Daniel and Shannon Flewelling’s 40th anniversary trip to Norway seemed picture perfect.
“The first part was wonderful, but then everything turned bad,” Daniel Flewelling told us from his hospital bed.
The Norwich man is still recovering from injuries and illness he believes started on Viking Sky cruise.
“I was healthy when I went on the cruise, when I got off I was almost dead,” said Daniel.
“You’re thinking, should we have gone on this cruise?” said his wife Shannon.
A class-action lawsuit the couple joined alleges that Viking Cruises, “negligently sailed through notoriously perilous waters into the path of a Bomb Cyclone,” despite advance warnings of extremely severe wind gusts that could exceed 75 miles per hour.
“We both totally flipped over, his leg got cut, he went rolling down several steps, sprained his ankle, I got contusions on my ribs,” recalled Shannon.
The Flewellings said they both came down with the flu when they arrived home. Daniel said he started feeling the symptoms on the plane ride back from Norway. He’s been in four different hospitals since April 1 after suffering complications.
“I can’t walk. I can hardly talk. And, I can’t take care of myself,” said Flewelling.
Still on a respirator and feeding tube, Daniel was just admitted to Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford for acute care. He was in an induced coma for three weeks and paralyzed for two weeks. He’s expected to be hospitalized for several more months, before being sent to a nursing home for long-term care.
“At one point I was saying my goodbyes to him because they were at their wits end where they didn’t think they could do anything more for him,” said Shannon.
The couple blames the conditions on the cruise.
“They had us sitting on the floor for hours and hours and hours,” said Flewelling.
The couple said they were in close quarters with other passengers for 18 hours, where toilets were overflowing and open containers of food were being passed around without utensils.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles court on Wednesday also claims that passengers were subjected to “terror and fear of imminent death when the Viking Sky was adrift.” The passengers are seeking $10 million in damages from the cruise line.
“I feared for my life that I was going to be drowned,” said Shannon. “We’ve been on so many cruises but this was the first time where the life vests were not in our room. It was 20 minutes, maybe a half hour before they had enough life vests to give to people.”
The Viking Sky has said that, “its procedures were implemented to the highest standards.”
“I think they were winging it,” stated Daniel.
“Even the crew members said this is totally different than we practiced. Sometimes they seemed totally clueless,” added Shannon.
A Viking Cruises spokesperson said they cannot comment on legal action, but “immediately following the Viking Sky incident, Viking’s chairman met the vessel when it docked and promised all guests a thorough investigation and full reimbursement.”
Viking said in addition to reimbursing Viking Sky passengers for their trip, they also compensated guests for other expenses they may have incurred.
The Flewellings said the cruise line has compensated them for their trip and even paid some of their early medical bills, but now Daniel feels forgotten.
“Somebody has to recognize my wife and I, we matter. Nobody’s come and said, ‘how you doin’, are you ok,” said Daniel. “Nobody from Viking has come to look at us yet at all and that upsets me.”
Still, Daniel is optimistic he’ll get his sea legs back. He’s already dreaming of his next cruise and says he’d like it to be on the Viking Cruise Line. Shannon says she is leery of cruising with the company again.
Either way, Daniel hopes their next trip will end differently.
“I want to walk off the ship happy and healthy,” said Daniel with a smile.