Life-Threatening Emergency at Sea: Extraordinary Airlift from Cruise Ship

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A Life-Saving Odyssey: Family’s Cruise Turns into a Medical Emergency

A harrowing ordeal unfolded aboard the Carnival Cruise Lines’ Venezia as a Massachusetts mother and her son battled a life-threatening medical emergency 350 nautical miles from land.

A Sudden and Grave Turn

Just days into the 10-day Caribbean cruise, 12-year-old Aiden began experiencing severe stomach pains. After examination, the ship’s medics discovered a perforated bowel, a condition that required immediate surgery.

A Daring Rescue

With no time to spare, the US Air Force’s 920th Rescue Wing launched into action. Rescuers flew for over eight hours, covering 1,200 miles and requiring three air-to-air refuelings, to reach the stricken cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

Two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, accompanied by two HC-130J Combat King II aircraft and two teams of combat rescue officers based in Florida, descended upon the scene. Dramatic footage captured the heart-wrenching moment as Aiden and his mother were lifted into the hovering helicopters.

Exceptional Support Amidst Despair

In an interview, Aiden’s mother, Angela Bridges, expressed her deep appreciation for the extraordinary care and support they received from the ship’s staff during their ordeal.

“They handled the situation amazingly. Their communication, their overall support for Aiden, myself, my husband, and my daughter… They were great,” Bridges said.

The staff provided Aiden with comfort and antianxiety medication before his transfer to the helicopter. They even ensured that Bridges and her son had food before the long flight to the North Carolina hospital, which they reached in a swift hour and a half.

A Family Torn Apart and United

While Bridges and Aiden were evacuated, her husband and step-daughter remained on the ship, desperate for updates. The cruise line upgraded the family’s internet service at no cost, enabling them to stay connected during the harrowing ordeal.

The cruise line also waived the fees for Aiden’s excursions and ticket, as well as for a family excursion in the Dominican Republic that had to be canceled due to the emergency.

A Mother’s Unwavering Determination

Bridges expressed her gratitude to Carnival Cruise Lines for the “exceptional care” they provided at every step.

However, she admitted that the experience has raised questions about future cruises.

“On the one hand, this was a really awful situation, and we didn’t anticipate it whatsoever. For it to happen on a cruise makes it even worse. But on the other hand, the way that the situation was handled by Carnival and all the staff on the ship, it’s kind of back and forth for me,” she said. “Thinking about it, do I really want to go on a cruise again, or do I not?”