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Teen abandons parents on island to return to cruise on time: "They missed the departure. By a lot. Like 45 minutes"

Pier runners late to their cruise ship

Would you leave behind your family on an island if they were running late for your cruise ship’s departure? That’s what one teenager did - and now they’re asking the internet if they were in the wrong.

Posting on Reddit, the user named ProfessionalTax7753 asked for advice on the subreddit titled “Am I The ***? (AITA)” regarding the recent incident: “AITA for abandoning my parents on an island in the Caribbean so I could get back to our cruise in time?”

In the post, the user explains how they just graduated high school in December. For graduation, their parents booked a family cruise for seven nights to celebrate the teen’s graduation and 18th birthday.


Although the family typically visits all-inclusive resorts, the user shares how they’ve always wanted to go on a cruise. Because of this, the user states how they explained to their parents how a cruise is different than an all-inclusive resort and that adhering to the cruise ship’s schedule is very important.

“They would not head back to the ship when I said it was time to go. They were busy shopping and bargaining with the locals. I finally said that I was heading back to the ship. My mom waved me off,” shared the user.

Stuck in a difficult position, the teen decided to return to the cruise ship by the required time, which ensured the ship could depart on schedule. Cruise ships are very strict when it comes to their scheduled itinerary. Because of this, guests can be left behind if they do not return by the all-aboard time.

Pier Runners

“[They] missed the departure. By a lot. Like 45 minutes. They got ahold of me through WhatsApp. They wanted to know why I didn’t get [to] the boat to wait for them. I wanted to scream that they were not going to inconvenience 3,998 people because two could not understand what the schedule was,” continued the user.

When passengers are left behind due to their own fault, the cruise lines do not provide accommodations or transportation. Instead, these guests are responsible for paying any consequential costs to reunite with the ship. This can be particularly difficult if guests are left behind in a foreign country without passports.

In this case, the user shares how their parents “ended up having to fly to the next port and it was expensive.”


“They are pissed at me for leaving them behind. I don’t know what I was supposed to do. They literally told me that they knew what they were doing. I wish I had never asked for this. They are making me miserable because I left without them,” concludes the post.

In the comment section, the teen expands on the situation, asking if they were in the wrong for not staying behind with their parents. Had the teen stayed behind and missed the ship with their parents, this would have cost the family more money for an additional flight to meet at the next port.

Moreover, the teen wonders if they should have been dragging their parents back to the ship when it was time. Either way, the teen is confused by what their parents expected from them.

Read more: Will a cruise ship leave without you?

Responders assure the teen they did the right thing and place the blame on the parents

NCL encore

The post has received a massive response from Redditors online with nearly 2,000 comments regarding the situation. The majority of comments have sided with the teen, confirming the parents are in the wrong in this instance.

The top comment states, “They seriously think the ship will delay for 45 minutes, yea no. The docks and ship have a schedule to keep. They are adults and need to be responsible for getting back on time. Which is something you have figured out in less than 6 months of being an adult. At least you don’t have to go on any more vacations with them after this.”

Many agreed with this comment, expressing how the cruiser’s parents are responsible for their own actions.

Celebrity Ascent

“Your parents are acting entitled. Tell them you saved them the expense of a third ticket to the next port,” writes one user in response to the teen’s question.

Another commenter concurs, “This is ALL on your parents. They didn't respect the ship schedule. You would never have been able to prevent the cruise ship from leaving. They have a schedule and they keep to it. The ship waits for no one.”

One user questions, “What precisely do they think you could have done? Kidnapped the captain? Staged your own drowning? You didn't abandon them, they abandoned you, don't let them weasel word this around to being your fault in any way, shape, or form!”


“I'm really sorry your parents have ruined this for you. It's pretty pathetic of them to blame you for their extremely easy-to-avoid deliberate bad decision,” continued the commenter.

If anything, commenters echoed that the teen’s parents should be grateful they did not need to waste more money to pay for the cost of a third ticket to reunite with the cruise ship.

“They should be relieved that their kid has a good head on their shoulders but no, they'd rather blame them,” argued one commenter.


Finally, many of the responses reassured the teen that even if they had asked for the cruise ship to wait, it would have fallen on deaf ears.

“Even if [you] had tried/asked, I highly doubt the staff would have even considered delaying departure. Did [your] parents expect [you] to kick down the door to the bridge and commandeer the ship until they finished shopping?”

Do cruise ships wait for late passengers?


In short, cruise ships do not wait for late passengers. The only exception to this rule is when guests are booked on excursions sponsored by the cruise line.

In this case, the cruise ship is typically required to wait for delayed passengers. If the ship-sponsored excursion is drastically delayed, the cruise line is responsible for organizing the return of guests to the vessel. In this case, the financial responsibility falls on the cruise line rather than the guests.

It’s well known that cruise ships operate on a strict schedule. Because of this, guests are required to be onboard at a designated time to ensure the ship has a timely departure. Guests who book an independent excursion or choose to venture on their own must be back by the all-aboard time.


Even if you are a few minutes behind schedule, the cruise line does not have any obligation to wait for you.

When guests are left behind, there might be an opportunity to reunite with the ship at one of the itinerary’s upcoming ports. However, all countries have different regulations for immigration that could prevent guests from boarding at a certain port.

Returning late to your cruise ship is an unfortunate and costly situation, but one that is entirely preventable

NCL Dawn

Just recently, Norwegian Cruise Line made headlines when eight passengers on the Norwegian Dawn were left behind on a small African island. The passengers had booked an independent excursion when the ship was anchored in São Tomé and Príncipe.

Not to mention, the guests were required to tender ashore, meaning even more time should have been allocated for their timely return. The eight passengers spent 15 hours traveling through six different countries trying to reunite with their cruise ship in Gambia.

Speaking on the situation, Norwegian Cruise Line stated, “While this is a very unfortunate situation, guests are responsible for ensuring they return to the ship at the published time, which is communicated broadly over the ship’s intercom, in the daily print communication, and posted just before exiting the vessel.”

Read more: What happens if you miss your cruise ship

Norwegian Dawn

When the ship was unable to safely dock in Gambia, the passengers had to travel to the ship’s next scheduled port stop in Senegal. The passengers said they were left without medication and most did not have credit cards that were accepted on the island.

For this reason, guests should allocate plenty of time to return to their vessel as scheduled. Exploring independently should only be a risk taken when you are confident that you can return to your cruise ship for all-aboard time.

What should you do if you miss your cruise ship’s departure?

Grandeur of the Seas

If you find yourself being a pier runner - literally running down the pier to meet your cruise ship’s departure time - you might wonder what to do in this nightmare scenario. Cruise ships are always on a tight schedule for a reason, as it’s costly for the ship to operate behind schedule.

To start, you should be prepared for the worst when you disembark your cruise ship at a new port. Make sure you have the port agent information for each stop on your itinerary. A port agent is a local official who works with the cruise line if passengers need support while docked in the port. This information is good to have regardless, as you might need it in an emergency.

Some passengers prefer to carry their passports ashore in case of an emergency. If you are left behind, having your passport will greatly ease the situation. Those without passports will need to work with the local embassy to apply for an emergency passport.


It’s also a good idea to have a few doses of your prescription medication if you absolutely rely on daily medicine. There is no guarantee that you will be able to access your necessary medication in port if you are left behind.

Moreover, always have a credit card that you take ashore to pay for these unexpected expenses. There would be nothing worse than being stranded without any money!

At the end of the day, the ship’s captain will have the final say when it comes to late passengers. Some might get lucky if they are only 10 to 15 minutes late. However, you should never assume that the cruise ship will wait for you - even if you are 5 minutes late!

Credit Cards

Typically, passengers running behind schedule are encouraged to contact the cruise ship or port agent to be proactive. Some captains might choose to wait for a few additional minutes if late guests have communicated properly with the port agent, although this is not guaranteed.

If you find yourself in this worst-case scenario and your cruise ship has left you behind, contact the port agent immediately. You can also contact your cruise ship’s emergency assistance number, which can be found on the cruise ship’s website. The port agent will provide local support for you to figure out a plan of attack. The quicker you take action, the higher the likelihood that you might be able to salvage your vacation.

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