Heart Attack Aboard Carnival Cruise Sparks Questions on ‘Deaths on the High Seas’ Law

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Heart Attack Aboard Carnival Cruise Sparks Questions on 'Deaths on the High Seas' Law
Carnival cruises returned to Norfolk, Va., in May 2022 for the first time since 2019 after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the industry to a halt. (DREAMSTIME/TNS)

DIKSIA.COM - NORFOLK, Va. – Alonzo and Hazel Bristol found themselves in a distressing situation during a May evening aboard the cruise ship. After dinner, while walking back to their room with a family friend, Alonzo suddenly complained of dizziness and collapsed in the hallway.

Tragically, he was experiencing a and passed away shortly afterward, as the vessel voyaged from the Bahamas back to Norfolk.

In the aftermath of the incident, Alonzo's family has been left with a mixture of grief and frustration, primarily directed towards .

They believe that the ship's staff responded too slowly during the emergency and have been grappling with the legal complexities surrounding the “death on the high seas” law, a century-old regulation in the United States.

Alonzo, an 88-year-old retired Air Force veteran from Hampton, had a deep affection for cruises. The couple had been on numerous voyages, and they held prestigious membership as platinum members of Carnival's Very Important Fun Person Club, a category just below the highest tier.

According to Hazel, when her husband collapsed on May 19, the staff present seemed ill-prepared. Custodial workers recognized the gravity of the medical situation in the hallway before higher-ranking crew members, including a guest relations manager, arrived on the scene.

Despite Alonzo lying face-down on the floor, the staff struggled to operate their communication devices to call for medical assistance.

Hazel alleges that, during this critical time, no one performed lifesaving measures on Alonzo. It was eventually a fellow guest who managed to reach the ship's medical personnel using the phone in their room.

The ship was approximately 12 hours away from Norfolk when this tragic event occurred, as reported by the Bristols.

In response to the incident, Carnival cruises returned to Norfolk in May 2022, marking their first arrival since 2019 when the pandemic halted the industry.

Moreover, in December, the company finalized a deal to offer its inaugural year-round sailings from Norfolk, scheduled for 2025.