Royal Caribbean has informed Jill and Dodge Melkonian that it will cover all of their out-of-pocket medical expenses after 89-year-old Dodge broke his hip on board a Royal Caribbean-owned Azamara cruise ship on August 19.
The injury has resulted in a lengthy and expensive stay in a Turkish hospital.
The decision ends a weeklong battle between the Florida couple and the cruise line over compensation and assistance, which the Melkonians had claimed was slow in coming after they were essentially stuck in a small Turkish town at a hospital that wasn't able to adequately treat Dodge Melkonian's injury.
He was eventually transferred to an American hospital in Istanbul last week, but the stay is costing the Melkonians $10,000 a day, according to their Tampa-based travel agent, Tammy Levent.
The couple had purchased travel insurance through the cruise line, but they argued the company had been noncommittal on whether it would cover expenses, given the insurance policy's provisions.
"They said they were going to take care of the bill, then they changed their mind," Levent said. "I won't trust any of it until we get it in writing."
Tuesday, that's exactly what happened.
Royal Caribbean's vice president. and global chief medical officer told Jill Melkonian in an e-mail that the company would "pay any medical bills not covered by insurance so that you do not incur any related out-of-pocket expenses. I hope this will put your mind at ease, and help you focus on your husband's recovery."
The State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson had all gone to bat for the family, seeking to provide assistance and make sure they were well taken care of while stuck abroad.
Nelson called Royal Caribbean's decision "great news."
Last year, the Melkonians were on another Azamara ship that caught fire and temporarily lost power while sailing the Indian Ocean. The Turkey cruise was given to them as compensation for that incident.
But these experiences don't appear to have squashed the frequent travelers' wanderlust. Levent says that, after undergoing surgery in Istanbul, Dodge Melkonian turned to his wife and asked, "Hey, when are we going on our next cruise?"