8 Norwegian Cruise Passengers Stranded on African Island Catch Up to Ship After Traversing 7 Countries

<p>Sipa via AP</p> Close-up image of the Norwegian Dawn

Sipa via AP

Close-up image of the Norwegian Dawn
  • Nine Norwegian Cruise Line passengers were reportedly left behind on the African island of São Tomé and Príncipe on March 27

  • The group was on a guided excursion that got delayed, leading them to miss the ship’s "all aboard" call

  • A statement from Norwegian Cruise Lines noted that all guests are responsible for returning to the docked ship at the designated call time

  • Eight people were able to catch up to the ship on Tuesday morning after reportedly traversing seven countries.

  • One, who had fallen ill before the incident, has safely returned to the U.S.

Multiple passengers were stranded on an island in Africa after their Norwegian Cruise Line ship reportedly left them behind. After several days of uncertainty and a trek across seven countries, they're now back on board the vessel.

On Wednesday, March 27, South Carolina couple Jill and Jay Campbell were enjoying a guided tour on the island of São Tomé and Príncipe located off the continent's western coast, ABC15 News reported at the time. The pair was with six other American and Australian passengers when they realized they wouldn’t make it back to the ship on time due to their tour taking longer than planned.

Though the tour operator contacted the cruise ship’s captain to inform them of the delay, the captain refused to let them back on the still-anchored ship when they arrived at the port because it was after the "all aboard" call, per the outlet.

The São Tomé and Príncipe Coast Guard allegedly then took them by boat directly to the ship where the captain again did not permit them to board.

Related: Carnival Cruise Passenger Captures Ship Fire on Video After Reports of Lightning Strike

<p>Getty</p> Sao Tome and Principe


Sao Tome and Principe

The group later encountered another stranded passenger, an 80-year-old woman, who was hospitalized on the island after a cruise line tour, the outlet stated. The woman reportedly experienced memory and vision loss due to a medical emergency.

In addition to the ill passenger, the group also includes one person who is pregnant, one with a heart condition and four elderly travelers.

The majority of the group left their medications and credit cards on the ship except for the Campbells, who have reportedly paid over $5,000 for food, accommodations, and other necessities for their fellow passengers.

On Sunday, the U.S. Embassy in Angola allegedly arranged for the group to fly to the West African country of Gambia, the ship's next planned port of call, so they could reboard.

Related: 2 Holland America Line Crew Members Killed During Onboard 'Incident' in the Bahamas

<p>Google Maps</p> Map of West Africa that shows Sao Tome and Principe, Gambia, and Senegal

Google Maps

Map of West Africa that shows Sao Tome and Principe, Gambia, and Senegal

Unfortunately, the group discovered the cruise ship wasn’t docked at the port in Gambia as planned because it had to spend another day at sea due to low tides. ABC News 4 reports the passengers spent fifteen hours traveling through six countries to make it to the port on Sunday.

“We have to cross the ferry to get into Senegal,” Campbell told the outlet on Monday, marking their seventh country. “We just learned from the gentleman that the ferry hadn’t been working, but he said no problem, if the ferry is not working we will get another little boat and then pick up a car on the other side. And then once we get on the other side of Senegal, it’s another four-hour drive.”

Related: Royal Caribbean Confirms Death of Passenger on 9-Month World Cruise

In a statement to PEOPLE, Norwegian Cruise Line said, “On the afternoon of March 27, 2024, while the ship was in São Tomé and Príncipe, an African island nation, eight guests who were on the island on a private tour not organized through us missed the last tender back to the vessel, therefore not meeting the all aboard time of 3 p.m. local time."

The statement continued, “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 print communication and posted just before exiting the vessel.”

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The cruise line added that guests are “responsible for any necessary travel arrangements” to meet the ship at the next port and that they had each of their passports “delivered to the local port agents to retrieve” when they missed their all aboard call.

The group was finally able to catch up to the vessel. They reached Dakar, Senegal, its next port, on Monday night, PEOPLE confirmed.

After what they'd been through, Jill told NBC News in a story published on Tuesday, "We are considering whether or not we are going to board the ship. We believe there was a basic duty of care that they had forgotten about, so it does concern us." While she allowed that Norwegian technically followed protocol, she says, "I believe that they really forgot that they are people working in the hospitality industry and really the safety and well-being of the customers should be their first priority."

On Tuesday morning, the eight passengers, less the person who had fallen ill and later safely returned home to the United States, chose to board the cruise. Norwegian confirmed the news to PEOPLE in a statement.

"Despite the series of unfortunate events outside of our control, we will be reimbursing these eight guests for their travel costs from Banjur, Gambia to Dakar, Senegal. We remain in communication with the guests and are providing additional information as it becomes available,"

The Norwegian Dawn departed from Cape Town, South Africa, on March 20 for a 21-day trip that will end in Barcelona on April 10.

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