A distraught couple looked on in tears as a cruise ship sailed away with their young children on board after they missed the departure time.
The woman had reportedly been late to arrive at the port in Nassau, Bahamas, and her husband disembarked the ship to go to look for her.
But dramatic footage recorded by passengers on board the Norwegian Breakaway shows the parents, from the US, racing to catch the ship as it set off on its three-day journey back to its home port in New York.
In one clip, the father jumps off a buggy and waves his arms, while his wife drops her bags, falls to her knees and clasps her hands in front of her chest as she begs the crew to stop, but by then it was too late.
Spokesman for Norwegian Cruise Line, Archie Pottinger, told MailOnline Travel that the mother had been late for the cruise ship's departure.
'The onboard team located her husband and children on board but the family was not able to reach her, nor did they know when she would be returning,' he said.
"Due to the circumstances, the ship went beyond normal protocol and waited an additional half an hour for the guest.
"When she had still not returned and following consultation with the family, it was decided that the husband would disembark with their travel documents to wait for his wife while the children would stay with their uncle and his family on the ship for the remainder of the voyage.
"The company offered travel and lodging assistance to the couple and arrangements were made for them to reunite with the ship upon her return to New York on April 24."
Passenger Brady Forbes told MailOnline Travel that the parents had at least two children - a boy aged around nine and a girl aged around 12 - on board when the 4000-passenger ship left Nassau without them on 21 April.
Forbes said the father and children were on the ship as it prepared to leave, but the mother had not returned from a land excursion.
He said: "After that, the husband went out to look for the wife and the ship gave them more time than normal.
"They found the wife but obviously not in time as the ship sailed away.
"Both husband and wife were not able to make the ship in time after they missed it. The kids stayed on the ship with supervision."
Forbes said he doesn't know the family, but he shared an elevator with two of the children after the incident and they told him what had happened.
He said: "The children seemed really upset that their parents had missed the boat, but when we talked this was a few days after the incident."
He said he didn't see the parents again until the ship docked in New York on April 24, but he doesn't know how they travelled back to the US.
A man who uploaded a video on YouTube said it was believed the children had other relatives on board.
It is not known why the mother arrived late, but viewers offered little sympathy.
One woman wrote on YouTube: "You are told again and again what time to be back on the boat, generally an hour before the ship leaves port. You can't blame the ship's captain for keeping to a schedule.
"How they did not stick together as a family boggles my mind. What nitwits."
Another viewer added: "And that's why you get back to the ship early and don't leave your kids on board."
A four-and-a-half minute YouTube clip uploaded by passenger Jaron Frieden shows the husband waiting for his wife with a staff member before picking her up in a buggy on the other side of the port and racing back towards Norwegian Breakaway.
A man tells the camera: "This gentleman appears to be distraught that his family is not around and it's 10 minutes past departure."
In the clip, the man says the couple has three children.
Frieden wrote on YouTube: "We saw several people running late and started taping. This couple was the latest and we later found out that their kids were not with them on shore, but on the boat with relatives.
"We followed up with the crew and they said they were all safe. We really were hoping they made it or they turned around for them. Posting this so others can see how important is to be back to the ship on time. Just terrible."
In a two-minute video posted online by passenger Scott Thomas, a man tells the camera: "You see that right there? That is someone that has missed the boat and apparently she has her kids on the boat and she's not on there. 'That right there is not cool. She was yelling, 'My kids are on there'."
A woman adds: "I didn't think they would do that. I guess I was wrong."
The man responds: "I told you they'd do that. When it's 5.30 it's 5.30, not 5.31."
Some passengers are overheard saying the ship should return and pick up the couple so they can be reunited with her children.
One says: "Go back and get them. I would have run to the end and jumped in."
The Norwegian Breakaway was on a seven-night cruise to the Bahamas after departing from New York with thousands of tourists, mostly from the US.
It sailed to Port Canaveral, Florida, and Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas before heading up the Atlantic coast to New York.
Molly McIntyre, a cruise consultant with Cruise.co.uk, said: "Some cruise lines do allow children to stay on board without their parents in the kids clubs if the parents want to go ashore without them.
"Personally as a mother of four I do use the kids club but would never leave them on board alone.
"What I don't understand is why this lady was late back as the departure time is always displayed in the daily schedule and normally there is a sign as you get off the ship that asks you to be back on board 30 minutes before departure."