Originally posted by:
Ouch-----I just let my wife read this. Now I never get her on a ship. Was also posted on C.C. I got if off of Cruise Law News.
January 13, 2010 Nevada #1
Posted yesterday at 02:47 PM
This is long. I debated about posting it. If you’re looking for recent information about sailing Norwegian and what it’s like to test positive on board, I’m posting this for you and hope it will help. If you’re someone who likes to troll or be snarky about people “cruising during a pandemic,” consider that this isn’t for you– or about you–and kindly scroll on. This is our family's experience.
Late October 2021: My husband and I book 3 Cabins on Norwegian Bliss for 12/26 New Year’s sailing. A Christmas gift to our family, including our adult children (young 20’s). We book through a travel agent and purchase independent CFAR travel insurance (25% penalty). We are all vaccinated and most will be eligible for boosters before sailing.
December 2021: Omicron takes over the news. We understand this trip will involve additional risks and stresses. Peace of Mind policy is not available. What will happen if one of us tests positive at the pier or onboard? Norwegian’s policy seems vague. Not many personal narratives posted. We consider triggering our CFAR insurance (which will refund all but $2500). We confer with our family. We are healthy, vaccinated, and we miss each other. We love to cruise. We will do this.
12/25/21: We individually test for Covid (home tests and at the airport) before flying. No one wants a surprise at the pier. All negative.
12/26/21: We’re tested and aboard! Let the fun begin! We discover that some (a lot) of the entertainment is canceled due to Covid. Masks are now required. No problem! We’re flexible and happy to be here!
The ship is gorgeous. Food is the best we’ve ever had on a cruise. We enjoy our two specialty dinners but are impressed with the main dining rooms and buffet as well. We take full advantage of the drink package! Never a long wait for drinks, never a need for dining reservations (which I hate to make in advance), no problem finding deck chairs. The staff is wonderful–warm, fabulous, happy to have us on board. Our cares and all the stress leading up to this trip melt away. My husband and I decide this is the best cruise we’ve ever taken. We are sold on Norwegian.
1/1/21: Last day of cruise. We learn that one of our family members (age 21) is sick. The symptoms: fever, chills, cough…not good. Medical Center is called. Someone arrives within 90 minutes to test Passenger 1 in the cabin. Both passengers are told to stay in the cabin and await PCR results. Ninety minutes later a telephone call: Passenger 1 is positive. Medical Center says they’ll be up to test Passenger 2. Passenger 2 is negative, but instructed to remain in isolation for the duration of cruise. Passengers have many questions about quarantine process but the caller is hard to understand and disconnects before they can ask. They begin to worry. These are my kids.
I go to Guest Services for more information. Specifically, I want to know where my family members will be taken when the ship docks. I speak to a Guest Services agent who is cold and dismissive. My first negative experience ever with a Norwegian employee. He says more information will be coming from the Medical Center and that there are “many” guests affected.
Another call comes from the Medical Center. The caller this time informs guests they will be taken on arrival to a “quarantine facility.” No other information. Guests begin to panic. What “facility”??
I return to Guest Services and politely request to speak with a manager. I am calm. The manager is ALSO cold and dismissive. This is my second negative experience with Guest Services and is opposite of every other experience we’ve had on board. I sense an attitude of “You got yourself into this–not our problem!” He does assure me that the cabin mates will be allowed to remain together (one is negative but is concerned about the other and they will stay together). He tells me the guests will be receiving a letter.
That evening guests receive a letter telling them they will be taken to a certain hotel upon arrival. I’m reassured as I know the hotel from having stayed there in the past. It’s a nice hotel. The letter tells them a port agent will be assisting them as they disembark and will arrange to get them to the hotel. They are given phone numbers to call if there are any problems. They’re told a company called Med Com will be contacting them daily to assess their illness and assist with medical issues. The letter says they will be responsible for paying all costs upfront and will need to submit all expenses and claims to their insurance carrier. If they don’t have insurance or insurance denies the claim, Norwegian will reimburse for the length of stay (Med Com will determine the need), reasonable transportation costs, up to $100 a day for meals, flight change fees up to $300 (if applicable).
9:00 am: Guests have eaten room service breakfast. They get a phone call letting them know to prepare to disembark at 9:30-9:45. They will disembark after all other passengers have left the ship.
10:15: A crew member in full Hazmat gear collects guests from stateroom. Crew member does not communicate with guests but motions with hand gestures where they are to proceed.
10:15: Guests are stopped in the hall and met by a second Hazmat-attired crew member who carries an electric aerosol-spraying device. He sprays luggage with “sanitizing” (?) spray. No communication is given. This crew member follows guests down the hallway, spraying behind them as they walk. During this process, an unmasked crew member casually passes guests in the hallway.
10:20: Another group of guests arrives at the elevator, also having their path sprayed down as they walk. The spray machine is electric and guests have to keep stopping so the machine can be re-plugged in and spraying can continue.
10:25: Guests get on elevator in a group and are taken to floor 5. Sanitizing is discontinued. Crew member gestures for guests to continue on to the gangway. All Hazmat protocol is discontinued at the gangway. Guests give room number and names to crew. Guests proceed down gangway–this is the last time they see anyone from Norwegian Cruise Lines.
10:30: Porters are at the bottom of gangway, pointing in the direction to proceed. It is an alternative gangway which takes guests outside the terminal. Porters point toward a chain link gate where a port official is waiting. There are approximately 4 other groups of Covid passengers waiting and a port agent is checking passports. Port Agent points toward the gate and another agent at the gate asks people if they have a car or if they need Norwegian transport. The group with cars proceeds on their own to their vehicles. The group needing transport (approx. 40 people) walk out of the gate and are directed to stand in an area at the end of the port. Port agent announces that someone will come and direct guests onto buses. Quarantined passengers are not kept isolated from arriving/departing passengers.
10:45: There is no longer a port agent with the group. There is no one left behind the chain link gate. Guests are on their own.
11:45: Some passengers elect to depart – about 30 remain. Porters in the area are asked for help but say they have no information. Guests begin trying to call the phone numbers provided by Norwegian. One number rings through and goes to a voice mail box that is full. One number is for medical questions only. One number has a voicemail message that says they are only open Monday-Friday, 9-5. This is Sunday. Many guests are calling Norwegian Customer Service but no one is able to provide them information or help. Some guests are actively sick and there is no place to sit down, go to the bathroom, or get water. Guests begin getting angry and frantic. There are 3 large Sprinter-type vans with engines running, located directly in front of the group. A few guests approach the vans and ask if they are here to take a group to *the hotel I’m not going to name.* The vans say they are and allow the passengers to board (these vans are actually here to pick up Norwegian crew but, in the confusion, they unexpectedly end up with 30 Covid-positive passengers onboard).
12:10: Three vans proceed to hotel.
12:25: Arrival at hotel. One passenger goes in to find out about Covid-quarantine rooms. Hotel desk clerk tells her to leave the hotel immediately. The hotel says they have not received any information about Covid guests and there are no rooms available. The vans remain at the hotel while guests frantically try to get a hold of Norwegian for help. One family is very angry and refuses to get back on the bus. Hotel official comes out and tells the van driver that the police will be called if everyone doesn’t remain on the buses. Passengers are getting hungry, angry, desperate, panicked, and some are SICK. Most are frantically still trying to call Norwegian for help. Norwegian Customer Service Supervisor says they are unable to contact the person at the port responsible (person is not answering the phone). “Sorry, we’ll call you back if we get more information.”
1:20: Passengers are still on the vans. Van drivers are communicating by phone with their boss. (Whoever this van company is deserves a medal. The drivers are kind, empathetic and patient. They understand that they have now–unexpectedly– been fully exposed to Covid-19, and that their passengers literally have no destination to go to). The boss tells them to take passengers to a hotel 40-50 minutes away from where they are. This is not a Norwegian decision–it’s unclear how this hotel has been selected, but possibly they have agreed to take the passengers.
1:21: A representative from the hotel *which shall not be named* comes out and says they can organize rooms but it will take a couple of hours. During that time guests will have to remain in vans and are explicitly forbidden to use bathrooms or get food or water. Some guests are desperate for a bathroom; most guests are hungry and thirsty.
1:25: Some guests elect to exit the vans to make their own way. It’s been 3.5 hours since they left their cabins and it is clear that they have been dumped and abandoned by Norwegian. The prospect of driving 40 minutes to a hotel that has not been approved by Norwegian and may/may not welcome them does not appear good. The prospect of waiting 2 hours to enter a hotel that clearly wasn’t expecting them and has threatened to call the police on them is also not good.
My kids are within walking distance of my hotel; they head my way and I arrange their room, pick up their keys, and am able to ensure they have no contact with staff or other guests in the process.
Jan 3: No word from Norwegian or Med Com. My travel agent and agency are working all day, sending emails and making phone calls. No one can explain what has just happened. The phone numbers the guests have been given STILL don’t work. Finally at 7:00 pm, due solely to the emails our agency has sent, a Norwegian employee calls. He apologizes profusely, assures that all hotel/food/transport expenses for both cabin mates will be covered, and lets the Covid positive guest know that Med Com will be contacting her.
Jan 6: No further contact from Norwegian or Med Com has happened. It’s clear Med Com will not be following up. Covid-positive guest is feeling well and has continued to observe CDC protocols.