Cruise NewsCarnival Cruise LineSeizure Alert on a Cruise: Passenger Shares Story of Life-Saving Service Dog

Seizure Alert on a Cruise: Passenger Shares Story of Life-Saving Service Dog

Following a recent Carnival Celebration cruise specifically designed for visually impaired passengers, Carnival Cruise Line Ambassador John Heald revisited the topic of service dogs on board.

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Carnival Celebration cruise ship in port
Carnival Celebration hosted 40 guests who were accompanied by service dogs on a recent sailing. Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

This comes after a guest raised concerns about allergies and the presence of 40 service dogs assisting the blind passengers during the 7-day sailing.

In a recent “Coffee with me live” video on Facebook, Heald shared a moving story from Marcus, a cruise passenger whose life has been transformed by his service dog, Murphy.

Marcus, who lives in Albany, New York, struggles with epilepsy triggered by a past brain injury he suffered during a car accident.    

“I have seizures most weeks, sometimes three or four times a week,” he wrote, detailing the fear and isolation his condition brought.  “I became a prisoner in my own home,” he confessed, expressing his anxiety about public spaces.

As a result of the seizures, Marcus had to deal with severe burns from incidents near the stove.  These burns required at least two skin grafts.

However, in 2021, everything changed with the arrival of Murphy, a golden Labrador retriever mix. 

“Murphy alerts me exactly 20 minutes before I’m about to have a seizure, and he’s right every time,” Marcus shared, highlighting the life-altering security Murphy provided.

This newfound sense of control allowed him to reclaim his life.

“That now means I’m able to go out more, see friends, and have a full life knowing that I have time to get home or to a safe place,” he explained.

Marcus’ newfound freedom led him to a recent Carnival Sunrise cruise.

While enjoying a meal with his wife and son, Murphy discreetly tucked under the table, a fellow passenger took issue with the service dog’s presence. 

“One day, I was sitting in the restaurant on the ship with my wife and son, and with Murphy under the table,” Marcus recounted.  “A lady came over and complained about a dog being in there with food being served,” he said, describing the incident.  The situation escalated, with the passenger screaming and demanding they leave the restaurant.

Marcus explained, “My hope is that more people will understand that people with dogs on a cruise are not faking it. Yes, this is what I read from some of the replies to your post yesterday about service dogs on a cruise. This really did make me angry.”

“When on a cruise again, I hope passengers will know that service dogs are people watchers. They’re just focused on their owners and the person they are supporting, and they enjoy it and get rewarded for it. They will never bother anyone,” Marcus concluded.

John Heald used this experience as a teaching moment, highlighting the importance of public education regarding service animals. 

“The American Disability Act requires us to provide cruises for people with proper service animals, not emotional support animals,” Heald clarified in the video.

Beyond the legalities, Heald emphasized the life-changing impact service dogs can have. 

“Well, first of all, you have to look at this from the extraordinary and remarkable angle that a dog can sense through smell that Marcus is going to be having a seizure 30 minutes before he does,” Heald said, expressing his awe at Murphy’s abilities. 

“Absolutely jaw-droppingly incredible! It really is,” he continued.

The post concluded with a heartfelt message to Murphy:

“This shout-out is to you, Murphy! I hope you’re watching this, Murphy. Thank you for the wonderful love, care, and life-saving things you do for Marcus. You are an extraordinary dog, and we, as a cruise line, are very proud to have you on board,” Heald said.

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
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