Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Star
Sailing Date: November 25th, 2005
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Norwegian Cruise Line
7 Day Mexican Riviera
DON'T TAKE THIS CRUISE unless you don't care about your itinerary and you love being lied to. Months in advance we purchased and paid for a Mexican Riviera cruise that was to include stops in Acapulco and Zhue/Ixtapa. Two days before we were to sail, Norwegian called and left a message saying that because of problems with the ship's rotors not being able to dock at those two stops, they would be substituting Manzillo and Mazatlan for Acapulco and Zhue&Ixtapa. They said it was also too late to cancel and get our money back. When we arrived at the dock in LA to board the ship, they handed us a piece of paper indicating the change in itinerary had been made to accommodate a problem with the ship that would not allow it to go over 20 knots per hour and we could not accomplish the original itinerary in the 8-days allotted for the cruise. This was the first many of the passengers had even heard about the change at all - and you can believe there were some pretty angry people there. NCL would only give us a $50 ship's credit for our troubles and that was it! NCL personnel on hand were very rude in explaining the situation and there was an incredibly long line of people snaking around the building to be checked in - so long in fact that people were fainting from standing there so long. When I questioned an NCL "greeter" about this, her response was "what you expect, there's only 3,000 people trying to get on the ship. Dah."
I guess that was meant to welcome me to NCL. Although the ship turned out to be lovely, with a great crew aboard and wonderful food, I will not recommend a cruise line that repeatedly lied to me and the rest of the passengers for a week. Ultimately, according to the ship's log from the bridge that is posted over the TV system, we at times were going in excess of 22 knots per hour. On the last sea day as we headed back into port, we passed numerous ships - including a Holland America ship that we left in the dust - as we were obviously cruising much faster than 22 knots (but they mysteriously removed the cruising information from the TV on the last sea day and replaced the channel with a sports channel) so it appeared there was no problem with the ship's speed - so the printed sheet claiming why the itinerary had been changed didn't wash. We clearly could have made it to Acapulco and back. The theory among many of the passengers was that NCL must have bought the fuel for that cruise on the futures market when the cost was at an all time high, so as cost saving measure (for a company that hasn't been meeting its profit margins, according to a recent financial statement) they cut out sailing to the furthest ports. NCL claims they will not resume the original itinerary going to Acapulco until after the ship goes into dry dock in April for repairs - but continue to sell the cruise with the old itinerary on many websites and through travel agents we checked with. Don't be fooled. Instead of visiting two lovely ports like Acapulco and Ixtapa, you'll being going to Manzillo -basically a backwater highly industrial Mexican town where trash floats in the brown water and there is nothing to see and nothing to buy and nothing to do - and Mazatlan, that is only slightly better. And your time in the other decent ports - Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas - is cut down to a point where you wonder why they even bother stopping there at all. I mean, to stop in Cabo for five hours - by the time you are tendered off the ship and back -is hardly worth it. If you take a tour, you are left with virtually no time on your own.
Take another ship and another cruise line if you want to enjoy the Mexican Riviera. Looks like the Sapphire Princess came through for its passengers. And if you dare to take NCL anywhere else, just remember they may decide to up and change your itinerary at the last minute and the cruise you bought and paid for is not the cruise you get. And they don't care at all. Their attitude is basically "too bad, we gave you $50 bucks, what's your problem?" My only hope is there was a sharp lawyer on board who is angry enough to start a class action suit. I know 3,000 people who would join up in an instant. If NCL had seemed even slightly sorrier about what they did - I don't think any of the passengers would have been nearly a upset as they are. But their "could care less" attitude is what stings the most. And what will remind me to tell everyone I meet never, ever to cruise with NCL again.