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Elderly American couple stranded in Spain after Norwegian Cruise ship left without them

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They missed the boat — literally.

An elderly American couple was left behind by Norwegian Cruise Line in Spain this week after they returned late to the ship and the vessel refused to wait for them — despite it routinely departing behind schedule during the voyage.

“I am a very experienced traveler and have probably been on as many as 30 cruises during my lifetime,” Salt Lake City resident Richard Gordon, 84, told CNN.

“Never before have we ever missed catching a ship on time at a port. So we are not someone who abuses the system.”

Gordon and his wife Claudene, 81, had gone on an independently booked excursion to view the city of Grenada while their ship, Viva, was docked in Motril on Monday. Due to a rainstorm, they ran late for the 5:30 p.m. all-aboard time ahead of a scheduled 6 p.m. departure.

At 5:45 p.m. the Gordons, who were taking the cruise to celebrate Richard’s 85th birthday this week, notified a relative on board that they were running late but were nearby.

The family member was told that the Viva had to leave on time and would not wait. By the time the octogenarians arrived at 6:10 p.m., the boat had left the harbor, Gordon told the outlet.

“Our cruise began in Lisbon and we departed from Lisbon about one and a half hours after the scheduled departure at 4 p.m.,” he claimed.

“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.”


Norwegian Cruise Line departed without the elderly passengers after they missed their all-aboard time in Motril, Spain SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

When the Viva set sail, the Gordons were left without their medication, eyeglasses and spare hearing aid batteries, which were on board.

Back in Salt Lake City, their daughter Marilee Baker, stayed up into the wee hours of the morning trying to book her parents a flight to Palma de Mallorca, where the boat was making its next call Wednesday morning, according to CNN.

The Gordons claim Norwegian didn’t make first contact with them until late Tuesday, and by the time they got to Mallorca, they were met with a luxury taxi service to bring them to the Viva.

“They picked us up at the hotel in a beautiful black BMW limousine to take us to the ship. There we were met by the head of ship services who escorted us inside the ship to meet the general manager of the ship, then they escorted us to breakfast, then they escorted us to our cabin,” Gordon told CNN, adding the boat blamed the Motril harbormaster, who they said was supposed to organize travel with the couple.

Despite their reception, Gordon said the boat’s failure to communicate with them left a sour taste in their mouth.


The cruise line said they tried numerous times to contact the elderly couple but were unable to reach them
The cruise line said they tried numerous times to contact the elderly couple but were unable to reach them SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“The ship had not contacted us directly for two days so that doesn’t speak so well for them,” he said.

Norwegian Cruise Line disputed the couple’s account of what happened, telling The Post they were a full hour behind the 5:30 p.m. all-aboard time, and that it tried numerous times without success to contact the couple after they were left behind.

“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,” a Norwegian Cruise Lines spokesperson said.

“It is important to note that a delayed departure has the potential to impact the ship’s ability to deliver its planned itinerary and thus influence the experience for all guests onboard. While this was a very unfortunate situation, guests are responsible for ensuring they return to the ship at the published time.”  

The Gordons are the second set of passengers to complain about being left behind by Norwegian Cruise Lines in just a month.

Earlier in April, nine passengers — including six Americans — missed their boat in Africa and were left to fend for themselves to catch up with the boat in Senegal.

The passengers — including a paraplegic person and an elderly man with a heart condition — were left stranded on the island without any belongings like money, medicine and necessary travel documents.

Norwegian reimbursed some costs they endured while trying to make it back onto the ship, the cruise line said.

Though not waiting for passengers late by their own doing is a common procedure on cruise ships, Norwegian has faced scrutiny in recent weeks after one of the passengers left behind in Africa had recently suffered a stroke and was sent to the hospital when the ship departed.

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