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Left Behind: Better to be safe than stranded

9:34 PM, Jul 1, 2013   |    comments
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NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. -- Cruise vacations promise to take you far away, but sometimes they also leave you far behind. 

One local woman said she was stranded in Cozumel, Mexico because she was late to the port of call for the ship's departure.

"I see the back of the ship and I turned to my husband and I said 'The Triumph? We're on the Glor...' and when I say Glory I saw the Glory and it had already left," said Jaqui Allen, a cruise ship passenger left behind in Cozumel, Mexico in 2004.

She isn't the first person to get left behind at a port of call while enjoying a cruise vacation. Although cruise lines say they don't keep a record of how many passengers are left at ports for being late for departure, there are YouTube videos that show that it happens quite often.

Cruise ships tell passengers to be back on board 30 minutes before departure, and usually the ship's horn warns passengers on the island that it's time to go -- but time flies when you're having fun.

"We got separated from the couple we were hanging out with that week and there is a time difference of an hour and when you're on a cruise they try to remind you to set your watch or phone to the current time, to ship's time. Well, we did not," added Allen.

Allen was on the cruise with her husband and another couple. Their friends were already on board and heard the Allen's names being called, but saw no sign of them. 

The day got more complicated when Allen's husband got into a minor accident on a scooter. When they finally made it back to their ship, the 'Carnival Glory,' it was out at sea and the 'Triumph' was docked in its place.

"When they found out we had missed the ship they're like 'you're illegal, you're illegal in this country'," said Allen.

Stranded in a foreign country -- with only a bathing suit, tank tops and shorts -- the Allen's had very little cash and no passports.

Rod Sullivan, Professor of Law at Florida Coastal, has seen this happen before with his experience as a Merchant Marine Officer.

 "Any passenger who goes to shore should take their passport and credit card with them. Secondly, the cruise line doesn't have any responsibility to get you to the next port of call, you have to do that at your own expense," said Sullivan.

The mistake could have cost them thousands, but the Allens got a break. The Triumph wasn't set to leave till midnight. 

They had to find the ship's port agent and just before the ship's departure they made it on board.

"We ran and all these people are hanging over their balconies and they're cheering for us," added Allen.

On board the Glory, the Allen's friends were escorted into the couple's room to pack for them. 

Trip insurance could help passengers in a situation like the Allen's. If passengers have an accident and are delayed due to injuries or hospitalization, insurance can help. 

But most trip insurance plans do not cover any transportation or accommodation if the passenger is at fault for missing the ship's departure.

Cruise ships do not wait for guests unless a shore adventure booked through the ship is running late.

Some additional tips to keep in mind while cruising:

  •  Always set your clocks to ship's time
  •  Take your passport with you when you go on shore
  •  Give yourself at least two hours to get back on the ship


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