To celebrate my 60th birthday my husband & I decided to do our 1st ever cruise. We wanted to do something exciting & that none of our friends in Australia had done before so after a lot of research we opted for a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Southern Caribbean cruise which included the ports of Samana, Tortola, Antigua, Barbados & St Kitts.(the last 3 ports were the ones that we wanted to see the most)
We asked another couple to join us on this incredible journey & booked 2 staterooms on the Norwegian Dawn's cruise from Miami 11th Feb 2011 to 20th Feb 2011.This cruise was booked in Feb 2010 as we didnt want to miss out on this amazing adventure.
We were so excited when booking the Dawn but that was to be squashed a number of times throughout the cruise. The 1st disappointment was the day we boarded 11th Feb 2011 as the ship was over two & a half hours late leaving Miami ( of well we must have got the time wrong).After we had been sailing for approx. 2 hours the captain announced over the PA system that there was an engine problem & that we were going to miss our 1st port of call Samana Dominican Republic & spending a second day cruising to Tortola. He advised that there were technicians on board trying to fix the problem & that he expected that they would resolve it asap & to compensate everyone for the inconvenience each stateroom would be credited $100 to their on board account.
We were all upset with missing Samana as we had booked a tour to swim with Sea Lions. As there was nothing we could do about it we consoled ourselves with the thought that we still had 4 ports to look forward to.
On Monday 14th Feb we arrived at Tortola - Great!! , but when we were disembarking there was an overwhelming stench emitting from the corridors of Deck 5. It smelt as if 1000 soiled baby nappies(diapers) had been changed at once, obviously there was a problem with the sewerage system as well as the engine. After we reboarded & were cruising again the captain announced that the problematic engine had been fixed & we would continue with the original itinerary - what a relief!!
On Tuesday 15th Feb we arrived at Antigua eagerly anticipating our swim with the Stringrays. This was an awesome experience BUT once again our day was shattered. As we were having our evening meal the captain announced that the problem engine had broken down again so therefore we would not be going to Barbados or St Kitts instead we would be going to St Maartens & St Thomas. Whoopie, if we had wanted to go to these ports we would have booked another cruise which included these. When this announcement was made at approx. 9pm the captain also advised the the Shore Excursion staff were trying to contact tour operators at these ports so that passengers would have something available to do. We had organised to meet friends in Barbados so once again we had been let down by NCL. This time each stateroom was only credited $50 per port missed.
Wednesday 16th Feb after having breakfast we went down to the tour desk for information about available tours of St Maartens. We were surprised that most of the tours had already gone between 8am & 9am. The only one available was the Beach Bash so we opted for that.
Thursday 17th Feb whilst having breakfast the captain advised that there was good news, the problematic engine had been fixed so therefore instead of leaving St Thomas at 2pm we would now leave at 5pm. Yipee - it still wasnt one of the ports that was from the original itinerary.
After all these disappointments we couldnt imagine anything else happening but we were WRONG. Two nights out from our return to Miami there was a "Code Bravo" announcement. The captain advised that there was a fire on Deck 4 & they were hoping to have it under control shortly. Even though this code bravo was declared we were not evacuated from our stateroom on Deck 5. I would have thought that safety of the ship's passengers would have been paramount in this situation. It seems that to change the itinerary was to do with passenger safety(as advised by the captain on a has number of occasions) but a fire didnt warrant an evacuation. Go figure??
As well as all the above I would like to advise that one of the elevators in the Grand Atrium was out of service for the entire cruise. A second elevator wasnt working on the morning of disembarking at Miami. On top of all this there were a number of ladies restrooms where the toilets were out of order especially on the pool level. The ceilings were also leaking on a number of levels.
By far the biggest indignation of the cruise had to be when we received a letter from the captain 2 nights before disembarking.
Quote:- "First, we want to clarify that engine repair we encountered during this cruise was not related to any past itinerary modification. On Friday, February 11,2011, as soon as we were aware that the current itinerary would need to be modified, I made an announcement prior to our departure regarding the situation and informed you of the change of itinerary, cancelling Samana, Dominican Republic. At that time, we extended the option to all guests to cancel and disembark the ship should they chose to do so."
THIS IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE AS THERE WAS NO SUCH ANNOUNCEMENT AS AN OPTION TO CANCEL THE CRUISE.
In summary NCL & Norwegian Dawn only delivered 40% on the cruise that was booked & paid for. To be offered a 10% discount off a future cruise is insulting & disdainful as the travel expenses from Australia would outweigh any discount offered. I realise that an itinerary may need changes due to bad weather or something else beyond NCL's control but it is NOT ACCEPTABLE to have it changed due to ongoing engine problems that has plagued the Norwegian Dawn & that NCL were aware of.
As 60% on the original ports were either cancelled or changed a refund cheque for this amount should be forthcoming.
Finally this will be the 1st & last cruise taken with NCL & of course there will not be any recommendation to family, friends or associates expect to stay away from NCL