Eight passengers are stranded on an African island after a Norwegian cruise ship leaves without them

A dream cruise vacation turns into a nightmare for eight travelers stranded on the African island of Sao Tome and Principe after their ship is delayed in returning from a private cruise.

The tourists — six from the United States and two from Australia — were on board the Norwegian cruise ship Norwegian Dawn, which left Cape Town, South Africa, on March 20 for a 21-day trip to the coast of Africa. Ends April 10 in Barcelona, ​​Spain.

But on March 27, a group of eight tourists were late returning to the ship at 3pm from a private excursion on the island.

Jay and Jill Campbell of South Carolina were in the backward group.

They said their cruise operator informed the cruise captain that they would be late rejoining the ship and that the local coast guard tried to get them on board, but they were not allowed to board.

As a result, the couple and the rest of the crew are stranded for days on an island off the coast of Nigeria, with language, currency problems and a complicated journey to catch the ship.

“The lovely people of Sao Tome were very kind and very hospitable. “They reached out as much as they could to help us find hotels,” Jay Campbell told NBC's “Today” show Tuesday morning.

“We were able to go to a tour agency there to arrange flights to the next port of call… a very difficult process — you're dealing with multiple languages, language barriers, different currencies… finding someone that even has dollars in it… to understand where we need to go. Trying to get an agent.

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“You can't get there from here,” he added.

A Norwegian spokesman called the incident a “very unfortunate situation” and said it was “responsible to ensure that guests return to the ship at the time they are released”.

After the guests failed to return, their passports were handed over to local port agents as per protocol, the shipping group said. The company said Work with local authorities to understand “guest re-boarding requirements and visas at the next available port of call”.

On Monday, guests had made arrangements to rejoin the ship in Banjul, Gambia, but the ship could not safely dock there due to “adverse weather” and “tidal restrictions”. The guests were contacted and given information to rejoin the ship in Dakar, Senegal on Tuesday.

Jill Campbell said she passed through seven countries in 48 hours before arriving in Senegal on Monday night.

But now they are reconsidering whether to return to the ship.

“We are considering whether or not we are going to board the ship. It is docked in Senegal,” he said. “We believe there was a fundamental duty of care that they forgot, so that worries us.”

“After what we saw, even if there was a set of rules or policies that the cruise line could have followed, we truly believe they followed those rules very strictly. I believe they really forgot that they are people working in the hospitality industry. The safety and well-being of the customers should be their number one priority,” said Jill Campbell. He also said.

Norwegian noted that passengers are responsible for making their own travel arrangements for rejoining the ship.

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“Despite a series of unfortunate events beyond our control, we will reimburse these eight guests for their travel expenses from Banjore, The Gambia, to Dakar, Senegal,” a travel agency spokesperson said. “We are in constant contact with guests and will provide additional information as it becomes available.”

A silver lining in the disaster was that the Campbells were able to connect with another Norwegian Dan passenger – 80-year-old Julia Lenkoff – who was left on the island, but for a medical reason.

Lenkoff was on another day's tour on March 27.

Norwegian said he “medically disembarked” from the ship that day to receive local treatment.

Norwegian said its maintenance team tried to call Lenkop several times but could not reach him, and the cruise line was working with its port agent in Sao Tome and Principe for updates on his condition.

The Campbells met Lenkoff and were able to put her in touch with her family in California, who flew home — something Lenkoff's daughter said “saved her life.”

“He's a world traveler. He's always traveling. So this is going to be one of his bucket trips because he's been to 120 countries so far and he wants to go to 130,” said his daughter, Lana Lenkoff Keyes. An interview aired on “Today” on Tuesday.

Lenkoff was taken on a flight to Lisbon, Portugal, and then placed in the care of airport staff to continue his journey to the United States, where he has since returned safely.

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