Guests aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Dawn are being denied debarkation at the conclusion of the current sailing, a 12-night one-way sailing from Cape Town, South Africa to Port Louis, Mauritius.

Local authorities have made the difficult decision to quarantine the ship due to gastrointestinal illness onboard and are exercising an abundance of caution to ensure it is not a cholera outbreak.

A “small number” of guests onboard the 92,250-gross-ton Norwegian Dawn have developed gastrointestinal illness, which the cruise line describes as “mild symptoms.” The exact symptoms have not been disclosed, but are likely to include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea – common symptoms of norovirus.

Because these symptoms can also be indications of cholera or other, more serious illnesses, however, authorities in Mauritius are requiring additional testing and a 2-day quarantine period before guests aboard Norwegian Dawn are allowed to debark.

“Upon the ship’s return to Port Louis, Mauritius, the vessel’s management team met with local authorities to confirm precautions and actions were being taken to ensure the wellbeing of all on board,” a statement from a Norwegian Cruise Line spokesperson said.

“Due to additional testing being required by local authorities before being allowed entry, the government of Mauritius has delayed disembarkation for the current cruise and embarkation for the next cruise by two days to February 27, 2024.”

While port officials sampled approximately 15 passengers for additional testing, there is no information about whether that includes all onboard guests reporting symptoms or if that is just a representative sample to confirm the type of illness. A statement from the Mauritius Ports Authority also clarifies the situation.

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald)

“Officers from the Ministry of Health and Well-being this morning took samples from around fifteen passengers on board the cruise ship ‘Norwegian Dawn’ due to a health risk,” the Mauritius Ports Authority said. “These passengers had been placed in isolation on board the cruise ship due to their state of health.”

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It will take approximately 48 hours for test results to be verified. Until that time, guests already onboard the ship must remain there, while travelers who were hoping to board Norwegian Dawn to begin their cruise – a return 12-night itinerary back to Cape Town – must delay their embarkation.

Norwegian Cruise Line is working with guests onboard Norwegian Dawn to make alternative plans.

“As a result of a decision made by local government officials, we will not be arriving in Port Louis, Mauritius [on February 25] and you will not be disembarking the ship,” a letter delivered to guests’ staterooms read. “We are working closely with all relevant parties to try to expedite disembarkation.”

“We have been informed that we will most likely be able to disembark on Tuesday, February 27, 2024.”

The cruise line has provided telephone access and free internet packages for onboard guests to make necessary arrangements for their travel after the cruise, including adjusting air travel plans or contacting family members.

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship in Portland (Photo Courtesy: Portland Port)

If passengers had arranged airfare through Norwegian Cruise Line, their flights will be automatically shifted to the new embarkation date and new flight itinerary confirmations will be provided as soon as they are available.

Guests who have made independent flight arrangements will need to contact their airlines or travel arrangements, and work with any travel insurance provider for possible reimbursement options. Norwegian Cruise Line is also offering up to $300 (USD) per person of reimbursement for any travel change fees not covered by insurance or the airline, with appropriate documentation.

Read Also: Cruise Ship Illness – How to Protect Yourself

Furthermore, all guests being held aboard Norwegian Dawn will now receive a 15% discount (in the form of a future cruise credit) for any published sailing through December 31, 2025.

Guests waiting to board the ship to begin their cruise are being accommodated in local hotels until the ship is cleared and the next cruise can begin.

Norwegian Dawn can welcome 2,340 guests aboard for each sailing, and is also home to roughly 1,000 international crew members.

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