In a surprise move announced late Thursday night, NCL America says it will refund 50 percent of its controversially mandated service fee to passengers who have sailed on Pride of Aloha.
That U.S.-flagged ship, which officially launched on July 4 and is the industry's only vessel to offer all-Hawaii cruises, had been dogged by complaints of poor service since its debut. In order to qualify for American flag status, Pride of Aloha is required to hire a mostly U.S. crew. The challenge there has been that the U.S. is not
a traditional employer of cruise industry crew.
According to the statement, "Although the company has received many positive comments on the initiative it has taken to make this product possible and indeed on the friendliness and quality of the crew onboard, it recognizes that for a variety of reasons the service on the initial cruises was generally not up to the standard for which NCL is known."
In that same statement, NCL America acknowledges service shortcomings and says that in addition to the service charge refund it will also issue cruise credit certificates, representing 20 percent of their cruise
value, based on the passengers' Pride of Aloha sailing. The credit must be booked and used by the end of 2005.
Additionally, past Pride of Aloha guests who want to sail on either that ship or the line's newer, not-quite-finished Pride of America, will receive a discount on future bookings. NCL America says that the discount that will be offered is "the initially publicly available rates that were applicable when the product was put on sale in 2003."
The company also maintains it is now taking "aggressive actions to address specific issues on Pride of Aloha. Senior management isonboard the vessel to ensure quality levels quickly reach the high levels the company is known for."