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Passengers stuck at sea after Norwegian cancels Caribbean cruise mid voyage due to Covid-19

NBC News logo NBC News 1/15/2022 Minyvonne Burke

Norwegian Cruise Line canceled its Caribbean trip mid voyage due to Covid-19, leaving travelers stuck at sea until the ship returns to New York.

The Norwegian Gem was on a 10-day sail but it was canceled and the ship docked in Philipsburg, St. Martin.

“As we continue to navigate the fluid public health environment, while focusing on delivering a safe experience for all on board, we made the difficult decision to cancel Norwegian Gem’s current Caribbean sailing, due to Covid-related circumstances," a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise said.

It's not clear what exactly led to the cancellation. The spokesperson said the ship would return to New York "shortly" but did not provide a date.

Aimee Focaraccio told USA Today that she boarded the ship on Sunday for her birthday cruise. But what was supposed to be a fun celebration has now turned into a "nightmare," she said.

"I really can’t imagine four more sea days back to back without much to do,” she said, calling it "extremely unsettling."

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"Tomorrow will really be the only nice day to enjoy the outdoors and after that, we will be stuck inside. With limited shows, small crowds, and nothing to do. I’m upset," Focaraccio told the news outlet.

Another traveler, Anthony Bivona, said last-minute changes to the itinerary were expected, given the pandemic.

“We all knew when we booked during such difficult times due to Covid that there would most likely be changes to our itinerary,” he said. “It was not the exact itinerary we signed up for but has still been an absolutely amazing cruise.”

According to Cruise Industry News, all passengers on the Gem will receive a full refund.

The pandemic has caused a wave of setbacks for the cruise industry. Earlier this month, Norwegian canceled numerous voyages because of "ongoing travel restrictions." A 12-day trip on the Norwegian Pearl was also cut short because of circumstances related to Covid-19, the cruise line said.

Royal Caribbean Cruises also called off its Spectrum of the Seas cruise that was to leave Jan. 6 after nine passengers on an earlier sailing were exposed to Covid.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that cruising right now carries a risk of getting and spreading the virus, regardless of vaccination status.

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