Imagine this scenario: you’ve been looking forward to your dream vacation on a luxurious cruise ship for months, eagerly anticipating relaxing days at sea and exploring exotic ports of call. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, such as delayed flights or traffic congestion, you find yourself arriving at the port just as the ship is sailing away. This is exactly what happened to a pair of Italian tourists who were supposed to set sail on August 15th from Bari on the MSC Splendida. Unfortunately, they arrived just on time to see their boat beginning to pull away from the port. Other passengers caught the moment on camera in a video that has now gone viral on TikTok.
Viral TikTok Video Shows Passengers Yelling At Their Cruise Ship, Begging The Captain To Stop and Let Them On
The MSC Splendida is a 1,100-foot-long cruise ship that takes over 4,000 passengers on a Mediterranean cruise. The boat itself weighs almost 138,000 tons. Like all cruise ships, it runs on a very strict schedule, with specific times when it is moored and when it leaves the port. Once the gangway is up and the boat begins its journey out to sea, there is no stopping.
Recently, an Italian couple set to be on board that ship experienced every vacationer’s nightmare: They missed the boat. Passengers onboard caught the scene on camera as the couple was screaming and waving frantically at the boat. Of course, the boat could not stop or return for the couple. However, that didn’t stop them from at least trying. In the video, you can hear onlookers chuckling a bit, though many people still sympathize with their distress. (1)
“Is the captain there, please?” the man shouted repeatedly in Italian. “Captain, wait for us, please. You can do it if you want to.”
Unfortunately for them, the boat did not stop. It is unknown if the couple ever found a way to get on the boat.
The Internet Reacts
Some guests were upset that the ship didn’t stop for the distressed, left-behind passengers. One guest, who was on the ship with her family, spoke out about it. She told the Daily Mail that she thought it was unfair to have left the couple behind like that. Her family, she explained, had spent £8000 (more than $10,000) on the cruise. She couldn’t imagine having spent that much only to be left behind. She felt as though the cruise ship staff didn’t do enough to locate the couple before leaving.
“I was on that cruise with my family when it happened. We were at lunch when they made only one announcement for two Italian-sounding names and then nothing further. The cruise didn’t leave even a minute over time. We felt there was little to no effort to find those people whether they were there or not.” (2)
While many more sympathized with the couple, most people chimed in, explaining reasons why a ship wouldn’t have stopped for the two guests. People cited that cruise ships pay extra if they stay past their mooring time, not to mention the challenge and expense of stopping a boat that size. On top of that, waiting extra time for just two people out of more than 4,000, when you have no idea when they will show up, isn’t necessarily feasible, either. Ugo Patroni Griffi, president of the Port System Authority of the Southern Adriatic Sea, explained further:
“They tried to ask the ship to turn back, or at least to stop operations. Obviously it is impossible for cruise ships that have limited times and are also very expensive operations.”
Understanding Why Boats Leave Without Passengers
First and foremost, it’s important to understand why cruise ships have strict departure schedules and occasionally have to leave passengers behind. Cruise ships operate on tight scheduling to ensure they arrive at their intended ports of call on time, coordinating with various factors such as weather conditions, immigration procedures, and port regulations. The ship’s captain cannot delay the sailing time indefinitely for individual passengers, as that would disrupt the entire itinerary and cause inconvenience to all other passengers on board. Therefore, cruise ships have a policy stating that passengers must be on board by a specific time, and failure to abide by this policy may result in the ship leaving without them.
What To Do If Your Cruise Ship Leaves Without You
While this situation may seem like a nightmare, remaining calm and taking immediate action is crucial. In this part of the article, we will guide you through the steps you should take if you’re on a cruise and the boat leaves without you. Cruise lines strive to accommodate passengers facing unforeseen travel delays; it ultimately remains the passenger’s responsibility to ensure they reach the ship on time. However, cruise lines understand that emergencies can occur, and they usually work with passengers to assist and make alternate arrangements when possible. (3)
Immediate Steps to Take
- Remain Calm: Feeling panic and frustration in such a situation is natural, but staying calm and composed is crucial. Panicking will only hinder your ability to think clearly and take the necessary steps to resolve the situation.
- Contact the Cruise Line: As soon as you realize you’ve missed the ship’s departure, contact the cruise line’s emergency number. This information is typically provided in your cruise documents or can be obtained from their website. Inform them about the situation and seek their guidance on what steps to take next.
- Reach Out to the Port Authority: If you are unable to contact the cruise line or if they instruct you to do so, contact the port authority at the departing port. They may have information about the ship’s next port of call or suggestions on how to proceed.
- Check for Travel Insurance Coverage: If you have purchased travel insurance, review your policy and contact the insurance provider to determine if you are covered for missed departures. They may offer assistance or compensation to help you with the situation.
- Make Temporary Accommodations: Depending on the circumstances, you may need to find temporary accommodations for the night. Look for nearby hotels or hostels, and ensure you keep your receipts for potential reimbursement later.
- Arrange Transportation: If the ship is sailing to another port and you wish to rejoin it, you will need to arrange transportation to that port. Consider options such as flights, trains, or rental cars, and factor in the cost, availability, and distance when making your decision.
The legalities surrounding missed cruise ship departures vary depending on several factors, including the passenger’s circumstances, the cruise line’s policies, and the jurisdiction involved. Generally, the cruise line’s passenger contract will outline their responsibilities and liabilities, including their rights to deny boarding to late passengers. It is crucial to review your booking documentation and the terms and conditions of the cruise line to fully understand your rights and obligations.
Some cruise lines have policies in place to assist passengers who miss the ship’s departure due to flight delays or other circumstances beyond their control. However, these policies are generally discretionary, and each situation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In rare cases, if you believe the cruise line was negligent or if they failed to uphold their responsibilities according to the passenger contract, you may consider consulting with a legal professional to explore your options.
The Bottom Line
Being left behind as your cruise ship sails away can be a distressing situation, but by knowing what steps to take and keeping a level head, you can mitigate the impact and work towards a satisfactory resolution. Remember to remain calm, contact the cruise line and port authority, review your insurance coverage, arrange temporary accommodations, and explore transportation options to rejoin the ship if desired. Understanding the legalities involved, in terms of cruise line policies and passenger rights, is also crucial. While doing everything possible to assist passengers, it’s important to remember that it ultimately remains the passenger’s responsibility to reach the ship on time.
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- “2 passengers who were late for their cruise shouted and begged the crew to let them on. They still got left behind..” Insider. Polly Thompson. August 19, 2023,
- “‘Please wait for us!’: Moment tourist couple turn up late on a quayside and beg cruise ship captain not to leave as chuckling fellow passengers film them from the departing vessel in Italy.” Daily Mail. Miriam Kuepper. August 19, 2023.
- “If Your Cruise Ship Leaves You Behind At a Stop, Here’s What You Should Do Next.” Distractify. Joseph Allen. July 14, 2023.