Cruise Lines Compensate Passengers for Sandy Disruption
Member Report: Shortages, Damage on Cruise Ship Battered by Sandy
Ports Damaged by Hurricane Sandy
Disney Cruise Ship Damaged by Hurricane Sandy
(6:40 p.m. EDT) -- Two cruise lines with passengers set to sail tomorrow on storm-shortened voyages from New York, a city still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, have issued statements about compensation.
Officials in New York have indicated that Norwegian Gem has been cleared to arrive at Manhattan's Pier 88 at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal at 7 a.m. EDT tomorrow (Nov. 2). Caribbean Princess will arrive shortly thereafter. Both ships will set sail on their next scheduled cruises tomorrow afternoon.
As you read these offers, keep in mind that cruise lines are not technically obligated to reimburse passengers for itinerary changes, and that anyone who cancels a cruise the week of sailing typically is not entitled to any refund per cruise line cancellation policies.
Caribbean Princess' original cruise, a 10-night Caribbean voyage departing Brooklyn October 31, has been shortened to an eight-nighter from Manhattan. Passengers will receive a two-day per diem in the form of onboard credit.
For passengers who cruise. "We fully recognize this is a very unique situation and not the cruise experience anyone expected," said Princess in a statement. "While these weather-related delays and uncertainties are outside of our control, we do regret the impact they've had on your upcoming cruise holiday. In addition to the two-day per diem we have offered as an onboard credit, we are pleased to extend a goodwill offer. If you join the ship we are also offering you a Future Cruise Credit of 50 percent of your cruise fare paid on this voyage in the form of a Future Cruise Credit. The credit may be applied to any future Princess cruise booked by the end of December 2013. This offer is dependent upon space availability and cannot be transferred, refunded, or used as a deposit. However, it may be combined with any other discount or special fare that may be applicable to the voyage you select, including past passenger offers. Please have your travel agent mention this offer to the Cruise Consultant at the time your new reservation is booked."
For passengers who cancel. "Our Princess Vacation Protection offers refunds or credits for those passengers who are unable to cruise as planned," said the line referring to its in-house "insurance" plan. (For more on the differences between cruise line protection plans and independent third-party insurance, see our Travel Insurance Primer for Cruise Travelers.) "We find that well over half of our passengers have some kind of travel protection associated with their booking. However, we are cognizant that this is a very unique situation and for those passengers who did not purchase Princess Vacation Protection, we will extend a Future Cruise Credit of 25% of your cruise fare paid on this voyage in the form of a Future Cruise Credit. The credit may be applied to any future Princess cruise booked by the end of December 2013. This offer is dependent upon space availability and cannot be transferred, refunded, or used as a deposit. However, it may be combined with any other discount or special fare that may be applicable to the voyage you select, including past passenger offers. Please have your travel agent mention this offer to the Cruise Consultant at the time your new reservation is booked."
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Gem was originally scheduled to end its current cruise in New York City on October 29. The delay has forced it to shorten its next cruise; the planned nine-night Eastern Caribbean cruise has become a five-nighter spending two days in Bermuda and returning to New York on November 7.
The following is from an e-mail "letter" from Norwegian CEO, Kevin Sheehan (bolding adding by editor):
"On behalf of Norwegian Cruise Line and all of our officers, crew and corporate team members, we are deeply saddened by the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Sandy. Our sincere thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the storm.
"As you may know, New York is my home town. I was born and raised in New York and I consider myself a New Yorker through and through. I can tell you that I truly feel your pain and frustration and sympathize with everyone who is living with the realities of the storm's devastation. My family and I have been affected as well, as my house in New York is flooded and we are still trying to process it all.
"The situation that has unfolded in the wake of this natural disaster has been unprecedented and extremely unpredictable. I would like to extend my personal apology to all of our guests who have been patiently waiting for the latest news and information from us regarding the status of their cruise on Norwegian Gem. Like you, we have been disappointed and frustrated with the uncertainty regarding the re-opening of the Port.
For passengers who cruise. "For those guests who were originally scheduled to set sail on October 29, I hope that you decide to take a much needed vacation and join us tomorrow on the five-day Bermuda cruise. While I know this is not ideal and is not the vacation you had planned, I am confident that you will find this opportunity to get away on a cruise an escape from the stress caused by the storm. The officers and crew of Norwegian Gem look forward to welcoming you aboard and offering you all of the wonderful amenities, services, dining and comfortable accommodations that you would expect.
"Rest assured that you will be fully credited for the four cruise days missed.
In addition, if you chose to sail with us tomorrow, I would also like to extend a 25% future cruise credit (based on cruise fare paid, valid for one year) as a thank you for your patience and understanding.
For passengers who cancel. "I also recognize that many of you who have been impacted by the hurricane may prefer to forgo the five-day cruise and sail on a future date. Therefore, I would like to extend to you the option to cancel and provide you with a future cruise credit for the remaining five days, so that you can re-book with us on another date. This would be in addition to the pro-rated refund for the four missed cruise days. If you would like to take this option, please call our reservations team at 800-327-7030.
Editor's Note: Cruise Critic has asked the line by e-mail why passengers who want to cancel the original nine-night cruise are being offered a partial refund and a FCC rather than a full refund. "In essence they are receiving the full refund," spokeswoman AnneMarie Mathews told Cruise Critic. "[It's] 4 days as a refund and 5 days as a future cruise credit."
"On behalf of all our New York area guests who have been impacted, we will make a donation to the American Red Cross to aid in the relief efforts. New York is the most resilient city in the world and I know that the city will come back stronger than ever.
"Kevin M. Sheehan"