By Dana Kozlov

CHICAGO (CBS) — “It’s a toxic pool of anger, grief, sadness,” John Gale said.

It’s been almost 11 months since a cruise to the Panama Canal took a nightmarish turn for Gale and his wife Lila. Three and a half hours out of Fort Lauderdale his wife had a stroke during dinner on the Holland America cruise ship Zuiderdaim.

John and Lila Gale (Source: Gale Family)

“She just collapsed,” John said. “It was awful.”

Gale says ship personnel immediately rushed to help his wife, whom he calls Lisette, even putting her on a ventilator. But then Gale and his attorney claim Holland personnel did nothing else. They failed to airlift her back to Florida and instead waitied three hours to put Lisette on a small boat in the middle of the night and ocean to a hospital in Freeport, Bahamas, they say.

“Nothing they could do for her there,” said Gale’s attorney Tom Scolaro. “Hospital didn’t have a working CT scan, didn’t have a neurosurgeon on staff, no one around that could help her. They of course recognized she needed to go right back to Fort Lauderdale. Airport was closed.”

“I think they completely treated her like baggage,” John said. “They were getting rid of her. They even gave me a bill when I got off the boat.”

Gale’s family is now suing Holland America, charging the cruise line with shocking and appalling negligence of care that they say left Lisette permanently disabled physically and cognitively — impairment, the lawsuit claims, that could have been prevented with proper medical attention.

“They should have turned back to Fort Lauderdale,” John said. “If they could send the tender into Freeport, they could send the tender into Fort Lauderdale.”

Gale believes his wife’s situation should serve as a warning to anyone taking a cruise.

A Holland American spokesperson would only say, “Out of respect for the family involved, we decline the opportunity to comment.”