Antarctic legs of cruises iced out, leaving passengers fuming


The Norwegian Star has removed continental Antarctica from its upcoming sailings.

Norwegian Cruise Lines has removed Antarctica from the upcoming itineraries from its ship the Norwegian Star last minute, leaving furious passengers locked out from the once-in-a-lifetime destination.

This weekend the Star, which is currently in the Drake Passage, informed passengers that the trip would have to be altered for operational reasons.

The current sailing and another upcoming trip departing on February 18 would no longer be reaching Antarctica, essentially shortening NCL’s cruise season. The February 26 sailing has also substituted a call on Antarctica for Admiralty Bay in the sub-Antarctic South Shetland Islands.

“While we try to maintain original itineraries as much as possible, unfortunately, at times modifications are made to optimise the itinerary or to accommodate certain circumstances,” read a notification sent to travellers. “As such, in order to enhance the guest experience, the itinerary has been revised.”

Online, and on the NCL app, Norwegian appears to have removed any mention of Antarctica from the sailing, leading to uproar.

Guests aboard the Star say they were told the ship was operating under a “go-slow order,” affecting the itinerary.

The original stop in Paradise Bay and continental Antarctica would no longer be reached, instead skirting past the tip of the sub-Antarctic South Shetland Islands and Elephant Islands.

Australian cruiser Shane Grant said that he and his wife were first made aware of the update after a change to the ship’s passenger app, which was renamed from Antarctica and South America to “just South America.”

There was “no explanation,” he said. “The entire ship are really pissed off.”

Passenger Greg Giles who is booked on the upcoming February 18 sailing said he was “angry to say the least.”

The traveller, who was joining the cruise from South Australia as a large group of 8 guests, said he was aware that the company was able “to change the itinerary if they so desire, without any reasonable excuse and I have not been given one.”

Another passenger who let her feelings be felt, launching a TikTok channel titled “@ruinedvacation”, alleges that the cruise line was aware of the operational issues before they boarded on January 31.

“Passengers have spent life savings, big money, to be on this ship. They’re here for major milestones,” she said.

“We’ve lost that trip that we had all been hoping for and waiting for. We won’t get another chance to go to Antarctica.”

Operators NCL were contacted for comment.

The Norwegian Star is a 23-year-old 2300-passenger cruise is one of the larger vessel to visit Antarctica this summer.

While the exact nature of the “go-slow” issue is unknown, mechanical issues and previous woes have led it to be dubbed “the unluckiest ship at sea” by the Independent.

Malfunctions with the ship’s Azipod propulsion system led to the ship cancelling ports of call in 2005 and 2015. In 2017 speed issues force the ship to cancel all planned stops on a sailing round New Zealand, turning around back for Australia on the day it reached Auckland.