Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Sailing Date: February 16th, 2003
Itinerary: Eastern Carribean
I have finally returned home from
one of the most disappointing vacation experiences in my life. I feel very, very
strongly that you have a right to know how very sad, and greatly disappointed my
family was with our recent cruise on the S/S Norway. I must also state for the
record, this was my “first” cruise. My mother began planning and saving to take
the twelve of us nearly 2 years ago. Although I am sure you receive many
letters, I can’t imagine any family going through what we just experienced on
your cruise ship. There are many key aspects of my disappointment I want to
bring to your attention. Everything from the condition of the ship, to the
service and rudeness we received by several members of the S/S Norway crew.
Let’s start with being told the ship would be held for us, but that it
ultimately left without us.
Including my family of 12, there were 20 of us on American Airlines flight 763 from Chicago to Miami. We were put on 3 different planes because of “mechanical problems”. Not because of bad weather as most of your staff on the S/S Norway kept inferring. As soon as we knew we had mechanical problems we called Norwegian. They told us to keep them informed and call when we knew the appropriate departure time.
Various members in our now 20 person party, phoned periodically with updates as we sat at the gate. Once we knew we would be leaving, we called back and were told that the Norway would be held until 6:00 p.m. and a Norwegian representative would meet us at Miami’s airport.
We arrived at approximately 5:20 p.m. called customer service to let them know we were in and they told us once again, “we will hold the ship for you”. By the way, there were other passengers traveling to Miami to board cruise ships from Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Upon our arrival, we could help but notice there representatives right at the gate to greet them and bus them to their ship. When we inquired as to where the Norwegian representative might be, we were told they left the airport earlier in the afternoon!!!
My mother and fiancé took a cab to the ship. They arrived at 5:40 p.m. only to be told that the ship “had left“. However, the ship was still in port, but the “lines had been dropped”, essentially assuring our party’s absence at departure. This resulted in my mother and fiancé having to watch the ship leave port. My mother was devastated to say the least. After explaining to our children that the ship didn’t wait, we spent the next several hours with American Airlines at Miami airport. They sent us to St. Martin, where we were not able to board the ship until its arrival Wednesday morning.
So now all of us are standing on the dock at 8:45 a.m. waiting to board the tender. I approach one of your representatives (Craig Steyn) asking him if we are the first group to board the tenders since we missed the ship 2 1/2 days ago. He says, “no, there is another tender right behind it and we don’t want the passengers on top to get wet” (it was drizzling). I said you have to be kidding, we have been patiently waiting to get on this ship, and he said, and this is a direct quote “another 20 minutes isn’t going to kill you”!!!
Mr. Veitch, to say that I was angry and upset by his comments was putting it mildly. I told him I intended to share his comments to me with his supervisor upon boarding, and he held his name badge up and said “make sure you get my name spelled right”!!! I can only hope this will be dealt with appropriately.
When we boarded the Norway, we were greeted by no one! After our repeated requests, “customer service” representative arrived. They asked us to check in but we requested to speak with someone in authority. We wanted to know what was going to be done to make up for the fact that the ship left without us! We were told we were going to get “good service”. I wanted to ask if we hadn’t missed the ship, then what would we have received?
We finally met with Frank Hascnwinkel-Hotel Director. We told him we were hoping maybe our cabins could be upgraded or free drinks, some type of good will gesture on behalf of Norwegian. He said he would have to check with corporate. Later that afternoon he said he spoke with Alice Cain-Moore, Supervisor. Norwegian Cruise Line had decided they would do NOTHING for us, other than provide “GOOD SERVICE”. Once again, all 20 of us were outraged that we were being treated so poorly, after spending thousands, and thousands of dollars.
I could write several more pages, but instead here are some other key comments from our 4 1/2 days of hell on the Norway:
§ Old ship, looks nothing like the brochure pictures
§ Bugs mites. We all woke up with bites on our legs the first morning
§ Immigration problems at the end of the cruise.
§ Food was good, other than Thursday night when my fiancé wanted an hour and a half for her dinner.
§ Waiter\wine steward were all good.
§ Room was fine size wise, but it was old and grimy really gross!
§ Never really met the room steward.
§ Kids Crew for the 6-9 year olds were great!
§ The whole boarding process was abysmal.
§ Most Norway staff treated the twenty of us like second class citizens.
§ The Tenders! The Tenders! The Tenders! These were a terrible idea. 1 hour re: boarding the boat.
§ Remodeling the ship all week. Carpets, painting, tearing up the deck on the International Deck. Why isn’t this done when the ship is NOT in service????
§ Broken glass thrown at 3:45 a.m. at my daughters cabin door! Security asked me “what do you want us to do”??????
§ Taxi ride to Megan's Beach. Hair-raising to say the least. But the beach was not all that it was made out to be. Took off late from dock to get to beach 2 hours was all that we had there.
§ Great Biscayne Cay beach missed it because of misinformation as to how long the tender ride was. Told it was 45 min. it was 5.
§ Small pools. Only 2. Both with salt water. Hurts the kids eyes and throat!
§ Viking 241 room not ready when I boarded WEDNESDAY morning. I was told there was an emergency, and one of the crew members needed to stay in my room.
§ Getting on late no information was given as to on-board programs for soft-drinks and kids things.
§ Repeated hang-up calls to our four of our cabins in the middle of the night
Mr. Veitch, before I close this sad letter, I have 2 more incidents I want to share with you. The first involves my son Anthony. Anthony is 16 and Thursday night complained of ear pain. I was told that we could only “consult” with a physician if we agreed to pay the $100 charge. I was outraged, once again!!! I explained that his ear simply hurt and didn’t know if medical treatment was needed or not? I simply wanted to talk to a nurse or doctor. I spoke to the nurse on the phone and she reiterated again, that only if I agreed to pay the $100 fee, could I see the doctor. I had no other option, so I paid it. My son’s ears were drained and after 10 minutes we left with ear drops and I was charged a total of $135.00.
The nurse told me that “most insurance companies” will reimburse you for these costs. I explained to her that my HMO only had “preferred physicians” on their list we could see. And I explained that I highly doubted that the “doctors. on the Norway” was on their list. My HMO has refused to reimburse me for these charges. Once again, I was outraged by your staff.
The last incident was a simple one. But demonstrated so simply the incompetence of the staff of the Norway. I wanted to cash 2 American Express Travelers checks and place the amount toward my balance. He asked me to sign the check in both places in front of him, which I did. I handed them back to him and he looked at them with a puzzled look on his face? He said the signatures DID NOT MATCH. I thought I was going to go through the roof! I had just signed my name, twice in front of this man, and once again I was being harassed and challenged by your staff.
I will be writing as many reviews on the web as I possibly can, hoping I can prevent other families from making the same mistake we did. Anyone who asked about my cruise, I have informed as to how awful and terrible the Norwegian Cruise Line and the Norway were. I have been in sales for nearly 20 years, and NEVER have I, nor my family, EVER been treated so poorly by an entire staff and organization.
Editor's Note: Always fly into the port a day early to avoid this happening to you. Cutting it close on the same day will result in either you or your luggage not making it a good percentage of the time. Don't risk it.