'Frightening situation': Couple left stranded in foreign country when cruise ship leaves early without warning

A couple were left “devastated” when their holiday on board a cruise ship was cut short when they were left stranded in Cuba.

Kevin Rohrer and his partner were travelling aboard the Norwegian Sky vessel when they made a scheduled stop in Havana in April this year.

Yet when turning up at the dock by 3.30pm for the 5pm departure time indicated on their printed itinerary, they were stunned to see the cruise ship had left.

“It was a frightening situation. We were devastated,” Mr Rohrer said in his complaint to Norwegian Cruise Line.

They were forced to head to the airport and buy two tickets home at a cost of nearly $650.

The initial itinerary shows the ship was departing at 5pm. Source: Elliot Advocacy

The pair contacted consumer rights group Elliot Advocacy to help them take on the cruise company in their hunt for compensation after believing they weren’t notified of the ship leaving earlier than planned.

But it turns out the couple had been informed of the change in departure time, albeit, according to Mr Rohrer, only in written form.

An information sheet Mr Rohrer was handed the morning of the departure date indicated all passengers must be onboard the ship by 1.30pm at the latest.

Mr Rohrer told Elliott Advocacy he didn’t get round to reading the daily newsletter due to his “tight schedule” with the Cuban Tour Advocacy.

The Norwegian Sky vessel the couple were travelling on. Source: Wikipedia
Yet Mr Rohrer was handed this newsletter on the morning of the departure which indicated the change in schedule. Source: Elliot Advocacy

After putting it in his pocket, the first chance he had to read the update was while sat in the airport.

Other than the note which indicated the departure time had changed to 2pm, Mr Rohrer said staff “made no effort to inform travellers of this change”.

But in a statement from NSL, they revealed the change had been relayed to guests over a month before.

“Additionally, the day before calling into Havana, the Cruise Director announced the new time repeatedly throughout the day and additional signage was placed on the gangway for all those disembarking to see,” the company said.

In NSL’s contract of carriage, there was further confirmation the company was not liable for the coupe’s failure to board the cruise ship.

“In the event of strikes, lockouts, stoppages of labor, riots, weather conditions, mechanical difficulties or any other reason whatsoever, Norwegian Cruise Line has the right to cancel, advance, postpone or substitute any scheduled sailing or itinerary without prior notice. Norwegian Cruise Line shall not be responsible for failure to adhere to published arrival and departure times for any of its ports of call.”

Michelle Couch-Friedman, who was handling the case for Elliot Advocacy, said the incident was a poignant reminder to be on top of your holiday.

“It’s essential that all passengers maintain awareness of the possibility of cruise schedule changes,” she said.

“This is especially important if you have booked your own shore excursion. It may cost a little more money to book the excursion through the cruise line, but you can be certain that the boat won’t sail away without you during your adventure.”