Stuart & Jo
Number of Cruises: 22
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Jewel
Sailing Date: January 7th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Our Flight AA57 left Heathrow, but was diverted, unavoidably, to the Azores, we have no problem with this as it was a medical emergency.
After an overnight stay in Miami, due to arriving after the Norwegian Jewel had sailed, we were flown to Roatan, via Honduras to pick up the Norwegian Jewel on Tuesday 10th January.
Arriving at the port, we were further delayed due to the lack of organization at the gate, we were not allowed in the port until a representative of NCL had been called to come to the gate and confirm that we were in fact delayed passengers. Our passports were checked and we were allowed to board.
We were eventually booked in, and given the keys to our cabin. We were not escorted to our room, (which is usual procedure on cruise lines) nor given any type of welcome, which I thought would have been the order of the day as we had been inconvenienced and missed part of the cruise, already feeling the loss of opportunity regarding familiarization, nor were we given any form of lifeboat drill or instructions, which is part of Maritime Law.
On arriving at suite 10512, we were surprised at how small the room was, there was a small gap (8½ inches we later measured) on one side of the bed, and on the other side, butted up to the bed was a couch, which we later discovered to be another double pull out bed. In front of the balcony door was a small table, Approximately two feet away on the opposite side wall was a unit withTV, tea and coffee making facilities, and a chair. This was in line with the bottom of the bed, which is approx 18 inches from the wall, which separates from the next room. On inspection of the bathroom, we were dismayed at the size of the toilet, I am 5ft 8inches, and my husband is 6ft 4inches, as the dimensions are so small, and both the toilet and shower have sliding doors, what is a tight squeeze for me is an impossibility for my husband, he was unable to sit on the toilet, and could not close the door of the shower.
I went to the desk and asked for a representative to come down to the room so that they could see we were not exaggerating that should my husband need to use the toilet at night, he would need to get up and dress to use a bathroom in one of the public areas. a member of the hotel staff came down with a colleague and agreed that the room was too small, she said that this was not an unusual situation, and if we gave her twenty minutes she would find us another room.
We were moved to 11150, which was very nice, the bathroom was lovely, with a bath, but more importantly, a large toilet with ample legroom, and much wider than the previous one. I packed our cases and moved to 11150. I was not told that this move was anything other than for the duration of our holiday.
Friday 13th January was a scheduled day at sea; we were told the following day would be another day at sea due to inclement weather in port. We are quite used to having days at sea, this being in excess of 20 cruises that we have had, three of which have been with NCL. There was no extra entertainment provided, just the casino open, the day before there had been a blackjack tournament, when asked if there would be another one (10 dollars had been charged the day before) the reply was no, the tables were needed for ‘serious gamblers’! After complaints from other passengers it was announced at 2.10 that there would be a ‘free bar’ until 3.00pm, not exactly generous considering the amount of passengers there would need to be served in 50 minutes.
We received a note in the room saying that we needed to change the door key for the second week of our cruise, when my husband went down to the desk, he was told that we were being moved BACK to the original room at 10512, I went to see the person I had previously spoken to who had moved us, she said she was unaware we had booked a back-to-back cruise when she gave us the room, but would see what could be done. I said that we couldn’t possibly move back, as she had already seen that the room was totally unsuitable, she agreed and said she would contact us as soon as she had a solution. As no word came from the Hotel department, my husband and I went down to the desk, we were ushered into the office of the hotel manager who immediately attacked us with the words ‘You are refusing to get out of your room…….’ I told him this was certainly not the case, but I was refusing to return to the room which had been established as too small for our needs on arrival so how could he now justify it’s suitability for the second week, to which he replied that we had made no request for ‘special needs’ so we had no choice, we had to move back. I replied that we HAVE NO SPECIAL NEEDS; all we wanted was what we had booked and entered into a contract with NCL to provide, and therefore expecting an obligation from NCL to provide a room with FULL USEABLE facilities. He was rude and unhelpful, saying that as far as he was concerned the room was ‘adequate’, if on the second week, when we had LEFT MIAMI, there was a possibility of a move, then he would consider it for us, in the meantime we WOULD HAVE TO MOVE BACK INTO 10512, I emphasized this was unacceptable, we would need to know BEFORE we left, as I had no intention of accepting a fait accompli once we were in the middle of the ocean, and I would rather he arrange for us to leave the ship and find us accommodation in MIAMI for the duration of the holiday. He came back with ‘ no way would NCL pay for accommodation, and if we left the ship, there would be no refund … so it was up to us!! we were due to dock in MIAMI the following morning, so as a reasonable consideration we said that if he came back to us before we docked, with a solution of alternative accommodation, even if it meant we had to pay, then we would stay on the Norwegian Jewel, otherwise we had no alternative but to leave the ship. By 12 o’clock the next day, the ship had docked, we went to Immigration, in the Dining Room, The hotel manager was there and ignored us completely, so we packed our cases to leave the ship. At the disembarkation point, the member of hotel staff who had been dealing with us was checking passports, I tried to speak to her, but she also pointedly ignored us, so we left the ship.
We took a taxi to Miami Airport, and arranged for a hotel, as we were going to try and get our return flight to the UK brought forward, our holiday was now ruined by the inconsiderate actions and attitude of NCL staff, I was extremely upset at having missed the beginning and now the rest of my 14 day cruise, especially as the four days I had spent on the ship had been mostly taken up with going backwards and forwards to the desk trying to sort out accommodation, packing and unpacking our bags.
Previous cruises with NCL have been such that we had no hesitation in rebooking, with the Norwegian Jewel being such a new ship, we were really looking forward to a wonderful experience, but this has certainly soured our view of cruising in the future. the restaurant and bar staff of the Norwegian Jewel were wonderful, but any disappointment on the part of a guest indicates an opportunity for improvement and I certainly hope NCL will use this situation to do so. It may also be prudent if it is explained in future brochures and on the NCL website that there is a restriction on the use of the facilities provided in the cabins for people taller than 5’10”, I’m sure the hotel staff on the Norwegian Jewel are hand picked and valued members of the company, but no-one is infallible, and, when making decisions that they feel are in the best interest of the company, such as in this situation, then the customer is, unfortunately the one who suffers. This is certainly what appears to have happened with us and our experience of the Norwegian Jewel. This time NCL made it obvious that they are in it for the money and the customer is second rated, even to use the jacussi and sauna is a 60 dollar a week charge as you need to join the Bor Bora health club, all the drinks are over priced and the service charge is 19% with 2.50 dollars per roopm service. No More NCL for us.