Norwegian Gem passengers stranded in Newark

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A.J. Ross reports from Newark.

It was supposed to be a dream vacation for Leo and Debra Travis, who had set aside their hard earned cash for more than a year to embark on the Norwegian Gem.

"We work hard and we were just looking forward to a good relaxing vacation," Leo said.

The couple caught a bus from their Massachusetts home to New York to board the 11-day Caribbean cruise, but halfway through their tropical journey the ship's propulsion system failed.

"Soon as they announced that, it was like the stress level went up on the whole ship you know, everyone wanted to know what's going on, they wanted to know their itinerary," Leo said.

As waves of uncertainty washed over the nearly 2,300 passengers, Debra says communication with Norwegian staff dissipated. The ship was then rerouted to Barbados where people were erratically divided into groups and flown back to Newark Airport Friday to essentially fend for themselves.

"There was no communication, we knew nothing about what was going to happen, if we were going to have a hotel to stay at," Debra said. "Last minute on everything, it was horrible and it still is."

Beyond frustrated, sleep deprived, and now stranded at a Newark Airport hotel the couple says Norwegian is not offering much for their inconvenience. Meanwhile the Norwegian Gem's next scheduled cruise, which would have departed Saturday, has since been canceled and those passengers are receiving a full refund.

"They only want to give us 25 percent back they said on our next trip," Debra said flatly. "This is a nightmare for everybody, not just for us, everybody that's been on this cruise ship."

Norwegian released a statement saying:

"Due to a technical malfunction with the ship's Azipod propulsion system that has resulted in the ship's speed being restricted from full capacity, Norwegian Gem's current 11-day Eastern Caribbean cruise that departed New York on October 31 will now conclude in Barbados on Saturday, November 11. Norwegian has arranged for flights to return all guests to New York and hotel arrangements for guests who returned home today.

"Norwegian Cruise Line sincerely apologizes for this unexpected change to the ship's scheduled itinerary. As a gesture of our appreciation for their patience, all guests will receive a future cruise credit of 25% of their cruise fare paid.

"In order to ensure the azipod's technical issue is resolved, Norwegian Cruise Line will be cancelling Norwegian Gem's cruise scheduled to depart from New York on November 11. All guests booked on that sailing will receive a full refund, plus a 50% future cruise credit of their cruise fare paid. The company will also cover any airfare change fees of up to $300 per person for those guests who purchased air independently. Norwegian's reservations teams and travel partners will be working closely to rebook guests on alternate sailings over the same dates, and is currently offering a limited time Flash Sale that offers guests all four free amenities in the popular Free At Sea promotion, including free unlimited open bar, a free specialty dining package, $50 towards shore excursions in each port per stateroom, and 250 minutes of free WiFi. On select sailings, Norwegian's Friends & Family Sail Free offer also allows the third and fourth guests to sail for free on many 2017 and 2018 sail dates."

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