Ont. family stranded in Rome after their hotel room was ransacked
Cassandra Cahill says her family members had their passports and money stolen from a hotel in Rome. (Facebook/Cassandra Cahill)
Published Tuesday, August 27, 2019 5:28PM EDT
A Kingston, Ont. family is stranded in Rome after their hotel room was allegedly ransacked and their room safe, which had contained their passports, IDs, credit cards and $2,200 in cash, was ripped from the wall by thieves.
Because the robbery happened Friday night, the Cahill family said security at the Canadian Embassy in Rome told them staff were unavailable to help until it re-opened after the weekend.
But that was too late for the group of six to catch a cruise ship on Sunday, which was supposed to take them throughout Europe. The family said employees from Royal Caribbean International told them they wouldn’t be getting a refund, despite their plight.
A Royal Caribbean International spokesperson was not available for comment by publication time.
Cassandra Cahill told CTVNews.ca that embassy staff are now helping them, but the family’s summer vacation has been “ruined.”
She said they felt isolated and helpless, without anyone to turn to after the loss. “A safe is supposed to be safe … we were frantic and worried,” Cahill said by telephone from Rome.
Global Affairs Canada told CTVNews.ca in an email that it is “aware of the case involving a Canadian family in Rome.
“Canadian consular officials in Rome are in close contact with the family and continue to provide consular assistance as needed,” it said.
FAMILY WAS ‘SCARED AND SHOCKED’
Last Wednesday, Cahill, her parents Shawn and Cathy, her younger siblings and her sister’s boyfriend Keegan Parker arrived in Rome and checked into the Hotel Genova. After locking their valuables in the room’s safe, they took in the sights including Vatican City.
“It was a great day. Beautiful city,” she recalled, but everything changed on their second night there.
After the family returned from a late-night dinner they arrived to their room and saw that the hotel safe had been ripped from the wall. It contained all of their passports, approximately 1,500 euros in cash, credit cards, a cell phone and a purse.
“My brother’s suitcase was missing. It’d been emptied and they (the thief) put the safe in there, we think,” Cahill said, adding that the adjacent room had been forcibly broken into as well.
The family quickly called the police and also phoned the emergency hotline at the Canadian Embassy in Rome.
“But they couldn’t do anything until the weekend was over,” Cahill said they were told. “We felt a little lost because that’s who’re supposed to turn to. It was unsettling.”
Once Rome police arrived, Cahill said officers surveyed the room but didn’t appear to be taking notes. Her parents and Keegan ended up staying six hours at a police station where “not a lot was accomplished,” Cahill said, which could have been partially blamed on the “language barrier.”
To make matters worse, without passports, the family couldn’t board a cruise ship which they’d been scheduled to take on Sunday.
Despite repeated requests, Royal Caribbean International employees told them that the company would not offer any refund nor any rescheduling, Cahill said.
“There were no exceptions. It’s part of their policy,” Cahill said she was told regarding non-refundable tickets.
Out of desperation, they asked family in Canada to reach out to their Member of Parliament, Mark Gerretsen.
He told CTVNews.ca over the phone he’d heard about their plight through social media and helped the family get in touch with officials at the Canadian Embassy in Rome.
"Our main concern is our constituents and their safety abroad,” he said, adding that the first step in cases like these is to inform Global Affairs Canada.
On Monday, the family eventually met with Canada’s Ambassador to Italy, Alexandra Bugailiskis, who put them in touch with legal counsel. Cahill said Bugailiskis has been working to supply the family with emergency documentation so they can return home.
“They were very helpful but that’s the type of help we needed two days before,” Cahill said.
In the meantime, Cahill said her family is just going to have to make do staying in Rome, with the credit cards they have on hand, until they have a way to get home.