Cruise Passengers Stranded In Africa – Left Behind By Their Ship

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Nine tourists have been left on a remote island in Africa, after their cruise ship left them behind.

Seven Americans and two Australians were on a private shore excursion on Sao Tome and Principe when their return to Norwegian Dawn was delayed. Eight guests were on one delayed tour, while another had visited a local hospital after a separate excursion.

The tour operator for the delayed excursion apparently called the cruise ship to inform the captain of the delay, but when the guests waited for a tender to get them back to the ship, one wasn’t sent.

The coast guard on the island tried to help the passengers, but the ship refused them permission to board, and sailed away leaving the passengers behind.

Two of the passengers have been speaking to news outlets and have reported that, in the group, there are several older passengers, one of whom has a heart condition. There is also a paraplegic guest and a pregnant woman.

On the afternoon of March 27, 2024, while the ship was in Sao Tome and Principe, an African island nation, 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.

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. 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.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Statement

The passengers are now trying to negotiate a return to the ship – with the help of the US Embassy they flew to Gambia on Sunday, but they were waiting for confirmation from NCL that they would be allowed back onboard.

Update: The passengers flew to Gambia, but the ship was unable to dock at the port. The passengers then travelled to Senegal where they were finally able to board the ship and continue their cruise – with NCL promising to refund the travel costs for the Gambia to Senegal journey.


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Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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2 thoughts on “Cruise Passengers Stranded In Africa – Left Behind By Their Ship”

  1. We were on this cruise.
    Although I agree that passengers are warned of the need to be back on time, it seems somewhat petty to not send out a tender to pick up the late arrivals particularly as we were not docking in Banjul and had an extra sea day instead. The administrative work/time etc required to relocate these passengers would have been avoided if the ship had been more client friendly.Of course I don’t know the reason for the refusal but surely a tender round trip of 30 minutes could have eliminated the distress of these passengers.

  2. Anyone who takes a third-party cruise runs the risk of this exact scenario happening to them. I know that shore excursions through the cruise line are usually more expensive, but worth it to avoid this situation.

    What people do not understand is that cruise ships are on a schedule, just like any other transportation. It may be there is another cruise ship coming in that is scheduled to dock at the same pier where your ship is docked. It may be that it is an issue with the tide to enable to ship to get through a channel. There are a number of reasons — but bottom line is — you are told to be back on board by a specific time.

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