Stranded Australian cruise passengers describe ‘worst experience of our lives’

An Australian couple stranded on an African island after being abandoned by a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship have spoken of their ordeal – saying it was “the worst experience of our lives”.

Doug and Violeta Sanders said they were left to fend for themselves after a private tour they took during a stopover last week on the island of São Tomé exceeded the time they needed to return to Norwegian Dawn and were not allowed to board, Sky News Australia reported.

Doug and Violeta Sanders

“It was the worst experience of our lives to be abandoned like that in a foreign country, where we don’t speak the language – it’s Portuguese and African,” Violeta told “Seven’s Sunrise.”

“We have no money, our credit cards are not accepted,” she added.

They and the six other passengers were not allowed to reboard the ship, which departed without them.

Norwegian Dawn Christophe Sadowski

The stranded passengers were helped by the US Embassy in Angola and boarded a flight to Gambia in hopes of joining the ship in Banjul, but it was unable to dock due to low tide and continued towards Senegal.

A Norwegian Cruise Line representative said the passengers were on a private tour, not organized by the company.

Jill and Jay Campbell were “considering” not completing their cruise. Jill and Jay Campbell

“We work closely with local tour operators to ensure excursions are planned around our schedule to ensure an on-time return to port. The excursion this group participated in was not organized by us but by them. As such, we are not in communication with their private tour operator,” the spokesperson said.

Lawyer James Diamond of TWC Layers said it was a “strict rule” that a ship can leave once a final port call has been made.

The couple were refused entry to the cruise ship after missing their boarding time. Jill and Jay Campbell

“They pay a lot of money for docking fees and space rental,” he told the program. “They have times when they have to leave, those times are published and unfortunately, I know it’s morally incorrect, but they have the right to leave.”

Among those stranded were Americans Jill and Jay Campbell.

Passengers traveled through seven different countries in 48 hours to arrive in Dakar, Senegal, where they finally reboarded the ship, according to Sky News.

New York Post

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