Belfast Telegraph

Watch: 'The worst trip of our lives' - luxury cruise passengers abandon ship in Belfast

Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Passengers have described how their dream holiday turned to nightmare after their luxury cruise liner was forced into a unscheduled Belfast stop.

In a story that attracted worldwide interest, passengers on the Norwegian Spirit staged a protest and demanded refunds after complaining of rotten food and overflowing toilets.

Passengers said the trip, billed as a 14-day 'Iceland cruise', had missed a number of scheduled stops before eventually docking in Belfast on Tuesday.

The luxury cruise ship had was supposed to call at ports in France, Amsterdam, Norway and Iceland after setting off from Southampton on September 27.

Amsterdam was cut from the trip after customers were told of concerns for high winds, while Le Havre in France was also skipped.

The ship stopped in Norway in what was described as a "deserted" town before skipping Reykjavik for an unintended stop in Greenock, Scotland.

After being denied permission to dock in Greenock on Monday the ship changed course for Belfast.

Passengers, who had been unable to leave the ship for three days, then staged a protest against conditions on board, which boasts a multitude of restaurants, nightclubs and bars.

American holidaymakers Cody McNutt and Katasha Jones were among the passengers who decided to leave the ship when it docked in Belfast before travelling to Dublin to get a flight home.

"It was absolutely horrible, we expected to have a good holiday and we just had the worst trip of our lives," Cody told BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show.

"We missed five ports, we floated around the English channel over two days, the food was going bad, the toilet in our room stopped flushing, there were several public toilets that stopped flushing.

"We were lucky nobody got sick really. Riots broke out on the ship and they pulled out security and were threatening to arrest several passengers."

Katasha said that the atmosphere on board reached breaking point after yet another cancelled stop.

"This was the third change to our itinerary, we were about 15 minutes from docking in Greenock and the captain turned the boat around and they just kept saying we were going to dock any minute and half an hour after we were supposed to dock the captain came on and said we will not be docking in Greenock today and there was just an outrage, a roar from all of the people ready to get off the ship," she said.

"They had their coats and their bags ready to go and just an outrage of 'why? Give us an answer' that's really where all of the people on the ship were at, we just wanted answers.

"Eventually we just came to a point after all of the yelling and all of the upset that we just said as soon as this boat docks we're out. We have to go home.

Ship staff speak with angry passengers. Credit: Cody McNutt
Ship staff speak with angry passengers. Credit: Cody McNutt
Passengers gathered on board the ship. Credit: Cody McNutt
Passengers gathered on board the ship. Credit: Cody McNutt

The pair said they had spent around $5,000 on their cabin plus flights and had to pay an extra $900 for an early flight home.

"We were fearful for our health and safety on the ship after this happened," Cody said.

"They were serving food and they hadn't set in an open port in five days I believe.

"After we left Norway we went to another Norwegian port and it was closed. We were never scheduled to go there.

"We spent the next three days floating around the sea so all of the food on that ship was five days old but they were serving people.

"Other passengers had reported that their toilets weren't working, when we got up that morning our ship smelt awful."

Around 2,000 travellers were on board the liner after paying around £5,300 per ticket for the trip.

Footage circulated on social media shows irate passengers demanding to be taken back to London and calling for refunds.

A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line said passengers were offered a 25% discount voucher for other cruises after the issues.

"Unfortunately Norwegian Spirit's itinerary was impacted by weather conditions while nine ports of call were originally planned for the voyage the revised itinerary allowed the ship to call at eight ports," a spokesperson said.

"We are very sorry for any inconvenience and disappointment our guests experienced, as such we made the decision to offer 25% future cruise credit.

“We always do our best to provide our guests with a truly enjoyable and memorable vacation, but our very first priority is to ensure their safety and the safety of our crew.

"We understand that it is disheartening whenever we are unable to call to ports that our guests have been looking forward to visiting. However we ask for their patience, cooperation and understanding and we do the very most that we can to call to port whenever it is safe to do so."

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