Home Australia Grim twist as Australian couple speak out after being abandoned in Africa on cruise: ‘Worst experience of our lives’

Grim twist as Australian couple speak out after being abandoned in Africa on cruise: ‘Worst experience of our lives’

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Australian couple Violetta and Doug Sanders appeared on Seven's Sunrise show on Wednesday morning to give an update on their trip (pictured).

An Australian couple stranded without their belongings on their cruise ship on an African island say the ordeal has been “the worst experience of our lives.”

Violetta and Doug Sanders were among eight tourists who were denied reboarding their luxury cruise ship after returning late from a private day trip last week.

Instead, they were dumped on the dock with only their passports when their Norwegian Cruise Line ship set sail from Sao Tome and Principe off the west coast of Africa.

The group included four elderly people, a pregnant woman, a quadriplegic and a person with a heart condition who were forced to travel more than 3,000 kilometers across West Africa to meet the ship at its next port of call.

The cruise ship was unable to dock in Gambia due to very low tide, so the group traveled to Dakar in Senegal, where they have now been reunited with the ship.

“It’s been the worst experience of our lives to be abandoned like this in a strange country, not being able to speak the language,” Sanders told Seven’s Sunrise on Wednesday.

She is Portuguese and African. We have no money, our credit cards are not accepted.’

Australian couple Violetta and Doug Sanders appeared on Seven's Sunrise show on Wednesday morning to give an update on their trip (pictured).

Australian couple Violetta and Doug Sanders appeared on Seven’s Sunrise show on Wednesday morning to give an update on their trip (pictured).

Ms. Sanders is seen trying to board the ship, but is stopped by officials.

Ms. Sanders is seen trying to board the ship, but is stopped by officials.

Ms. Sanders is seen trying to board the ship, but is stopped by officials.

1712094392 332 Grim twist as Australian couple speak out after being abandoned

1712094392 332 Grim twist as Australian couple speak out after being abandoned

In a statement, NCL said it was a “very unfortunate incident” but that the eight guests had not met the 3pm “all aboard” schedule on March 27.

South Carolina couple Jill and Jay Campbell say they have spent up to $7,500 on lodging, food and toiletries for their fellow castaways, since they were the only ones who had brought their bank cards from the ship.

The group managed to overtake Norwegian Dawn and reach Dakar on Monday night, where they reboarded the ship, not without reservations.

“We believe it was a basic duty of care that they had forgotten about,” Campbell told NBC’s Today Show on Tuesday morning (US time).

“Although there are a number of rules, they have followed them too rigidly.”

Campbell said it had been very difficult to organize transport for the group, but that the people of Sao Tome had been “very hospitable”.

‘It is a very, very difficult process. You’re dealing with multiple languages, different currencies, and you find someone who even accepts dollars,” she said.

“I think yesterday we flew through six countries just to get to Gambia.”

South Carolina couple Jill and Jay Campbell say they have spent up to $7,500 on lodging, food and toiletries for their fellow castaways, since they were the only ones who had brought their bank cards from the ship.

South Carolina couple Jill and Jay Campbell say they have spent up to $7,500 on lodging, food and toiletries for their fellow castaways, since they were the only ones who had brought their bank cards from the ship.

South Carolina couple Jill and Jay Campbell say they have spent up to $7,500 on lodging, food and toiletries for their fellow castaways, since they were the only ones who had brought their bank cards from the ship.

Members of the group stranded in Sao Tome and Principe (Jill and Jay Campbell on the left)

Members of the group stranded in Sao Tome and Principe (Jill and Jay Campbell on the left)

Members of the group stranded in Sao Tome and Principe (Jill and Jay Campbell on the left)

In a statement, NCL said it would reimburse passengers for travel expenses from Gambia to Dakar despite the “series of unfortunate events beyond our control.”

He confirmed that eight guests had rejoined the ship by Tuesday morning local time.

“While the eight guests made arrangements to meet the ship in Banjul, The Gambia, on April 1, 2024, unfortunately the ship was unable to dock safely at its destination due to adverse weather conditions as well as tidal restrictions that require a specific time for safe travel,’ an NCL spokesperson said.

“While we share our guests’ disappointment, this modification was made with their safety and that of our crew in mind, which is our top priority. We have contacted these eight guests regarding this itinerary adjustment and provided them with clearance to rejoin to the ship in Dakar, Senegal, on April 2, 2024.

‘Despite the series of unfortunate events beyond our control, we will reimburse these eight guests for their travel expenses from Banjur, Gambia, to Dakar, Senegal. As of this morning the eight guests have rejoined the ship in Dakar, Senegal.’

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