Florida family’s dream cruise turns into nightmare after child ends up in infirmary

Central Florida mother says an infection is threatening her 4-year-old son’s brain and vision

A Central Florida family’s dream vacation turned into a nightmare after a grave medical emergency onboard a Norwegian cruise ship.

The mother said she is now being told she won’t be able to leave the ship until her child’s emergency medical bill is paid in full.

Last week, Nicole Mejias posted a message on Facebook, letting her friends know she and her family were about to embark on a five-day cruise onboard the Norwegian Sun. Shortly after the cruise ship departed Friday from Port Canaveral, according to Mejias, her 4-year-old son, Roman, fell and got a small cut above his eye. She said he wound up in the infirmary the next day after the cut got infected, and the infection is threatening his brain and his vision.

By the time they docked in Mexico, according to Mejias, Roman’s condition became more severe.

“They will not airlift us out of here because immigration won’t accept us because we don’t have passports," Mejias said in a video that she posted after speaking with U.S. and local authorities.

She said the captain suggested they get off the boat and go to a Mexican hospital near the port.

“We were advised by someone who works for the consulate not go to a hospital here in Mexico, which looked like a broke down CVS," said Mejias, who added she didn’t want to take the chance of her and her child of being stranded in Mexico without passports to get back into the U.S.

By Monday, the ship’s nurse had to increase Roman’s antibiotics because the infection, which is now in his bloodstream, was getting worse. “His levels are going back up again, so we have to worry about that," Mejias said in the video.

A photo from Nicole Mejias shows her son's eye infection.
A photo from Nicole Mejias shows her son's eye infection. (Nicole Mejias)

Mejias said she has travel health insurance, but she is required to pay the deductible upfront and will be reimbursed later. She couldn’t come up with all of the money, and now, the bill is increasing -- to nearly $10,000 -- while Roman continues to receive care, according to Mejias. Some money has been donated by fellow passengers and people on Facebook.

Right now, it’s unclear whether Mejias will be detained on the cruise ship when her son is handed over to paramedics who will be waiting at the port when the ship arrives Wednesday morning. Mejias told News4Jax in a Facebook message that she was unfamiliar with the travel insurance because her aunt set up the family vacation.

Norwegian Cruise Lines said it would be issuing a written statement. As of Tuesday evening, News4Jax had not received the statement.

An agent with Odyssey Travel offered some tips when booking a cruise, especially if it’s your first time:

  • Do research on travel insurance and make sure to read the entire policy and understand it before purchasing the policy.
  • Most insurance requires you to prepay in advance, but there are some out there that do not require you to prepay.
  • Always check to see whether your own health insurance will cover you in international waters and make sure you get confirmation in writing.
  • If this is your first cruise, consult with a travel agent who can walk you through the steps of picking the right insurance based on the travel agent’s knowledge of the company offering the policy.

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