Norwegian Getaway Cruise Review by newspindoc
- Sail Date: April 2019
- Destination: Transatlantic
Let's do this first, though. The cruise itself was good. The on-board staff were, for the most part, great. The Vibe Beach club remains the best deal and investment at sea, bar none. And the meals and entertainment were solid, even occasionally outstanding. If that was it, I'd have given this cruise four out of five marks.
But that isn't it. The cruise I bought was to depart New York City for a 12 day, transatlantic trip with stops in the Azores, Western England, Belgium, France and finally in Southampton (London).
Then six days before departure, NCL says they've decided to skip half the stops, canceling Belgium and France entirely AND arriving in London two days earlier, for which I've made no plans, no hotel, no activities, nothing. To compensate, NCL offers a 25% refund and a reimbursement of up to $300 per person for expenses. But if you've ever tried to book a hotel in London two weeks out, you know $300 is a joke. Not to mention the tours I had to cancel, the tickets I have to eat and so on and so on.
By the way, no refunds. NCL says it was past the refund window. So I can blow 75% of my vacation and stay home or go on a cruise that is not the one I booked. It's shorter and does not go where I wanted to go.
So, naturally, I am outraged. But I make the most of it, I book new activities, train tickets for a day in Paris, and get a hotel in London for the two days I'm there unexpectedly, which is WAY more than $300. And I cancel the stuff in Belgium and France and eat that cost.
Then, two days before we go, I happen to notice on my trip summary page a whole new itinerary. This one cancels western England, where I'd already booked a tour to Stonehenge and Salisbury and skips the Azores where, likewise, I'd booked tours. And this new schedule puts back France and Belgium, but on new days so my original plans, now canceled, cannot be reinstated. I have to book a third set of tours, out of pocket.
And here's the kicker, you won't believe this. The reason for the yo-yo about where we're going and the shorter cruise is that they (NCL) have decided to get the ship (The Breakaway) into dry dock two days early to start a long-planned refurbishment. Not weather, not emergency, not safety - they wanted to get started early on renovations.
Since I'm pretty sure you don't just show up at dry dock with a 4,000 passenger cruise liner, I'm pretty sure someone knew this was possible a long, long time ago. Which means NCL sold me a cruse they knew they likely would not deliver. Like months ago. Someone figured it was cheaper for them to jerk me around and issue a 25% refund with no possibility of cancellations and start refurbishment early.
Oh and thanks for letting me know I'll be the last person to sail on this ship before you make it better. That's nice. There were literally people from the Miami corporate office on the ship walking around in front of guests pointing out all the old, outdated stuff they were about to fix for the next cruise. Classy.
But I digress. In addition to the 25% refund, NCL also wrote, "...as a genuine gesture of concern, we are extending an additional 25% future cruise credit which may be used towards any upcoming sailing with us."
So even if you'd consider setting foot on an NCL cruise ever again, even that 25% "future cruise credit" isn't. What they said was clear, what they actually mean (and didn't tell anyone until we were on board) is that they will apply the amount of the 25% refund for THIS CRUISE to a future one. Not 25% off, but the value of the existing 25% refund. So if you paid $2,000 for this cruise, and they reimburse you $500, you get a $500 credit for a future cruise, not 25% off. How cheap can you possibly be?
Oh, and that 25% refund - just the fare. Not taxes, not fees. So if you paid $2,000, for example, your refund is actually like $300.
Frankly, I'm beyond angry, I feel defrauded. Outright mislead and stolen from. This is now a sham wrapped snugly in a farce. And here's why - this is like that scene in Vacation where Clark Griswald is about to leave for vacation and goes to get the new car he ordered. When he arrives, he is given a completely different car than than the one he ordered. Outraged, he tries to leave to find out the dealer has already crushed his trade-in and he has no choice - take the substitute car he does not want or cancel vacation.
By not allow refunds for cancellation, that's exactly what NCL did. I ordered a red convertible. A week before delivery, they tell me I'm getting a blue mini-van and I cannot cancel the deal. It's not even the blue mini-van or nothing, it's the blue mini-van period.
And since the blue mini-van of the ten day cruise costs less than the red convertible of the 12-day cruise to the Azores that I bought, NCL gets zero credit for the 25% refund. In fact, it's not a refund. The car/cruise they actually gave me costs less. They sold me x, delivered me y, in a contract they said I could not cancel. That they adjusted the price to reflect only y and called it a refund is not good business, it's dishonesty. "Hey, good news. I'm only charging you the thing you did not want. I'm great, right?"
And I'm not the only one who's angry. Everyone I spoke with on the ship was simmering.
It's clear here that NCL put their greed of an early dry dock above keeping faith with their customers. That's too bad. They could have at least offered a cancellation refund when they trashed half the ports. But they didn't. Refused to.
It's sad because vacations matter, people save and spend on them. They are spiritually important. That is, unless you invest your money and hopes with Norwegian. Then, you know, dry dock and good luck to you, shame on you for thinking NCL would actually deliver the cruise you bought. They can break the contract, you can't.
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