Norwegian Cruise Line was right to ditch the late passengers in Africa, travel writer says

Eight people have accused Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) of abandoning them on a small African island after a private tour ran late and the group missed the boarding deadline.

Four members of the group are elderly and another is pregnant. Although the ship was still at anchor, they were refused boarding.

The ship, the Norwegian Dawn, set sail without them – and it was nice to do so.

Once, I was late to check in for a flight. I jumped out of the taxi, ran to the counter (no easy feat when you’re carrying luggage) and arrived at the office dripping in sweat, ready to get on my knees and crawl if this meant I would be allowed to pass.

I started to tell my sob story to the lady at the desk, my heart pounding and my lungs gasping for air, when she politely interrupted me and shook her head.

Eight people have accused Norwegian Cruise Line of abandoning them on a small African island. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In the nicest way possible, she said this: “Stiff Bickies. » (OK yes, I paraphrased.)

Of course, the plane was still at the airport, just a few hundred meters from where I was. However, the luggage had already been loaded, the manifest had already been finalized and the other passengers were already boarding.

There was no way they were going to let me on board, and they shouldn’t have.

You see, I had gone on a whale watching tour about two and a half hours south of the airport – hey, it was my last day, I wanted to make it count.

I planned it to perfection, except for one detail: we spotted a fun module at the very end, so the captain offered to give us a little extra time to enjoy the view.

With one eye on the magnificent mammals and another on my watch, I held on to a glimmer of hope that I could make it.

I hopped on the bus back to town, stopped a taxi and asked the driver to hurry up. I got out of the car like a 100m sprinter coming out of the starting blocks and ran towards the terminal.

Alas, my proverbial ship had sailed.

Was it a disappointment? Absolutely. But imagine delaying the approximately 158 other passengers scheduled for the Boeing 737’s departure, asking the crew to extend their shifts, or holding up the plane and disrupting traffic at the airport… so little that I can drop off my bags and quickly pass security checks. , and find my door.

Imagine the embarrassment if I got on that plane. What do you say? “Sorry guys, it’s my fault lol.”

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of cruise ship operations. The Norwegian Dawn can accommodate 3,372 people – 2,340 passengers and 1,032 crew – and this group of eight was expected to wait?

A ship’s departure time isn’t really a mystery.

I sailed on the Norwegian Dawn in February and the departure time was published the day before in NCL’s Freestyle Daily newsletter and announced over the loudspeaker several times that morning.

It was also displayed on signs at the gates where guests disembark.

The golden rule is clear: make sure you are back on time, otherwise the ship may sail without you.

So what do you do if you’re left behind? In general, there are two options: either catch up with the ship at a later port or return home.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have brought your essentials with you – your passport, phone, credit card and medication – because all your belongings will stay on board until the end.

Don’t get me wrong, of course I sympathize with the plight of those who found themselves in a foreign country without the safety of the ship.

It would be scary and stressful to figure out next steps, especially for group members with higher needs, and disappointing to miss their vacation.

However, the sad reality is that ships cannot always wait.

Private tours are an entirely different matter, because although the ship will wait for official tours – those organized by the cruise ship operator – to return, all bets are off for passengers who take charge of their shore excursions.

Unofficial tours may be slightly cheaper than those on the ship’s itinerary, with slightly higher availability, so they may be attractive. However, while operators will do their best to stick to scheduled times, all bets are off once you board that bus and leave the port.

Think of it like booking multiple legs of a trip with different airlines. They are not part of the same network, they do not owe each other anything, and cannot guarantee that you will establish your connection. Let’s say the bus breaks down. Maybe someone wanders off and takes a while to find.

Maybe the group lingers over a delicious lunch. Someone may need to stop at an ATM or the restroom. You could get stuck in traffic jams. Or maybe your visit will be like mine and you’ll see something incredible that will just make you want to take a break.

Thus, eight passengers remained in São Tomé and Príncipe, the second smallest country in Africa.

“While this is a very unfortunate situation, guests have the responsibility to ensure they return to the ship at the published time,” NCL said in a statement, adding that it was communicating with guests on next steps. It’s hard but fair, especially since the 3,364 (approximately) other people on board understood well.

Kirrily Schwarz recently sailed on Norwegian Dawn as a guest of Norwegian Cruise Line.

New York Post

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