Norwegian Caribbean cruise forced to return to NYC after Covid outbreak

Passengers were stuck at sea after a Norwegian Cruise Line cancelled its Caribbean trip mid-voyage due to a Covid-19 outbreak on the ship.

The Norwegian Gem, which was on a 10-day sail, docked the ship in Philipsburg, St Maarten, on Friday and decided to return to New York “shortly”.

The ship left its origin port, New York, on 9 January. The next day, passengers were informed that two stops would be cut down. However, four days into the sail, passengers were told that the rest of the trip was cancelled due to Covid-19 related circumstances.

“As we continue to navigate the fluid public health environment, while focusing on delivering a safe experience for all on board, we made the difficult decision to cancel Norwegian Gem’s current Caribbean sailing, due to Covid-related circumstances,” a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise told NBC News.

The cruise line added that they did not have an estimated time of arrival to New York.

“Without the islands and ports to break up the sea days, this is turning into a nightmare. I really can’t imagine four more sea days back to back without much to do,” passenger Aimee Focaraccio told USA Today.

Ms Focaraccio called the journey a “cruise from hell”, adding that she was a “frequent cruiser and shareholder”. Passengers said that they were not made aware of any positive Covid-19 cases on board.

The travellers were given a full refund along with an additional discount for a future cruise journey to be undertaken by 31 May 2023.

The 17-ship strong cruise operator earlier this month cancelled eight trips amid rising Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The cruise line then had also cut short a 12-day round trip from Miami on its Norwegian Pearl ship due to Covid-related circumstances.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last month advised people against travelling by ships, irrespective of their vaccination status amid a surge in coronavirus infections on ships.

“Even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants,” the CDC had said.

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