For passengers aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship in Europe, the trip took a turn for the worse as soon as they stepped on the vessel — and only got worse from there.
While boarding for a two-week long voyage that was supposed to take them to the Netherlands and Iceland, among other stops, they were notified that their first port in Amsterdam was swapped with Normandy, France. However, upon arriving at their new destination, it was cancelled due to weather conditions.
“That was understandable,” Katasha Jones, who was on the ship with her boyfriend, Cody McNutt, tells PEOPLE. “We were upset that the itinerary had just changed twice, but that with weather, we’ll be understanding.”
Unfortunately, the cancellations didn’t stop there. About a week into their trip, after only making it to two of their planned ports, they were notified that the trip’s main attraction, Iceland, had been cancelled and replaced with more towns in Norway.
“Myself and my boyfriend were on this trip for Iceland, because that is quite a beautiful place to get to visit,” Jones, 24, explains to PEOPLE. “And in conversation with many other passengers, that was a similar sentiment from other people as well — that they there to go to Iceland. This is our Iceland trip. There was even a family on board that had Iceland family adventure T-shirts made up.”
To make matters worse, the towns that replaced their Iceland ports were tourist towns that had already closed for the season, according to Jones, who said in one port the only open attraction was a local grocery store.
“There was a restaurant that opened and all it was able to serve was frozen hamburgers,” she reveals. “That’s all he had. There was nowhere to get a cup of coffee. The main feature that was open was the grocery store.”
“To say that that’s equivalent to Iceland is a pretty far stretch,” she adds.
In addition to the cancellations, conditions aboard the ship got worse and worse, with food going stale and multiple bathrooms failing to flush, Jones describes — echoing the many photos and videos shared by other passengers on social media.
Finally, the cruise announced they would be docking in Greenock, Scotland, which had been another replacement port.
“We woke up early, excited to get to go to shore to Scotland and tried to make the best of it,” Jones says, but as they approached the dock, a delay was announced. They waited an hour, passengers flooding the main atrium to wait for their chance to leave the ship.
“We can see the port,” Jones recalls, when suddenly the captain announced that due to “high winds and rough weather conditions” they would not be docking in Scotland. Passengers were in disbelief as they could look out and see that “the water was flat and calm.”
That is when the chaos began.
Security rushes out to try slowing riot of angry passengers aboard NCL Norwegian spirit after 14 day Iceland cruise goes to hell. pic.twitter.com/tWYK3WYngD— NCLHELL (@NCLHELL1) October 8, 2019
“At that point, as soon as the announcement turned off, was when that room erupted and people just lost it,” Jones says. “It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Protests followed, with passengers demanding refunds or to return to London so that they could disembark. Jones and McNutt, 31, decided to leave the ship once they docked at their next stop of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Since then, the cruise line has issued an apology, writing to PEOPLE in a statement, “Unfortunately, Norwegian Spirit’s itinerary was impacted by severe weather conditions. While nine ports of call were originally planned for the voyage, the revised itinerary allowed the ship to call on eight ports. We are very sorry for any inconvenience and disappointment our guests experienced. As such, we made the decision to offer a 25% future cruise credit.”
RELATED VIDEO: Men Rescue Woman In Wheelchair Who Fell Off Cruise Ship Dock
The note continues, “We always do our best to provide our guests with a truly enjoyable and memorable vacation. But our very first priority is to ensure their safety and the safety of our crew. We understand that it is disheartening when we are unable to call on ports that our guests have been looking forward to visiting. However, we do ask for our guests’ patience, cooperation and understanding that severe weather conditions are an act of God and cannot be controlled, influenced or remediated by the cruise line.”
When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Norwegian sent this same message to PEOPLE.
Jones said passengers were notified of the 25 percent discount on a future cruise as a remedy to their troubling experience, but that it “genuinely upset people more.”
“It sounds ridiculous coming out of my mouth,” she adds of recounting her experience aboard the ship. “And then I’m like, ‘Oh no, that’s really what happened.'”