NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Cruise passengers redirected due to Hurricane Dorian are running out of patience. The first wave to arrive Tuesday (Sept. 3) said they felt inconvenienced, but the group arriving on Wednesday said they were downright angry.
Two Norwegian cruise ships that should have returned to Florida ports found refuge in New Orleans. Donna Hocevar was among the group of passengers disembarking the Breakaway Tuesday, a little weary, but understanding.
“We got extra time on sea. They take care of you very well. It’s just the communication that wasn’t very good," Hocevar said.
Those passengers were on board before Dorian became a monster threat. While most managed to get directed home comfortably, a small group got stuck in the heat at an outdoor charter plane lot without food and water for most of the day. One of those passengers, Sara Alonzo, said they felt they were treated like animals.
“Everyone was starving. No one knows what’s been going on. Basically, Norwegian Breakaway just dumped us here and said see you later," Alonzo said.
The group did eventually get some supplies, and hours after their expected arrival back in Florida took off on that chartered plane.
Then, another round of passengers arrived on the Norwegian Sun Wednesday. Among the group was Kelly Schrader, frustrated with the confusion.
“It was only supposed to be four days and we are six days later. Now finally getting to go home," Schrader said.
This ship left Thursday, when Dorian was at its height and clearly a threat. Passenger Denise Washington said it was was irresponsible for the cruise to go out in the first place.
“We called four times before we left from home. There’s a hurricane coming, can we cancel? They said, no everything was going to be fine. We were going to go where we are going," Washington said.
Another passenger who declined to give their name said they had no idea anything was being rerouted until after they got on the ship.
“They didn’t tell us until we got on the boat that we weren’t going where we were supposed to,” the passenger said.
Others agreed they should never have gone out.
“I said, ‘can we rebook to go to another time?’ They said, ‘No, get on the ship or find your own way home.’ We had no choice but to get on the ship or lose all our money that we had already spent," Schrader said.
What was supposed to be fun and relaxing turned into an unfortunate ordeal, Washington said, and one they never should have had to face in the first place.
“In my opinion they should have cancelled the trip," Washington said. “This was a horrible trip. The staff they were rude it was very, very stressful and again I would not come on the Norwegian Sun again. I would not even if they paid me.”
Another passenger felt the same.
“If somebody offered me $10 million. I would never take that cruise again. They are just so disrespectful on that ship. They say they care about you, but they don’t care about nothing," the passenger said.
After not responding to requests for comment Tuesday, the next day, a Norwegian spokesman denied the cruise line mishandled or mistreated anyone in their response to Dorian’s threat.
“The Norwegian Cruise Line has done all of the right things as a brand - for their passengers and their crew. They flew approximately 7,000 passengers out of New Orleans and they always had access to food and water. Some stayed on the ship and others were put in hotels. Absolutely no one was stranded,” the spokesman said.