Regent Seven Seas Explorer is the epitome of luxury and class. Picture: Regent Seven Seas Explorer

A grandmother with dementia was tied up with bathrobe cords and drugged by staff while on a luxury cruise just weeks before her death, an inquest heard.

Marguerite Hayward, 83, woke up ‘screaming’ from a nightmare during a Mediterranean cruise with husband Frederick in April 2017.

Veteran Mr Hayward, who fought with the Army in Korea and Suez, called for help from their £8,500 (about R150 000) suite on the Regent Seven Seas Explorer.

Mrs Hayward, who had mild dementia and was suffering from a panic attack, was bound by her hands and feet while seven staff members tried to calm her down. 

Mr Hayward, who died at the age of 89 earlier this year, said in statements read out at the inquest that his wife of 64 years ‘lashed out’ at security guards because they raised their voices.

She was also given two doses of a sedative, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Mr Hayward said his wife was ‘pinned’ to the bed and ‘forcibly injected’ with ‘entirely the wrong drug for her’. He felt they were treated like criminals by staff on the six-star ship.

While Mrs Hayward, a retired property manager, was ‘much calmer’ the following day, the ship’s doctor said she had to be ‘medically disembarked’ so she could receive specialist treatment, her husband said.

The couple, from Lavenham, Suffolk, were told to get off the ship at Sorrento in southern Italy. Before they left, staff on the ship – dubbed the ‘most luxurious ever built’ – gave them a £1,000 bill for the drugs used to sedate the grandmother.

Mrs Hayward was kept sedated in hospital for five days in Italy, where she developed bedsores, before being flown to the UK for treatment at West Suffolk Hospital. She died on July 29, 2017, at a care home, Suffolk Coroners’ Court heard.

Coroner Nigel Parsley found that the ‘sequence of events which started on the ship, and the treatment which she received overseas, had a cumulative and contributing effect on her death’.

He added that the ‘nature of the treatment’ Mrs Hayward received on the ship ‘contributed to her acute episode of delirium at that time’.

Mr Hayward said in his statement: "If only Marguerite had not been wrongly diagnosed by the ship’s doctor, if only the port agent had done his job, she would have been home enjoying her beloved garden instead of suffering the horrendous pressure ulcers caused by the appalling lack of care in the Sorrento hospital". 

Geriatrician Dr Elena Jameson, who gave evidence at the inquest, said it would have been more suitable to give Mrs Hayward time to calm down rather than rush her to hospital.

The couple’s son, Martin, 58, a marketing consultant from Hertfordshire, said: "I just don’t understand why they didn’t give some space and some time and some care to her. Why did they create an emergency?"

Regent Seven Seas Cruises said it followed the right procedures and offered appropriate support to the couple.

A spokesperson said: "We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Hayward family. We support the coroner’s conclusion that the decision to medically disembark Mrs Hayward to receive further medical attention was correct and that no criticism was made of our staff’s conduct in this very sad and difficult situation".

Daily Mail