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  • A couple says they were stranded on an island after missing their cruise ship’s boarding time.
  • They were on a tour of São Tomé and Príncipe with six others, per US local media. It overran.
  • The stranded group flew to Gambia on Sunday, hoping to catch the ship at another port.
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A couple says they were stranded on a small African island after they missed a cruise ship‘s boarding deadline, according to local media.

Jay and Jill Campbell, from Garden City, South Carolina, described their ordeal with a Norwegian Cruise Line ship in an interview with WPDE, their local ABC affiliate.

Norwegian confirmed to Business Insider that they were denied boarding, saying it was their responsibility to be on time.

The Campbells said they were frequent cruisers, embarking on Norwegian Dawn on March 20 for their third voyage with the cruise line in a year.

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However, an excursion last Wednesday with six other people to São Tomé and Príncipe, an island nation of some 220,000 people off West Africa, took an unfortunate turn.

The couple says the tour overran, and its operator informed the captain that eight passengers were running late.

They were refused entry to the ship upon their return, according to WPDE, even though they could still see the ship from the shore.

The ship was anchored, Jay Campbell said, but the captain refused to let them board despite repeated calls and emails by the passengers to the ship and the cruise line’s emergency hotline.

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The São Tomé and Príncipe Coast Guard even took the passengers to the ship, but they weren’t able to get on and had to turn back, WPDE reported.

In total, WPDE said that nine passengers were not allowed to reenter the ship, including four elderly people and one person who is a paraplegic.

The Campbells told the news outlet that the ninth passenger was late for another reason — an 80-year-old woman who got a concussion on the island and was hospitalized there.

Most of the stranded passengers didn’t have their medication or working credit cards, WPDE said.

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The Campbells, who had a working card, said they covered $5,000 worth of expenses for the group in food, toiletries, and hotel bills.

“We have never had an experience like this before,” Jill Campbell told WPDE.

The Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement provided to BI by email that eight guests on the tour missed the last tender back to the vessel.

The cruise line said the passengers missed the “all aboard time of 3 p.m. local time.” It said it was a “very unfortunate situation” but that passengers were responsible for being on time.

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It added that the deadline to return was “communicated broadly” over the ship’s intercom, in printed communications, and on posts shown at the exits of the ship.

The elderly passenger who was concussed was returned to the US, where she has made a “safe return,” a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line said.

According to WPDE, the group flew to Gambia on Sunday, hoping to rejoin the ship at another port.

A spokesperson for the cruise line said that the ship could not safely dock in Gambia due to adverse weather conditions, adding that efforts are being made for the guests to rejoin the ship in Senegal on Tuesday.

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Though cruise ships need to stay punctual, ruined-vacation stories like this are a reputational risk and might put people off.

For instance, two MSC Splendida passengers were stranded last summer at an Italian port after arriving too late for departure.

A TikTok video showed the couple waving and begging the crew to wait for them, even though the gangway appeared to have already been removed.

Other passengers may face the stress of becoming stranded in remote locations through no fault of their own. Last September, more than 200 people got stuck in a remote part of Greenland after their cruise ship ran aground.

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And last November, passengers were stranded at a Brisbane port after a Royal Caribbean ship was overbooked.