My fiance, Blakely Newbold, and I, William Jamieson, took a cruise with Norwegian on the Gem from March 11 - March 18th. We are to be married next month on April 28, 2012, and therefore this was our Honeymoon as we do not have additional funds for a 2nd vacation this year.
I have cruised only once before, and that was with Carnival on the Miracle. Blakely has never before had the pleasure of a cruise, however she had heard many great things from Myself as well as others who had cruised and Loved the experience.
Blakely and I met at our current place of employment, D'Addario Cadillac in Connecticut. I work in Sales and Blakely in the Service Department, so we each have continued contact with customers who expect a Luxury-Level of service from us 51 weeks a year. We each work 6 days a week, 10-13 hours a day. We only have 2 days a month off together, so thats only 24 days a year plus of course our 1 week of Vacation. And this year we decided to empty the savings in consideration of our marriage and take a Cruise. I read tremendously impressive reviews of Norwegian from multiple sources, and placed my confidence in Norwegian to provide us with an Impressive 7 day cruise.
From my experience on Carnival and what many other people had explained to Blakely and I we should expect from cruising and how amazing the experience, our week with Norwegian was unfortunately Hardly Impressive.
First and foremost, the food. The food provided in the "included" dining rooms was far inferior to the food I had on Carnival and that we had heard about from many other cruisers. The Teppanyaki option, $25 a person, costs more than the average NYC teppanyaki experience, which is typically $15-$23 a plate. I would like to compliment the Chef here as he was one of the best I had seen not only in food seasoning/preparation but in presentation and entertainment as well. But Where is the discount for what should be included meals on the boat? Shouldn't the specialty restaurants be at least discounted, not more than the same meal would be at home considering you advertise meals included on the cruise? The Italian option for an additional $10/person, was acceptable, however also was not quite as good as the no extra cost included meal on Carnival.
At the steakhouse, $25 extra we paid, both Blakely and another guest sitting next to us both had Caesar Salad and a Steak. First the girl at the table next to us left just a minute after finishing her steak and headed to the bathroom. Blakely did the same about 5 minutes later. Both girls went into the bathroom and vomited up the entire meal, our guess the dressing being the only common denominator, and then felt fine within 5 minutes. The steak was impressive, perfectly marinated and cooked to temperature.
Upon our Arrival on Sunday March 11, we were allowed access to our Balcony Stateroom shortly after boarding. Being in the Retail industry, we like Coffee. Before even unpacking, we decided to make a fresh pot of coffee, only to discover there was only Decaf - No regular. And there was only 1 coffee mug, not 2. So we called customer service and requested these items.
At this time we also asked if there was Non-Dairy Creamer available for Blakely as she is Lactose Intolerant. Customer Service said absolutely it was available and it would be delivered to our State Room later that evening. ( Throughout the week we made at least 5 attempts to get the Non-Dairy Creamer and we were NEVER successful, not once got ANY for the entire length of cruise)
So once the coffee and mug arrived, we made a fresh pot. Then we went out onto the balcony to enjoy our cup, and at this time we start to feel a mist of water hitting us. I lean forward to see what is the cause and there is a machine moving down the side of the boat with workers Power Washing the Balconies of the Guest Rooms, Including Ours. And there was NO warning or Announcement this would happen!
So we decided to go shower to get off the water/chemicals we were just misted with by the power washer. After being in the shower and washing our hair, we went to pump shower gel out of the pumps mounted on the wall only to find it had NOT been refilled by the cleaning service.
So after the shower, we open the complimentary bottle of wine and have a few glasses in our room.
Now we decide we want to order Room Service, however we can not find a Menu anywhere in our StateRoom. So we just call 00, and say we would like to order room service, at which time we were snapped at, "There is a direct number you Know!", I informed the operator I would like that number as it was not anywhere in our room. In addition, the small list of phone numbers that appeared next to the phone did not include an Extension for Room Service, it said "speed dial". When I pushed the "room service" speed dial button, the phone read "please replace handset" so obviously the phone was programmed incorrectly. So, we get connected to Room Service, and we order a sandwich each and request also that Room Service Menu be delivered to our Room. WE are told it is extremely busy and there maybe a 45 minute to 1 hour wait.
Well after 1 hour and 35 minutes, we left the room and went to the buffet instead. Food at the buffet was good, however it took 15 minutes to track down clean napkin/fork/knife sets for us.
So we return to our room which has been cleaned by the room cleaning staff. Few things Missed: A splash of old coffee left in the bottom of each mug (clearly not cleaned or rinsed), wine glasses not rinsed and left all smudged and Grimey - turned upside down on the white napkin with now Fresh-Red Wine stains on it and the glasses smell of OLD Wine, not something you want to pour a nice bottle of wine into (which I purchased several of on this cruise) Also Our bathrobes which we had left on a chair and on the bed, were now laying one on the floor and the other on the couch, not hung back up in the bathroom or at least on a hanger or hook. And STILL NO ROOM SERVICE MENU
After seeing the dirty breakfast plates outside of several staterooms, we were informed by another guest that we could have been ordering Breakfast in Bed, that the form to do so was in the back of the Room Service Menu, which we STILL Did Not Have ! We requested one again and were promised we would have it that day.
Meanwhile we were doing Our best to ignore all the negativity and have A GOOD HONEYMOON despite it all.
We ordered room service again, and again "we are busy prolly 45 minutes to an hour"
And again I give a detailed order:
Turkey and Cheese on Bread, Nothing Else. Only Turkey, Cheese, and Bread, no dressings no veggies, nothing else, and the girl repeated it to me to verify including saying " so no mayonnaise or anything and I said CORRECT ONLY TURKEY CHEESE AND BREAD. ANd then I ordered a BLT, but asked for only Bacon, Lettuce and Toast. And again she asked so no mayonnaise or tomato and I said Correct. We wait an hour for our order, and when it shows up, guess what??? Mayonnaise pickles and who knows what else on both sandwiches. UGGG. So we call back room service and tell them there was a mistake and they say " oh i'm sorry. so would you like to place a new order it will be another 45 minutes though because we are so busy" I say fine whatever, just please send me what I ordered in the first place. And they did. Another hour later! so 2 hours for 1 order to come correctly..
This same EXACT OCCURRENCE WOULD REPEAT ITSELF ON SATURDAY EVENING!! Place an order, hour later we received the wrong food again, call back and ask for the right order, only this time they sent correct order 2nd time after about 20 minutes because I was so upset at this point.
I know we finally received room service menus on wednesday evening. So we pulled out a breakfast tab and circled options such as eggs, bacon, cereal, coffee, and designated we would like it around 9am the next morning. Well its about 9am the next morning our phone rings, room service yelling "Hi you just called and ordered hot food to your room and we only do Continental! I informed him I had not called, that I had circled options on the menus provided in our stateroom. At this time I found out that we had been given the wrong BREAKFAST MENUS! After stating that this was ridiculous, they said this 1 time they would deliver the hot breakfast, and I asked for the proper menus as well. DID NOT GET THEM Until Saturday!!!! And when we asked for a pen to fill out form we were told we had to return it as soon as we were done (the cheap little Norwegian plastic throw away pen )
One day we left our room with our coffee mugs to walk around the ship before our Couples Massage we had purchased at the spa. When we left our mugs in the dining room, we assumed new ones would be provided in our room. We returned to our room, which had been cleaned, except wine glasses were still Nasty even though I had put them in the sink as a hint to clean them, and robes left laying around the room again, oh and the beach towels you guys provide had been shoved onto the shelf where I had my Polo's neatly folded, which now were nice and WRINKLY! So we see no mugs. We call and ask for two new ones. When they are delivered we are Scolded and told and I quote "MAKE SURE THEY STAY IN THE ROOM THIS TIME !"
On Thursday we left the ship for the day for our Atlantis Excursion. When we returned in the evening to our stateroom, there was a sign on our balcony that read "WET NATURAL OIL DO NOT TOUCH" And it had rained that afternoon. For the Remaining 3 and a half days of our cruise our Balcony railing was WET STAIN. We COULD NOT LEAN ON OUR RAILING FROM THURSDAY ON. Sunday morning I accidentally touched it and had a yellow stain from it instantly on the towel I was wearing. INSANE To pay extra for a balcony and not be able to utilize it for Â½ the trip. Not to mention that the sliding door to our balcony would not lock, as the lock was broken, so the door rattled all week, sometimes sliding all the way open in the wind and was never repaired.
I met with Ken the Cruise Director, to discuss some of these concerns, at which time he called in RODEL GEMENIANO, Guest Service Manager, at well as Catalina, another Department Manager. I had to repeat the story to Catalina and Rodel, who after only hearing a few details, Catalina interrupted by saying what can we do to make the last day good for you and Blakely. I said it's kinda hard to make up for the first 5 days in the last day in the cold waters off New Jersey, but a nice romantic dinner would be great and perhaps some strawberries in our stateroom afterwards. Catalina said she would make the arrangements and I should contact her back later that afternoon so that I could surprise Blakely with this small gesture. Well I had to make 3 attempts later that day and 1 more the next afternoon before Catalina finally was AVAILABLE, only to tell me we were all set for the Strawberries as well as Dinner and a bottle of wine compliments of her.
So we went to dinner at the restaurant Catalina had selected for us. We were given menus and a wine list. I ordered a bottle of the same wine I had purchased earlier in the week, not being rude, just a $50 bottle. 20 minutes later the server returned with Catalina on the cell phone saying I could not order that bottle, that the waiter gave me the wrong wine list, and instead now I could order off the Complimentary Menu which featured at best $12 bottles of wine which in no way interest me. And Catalina Said she would like to see me again immediately following dinner.
So after dinner, went downstairs, and surprisingly, Catalina was unavailable. However a few minutes later Rodel had come to speak to us in her place. We discussed additional issues, such as how did me and Blakely both play in the Casino the same amount of time, probably 15 hours at least,I'm sure a lot more, Blakely playing penny slots while I played $10-$20 hands of blackjack on the tables, yet I was logged for 2 Â½ hours and and only 70 points while Blakely had over 200 points. And yes I turned my card in each time to the dealer I sat a table as I am familiar with the Rewards Card Process from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun back at home. This issue was NEVER ADDRESSED.
We also discussed how onboard in the jewelry store, an employee offered me 0% for 6 months, GUARANTEED APPROVAL !, if I was to provide a credit card simply as a
"point of reference" This mind you, was to purchase Blakely's wedding ring which the sales rep had her wearing around the store because he said it was "100 %" Well not only did he come back to tell me it wasn't approved, but his manager was with him to explain to us that the sales associate had accidentally charged my credit card the cost of the ring, but he would be happy to refund it if I didn't want to just let her get her dream wedding ring. A very cheap and rude sales tactic, something I have never done is LIE TO A customer or make them feel bad about their personal situation, especially in front of a future bride. We had recently moved, purchased a car, and had student loans so we were not surprised we could not get additional credit, however the LYING and "Accidental" charge were shady. So they said they would void the transaction so that it wouldn't even show up on my statement. Well as of today I had to call Bank of America and report them $799 as a fraudulent charge because the refund has still not posted according to them. I had to cancel my card and go to a bank to get a new temporary card to prevent any further issues. In addition, I inquired several overdraft fees as a result of that $799 being typed up without MY PERMISSION. I was also told that my credit would not be run, and it was. They submitted my social security number to the credit agencies, resulting in a reduction in my FICA score for the inquiry that I DID NOT AUTHORIZE.
ICING ON THE CAKE
So we breakfast one last time. Some coffee and cereal. Simple. Nope. Cereal, Bowl, coffee, sugar, all there. However, NO MILK FOR THE CEREAL, STILL NO NON-Dairy Creamer, and only 2 packs of normal sugar and a bunch of other weird sweeteners. Oh well, not even able to get it on the last day, why would we expect any different at that point.
SO we get off the boat. Time for a taxi to the train station.....OR NOT. Norwegian opted to not let passengers know that at the time of disembarkation in New York City, that the New York CIty Marathon would be taking place. So cabs were not willing to bring any passengers into the city for flights/trains or hotels. We were instead told to drag all of our luggage 10-12 blocks into the city and down subway stairs and try to figure out the NYC Subway System. Fortunately I've been to NYC and am somewhat familiar with the subway, however, dragging a weeks worth of luggage behind me through NYC was not the end of the luxury vacation I was planning on.
Fortunately we did a photoshoot around the boat with Kay from the studio who was absolutely amazing! THis was by far the highlight of the trip, she was amazing and a lot of your employees could learn from her and her Customer Service abilities.
Not the HONEYMOON We had hoped for, not the experience we are excited to brag about to the customers at our dealership. After all, selling Cadillacs we meet a lot of people who can afford the luxury of vacation and cruising, and being the young "Love Story" of the dealership, we have countless coworkers (over 80) and customers (who could count) that are looking forward to the details of our cruise. Now we are embarrassed to be honest. So instead we will discuss the few positives, the photo shoot, swimming with dolphins, renting mopeds and jet skis, all which cost us EXTRA. As far as what was included, I don't know if it was because we had the misfortune of accidentally cruising the week of Spring Break or if we were in the Training wing, I'm not sure, but it really stinks this is what we got for the amount we spent. Easily over $4000.00 US Dollars. Easily.
I hope Norwegian Can provide us with a way to MAKE THIS RIGHT. I don't wanna call this my Honeymoon. Blakely deserves much better than this past week, to work this hard all year and then be so LET DOWN is disheartening and rough. Now I feel we will have to take time off of work, UNPAID as we have no more paid time until next year, and try to do A Successful Honeymoon after our wedding next month. Which will not be easy considering the amount we spent on this trip.
NORWEGIANS RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE LETTER:
WE CAN EACH RECEIVE $150 off a future cruise. What a shame. We would have to waste thousands more for them to try and get right what they didn't the first time. I was insulted by this response to all the issues raised. How a company responds to a situation speaks MUCH LOUDER THAN THE INITIAL INCIDENT AND IN THIS INSTANCE NORWEGIAN FAILED !!!!! BACK TO CARNIVAL WHO I GIVE 2 THUMBS UP