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8 cruise ship passengers stranded in Africa after arriving late to boarding – National


A group of eight cruise passengers were left stranded at a port in West Africa after the vessel didn’t allow them to board due to lateness.

Six American and two Australian tourists were supposed to be on a dream vacation, but it quickly turned into a nightmare when they arrived back at port from a private tour to find the boat had already closed its doors and denied them entry.

The group had embarked on a private excursion on March 27 on the African island of São Tomé and Príncipe and were expected to be back for the all-aboard time of 3 p.m. The tour operator had called ahead in an attempt to let the cruise captain know they would be late.

Despite help from the local Coast Guard, they were denied entry to the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship.

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Affected passengers Jay and Jill Campbell told ABC affiliate WPDE the incident happened during their first week of a three-week voyage with Norwegian Cruise Line. While out on the excursion, touring the island, they became aware they were running short on time.

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“We were like, ‘Our time is getting short,’” Jay Campbell recalled, at which point he said the guide let them know, “‘No problem, we can get you back in an hour.’”

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When they arrived back, the vessel was still anchored but its doors were closed. The Coast Guard ferried the group to the ship, but they weren’t allowed aboard.

“The harbourmaster tried to call the ship. The captain refused the call. We sent emails to NCL the customer service emergency number,” Jay Campbell said. “They said the only way for us to get in touch with the ship is via email. They’re not responding to our emails.”

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The Campbells told media that others who missed the boat included a pregnant woman and a paraplegic traveller. Another passenger, a woman in her 80s, missed the sailing time because she had disembarked to receive emergency medical treatment.

FILE – Norwegian Dawn arrives at Portland Port on July 26, 2023 in Portland, England.

Finnbarr Webster / Getty Images

The ship set sail without them, leaving them without their passports. Others were left without medication and credit cards, as well as their personal belongings.

In a statement to media, Norwegian Cruise Line said they handed over the passengers’ passports to the local port agents before they set sail, and the affected passengers were reunited with their passports as they watched the boat leave.

From there, it was a scramble through at least six countries over the course of several days to reunite with the ship.

They were able to get to Gambia to rejoin the ship on Monday, but the vessel couldn’t dock due to low tide so they had to travel to the next scheduled port, in Senegal, for Tuesday’s docking.

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The Campbells claimed they were the only ones of the group with a Visa card, so they footed the bill for the other passengers’ travel, to the tune of US$5,000.

Norwegian’s statement said they would reimburse the stranded passengers for their travel from Gambia to Senegal, but that the tardy passengers will be on the hook for all the other travel expenses they incurred since March 27.

“Eight guests who were on the island on a private tour not organized through us missed the last tender back to the vessel, therefore not meeting the all aboard time of 3 p.m. local time,” the statement said, according to CNN.

“While this is a very unfortunate situation, guests are responsible for ensuring they return to the ship at the published time, which is communicated broadly over the ship’s intercom, in the daily communication and posted just before exiting the vessel.”

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The cruise line confirmed Tuesday that all eight guests had rejoined the ship.

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