Guest Airlifted off Disney Fantasy on July 2nd

Having a medical emergency at sea is never a pleasant thing. Luckily the Disney Cruise Line fleet is equipped with a terrific medical staff. Most of the times the guest is treated and returned to enjoy the rest of their vacation. Sometimes, the nature of the problem is severe enough that an air lift is required. The Disney Blog reader Jim Dallas was on board the Disney Fantasy on July 2nd and witnessed exactly how that emergency evacuation was attempted.

My wife and I sailed aboard the Disney Fantasy Eastern Caribbean cruise that departed Port Canaveral, Florida on Saturday, June 30th for St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay. Part of our morning cruise ritual is to tune into channel 4 on the stateroom television to track our progress and position. We noticed something unusual on Monday morning, July 2nd.

It appeared that during the night the ship made a turn towards Puerto Rico and then shortly after turned again to resume our regular course. Later that day the captain announced that there had been a medical emergency on board the prior evening and that the ship would be met that afternoon at 4:30pm by a Coast Guard helicopter from San Juan to air lift a passenger off the Disney Fantasy.

At precisely 4:30pm a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter approached the Fantasy from the south and circled the ship several times decreasing in altitude on each passing. Three black flags were raised on the forward section of the Fantasy in the shape of a circle, diamond and a circle. The front of the ship was closed and the teen pool covered and deck cleared. The helicopter approached from the port side of the ship and lowered one man onto the deck below. The helicopter continued to move in and out of view, but we could see the rescue stretcher lowered and raised, then a basket, and finally the Coast Guard crewman was brought back on board the chopper.

The entire operation lasted approximately 40 minutes. As the Coast Guard helicopter departed the Fantasy the ships horn sounded “When You Wish Upon a Star”. No information was provided by the captain or cast members as to the nature of the emergency. It was a proud moment to see our military in action. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the guest who departed our cruise prematurely.

Thank you to Jim for sharing that snapshot of a rarely seen occurrence. We hope the patient in question is doing well today. What is the worst medical emergency you’ve ever experienced while on vacation?

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7 Responses to Guest Airlifted off Disney Fantasy on July 2nd

  1. Heidi says:

    I was on this same cruise! I have cruised 10 times (not all Disney) and this is the 2nd helicopter evacuation I have been witness to on a cruise ship (first was on a RCCL out of Galveston). I highly recommend travel protection for all cruises now!! :)

  2. Eric says:

    I actually had to be evacuated via Coast Guard helicopter from Castaway Cay on a Dream sailing about a week before this incident.

    • John Frost says:

      Hope everything is okay now! What was that experience like?

      • Eric says:

        Well, I had spent some time in the shipboard clinic begging them not to send me off the ship, but they were too concerned to keep me onboard. I am sure that there are plenty of liability issues about which they worry in such situations. Still, I was very disappointed to have to leave the ship, and they took great care of me on the ship.

        Oh, and I am fine now, thanks.

        I couldn’t really tell you a lot about the ride in the helicopter. I am not sure what they administered on the ship, but I was quite relaxed on the ride off Castaway Cay and slept through the bulk of it.

  3. Heather says:

    I don’t know if this was the same incident, but if you listen to the DISunplugged podcast, this happened to someone on their podcast cruise. I think the dates match up, but I’m not 100% sure. If it’s the same one, the guy is ok, and they talked about how Disney sent 2 CMs with the family, one to watch the kids, one to help the wife with anything

  4. Dirk says:

    According to the Coast Guard, the evacuee was a crew member suffering from external bleeding.

    Coast Guard medevacs Disney Fantasy cruise ship crewmember northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Comments are closed.