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Norwegian Cruise has been ‘silent’ since abandoning elderly woman who suffered stroke, family says

The son-in-law of an 80-year-old cruise passenger who suffered a stroke on a Norwegian Cruise Line-sponsored tour of an African island and was left to find her way back to the US has slammed the company for failing to take responsibility for “completely” abandoning the elderly woman — or return any of his or his wife’s many calls.

“Norwegian’s been silent,” Kurt Gies told The Post on Wednesday, refuting the cruise line’s claims that its crew supported his mother-in-law Julie Lankoff and instead “completely abandoned this person in need.”

Gies said that he and his wife, Lana, became concerned about his mother-in-law when they noticed that an Apple AirTag they had been using to track her was still on the island of São Tomé and Principe even though the ship had departed for its next stop.

Julie Lenkoff, 80, returned home to the United States on Sunday after she was allegedly abandoned by a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. Jill and Jay Campbell

He said they tried to call the cruise line 15 different times over the course of two days, but they didn’t receive a response.

Fortunately, in the meantime, Lenkoff was able to connect with eight other passengers who were left behind from the same cruise when their private tour ran late.

The other passengers were able to call the Gieses to let them know they were with her.

Gies said that it was only then that they found out that Lenkoff — who saved up about $20,000 for her “big dream trip” on the cruise around Africa — collapsed while on a tour of the island.

She experienced “numbness and weakness” across her right side, and when she came to, Gies said she could not speak English and was only communicating in French.

Kurt Gies and his wife, Lana Wilken-Gies, said they received a call last Wednesday that her mother had suffered a medical emergency on board the ship making a 20-day voyage across Africa. Facebook/Kurt Gies

Lenkoff was transported to a local hospital, but was discharged just 24 hours later, at which point the vessel had left without her.

She had no way to get back on the ship or join her family back in the US because she had left her credit cards back on the vessel as cruise ship personnel had suggested, Gies explained.

He also denied Norwegian’s claims that its medical team had assessed Lenkoff before the ship docked at São Tomé and Principe.

In its statement, Norwegian claimed its policy is to “contact the guest directly, as we would not have the authority to share any medical details with anyone else without their expressed consent.”

Lenkoff was touring the island of São Tomé when she reportedly started suffering vision and memory loss. Facebook/Kurt Gies

“We attempted to call the guest several times, and as we were unable to reach her, we worked directly with our port agents in São Tomé and Principe, an African island nation, to receive updates about the guest,” the cruise line claimed.

The group took care of Lenkoff for three days, Gies said, but had planned to meet back up with the ship when it was scheduled to dock in Gambia on Easter Sunday.

The Gieses then arranged for Lenkoff to fly from Africa to Portugal, Portugal into Toronto, Canada, and from Canada into San Francisco.

They wanted to get her first-class tickets to ensure she remained comfortable because they still did not know what her condition was — but the flight to Lisbon was out of first-class tickets.

“We were very concerned,” Gies said, claiming there “could have potentially been catastrophic consequences.”

Jay Campbell was seen escorting Lenkoff through the streets of the Central African island. Jill and Jay Campbell

But Lenkoff was able to make it home on Sunday, and is now recovering at the Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif., where Gies said she suffered from an additional stroke.

“She knows she’s in peril,” Gies said of his mother-in-law, whom he said is “normally very independent.”

Doctors now say it appears she suffered a “significant stroke and potential heart attack” during the trip.

Gies claimed that his mother-in-law was in good health before the trip, having recently recovered from COVID.

Lenkoff is recovering at the Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif., before she can return home to Eugene, Ore. Facebook/Kurt Gies

“She just wanted to experience the world,” he said, noting that he and his wife are now “eternally indebted and grateful” to the Campbells.

“They have become part of our family and I’ve never met them.”

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