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02nd Apr 2024

Couple left stranded in Africa after cruise ship leaves without them

Charlie Herbert

couple stranded by cruise

‘The Harbour Master tried to call the ship, the captain refused the call’

An American couple were among nine passengers stranded in Africa after their cruise ship left without them.

Jill and Jay Campbell, from South Carolina, had boarded the Norwegian Dawn in Cape Town, South Africa, at the start of a 21-night cruise around the continent run by Norwegian Cruise Line.

When the cruise arrived in São Tomé and Príncipe, the Campbell’s decided to go on a private tour of the tiny west African island, with six other people.

They say the tour operator had informed the captain of the cruise ship that they were going to be late re-joining the group, and when they arrived back in port the cruise ship was still anchored.

However, they were denied entry to the ship after missing the all aboard time of 3pm, and when the harbour master tried to call the ship to explain what was going on, the captain refused the call, according to Mr Campbell.

When the Sao Tome coast guard took the stranded passengers to to the cruise ship, the captain told the coast guard to return them to the island.

The couple were left on the island with seven other passengers, including five other Americans and two Australians.

Speaking to local news station WRAL, Jay Campbell said: “The Harbour Master tried to call the ship, the captain refused the call.

“We sent emails to Norwegian Cruise Line, the NCL customer service emergency number, and they said, well, the only way for us to get in touch with the ship is to send them e-mails, and they’re not responding to our emails.

“The captain could have made an easy decision to turn one of the tender boats back, pick us up, safely load us and then go on the way. They had no port to call for the next day, they were simply going to be at sea.”

The couple have been left almost 6,000 miles from home, and as the only ones of the group with any bank cards on them they’ve had to fork out more than $5,000 on food, toiletries and hotel rooms for everyone.

The Campbell couple were stranded alongside six other cruise passengers (Jill Campbell)

While stranded though, they met an 80-year-old woman who had been left at hospital after suffering a concussion and losing part of her vision on a different cruise line tour.

The elderly woman had been left at the hospital without any money or belongings, and the Campbells believe it was fate that they were also left behind so they could help her.

Jay said: “I truly believe sometimes we’re put in certain places for a reason, and I believe we were put in this place for the 80-year-old woman that was left alone. God forbid what would have happened to that lady if we were not here.”

Praising his wife for the way she’s kept the stranded group together, he said: “This woman has been a saint.

“I don’t know where the whole group would be without her strength, guidance and compassion for others. I’m honored and blessed that I have the smartest woman in the world next to me.”

The couple said they were getting help from the US Embassy in Angola.

In a statement, Norwegian Cruise Line said that whilst the situation was “unfortunate”, the passengers had missed the last tender vessel back to the cruise ship.

The company said: “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.

“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.”

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