Tim Wood | April 27, 2016 4:30 PM ET
No, A Cruise Line Didn't Just Leave Kids Onboard Without Their Family
Imagine the scenario: kids are left on a cruise ship as the ship leaves a port of call with the parents running to get on the ship.
It’s pretty harrowing stuff. Add in some video of the frantic parents shot from passengers onboard and you have a pretty compelling story, right?
Only one big problem with the story: that’s not how it happened.
We received a call today from the TV show “Inside Edition.” They had seen a story from The Daily Mail that described an incident that happened during the Norwegian Breakaway’s most recent seven-night cruise between New York and the Bahamas.
The entire “story” was written around what can be seen on the videos posted by Breakaway passengers Scott Thomas and Jason Frieden.
And it looks like this story came to light because of a story by cruise.co.uk that had this menacing Photoshopped image.
No real facts in the story, just discussion about commentary from the passengers that can be heard in the video.
Add in an accompanying story about a British woman who swam after a cruise ship after the ship left without her, and you have a trend here of the big-bad cruise line ruining innocent passenger's vacations.
So when we got this request from “Inside Edition,” red flags went up. I have traveled extensively on cruises with my family. I have never heard of a scenario where kids are left on a ship without any adult family members and a cruise line did not turn around to pick up the parents.
Keeping in mind, it is a tremendous expense – often $20,000 or more – to redock a ship at a port beyond its scheduled stop. But I digress.
So before we responded to “Inside Edition,” we researched the story. We reached out to Norwegian Cruise Line for comment, and lo and behold, there’s much more to the story. Here's the cruise line's comment, which was also sent to "Inside Edition" after our inquiry.
“During Norwegian Breakaway’s seven-night Bahamas cruise from New York that departed on April 17, one female guest did not return to the vessel by the widely communicated scheduled all aboard time of 5:30 pm during the ship’s call in Nassau, Bahamas on April 21.
"The onboard team located her husband and children on board but the family was not able to reach her nor did they know when she would be returning. Due to the circumstances, the ship went beyond normal protocol and waited alongside an additional half an hour for the guest. When she had still not returned and following consultation with the family, it was decided that the husband would disembark with their travel documents to wait for his wife while the children would stay with their uncle and his family on the ship for the remainder of the voyage.
"The company offered travel and lodging assistance to the couple and arrangements were made for them to reunite with the ship upon her return to New York on April 24.”
So, the mother went incommunicado while shopping in port and then missed the ship, but the kids were still with relatives and the cruise line helped get the family back to New York.
Not quite as sexy, huh?
To The Daily Mail's credit, they included a side story about passengers being left behind and used a TravelZoo expert discussing what passengers can do when this happens. But in this case, all possible efforts were made to contact the woman and get the family back on the ship in one piece. And once that wasn't possible, the cruise line helped make sure the family was reunited.
TravelPulse founder and CEO Mark Murphy provided comment for “Inside Edition” trying to round out the actual facts of the story. But given the compelling nature of the video, with the mom frantic as the ship departs and the passengers calling for the ship to return, it’s no shock this is still a “story.”
Looking at the comments on one of the YouTube videos, you can see three other producers of video-clip shows reaching out to the videographer to be interviewed about what they saw.
It fits the narrative that mainstream media continually pushes about the horrors of cruising, but the reality is, the cruise line waited as long as it could and passengers sign a contract before getting on the ship knowing what happens if they’re late back to the ship.
So why are we reporting it? To make it clear ahead of any more reports or erroneous headlines passed off as "breaking news."
The travel industry is not the bad guys here. Whether it be norovirus or isolated accidents, cruise lines specifically have spent years rebounding from often misguided bad publicity. With this kind of shoddy attempts at journalism, it's no shock that only 6 percent of potential travelers have taken a cruise. And that's truly unfortunate, because as I've said time and again, I find cruises to be the best overall value for any demographic of traveler.
Cruise itineraries are scheduled meticulously to put the ship in the best position to meet optimal cruising conditions. Even a 30-minute deviation can put the ship in much-different-than-expected conditions, leading to a much bumpier ride.
This entire story is a sad commentary for what passes as news in the 24-hour news cycle, 400-cable-channel, viral video world that is 2016. The fact that a respectable media outlet such as The Daily Mail passes this off as a legitimate news story is an embarrassment to the journalism industry.
UPDATE, 5 pm EST: With "Inside Edition" and some show called "Right This Minute" airing the footage, sadly, "Today" and "GMA" have reached out for comment and are planning stories. And somewhere inside 30 Rock is a 40-something producer shaking his or her head, thinking, "I remember when we did actual news stories."
More by Tim Wood
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Latest Travel News
Hotel & Resort
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship
Features & Advice
Airlines & Airports
Airlines & Airports
Features & Advice
Destination & Tourism