February 2014 - Norwegian Pearl to Caribbean - Western
I recently cruised with NCL on the Norwegian Jewel on the Western Caribbean route, between February 16 and February 23rd. This is my second time traveling on this route with NCL and my fourth NCL cruise in total. While every cruise leading up to the most recent cruise has been spectacular in every way, this cruise was an enormous disappointment. Seethe details of the most egregious instances below:
Day 2 (Day at Sea) – We pre-booked our excursion for our first port, Cozumel. The travel documents I printed for the cruise from the NCL website indicated the excursion tickets would be delivered to our room. Upon not receiving the excursion tickets at the room the afternoon/evening prior to the excursion, I went to speak with a representative at the guest services desk about getting reprinted tickets. However, the “Excursion Desk” was closed at the time and we were told there was no way to print our tickets without an excursion representative. I then called the ship operator in an attempt to receive the tickets via a phone representative. We had no success with either individual and our excursion meeting time was at 8:15am the following morning. Without any success I woke up at 6:30am to make it to the “Excursion Desk” prior to the morning rush to have my excursion tickets reprinted. After a total of two hours attempting to track down tickets which were supposed to be delivered to my room, I had my tickets but was left wondering why I pre-booked any excursion. It certainly was not any easier and was definitively more stressful, which the website indicated was the benefit of pre-booking excursions.
Day 4 (Belize) – This port, specifically the snorkeling on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, was the sole reason we booked this trip over the NCL Eastern Caribbean route. Our excursion meeting time was scheduled for 12:15pm. After spending the morning getting ready for the day and tendering from the ship to the docks, we received word at 12:10pm that our excursion was cancelled and that we should attempt to use a private vendor for a snorkeling excursion. We were among the last to learn of the excursions cancellation and were left with no options for the day, much less the ability to find a boat to take us snorkeling. When we realized we were no longer going to be able to snorkel, we asked the NCL excursion representative on the docks what other options there were for excursions. All excursions had commenced already and there were no remaining options. Upon asking the NCL representative if he had any suggestions, he recommended we pursue some of the activities offered on the ship. After a half hour of disappointment walking around the tourist shops on the docks and with the limited amount of time until the 4:15pm departure time, we tendered back to the ship. The day was lost and we were deeply disappointed to find a letter on our door explaining that NCL wished to compensate us for our lost day of vacation by offering 15% off any future excursion bookings. The gesture is appreciated but we had already had plans for the remaining two ports.
Day 6 (Costa Maya) – At this port we again felt the sting of a cancelled excursion, a paddle boarding excursion. Again we learned of the cancellation within 15 minutes of the excursion meeting time. Again we were left with few options for alternate excursions. The option that most closely mimicked our original paddle boarding excursion was a beach excursion, which was located a 45 minute, one-way, bus trip from the ship, which would have allowed us three hours at the beach. Again we were disappointed that our options were limited and our plans were changed again. Again we were limited to walking around the tourist shops. After walking around the tourist shops, we walked back to the ship disenchanted that we had lost two of the four port days of our vacation. No compensation was offered in this instance.
Multiple Days – The first time we found our room missing beach towels after room cleaning, we called guest services and had some delivered. The second and third time we did not have ample time prior to excursions to wait for beach towels to be delivered, and made trips to the pool deck in an attempt to procure new beach towels. Again we found ourselves stressed and pressed for time on our vacations.
I submitted a claim to customer relations on February 27th. After calling back five times (waiting on hold for 28, 36, 44, 42, and 31 minutes, respectively), I was finally forwarded onto Evon (today, April 9th), the customer relations associate handling my ticket, who offered me a $130 future cruise credit. This offer seemed really low and she then offered a $200 on-board credit for any future. Neither of these options seem like they are offering anything in the way of a remedy but she assured me they were more than amicable and in good faith, citing company policies. My inclination is to email Kevin Sheehan (NCL CEO) directly. When I mentioned this to Evon, she encouraged the idea and went on to explain that the issue will end up back to her team where she will likely offer me less. Based upon my on-board experience in February, I would have entertained the idea of cruising with NCL again, provided the customer relations department was willing to work out a resolution. It is truly a shame than this instance will overshadow all my previous positive experiences but let me make it clear, I would NOT recommend this cruise nor NCL for any future cruises.