Two Australians are reportedly among a group of Norwegian Dawn passengers stuck in Africa after failing to return to port in time to catch their ship.

WMBF News in South Carolina reported the Australians were among eight guests who went on a private short excursion in a port call on a 21-day cruise from South Africa. They claim the tour operator failed to return them to the port in time after a trip to São Tomé Island.

Despite the frantic efforts of the local coast guard to get them back on board, the ship sailed without them and they remained stuck in Africa.

The report quoted South Carolina couple Jill and Jay Campbell who said the group were “stranded on a small island off the coast of Africa”.

“We were waiting for the tender boats to come back and get us because our boat was anchored off the harbour, but they didn’t come back to get us. So, we’re stranded here,” Jay Campbell told the local TV station.

Stuck just one week into cruise

The Campbells were eight days into the three-week cruise.

“We were on a tour of the island, but we had an issue on the tour, and they didn’t get us back in time,” Jay Campbell said.

The report maintains local coast guards tried to help but the cruise ship “reportedly refused to let them and several others back on board”.

The Cambells, two of the passengers stuck in Africa.

Some were now without medicine, money and paperwork. Several passengers are elderly, one has a heart condition, one is a paraplegic and another is a pregnant woman.

The group still hope to resume the cruise and get permission to board at another African port.

Jay Campbell said: “We paid a lot for this trip to Africa, so we hope to make it through the rest of this trip and end in Spain.”

Norwegian statement

WMBF reports Norwegian Cruise Lines released the following statement:

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.”

Cruise Passenger has reached out to Norwegian Cruise Lines and is awaiting comment and more details about any Australians on board.

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Norwegian Dawn
Empty cabins: Norwegian Dawn is short several guests after the passengers became stuck in Africa after they failed to return to port in time.