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John

Age: 47

Occupation:govt employee

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Wind

Sailing Date: September 26th, 2003

Itinerary: Panama Canal

My wife and I booked passage on the Wind for what we hoped would be an exciting and wonderful 15 day Panama Canal repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Miami. We were sorely disappointed.

On our second night at sea, as we were enjoying our formal dinner, I noticed the ship seemed to be turning. Sure enough, the captain came on the P.A. and advised us there was a crew member who had to be evacuated by helicopter for medical reasons. We had to turn around and head back toward San Diego so the helicopter could reach us. We were told it should be about an hour or two delay. Finally, FOUR HOURS later the crew member was picked up and we returned to our original course. This put us EIGHT hours behind schedule. Now I don't fault NCL for this unfortunate circumstance. I do fault them for the way they handled the remainder of the cruise and their failure to properly plan the rest of the cruise for the maximum enjoyment of the passengers.

The kicker came the following day. As my wife and I were relaxing on the fantail reading, I noticed we were running on only ONE engine. Sure enough, the captain comes on and informs us there is a problem with the engine cooling system. It is apparently clogged by some "shells" (his words) that were picked up in Alaskan waters. Repairing this problem put us another three to four hours behind schedule.

We were scheduled to arrive in Puerto Vallarta on a Monday at 8:00 A.M. but did not arrive until 6:00 P.M. (our scheduled departure time). In order to allow us time in Puerto Vallarta we stayed all night and until 6:00 P.M. the next day. However, half of our shore excursion were cancelled as there was another ship in port with us that following day.

Then it was on to Manzanillo, Mexico. Why, I'll never know. If you are ever looking at a cruise itinerary that includes Manzanillo, don't waste your money. There were no shore excursions offered and very little information given to us about what to do there. We hired a taxi/guide for $20 an hour and did see what little there was to see (Las Hadas resort, where the movie "10" was filmed is their claim to fame, but the resort charges $20 per person just to visit).

As we were cruising we were told that our original port call in Cartegena ,Columbia had been cancelled due to security problems and unrest there. Once again,I have no quarrel with the cruise line about that. However, we were then told our new itinerary would take us to Cozumel, Mexico instead and then on to Key West, Florida (an original port stop). The next day (or two) later we are told Cozumel is out and furthermore we may not get a daylight transit of the Panama Canal which is the reason most people took this cruise in the first place! Once again, uncertainty and unhappiness filled what should have been the cruise of a lifetime. Finally we are told we will get a daylight transit of the Canal but now for some reason we must go to Cartagena for 1 HOUR to satisfy some maritime port requirement. So much for Cozumel and Key West.

Our final stop was the San Blas islands of Panama. UGH!.. this is where NCL and the crew of the Wind showed their ineptitude the most. The tender service to the island was totally without coordination as they tried to cram 500 passengers on an island filled with grass huts and islanders that was no bigger in size than the ship itself. Again, if you are looking at a cruise that stops at San Blas, don't waste your time or money. From San Blas we went for our 1 hour stop in Cartegena ,which wasn't even listed in the daily "Freestyle newsletter". We sat in port for about an hour, then sailed straight for Miami.

By this time we had some extra time to burn prior to out arrival in Miami, so rather than arrange another port call NCL decided to just slow the ship down to about 16 knots to burn time and make our original planned arrival time into Miami.

I was so glad to get off this ship. Not just because of the scheduling problems and confusion. I had upgraded to a Penthouse Suite to surprise my wife. The room was in the very front of the ship and had two large windows. It was very roomy but the first thing I noticed when we entered the room was the sofa and two chairs in the room were dirty and stained. This was my first impression of the Wind and it turned out to be foretelling. Most everyone and everything on the Wind seemed second class to me. I am not a "travel snob" but I do expect a certain class of service based on what I pay and the reputation of the business. The Wind was a let down. While there were a few bright spots among the staff (our cabin stewards were terrific and two or three of the waiters/waitresses were very nice), overall the staff on the Wind, including the Cruise Director, seemed as if they were putting themselves out to make us happy. There was no warmth as I had experienced on two previous cruises (both on Carnival). Some of the staff was downright surly (yes you Adriana). Also, the shore excursion staff was useless when it came to providing information on ports.

In conclusion, I would not cruise on the Norwegian Wind again. I probably would not cruise on NCL at all based on my experience. I did not ask for any kind of compensation as I did not want a future cruise discount on NCL I knew I would not use.

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