Australians among cruise ship passengers stranded after being refused permission to reboard Norwegian Dawn

The Nightly
3 Min Read
The passengers were refused permission to reboard Norwegian Dawn after they arrived back late from a day trip.
The passengers were refused permission to reboard Norwegian Dawn after they arrived back late from a day trip. Credit: Norwegian Cruise Lines

Two Australians are among a group of furious cruise passengers stranded in Africa after the ship they had been travelling on took off without them.

The Norwegian Cruise Lines has defended leaving the passengers — some without their credit cards or medication — after they failed to turn up for the scheduled departure on time.

The company described it as a “very unfortunate incident”.

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The passengers had disembarked from the Norwegian Dawn on the island of Saotome and Principe off the coast of West Africa on Wednesday, departing for off-ship day trips.

The two Australians were on a tour of the island with two US citizens, Jill and Jay Campbell from South Carolina, when they told their tour guide they needed to be back on board by 3pm.

“They were like: ‘No problem, we can get you back within an hour’,” Mr Campbell told South Carolina TV station WRAL.

He said the guide contacted the captain to say the group was going to be late. When they arrived back at the port, they had missed the last tender back but the ship was still anchored offshore.

“The harbour master tried to call the ship, the captain refused the call,” Mr Campbell said.

“We sent emails to NCL, the NCL customer service emergency number, they said ‘Well, the only way for us to get in touch with the ship is to send them emails, they’re not responding to our emails.’”

Stranded US citizens, Jill and Jay Campbell from South Carolina.
Stranded US citizens, Jill and Jay Campbell from South Carolina. Credit: Supplied

The nation’s coastguard even took the passengers out to the cruise ship but they were refused permission to board.

The four then realised they weren’t alone in being left behind, with another four people also stranded.

The Coopers — who were eight days into a 21-day trip that had started in South Africa when they were stranded — said they were the only ones with their bank cards and that they had spent $7500 on accommodation and food for the whole group.

However, the ship was unable to dock in Gambia due to a very low tide and will instead stop in Senegal. The group is now trying to travel to Senegal in time to meet the cruise ship there.

Jill and Jay Campbell with others from the stranded group.
Jill and Jay Campbell with others from the stranded group. Credit: supplied/supplied

In a statement, Norwegian Cruise Lines disputed some of the claims, saying the company had been in contact with the 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,” a spokesperson said.

“Our team has been working closely with the local authorities to understand the requirements and necessary visas needed for the guests to rejoin the ship at the next available port of call.

“Given that these guests were on a private tour and did not return to the ship at the communicated all aboard time, they are responsible for any necessary travel arrangements to rejoin the ship at the next available port of call, per our protocol.”

The spokesperson said that while the eight guests made arrangements to rejoin the ship in Banjul in Gambia on April 1 the ship could not safely dock due to adverse weather conditions as well as tidal restrictions that require specific timing for safe passage.

“While we share in our guests’ disappointment, this modification was made with great consideration for their safety and that of our crew, which is our top priority.

“We contacted these eight guests regarding this itinerary adjustment and provided them with authorization to rejoin the ship at Dakar, Senegal on April 2.

The spokesperson said the cruise line will be reimbursing the eight passengers for their travel costs from Banjur to Dakar.

A spokesperson said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade “stands ready to provide consular assistance to any Australian citizen, should they request it”.

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