Elderly couple left at Spanish port after Norwegian Cruise sails off

A couple in their 80s say they were left in Spain by Norweigan Cruise Line a month after the same cruise company sailed off from an African island, leaving eight passengers behind.

Richard and Claudene Gordon, ages 84 and 81, had left their home in Salt Lake City, Utah, to embark on a vacation around the Mediterranean aboard the Norweigan Viva cruise ship, along with their family and friends to celebrate Mr Gordon’s 85th birthday, this week.

However, their trip took a drastic turn on Monday when the couple booked an independent excursion, not organised by the cruise line, while docked in Motril, Spain, to the historic city of Granada, the pair told CNN.

On their return back, their bus was delayed for an hour while a rain storm hit the region, meaning the couple missed the ship’s all-aboard time of 5.30pm to sail away at around 6pm.

“I am a very experienced traveller and have probably been on as many as 30 cruises during my lifetime,” Mr Gordon told the outlet. “Never before have we ever missed catching a ship on time at a port. So we are not someone who abuses the system.”

Along with the rest of their party, the ship sailed away to its next destination with Ms Gordon’s medication, Mr Gordon’s eyeglasses and both their spare hearing aid batteries and phone chargers.

The incident occured almost a month after eight passengers with Norweigan Cruise Line were left on the island nation of São Tomé and Principe after a private tour overran.

While the passengers claim they had to spend thousands in attempts to catch up with the ship, the cruise line said the passengers were “responsible” for returning to the vessel at the designated all-aboard time.

The Gordons told the outlet that they eventually made it to the dock by taxi at 6.10pm, but their cruise ship had already started to set sail.

At around 5.45pm, Mr Gordon said he phoned a relative on board, who told the cruise staff that they were nearby but running late; however, the staff allegedly replied that the ship needed to sail on time and nothing could be done.

“Our cruise began in Lisbon and we departed from Lisbon about one and a half hours after the scheduled departure at 4pm,” Mr Gordon 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.”

Stranded on the Spanish dock, the couple tried to talk to local police, but they said they could not do anything, so they took a bus up to Granada and stayed in a little B&B since they had not heard from Norweigan Cruise Line at that point.

The couple’s daughter then booked them on a flight to Palma de Mallorca, where the ship would be docking at 8am on Wednesday.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the couple said that Norweigan Cruise Line had made contact with them for the first time since they were left on the port, and offered them a taxi from their Palma hotel to reunite them with the vessel, the outlet reported.

The couple said they said that they received “royal treatment” when a BMW limousine turned up and took them to the ship where they were met by senior cruise staff who escorted them to breakfast.

“We simply told them that we were abandoned at the dock with no one to meet us or tell us where to go, and they said they have already complained about the harbor master who was supposed to take care of things for them. But of course, the ship had not contacted us directly for two days so that doesn’t speak so well for them,” Ms Gordon told the outlet.

Norwegian Cruise Line, however, disputed the couple’s arrival time at the pier. It said they were “approximately an hour late,” in a statement to CNN.

“A cruise ship follows a set itinerary with designated arrival and departure times. Itineraries are carefully coordinated and planned out well in advance of each voyage to ensure that all of our guests have the experience they are expecting.” It added that while they keep a small window for late guests to be accommodated, the Gordons arrived outside of this.

“After several attempts to contact these guests with the phone numbers provided, as well as trying to phone their emergency contact, we were unable to speak to them directly. However, we worked closely with the local port agents to make arrangements for the guests to rejoin the vessel.”

The cruise spokesperson added that prior to their hotel pick-up on Wednesday morning, the ship had coordaited an airport pickup for them at Palma de Mallorca the evening prior, but were still unreachable by phone.

The Independent has contacted Norweigan Cruise Line for comment.

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