Elderly Cruise Couple Late to Newest Norwegian Ship, Left at Port

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Just weeks after eight guests were late to return to the cruise terminal and were left behind in western Africa as their Norwegian Cruise Line ship departed, an elderly couple has experienced a very similar situation on a different Norwegian ship in Spain.

The couple, Richard and Claudene Gordon of Salt Lake City, Utah, were aboard the 10-night, one-way sailing on Norwegian Viva that departed Lisbon, Portugal on Friday, April 26.

When the ship called to Motril along Spain’s southern coast on Monday, April 29, the couple enjoyed an independently arranged shore tour to the historic city of Granada, 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of the cruise port.

Driving time between the cruise port and Granada is approximately 50-60 minutes one-way, depending on traffic and weather conditions. Unfortunately, the tour bus with the Gordons was delayed by a rainstorm while returning to the port, and the guests realized they would not make the stated 5:30 p.m. all-aboard time.

Norwegian Viva Cruise Ship
Norwegian Viva Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: GEORGE STAMATIS)

The couple was able to contact a relative onboard the ship – they were sailing with family and friends to celebrate Richard’s 85th birthday – at about 5:45 p.m., who was then able to alert Norwegian Viva‘s crew members about the delay.

Unfortunately, the ship does have to maintain a set schedule with port departures, and was unable to wait for the couple. The Gordons claim to have arrived at the cruise port just after 6 p.m., when the vessel had been scheduled to depart, and expressed frustration that previous departures in the sailing had not left promptly.

“Our cruise began in Lisbon and we departed from Lisbon about one and a half hours after the scheduled departure at 4 p.m.,” the couple told CNN. “Then the next night or two, at least a half-hour late from the dock, so it is clear that they do not always leave on the exact moment scheduled.”

Prior to arriving in Motril, the ship had already visited Gibraltar and Cadiz. Mediterranean itineraries are generally port-intensive, and Norwegian Viva has no days at sea on the 10-night itinerary before she arrives in Civitavecchia, Italy on Monday, May 6.

The Gordons were unable to locate a representative from Norwegian Cruise Line on the pier and instead, visited a local police department for assistance. The cruise line, meanwhile, attempted several times to contact the couple at the phone numbers and emergency contact information provided, but without success.

Norwegian Viva Cruise Ship
Norwegian Viva Cruise Ship

It is unknown whether the couple had the appropriate calling plan on their phones so the cruise line could contact them, or if their phones were out of battery power or otherwise unable to get a signal.

Catching up with the cruise ship has proven more challenging, as the Gordon’s daughter wasn’t able to find a way for the couple to reach Ibiza on Tuesday to meet the ship. Instead, they flew to Palma de Mallorca to return to Norwegian Viva on Wednesday, May 3.

Norwegian Cruise Line provided a taxi from the couple’s hotel in Palma de Mallorca to the cruise port, and they were escorted back onboard.

Similarities to Previous Incident

This week’s “left behind” saga from Norwegian Viva is somewhat similar to the recent incident involving Norwegian Dawn. On March 27, eight passengers failed to return to the ship on time in Sao Tome and Principe and spent several days – and thousands of dollars – traveling through different African nations to catch up to the vessel.

The common denominator in both cases is that the impacted travelers chose to arrange independent shore tours, rather than selecting tours through the cruise line.

Read Also: Norwegian Cruise Ships – Newest to Oldest

Norwegian Dawn Docked at Port
Norwegian Dawn Docked at Port (Photo Credit: MNStudio)

If tours are arranged through the cruise line – in partnership with local companies that have been vetted for safety, comfort, expertise, and other factors – a ship will generally either wait for travelers to return in case of a delay. If waiting is not possible due to weather, tidal forces, or other factors, or the cruise line will make arrangements for guests to rejoin the ship, covering essential expenses along the way.

Exact policies vary by cruise line and the individual circumstances of such unfortunate incidents.

Ultimately, every cruise traveler is responsible for returning to their ship by the all-aboard time. While some passengers prefer independent tours for greater variety or lower costs, it is always a risk that even a very reputable, highly recommended company might experience delays due to weather, vehicle trouble, blocked traffic, or other out-of-their-control circumstances.

Furthermore, it is critical to have one’s contact information updated, particularly for international travel, in case it is necessary for the ship to contact you. This isn’t always due to a delay, and could occasionally be due to unforeseen circumstances.

For example, in August 2023, Carnival Pride was visiting Cork, Ireland when severe weather arrived earlier than expected, forcing the ship to recall passengers earlier than the planned departure time. Updated phone numbers make that type of contact easier and can help ensure everyone is able to reach the ship as quickly as possible.

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