This is a long review but so are the troubles that NCL has caused us. Please take time to read this for your own sake.
My husband and I just returned from a cruise on the Bliss that we booked through one of NCL’s sales agents. We ... Read More
This is a long review but so are the troubles that NCL has caused us. Please take time to read this for your own sake.
My husband and I just returned from a cruise on the Bliss that we booked through one of NCL’s sales agents. We booked the entire trip through this NCL employee including air fare and cruise insurance. We were nervous about the flights, and requested to fly out the night before the cruise (with overnight lodging at our own expense) or on the first flight out of Tulsa Saturday morning (as we had a layover in Dallas). We were told that we did not really get a say in booking the flights but that they would put a note on our account for our requests. When we got our flight assignment we were booked on the second flight out of Tulsa on Saturday morning which gave us a 50 minute layover in Dallas and was not scheduled to even land in Miami until 12:51 PM, after which we would have to gather our luggage and shuttle 30-35 minutes to the Port of Miami. Keep in mind, our boarding time was 12:00 and the eDocs state that if we aren't on board by 2:00 we wont be allowed onboard.
We were concerned about this tight timeline as this would leave no margin for error for traffic or travel delays and our paperwork suggested that we not board the ship later than 2:00 PM. When we called NCL representatives 4-5 times about this and other questions leading up to the cruise we were given the same answer by each, “since you booked your flights with NCL, as long as you are to the port before 4:00 PM and this ship is still in port, you will be allowed to get on.”
On the day of departure, our 6:40 AM flight from Tulsa to Dallas was delayed for 3 hours, causing us to miss our layover in Dallas. We were re-booked through the airline on a flight to Ft. Lauderdale which was to land a 2:45 PM as this was the only option available to get us to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale before 4:00. Throughout this morning, we attempted to contact our agent, the emergency travel line listed on NCL edocs, as well as all available NCL numbers to gather information about options, as we knew the flight delay would cause the time to be very close to ship departure. We were unable to get in contact with any NCL representatives, despite 30-45 minute holds, until we got to Dallas. The representative told us that we would be cutting the time very close but was unable to offer any information except telling us to call the shuttle company (that we had paid for to transport from Miami Airport to the Port of Miami). We did as he told us to but because it was Saturday the shuttle company was not open and had no way to be contacted.
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, retrieved our luggage and hired an Uber driver (as we could not contact the pre-arranged shuttle) and got to the Port by 3:40 PM. We knew that we were very close to departure, but based on what we had repeatedly been told by NCL, fully expected to be allowed to board since NCL had booked our flights and made all other travel/transport arrangements. As we got out of the Uber, we were met by a NCL representative that said we would not be allowed on the ship and handed us a paper with contact information for NCL to see what our options were with the insurance. We told her what NCL had told us about getting on the ship and she said that no one was allowed on after 3:30 PM. We understand if this is the policy, but that is not what we were told by multiple people within NCL, including the rep we talked to in Dallas. In fact, we were never given a cut off time, only a statement that if the ship was in port we would be allowed to board. Had this been disclosed to us originally, we likely wouldn't have left Tulsa as it was extremely unlikely we would ever make that cut off. The NCL representative at the port offered no further help and told us to find a hotel.
We spent the next 4 hours trying to contact NCL from the paper we were given at the port and spent 30 minutes at a time on hold. We then received different answers from different NCL representatives blaming the airline and us for not getting there on time and telling us conflicting information about how the insurance works. No one was able to lay out our options for us or break down the situation and help us, making it difficult to make an informed decision as to whether to meet the ship at the first port or fly back to Tulsa without cruising. We were extremely disappointed with the customer service of a cruise line that is touted as a premium cruise line. We had no problems getting answers or in touch with NCL when we were booking, but when we ran into a problem, no one was available to help.
We stayed in a hotel in Miami Saturday night and ended up flying to Tortola to meet the ship on Tuesday. All of which was paid out of pocket (flights, hotel, taxis,food, etc.), amounting to $2000 on top of the almost $5000 we had already spent on the cruise itself. We were not able to join the cruise until day 4 of 7. This was our first cruise experience, we were traveling for my birthday, and we were very excited and pleased with NCL until we ran into a problem. The ship and cabins were new and clean and overall very nice, and large for what we expected. The food was good and available most of the day and we enjoyed the specialty dining package. The Jersey Boys show was excellent and there was plenty of activities onboard to keep us entertained. We were disappointed in Tortola, but enjoyed the other ports with St. Thomas being our favorite. We did not participate in many excursions but the sky ride in St. Thomas was well worth the time. We enjoyed the ship and attentiveness of the staff once aboard, but despite all of these positives, we were very disappointed in the NCL cruise experience overall.The issues with the flights booked through NCL, the incorrect information given to us, and the poor customer service would make us never sail with this cruise line again.
We submitted all our expenses to the insurance company, but only half of our expenses were recovered. We then submitted the rest of our expenses to NCL as part of our complaint process to work toward some sort of resolution for all our trouble and missing HALF of the cruise. We went through the email process and were told it would take 10-15 business days for a response. We submitted the complaint on March 12, but didnt get a response until April 11th. It took 22 business days to get a response from the Bliss coordinator, Patricia Tamarit. In this response, she took no responsibility for any of the concerns expresses by us. She offered no refund, credit, or resolution of any kind.
Here is the letter in full:
"Dear Mrs. xxxx:
We recognize the time and effort in planning a cruise vacation and regret to learn of the circumstances that resulted in the delayed arrival to your voyage aboard the Norwegian Bliss.
We have reviewed your information and regret to know you experienced a setback with your flights into Miami. Although it is never our desire for our guests to be to be disappointed or inconvenienced in any way, please know that although the flights were booked through our Air/Sea Department, we do not have direct control over airline reasons for a delay, procedures, policies or their employees' actions.
Please understand that it is not our intent to cause any further distress; however, we are unable to offer a refund or credit for the unused day of your voyage or out of pocket expenses. Because of the very nature of unexpected situations such as the one you experienced, we strongly recommend our guests always obtain Travel Protection to cover unforeseen circumstances.
A review of your reservation indicates you purchased travel protection through AON Affinity. You may wish to contact them and file a claim in this regard. They can be reached at 1-800-722-5672 or via their website at www.travelclaim.com
Thank you for this opportunity to respond. We trust our explanation will help you to understand our position in this matter and over the course of time you will consider Norwegian Cruise Line in your future travel plans
As mentioned before, we had already purchased the travel insurance. She failed to address the fact that the airline got us to the ship, and based on what we had been told numerous times, they got us there on time. Instead, it was NCL that refused to allow us onboard. That is not an issue with the airline. That is an issue with NCL.
We did not accept this response and called back to the guest relations number. We were passed around to multiple representatives who continued to blame everyone else but NCL. We were finally told that (Bliss coordinator) would call us back within 48 hours. This did not happen. So, we called again. This time, we were told that our case hasd been re-opened and sent to another supervisor. This would only take 7-10 days to resolve. That was on April 22nd. It is now May 16th and we have yet to get any response. NCL seems content to throw away customers and take no responsibility for their failures. Dealing with this company has been one headache after another, and I would recommend that anyone considering traveling with NCL to strongly reconsider. If everything goes smoothly, you wouldnt have a problem. But as soon as any problem occurs, you are very clearly on your own.
AS FOR THE CRUISE ITSELF:
We booked a mini-suite with a balcony. The bathrooms were much more spacious than I had anticipated as was the room itself. The room attendant was very attentive and kept everything clean.
We had the specialty dining package which allowed us 3 specialty meals. We used them at Ocean Blue (seafood: $12 surcharge), Teppanyaki (hibachi style), and Cagney's steakhouse. The food at all these restaurants was excellent.
We also dined at the Garden Cafe. It was less than impressive, but fine for lunches. We dined in all three main dining rooms as well. The Manhattan Room was the biggest. Then Savor and Taste were smaller, themed sites. They all served the same food, though.
There were multiple bars to visit and we made it to most of them, but the best was the brewery. I believe there were over 20 beers on tap plus more bottled. Overall, if you were in need of a drink, you could find one easily. Drinks were reasonable priced if you were buying them at the time (we had the drink package so anything under $15 was "free"). If you needed coffee, there was a starbucks onboard.
We utilized the pool areas and the shops most. There was an adult only pool area which was great. It had two hot tubs, showers, and a bar. We didnt buy much at the shops, but enjoyed looking around. Other than that, we enjoyed go karts, laser tag, and mini golf. Mini golf was free, but the others required reservations and about a $10/person fee. All were enjoyable.
We saw the Jersey Boys show which was very well done. The participants were truly talented. Seating was first come, first serve.
Overall the service on the ship was very good, and most staff were helpful.
At the ports we did more self-directed touring than excursions. The only one we did was on St Thomas. We rode the skyride to the top of the island which was very cheap and offered panoramic views of the island. Great for picture taking. Also shopping and dining available at the peak.
On Nassau, we walked to Junkaroo Beach. It was busy, but overall a good place to hang out.
Had we not had all the trouble with NCL as I listed at the beginning of this, we would totally use this cruise again. The cruise and ship itself were wonderful. However, for the reasons I stated above, we will definitely not be using this cruise line again. Read Less