Gary and Sue McGinty from Cairns were on the holiday of a lifetime – a 26-day cruise sailing around Asia, a celebration of their retirement.

But five-days into their sailing aboard the Sun Princess, Mr McGinty starting vomiting blood from what they suspected was a burst stomach ulcer.

“I’d vomited heaps of blood … it was out of the blue, no warning, no nothing,” Mr McGinty told Channel 9’s A Current Affair.

“I took a couple steps and realised that everything was just spinning,” said Mr McGinty. The former pastor then suddenly passed out surrounded by blood.

The situation was so dire that the captain and crew decided that an emergency evacuation was required to save Mr McGinty’s life. But the closest rescue team in Indonesia did not have the equipment to hoist Mr McGinty to their helicopter. The result – an expensive evacuation by the Singapore Air Force.

Mr McGinty spent 10-days in hospital and Mrs McGinty, who was unable to fly out with her husband, had to spend three days on the ship.

When Mrs McGinty was still onboard the ship, she called American Express to find out about the travel insurance she thought, was valid through her husband’s credit card. But to her shock, she found out that they were not covered.

The second blow was when they returned home. Waiting for them was a hefty $100,000 bill – $70,000 of that total, for the Singapore Air Force evacuation.

When Mr McGinty purchased the cruise tickets through his American Express card, he believed he had travel insurance.

Mr McGinty’s credit card was due to expire just prior to the trip. He had called American Express and said a staff member helped him find a new card with lower fees to roll onto.

But American Express claims he cancelled the old card – wiping his insurance.

“Even if I had cancelled the card, I’d paid for the holiday on the card, which I expected they would honour even without the card, because I thought it was a contract,” Mr McGinty said.

He hopes that American Express will honour their card’s previous policy.

American Express maintains Mr McGinty did not hold an active card with travel insurance at the time of his trip.