Cozumel, Mexico. (Doug Parker/Cruise Radio)
Two Tampa-based passengers are stuck in Mexico without a passport or medical insurance and require care after becoming victims of a hit-and-run accident. Even though one requires surgery, the couple was discharged by the private hospital because they have no insurance.
Natalia Ortega and her partner, Ashley, left the Port of Tampa on September 11 for their first cruise together.
During a port stop in Cozumel, Mexico, they rented scooters from a third-party provider the next day and found themselves involved in a hit-and-run accident.
Cruise Directors often plea with guests not to book scooters in ports like Cozumel or Nassau because of the frequent crashes.
Stuck in Mexico without Passport or Insurance
Carnival Paradise at sea. (Carnival Cruise Line)
They were taken to a private hospital but did not receive adequate medical care due to a lack of insurance. Meanwhile, the hospital billed them between $10,000 and $20,000.
According to Natalia’s mother, Maria, Natalia needs surgery and has sustained injuries to her hand and foot. “My daughter has a broken arm,” she said.
“Her arm was sticking out and they just wrapped it up because she had no insurance. They’ve been trying to operate on her foot and they keep telling her that it’s not a surgery, but it is a surgery to clean her foot.”
Since Carnival Cruise Line wasn’t informed of their predicament, the ship unknowingly left without them.
However, the company contacted Maria about the two missing passengers the following day.
Shortly after, Natalia called her mother and informed her about the accident. Natalia mentioned that they were prohibited from leaving because they owed money to the hospital. “They will not let them leave until they come up with the money in case the insurance does not cover it,” Maria recalled.
Another complication that the couple is facing is the absence of their passports. Though not all Carnival cruises require passengers to bring their passports, it’s still highly recommended.
US Customs and Border Protection says, “Most cruises beginning and ending in the same location are considered “closed-loop,” meaning they begin and end at the same port in the United States and travel within the Western Hemisphere.”
Maria has booked a flight to Mexico to be with her daughter, though she remains unsure of how she can bring the two women home.
In an interview with Fox13, she appealed to the public, “I need my babies home. Please help me get them home. I don’t care if I have to get a passport. I need them home.”