Thousands of cruise passengers have been stuck in Barcelona and Rome, after the sailing was cancelled with only days' notice for "technical difficulties".

The Norwegian Pearl was on a 13-day European voyage to the Mediterranean when it was discovered to be suffering from an issue that was causing the ship to lose speed.

Due to the stricken ship's cruising speed the 2300 guests have missed stops in Palma, Majorca and Monte Carlo. It was hoped that the ship would arrive on to its final destination in the port of Rome on Friday morning.

However, the 1197-cabin cruise ship remains languishing in the waters of the Spanish city. The 6am arrival in Civitavecchia does not look likely.


The upcoming cruise of the Greek islands has been cancelled, to the annoyance of passengers. With the late cancellation of this cruise, passengers – particularly international guests – had already arrived in Italy ahead of the next scheduled cruise.

Passenger Patricia Del Mar from Puerto Rico had already flown halfway to meet the ship in Rome when she heard the news. At a loose end she turned to Twitter to vent her frustration: "I just got to NY, my flight to Rome is in an hour. I am FROM PUERTO RICO and after 2 hrs in a call with customer service they just said to go back to PR. They can't solve anything."

"4am call from my 75yr old parents stuck 2 days so far on the #norwegianpearl ship in Barcelona," wrote worried twitter user Laura Mustard from Utah, trying to get to the bottom of the situation.

Another guest sailing on the Pearl claims to have been put out of pocket by over US$5000 (NZ$7800) in airfares after the cruise was cancelled.

The cruise line issued a statement to Passengers saying that following further assessments in Spain, the stricken ship would "be ending its current sailing in Barcelona as well as cancelling Norwegian Pearl's July 5, 2019 voyage.

Passengers on the Pearl were offered "50% refunds and a 50% future cruise credit," with up to US$300 (NZ$450) in flight change fees.

Technical issues: Frustrated holiday makers stranded in Barcelona. Photo / Twitter, @bestgug
Technical issues: Frustrated holiday makers stranded in Barcelona. Photo / Twitter, @bestgug

This same flight change fee was made available to those guests sailing on the scheduled July 5 cruise, with a 100% refund and 100% of their fee paid in credit towards a future cruise.

"We are truly sorry for the disappointment and inconvenience our guests have experienced as a result of this unforeseen situation. Our team is working diligently to assist all of our affected guests and to keep them informed with the latest details as they become available," the cruise line said in a statement.