June 2014 - Norwegian Sky to Caribbean - Bahamas
Who I am doesn't matter. What I look like doesn't matter. How I dress doesn't matter. How much money I make doesn't matter. Although I admit that if I were wealthy, I could have probably avoided the disgusting treatment I received during the end of my cruise.
Of course to better explain what happened at the end, I'll have to begin near the middle. I was awoken by the room servicing staff during the second night of my cruise. This was the first cruise I had ever been on and did not know all of the normal procedures of a cruise staff. Apparently, either during the morning or night, when there are activities going on and most guests are either out on deck or disembarked at a destination, room service will enter their rooms to tidy them up. I was napping before going out on deck.
The staff member said he would return in the morning and he indeed did. When I returned to my cabin after breakfast my door was open and he was in the bathroom wiping it down. Now I have nothing against employees just doing their jobs and I fully understood that's all the staff member was doing. However, I didn't feel comfortable with someone in my room while I wasn't there and my things unpacked. My things had been moved or stacked in different areas. I politely told the staff member that I would not like to have my room serviced and he left. I knew the probability of my property actually being stolen was low but I am a very private person.
A few minutes later he returned with his supervisor. So I explained to the supervisor that I would prefer it if no one, staff member or no, would enter my room while I wasn't present. I explained that I barely used anything in the room save for the bed and bathroom, neither of which were dirty even before the staff member began cleaning. I asked if room service could be held off until after the cruise was over and I was gone.
The supervisor then explained to me that "whether I like it or not" my room would be serviced while I am out and if I did not allow this I would need to speak to security. Now again, who I am doesn't matter, but being a supervisor in security I understand how the mindset of employees in the hospitality industry work. "The customer is always right until they break the routine, then they are a problem" is basically how it goes. The light threat didn't bother me I just politely asked if the supervisor would speak to his superiors about my request and if it turns out that I would be forced to allow his employees into my room then so be it. I was there to relax, not cause conflict. This scared the supervisor though, who attempted to make it clear that "it's not me forcing you, it's our policy" which I knew was just fluff. I nodded and again just asked him to put in the request and even said his employee could finish his job but the supervisor told me he would "give me a pass" for that day and that he would speak to the director of operations about my request.
For a portion of the next day I expected someone from the ship managerial staff to show up at my room or that I would be called to speak with them but no call came and no one knocked on my door. For the rest of the cruise I was left alone and able to relax. I figured the supervisor had spoken to the director and was told something along the lines of "it's not that big of a deal"
How wrong I was.
The last day of the cruise I was packed and ready to disembark hours before the ship reached port. Not because I didn't enjoy the cruise or the service was bad but because I am an early riser. The trait was instilled in me during my time in the army. Also I didn't want to wait in line to be let off the boat. I ended up being the second person in line waiting to disembark.
This is when I experienced one of the most disgusting and humiliating treatments from any staff in any establishment I have been to in my entire life.
Room keys, which double as credit cards, are given to cruise passengers only after proof of citizenship is verified. In order to receive the key you need some identification and a passport or certified birth certificate. I provided this documentation along with everyone else on the cruise before I was allowed on the ship. In short, I would not have had a room key if my documentation was not already on file with the cruise line. I presented my I.D. and room key, eager to leave the ship and go home. Instead the moment my card was swiped the staff member's demeanor changed and he began to stare me down as if I was beneath him. As if I was some common criminal. I recognized the expression well and instantly knew what was going on. I've been detaining and handling actual criminals, even terrorists for the better part of my life for god's sake so I knew exactly what was going on. My file had been flagged.
Then the staff member asked me for documentation I provided four days ago. At first I thought of refusing, because I knew where the situation was going, but I also knew that wouldn't get me the results I wanted so with a sigh I knelt down and opened my bag to retrieve my birth certificate. There were hundreds of people lined up behind me all impatient and eager to get off the boat and now I was the reason they were being held up.
EVERYONE saw the way the staff was staring me down.
EVERYONE saw the suits walking up to me.
EVERYONE saw them walk me to the side even after I gave the documentation they asked for.
While the guards were pretending to match up my birth certificate with my I.D. I decided to bite and asked what was going on. I received a pleasant smile from a lady in a suit and an even more pleasant lie; "oh nothing, someone must have made a mistake, you've done nothing wrong". Instantly the thought of well then why am I still being held up if someone made a mistake entered my mind but I knew it was pointless to ask. I waited, as everyone that walked by took their "I wonder what he did" glance at me.
When they finally let me off the boat the lady in the suit made sure she kept possession of my documentation and lead me to a room with three armed guards. She handed my documentation to them and left without a word. One of them took over the duty of pretending to study my certificate while the other two ordered me to put my things on a table to be searched. After seeing the frustration etched across my face one of them was kind enough to warn me by telling me to "think of us as a mirror and anything you do will be reflected back at you".
Again, I wasn't intimidated but didn't see the point in making a scene. I deal with people who make scenes daily in my line of work and it never helps. When the guards learned of my current occupation and that I am a veteran they finally began to realize they were being used as a proxy in a cheap display of payback against someone who only made a simple request to have his privacy respected. Their demeanor changed and they quickly repackaged my things and let me go.
My cruise was spectacular. Watching Miami shrink as the boat set sail on day one was a great experience. The food was great, the alcohol was greater. I traveled the Bahamas, met interesting people and learned intriguing things about their history. But the final experience I had aboard the Norwegian Sky was outright appalling.
I will NEVER cruise with any Norwegian vessel EVER again.
My family will NEVER cruise with Norwegian.
My friends will NEVER cruise with Norwegian.
My family's friends will NEVER cruise with Norwegian.
To have my file flagged as if I was some drug smuggling criminal simply because someone in management didn't like my request is beyond childish, beyond abhorrent. If I actually were wealthy I would have refused to move from that boat until some $1000 dollar an hour lawyer arrived and demanded my documentation be returned and put the fear of a massive lawsuit into the hearts of those suits with fake smiles. But since I received an email requesting me to rate my experience I figured this is all I can do.
This review probably won't matter to most people and will be buried amongst the hundreds of other reviews. But if one person happens to read it and think twice about boarding a Norwegian vessel then it will have at least done some good.