Making the most of it: Stuck Norwegian passengers sing, play, wait for flight home

Norwegian Cruise Lines chartering flights back Wednesday

Passengers are relaying new information after their cruise ship with Norwegian Cruise Lines ran aground in the Dominican Republic this past Monday.

Passengers tell News 6 besides being stuck in the Dominican Republic everything is going smoothly, but as some people plan to take a charter flight back, others are learning they can’t.

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“We learned about an hour ago, that the Dominican Republic government is not allowing at this time for passengers traveling without a passport to disembark,” said Ben Wills.

Wills said his family has their passports but said only a driver’s license was required to board the Norwegian Escape.

The ship set sail from Port Canaveral Saturday but ran aground while departing Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic Monday.

The rest of the cruise is now canceled, and flights are now being chartered in waves.

“The cruise director did inform us over the PA system earlier that all guests should have their bags packed and ready to go,” Wills said.

Wills said no one knows exactly what time they are leaving, but passengers News 6 spoke to say they’ll be making the most of their trip.

“This is the first we’ve been on Norwegian, but it’s been a great cruise and a great ship,” said Kevin Hipes of Oviedo.

Hipes said nothing has changed since the ship ran aground, he even sent News 6 a video of people singing and having a good time.

One passenger, Jason Vandyke said in a message, “Other than us being docked you wouldn’t know there’s a problem.”

Hipes agreed, saying passengers have been making the most out of the situation.

“Hanging out, having a blast,” said Hipes. “I wish we were going out to the other islands, but you know we’re on a boat with nothing but fun people and a lot of restaurants.”

Another passenger, Robbie O’Maley is a frequent Norwegian passenger. He said this is the first time this has happened, but said in a text, “The crew have gone out of their way for us all. Norwegian handled the situation extremely well.”

Norwegian said in a statement that all passengers would receive a refund and a voucher for a future cruise.

We did reach out to the company to see what is being done to help those without a passport but have not heard back.

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.