Social Media Helps Locate Missing Cruise Ship Passenger

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Thanks to social media posts that were shared by many concerned community members, a teenage girl missing from Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Spirit has been safely located and reunited with her family. Thankfully, what must have been a worrying time for the girl’s family was able to have a happy ending.

Teen Missing From Norwegian Spirit

When Norwegian Spirit docked in Dunedin, New Zealand on Saturday, December 30, 2023, one family went ashore for fun exploration that quickly turned frightening when a 15-year-old girl named Cameron was separated from her parents and missing in the city.

Cameron – whose last name has not been identified to preserve her and her family’s privacy – did have a cell phone, but did not have a New Zealand sim card. Therefore, the phone could not be used to contact her parents or for her parents to locate her via any tracking features.

When the girl was noted as missing, her parents quickly alerted authorities, who then spread the word via social media posts and outreach, including Cameron’s description – 5.5 feet tall, wearing black leggings and a black crop top, and with a dark red hoodie.

Time was of the essence to locate the missing teen, as Norwegian Spirit was scheduled to depart Dunedin at 4 p.m. that afternoon. Cruise ships must keep very strict schedules and it is well known that passengers may be left behind if they do not return to the ship for the scheduled departure.

Fortunately, a member of the public spotted Cameron after seeing the social media posts, and was able to alert local police. An officer then found the girl and reunited her with her parents, well before the ship’s departure.

Norwegian Spirit Cruise Ship
Norwegian Spirit Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: David MG / Shutterstock)

“The missing girl was located by someone who had seen our original Facebook post,” said a statement by the Southern District Police. “Police would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to our wonderful Dunedin community, who shared that original Facebook post and got the word out far and wide.”

The 75,904-gross-ton, Leo-class Norwegian Spirit is currently sailing a 12-night holiday cruise that departed Sydney, Australia on Saturday, December 23. The ship has already called in Melbourne and enjoyed beautiful cruising in Fiordland National Park. After Dunedin, the ship will visit Wellington, Picton, Napier, and Tauranga before arriving in Auckland on Thursday, January 4.

Keeping Safe in Ports of Call

While the details of how Cameron was separated from her parents have not been disclosed, there are many ways a family could inadvertently become separated in a busy port of call.

Dunedin is the second-largest city on South Island, after Christchurch, with a population of nearly 135,000 people. Port areas can be notoriously crowded, especially around security stations, popular retail shops, or areas where tour buses may be picking up or dropping off cruise passengers.

Norwegian Spirit
Norwegian Spirit (Photo Credit: Ian Dewar Photography / Shutterstock)

As Norwegian Spirit can welcome 2,018 guests aboard for each sailing, this can make for a very crowded port area indeed. Also in port at the same time Cameron went missing was Regent Seven Seas’ Cruises Seven Seas Explorer, adding as many as another 750 passengers to the port crowds.

It would be very easy for any teen to have been looking at items in a shop, or perhaps taking a selfie at a spot with a great view, or even simply looking for a restroom and get disoriented, unable to find their parents again.

Read Also: Are Cruises Safe? What You Really Need to Know

Parents should always try to stick close by their children, though with teens this is often less practical. Using walkie-talkies could be a way to stay in contact even if a family becomes separated, though the range is often very limited.

A pre-arranged meeting spot and time, someplace very visible and easy to find, is another option families and groups could use if they become separated.

Children of all ages should also be instructed to seek out authority figures if they become lost, such as local police or even to ask a store employee for assistance.

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