Stranded Passengers on African Island Race to Reunite with Norwegian Cruise Line Ship

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
April 1, 2024News
Stranded Passengers on African Island Race to Reunite with Norwegian Cruise Line Ship
The dawn-class cruise ship Norwegian Star, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), moors in the Bay of Cannes on May 13, 2019. (Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images)

A group of stranded cruise passengers has been trying to rejoin a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship that left the small African island nation of São Tomé and Principe without them.

The six Americans and two Australians are racing to reunite with the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship as it travels up the West African coast.

According to NCL, the passengers were late to the ship on March 27 and arrived after the planned cutoff time.

“Eight guests who were on the island on their own or with a private tour missed the last tender back to the vessel, therefore not meeting the all aboard time of 3 p.m. local time,” the statement said.

The 21-day cruise stopped at São Tomé and Principe off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa on day eight.

That day, South Carolina couple Jill and Jay Campbell acknowledged that there was an issue with their private tour and that their guide was unable to get them back to the ship at the scheduled time. But they also said the cruise ship was still in port when they finally returned. Nonetheless, the captain allegedly refused to let them back on board.

“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. Guests are responsible for any necessary travel costs to rejoin the ship at the next available port of call,” NCL said.

The Campbells said they were stranded with six other passengers, which included an elderly person with a heart condition, a pregnant woman, and a paraplegic. The tourists are traveling without their personal belongings and necessary medications.

They also said the only way to contact NCL is through emails, but the cruise line has not allegedly responded to any of their messages. However, NCL said in a statement that it has a team dedicated to assisting the stranded passengers.

“When the guests did not return to the vessel at the all aboard time, their passports were delivered to the local port agents to retrieve when they returned to the port. Our team has been working closely with the local authorities to understand the requirements and necessary visas needed if the guests were to rejoin the ship at the next available port of call. We are in communication with the guests and providing additional information as it becomes available,” according to a statement.

Since then, the stranded passengers have scrambled to catch up with the cruise ship on their own frustrating and stressful journey. With help from the U.S. Embassy in Angola, the tourists tried to reunite with the Norwegian Dawn in Gambia on Sunday. However, the cruise ship had to spend an extra day at sea due to low tides that prevented it from docking in port., an online cruise ship tracker, shows that the Norwegian Dawn departed Cape Town, South Africa, on March 2. The site shows it is scheduled to arrive in Barcelona, Spain, on April 10. The stranded passengers’ next opportunity to reunite with the cruise ship is in the West African country of Senegal, where it is scheduled to port on Tuesday.

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