Angry NCL’s Norwegian Star passengers were forced to miss out on their once-in-a-lifetime destination in Antarctica after their original course was rerouted mid-way through their voyage and they only found out via the onboard app.

Australian cruiser Shane Grant said that he and his wife found out about itinerary change after the ship’s passenger app was renamed from Antarctica and South America to “just South America”.

There was “no explanation,” he said. “The entire ship are really pissed off.”

After departing South America, and expecting to be heading for glacial mountains and gentoo penguins of Paradise Bay, passengers instead went to the South Shetlands and Admiralty Bay 200 miles north, then past Elephant Island before going to the Falklands.

Another angry Antarctica passenger, Melbourne woman Helen Midler, vented her anger in a video as @ruinedvacation on TikTok. She said she did not receive emails and notices the line claimed to have sent out before departure and neither had fellow passengers.  

“According to customer service this decision was made by head office in Miami before we departed and it was for ‘operational reasons’. They refused to explain what those operational reasons are,” she said in the video.

“We know it’s not the weather. What are the reasons?”

The captain was also nowhere to be seen or heard and made no announcements, she said.

Angry Antarctica passengers gathered

The angry Antarctica passengers on the once-in-a-lifetime trip gathered as the ship passed through the Drake Passage, wanting answers.

Midler posted an update via @ruinedvacation saying they were told the changed itinerary was because of  a “go-slow order”.

“We saved and we booked this two years ago for the trip of a lifetime,” she said.

“We’ll never be able to afford this again.”  

Norwegian Cruise Line sent a notification to some travellers.

“While we try to maintain original itineraries as much as possible, unfortunately, at times modifications are made to optimise the itinerary or to accommodate certain circumstances. As such, in order to enhance the guest experience, the itinerary has been revised.”

NCL said the current sailing and another trip departing February 18 would no longer reach the Antarctic destinaton of Paradise Bay. The February 26 sailing has also substituted a call on Paradise Bay for Admiralty Bay in the sub-Antarctic South Shetland Islands.

NCL says modifications were unavoidable

An NCL spokesperson told news outlets that Norwegian Star tried to stick to original itineraries as much as possible. Certain circumstances meant that modifications were unavoidable.

“To enhance the guest experience, the ship’s current itinerary was revised to allow more time for guests to explore Stanley, Falkland Islands. As such, the cruise by Paradise Bay, Antarctica was replaced with a cruise by Admiralty Bay,” on Antarctica’s South Shetland Island chain.

The spokesperson said “go slow” order was “due to a recent regulatory requirement in the area, the ship is operating at a reduced speed, also impacting its original itinerary”.

Propulsion issues had also been rumoured to have affected the itinerary. The ship’s Azipod propulsion system led to the ship cancelling ports of call in 2005 and 2015. In 2017 speed issues forced the ship to cancel all planned stops around New Zealand. It turned around back for Australia on the day it reached Auckland.

Antarctic tourism governing body IAATO had brought into effect slower speed restrictions this summer, for the protection of migratory whales. CL and other cruise lines were made aware of the changes since 2021.

Norwegian Star is a 23-year-old 2300-passenger cruise and one of the larger vessels to visit Antarctica.

NCL has been asked for further comment.

Helen Midler posted a number of TikTok videos admonishing NCL.