the crew member, along with a nurse, were hoisted onboard. The pair were then safely transported to Home Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, for the employee to receive further treatment.

Carnival Sunshine US Coast Guard Airlift (Courtesy: US Coast Guard)

“Earlier today, a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 helicopter crew medevaced a 35-year-old crewmember from the cruise ship Carnival Sunshine approximately 160 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida. The helicopter crew hoisted the ailing man along with the ship’s nurse and safely transported them to Home Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida,” the U.S. Coast Guard Southeast posted on Facebook. 

While the hope is that emergencies like this will never occur, it’s reassuring to see how cruise lines, like Carnival, and the U.S. Coast Guard have a strong working relationship to perform airlifts like this quickly when the need arises – allowing passengers and crew to receive proper care timely. 

When the crew member became ill, the 102,853-gross ton vessel had only just embarked on a 5-night sailing the day prior on Saturday, April 27, 2024, from Charleston, South Carolina. But the rescue didn’t have any impact on this sailing’s Bahamas itinerary.

The medical evacuation occurred during a sea day, with the first port call still scheduled as planned for April 29 at Half Moon Cay, Carnival’s private island destination in the Bahamas. The 3,758-guest ship will also call on Nassau, Bahamas, before returning to Charleston on May 2 for the current passengers to disembark and to welcome a whole new round of cruisers.

Carnival Sunshine has been alternating between a series of four to 5-night round-trip sailings from Charleston, South Carolina, where she will be homeported through the end of the year, with the shorter version of the itinerary only calling on Nassau and forgoing the stop at Half Moon Cay.

Read Also: Charleston Cruise Port: Terminal, Overview and What to Do

With the exception of an 8-night Eastern Caribbean sailing that embarks on May 11 and a 6-night Bahamas cruise beginning on May 19 that includes an extra stop at Bimini Islands, Bahamas, the itineraries do not vary much. 

It’s also worth noting that this sailing was not the first time this month that the Coast Guard had to intervene to make sure a passenger received the treatment they needed. On April 15, a pregnant woman sailing onboard Disney Fantasy was successfully evacuated about 180 miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, after onboard doctors felt she would receive better care on shore. 

Even more recently, a 65-year-old male passenger was airlifted from Holland America Line’s Koningsdam on April 25 as the ship was sailing approximately 201 miles west of Tillamook, Oregon, en route to Victoria, British Columbia. The passenger had been injured several days previously, and his condition continued to worsen, although the details surrounding his injury have not been publicized.

In all of the recent incidents, the ailing passengers and the crew member were able to be transported to the nearest hospital safely and efficiently with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard.

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