Thousands of passengers left stranded on a Norwegian Cruise ship were forced to make the best of their situation after the ship ran aground in the Dominican Republic.
The ship, called Norwegian Escape, reportedly hit the seabed while departing out of a dock in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, causing damage to the vessel’s hull.
On Tuesday morning the ship was refloated and returned to the dock at Puerto Plata – though the more than 3,000 passengers have been stuck on board since then as crews assessed it for damages.
Planes back to the United States are apparently being chartered for the beleaguered passengers, though several onboard reported to Orlando local station WKMG that there may be a snag because passports are required to board international flights – but the cruise required only a driver’s license to board.
It’s unclear how many people are affected by the policy.
Soon after stopping, in a letter that was posted to social media, the ship’s captain regretfully informed the 3,157 passengers aboard the ship that the seven-night cruise would be cut short.
He added that Norwegian Cruise Line cancelled the rest of the vessel’s scheduled trip out of ‘an abundance of caution’ – but passengers on board have been posting updates throughout the experience, reporting that ‘morale is high’ and that everyone is ‘making the most of our time’ by hitting the ship’s bars and other amenities.
On Monday the Norwegian Escape ship (pictured) was damaged when it hit the seabed while departing out of a dock in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
One passenger aboard the ship posted photos of people enjoying the ships amenities with the captions ‘the show must go on’ and said people were having a ‘great time’
On Tuesday morning the ship was refloated and returned to the dock at Puerto Plata where it was assessed for damages
In a letter posted to social media, the ship’s captain regretfully informed the 3,157 passengers aboard the ship that the seven-night cruise would be cut short
‘We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused, as we understand now more than ever the desire to travel and reconnect with the places and people we’ve missed the most,’ the captain wrote.
Passengers were informed that the cruise line would be arranging for passengers to return home via charter flights from Dominican Republic to Orlando as well as buses from Orlando to Port Canaveral for passengers who drove to the port where the ship embarked on Saturday.
The letter also said that passengers will get a full refund plus full credit for a future cruise through March 25, 2023.
‘While there is minor damage to the ship’s hull, all guests and crew are safe. The current cruise will be shortened, and the cruise scheduled to embark on March 19 will be canceled so that the necessary repairs can be made,’ Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement.
Dominican Republic was meant to be the ship’s first stop in the seven-day Caribbean cruise, followed by stops in US Virgin Islands, British Virgin islands and the Bahamas
Passengers on board indicated the incident was due to high winds.
But despite the disappointment, one passenger live-tweeted his experience and said everyone on board was making the best of the situation by hosting dance parties and hitting the ship’s bars.
‘I do want to give a shout-out to Norwegian Cruise during this ‘beaching’ all crew members have been extremely calming and helpful. No sense of panic. Other than not moving you wouldn’t know there’s a problem,’ user @DisneyTalk101 tweeted on Monday.
The following day he provided an update, saying people were generally in high spirits.
‘Update: Morale on the ship is high. Everyone that is out at the bars and restaurants are having a good time. Making the most of our time left here. Haven’t heard many negative comment,’ he tweeted.
In following tweets the passenger posted photos of people enjoying the ships amenities with the captions ‘the show must go on’ and said people were having a ‘great time.’
Dominican Republic was meant to be the ship’s first stop in the seven-day Caribbean cruise, followed by stops in US Virgin Islands, British Virgin islands and the Bahamas.
In January COVID-19 cases were reported on every cruise ship sailing in the U.S. – leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate all 92 cruises operating in the US to trace the outbreaks.
During the height of the Omicron surge cruise ships were forced to turn away from ports because passengers were testing positive, causing the cruises to skip planned stops or head home, the Washington Post reported.
The influx in cases at the time threatened to put a damper on the cruise industry’s long-planned comeback, which started last summer when companies resumed operations after closing their doors for more than a year due to the pandemic.