A couple left standing on the docks had insult added to their misfortune as a member Royal Caribbean crew waved them goodbye with a giant fake hand. The crew member was seen waving from the birdge of boat they narrowly missed.

The passengers left on the docks at St Maarten saw Freedom of the Seas sail off without them.

Footage posted onto Facebook showed the man waving a giant foam hand with the words "bye!" written on it.

Onlookers from the ship opposite – the Carnival Fascination - can be heard laughing over the video.

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"Look at their faces! They've missed it!"

The unlucy couple learned they had missed the boat. Photo / Supplied
The unlucy couple learned they had missed the boat. Photo / Supplied

The ship Freedom of the seas was due to sail into Puerto Rico, minus the two passengers who have not been identified.

The crew member might not have meant the message for the unlucky couple left behind, however this will not have made it any easier for them.

What to do when you've missed your cruise

Help I've missed the boat!

While the giant hand might have added comic effect to this cruise catastrophe, but missing a ship is no laughing matter.

So long: It is not clear whether the timing was intentional. Photo / Supplied
So long: It is not clear whether the timing was intentional. Photo / Supplied

Ship itineraries are often planned up to two years in advance, and when they're under way cruises wait for no man.

Often ships can incur penalty fees from ports for late departures.

Passengers are warned to get back at least half an hour before the sailing time, but even then there are always a few who miss the boat.

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There are plenty of things that can go wrong, particularly with passengers taking shore excursions.

Sinking feeling: So your ship has left without you, what should you do? Photo / Getty Images
Sinking feeling: So your ship has left without you, what should you do? Photo / Getty Images

It can pay, in theory, to take part in cruise-run shore expeditions and trips which will make sure you get back in time. Though many spendthrift tourists feel constrained or even short-changed by the cruise line. For example the cost of a walking tour in Rome with Princess Cruises is between $200 and $250, whereas the cost a return train ticket from the Civitavecchia Port of Rome is around $25.

You might see the extra cost as insurance to get back on time.

Some passengers fail to keep track of time when in holiday mode, or forget to change their watches to their new time zone.

So you've missed the boat and been left high and dry. What are your options?

Freedom of the Seas: The ship set sail for Puerto Rico without the two passengers. Photo / Supplied
Freedom of the Seas: The ship set sail for Puerto Rico without the two passengers. Photo / Supplied

Your ship has sailed

It's not the end of the world, or your cruise.

But depending on where you've been left, missing your ship can be more than a hassle.

For most passengers this involves making their own arrangements to meet the boat in its next port.

In Europe this can involve expensive hotels and last minute flights, but in the rest of the world a flight transfer might not be possible.

If your ship has departed for the South Pacific, things can look fairly dire.

It might be days of endless bureaucracy before you can rejoin the cruise.

Cruise lines will often have port agents that can assist with passengers left behind. It will be expensive, but you won't be the first or last passenger they help catch up with a cruise.

Some passengers take matters into their own hands.

In 2016 a British pensioner had to be rescued from the waters in Fuchnal in Madeira.

Susan Brown, 65, from Dorset swam 500 metres after the departing vessel the Marco Polo on its way back to Bristol before being rescued by fishermen.