Pier runners are a phenomenon that most experienced cruisers are familiar with and may have witnessed more than once.
Just days ago, however, a pair of pier runners was left behind in an unexpected port of call – rather than one of the Caribbean ports with plenty of nearby bars, this couple was left behind in Bari, Italy, when they failed to return to MSC Splendida before the ship departed.
Two cruise guests were left behind in Bari, Italy on the current sailing of MSC Cruises‘ MSC Splendida on Tuesday, August 15, 2023. Video of the incident has been circulating on social media, showing the couple at the end of the closed pier on quay 11 calling and begging to the ship’s captain for the vessel to return.
“Is the captain there, please,” the man in the video was heard yelling (in Italian), followed by “Captain, wait for us please! You can do it if you want to.” You can watch the full video below:
The couple had arrived back at the ship after the designated departure time, when the gangway had already been removed and the ship was starting to pull away. The vessel did not return for the tardy passengers.
“I am very sorry for the episode,” UGO Patroni Griffi, president of the Port System Authority of the Southern Adriatic Sea, told the Italian newspaper Repubblica. “They tried to ask the ship to turn back or at least to stop operations. Obviously it is impossible for cruise ships that have limited times and are also very expensive operations.”
Bari is located in southeastern Italy, on the Adriatic Sea, and is a popular port of call for Adriatic or Mediterranean cruises. On August 15, MSC Splendida was in port from 7 a.m. through 2 p.m., and Viking Cruises’ Viking Sky was also visiting the port.
The 138,000-gross ton Fantasia class MSC Splendida is currently offering a range of Adriatic and Greek Island cruises. In addition to Bari, the ship is visiting such popular ports of call as Trieste, Santorini, Corfu, Istanbul, and Athens. Itineraries range from 5-10 nights, depending on where guests embark and debark the ship. In late October, the ship will reposition to South Africa.
Pier runners – cruise guests who are late to return to a ship and must run the pier to catch it – are not uncommon, but typically these incidents occur in ports of call that are well-known for energetic bars and cheap drinks.
Ports in Mexico and other parts of the Caribbean are especially popular for the pier runner phenomenon. Alcohol consumption is not always a factor in pier running, however.
Guests may be late to return to a cruise ship for a number of reasons, including underestimating how long it may take to walk back to the ship from local shopping centers, staying too long at a beach, or arranging a private tour that may run over its planned time or get stuck in traffic.
It is a misconception that cruise ships could easily return to pick up late travelers, especially when the vessel may be just a few feet from the dock.
Port berth schedules are very tightly defined, and if a ship is late leaving its assigned space, it may be subject to steep fines and additional taxes. Furthermore, this could impact other ships in a knock-on effect, whether it is another cruise ship, cargo vessel, local ferry, or any other ship scheduled for the space.
When a guest is left behind in a port of call, a representative of the cruise line will be on hand to help assist them with necessary documentation and travel arrangements to reach the vessel at a later port, or to return to the homeport. Expenses for this travel are the responsibility of the guest and may not be covered by travel insurance, depending on the terms of the policy.
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