Passengers Scramble to Rejoin Cruise After Missing Ship

Six Americans and two Australians were left by a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship after failing to return to the ship by the all-board time.

The issue has become controversial since the group was escorted to the vessel, but the captain refused to let them reboard.

What happened to the NCL guests?

An aerial view of a large cruise ship in the ocean during Venice Port Calls.
(Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

On March 27, the private tour of eight passengers around the African island of São Tomé and Principe ran late, causing them to miss the all-aboard 3 p.m. Though the Coast Guard brought them to the anchored Norwegian Dawn cruise ship, they were not allowed onboard. 

NCL has since reiterated to the media, “While this is a very unfortunate situation, guests are responsible for ensuring they return to the ship at the published time.” 

The statement added that the schedules are shared through several channels, including the area where passengers disembark. It also mentioned that any expenses incurred in rejoining the ship at the next port of call will be shouldered by the passengers.

Who was left behind?

Sao Tome africa
Sao Tomé and Príncipe, Africa. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

Two of the stranded guests were Jay and Jill Campbell from South Carolina. According to the couple, a member of their group is pregnant. Another is a paraplegic, while several others are elderly.

During their expedition, they also came across a 9th passenger who was left behind, 80-year-old Julia Lenkoff.

Based on NCL’s account, Lenkoff was medically disembarked after suffering a stroke. After finding her, the Campbells arranged a flight so she could continue receiving treatment at home in California. 

Over $5,000 in unplanned expenses

Dakar Senegal Africa
Dakar, Senegal. (Image via Google Maps)

As the only passengers with credit cards accepted on the island, the Campbells told media outlets that they had spent more than $5,000 on the group’s hotels, toiletries, food, and transportation.

On April 2, they’ve flown through 7 countries in the last 48 hours to meet the Norwegian Dawn in Dakar, Senegal.

As they waited in Dakar, Jill Campbell told the Today Show that they’ve had to face several ordeals, including language barriers, not having access to essential maintenance medication, currency exchanges, finding transportation and accommodations, and more.

 “Although there are several policies that the ship may have followed, they may have followed those rules too rigidly,” she said on the show.

norwegian jewel
(Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

“I believe that they’ve forgotten that they are people working in the hospitality industry… We believe that it was the basic duty of care that they have forgotten about.”

The passengers left behind were on a 21-night cruise traveling from Capetown to Barcelona. They were refused entry on the eighth day of their voyage.

The US Embassy tried to help them rejoin their ship in Gambia on the 31st, but low tides prevented the ship from docking, and they were still unable to board.

At the time of publication, there have been no updates on whether they successfully boarded the vessel from Senegal or if they again missed their cruise ship.

This incident underscores the importance of travel insurance and keeping a watchful eye on the tours you book.

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