It's been a while since I awarded my "Worst Cruise Line in the World" award. Quite frankly, I became tired of giving it to Carnival and Royal Caribbean every month. But a reader of Cruise Law News just sent me a story of little Nicolas Colucci, age 5, who underwent emergency surgery after doctors found a "a large cancerous tumor growing inside his liver." He is now undergoing chemotherapy.
The Lil' Mama website explains that the Colucci family bought a family cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) that was scheduled for June 1, 2014. The family asked NCL to reschedule their cruise to another date. NCL refused. NCL wouldn't bend their corporate policies regarding medical emergencies - not even for a child battling cancer. You can read about the dreadful story here.
This is not the first time that NCL has acted in such a heartless manner.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about a man from Key Largo who purchased a NCL cruise on the Norwegian Sky leaving from Miami. But his brother died, and the funeral was in Georgia on the day the cruise ship sailed. So he notified NCL, asking for a credit on a future cruise. NCL said no. He asked for his cruise to be donated to charity (Make-A-Wish). NCL said no.
Now comes the sick part. NCL then re-sold the cabin to someone else. Yep. NCL got a double profit due to the death of a guest's brother. Really sick.
NCL is active on Twitter @CruiseNorwegian, so I tweeted a reference to the article.
NCL's "Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Passenger Services," Andy Stuart, is also active on Twitter @nclandy. So I tweeted him "Double cruise profit for death? Say it aint so Andy!"
NCL should have permitted a child with cancer and parents go on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise. Or make a small donation in memory of their customer's brother. But to double sell the cabin under these circumstances? It's cruel, greedy and outrageous.
Last year, I wrote again about NCL. A grandmother who drives disabled kids to school booked a cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel for her family and grandkids at the cost of over $4,000. Then Superstorm Sandy struck, submerging her home under four feet of water. The storm ravaged her home, leaving her with nothing. She asked NCL to reschedule or refund her cruise. NCL said no way.
She appealed to NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan but the cruise line and its CEO wouldn't make an exception. Absolutely no refund or rescheduling. Heartless.
Yesterday, I attended a hearing before Senator Jay Rockefeller entitled "Improving Consumer Protections for Cruise Passengers." Cruise passengers testified regarding all types of harsh conduct by cruise lines who hide behind the unreadable fine print in their one-sided, passenger tickets. At one point during the hearing, Senator Rockefeller exclaimed that he was "fed up" with the cruise lines and their "callousness."
NCL is all smiles when it sells a family a "cruise of a lifetime." But when death, disaster or a medical emergency strikes, it shows its true colors.
NCL may have a great marketing image, but it can be your worse enemy in a time of true need.
Have a thought? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. And let NCL know what you think by contacting them below:
NCL Corporation Ltd.
7665 Corporate Center Drive
Miami, Florida 33126
Corporate: (305) 436-4000
Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Passenger Services
Andrew Stuart's twitter account: @nclandy
Kevin Sheehan (photo right)
Chief Executive Officer
NCL Twitter: @CruiseNorwegian
July 26 2014 Update: According to a FOX NEWS station today, a "CEO of a popular cruise line reached out to the Colucci family to offer them a free cruise. The CEO asked that his cruise line not be named because he said he was genuinely touched by their story and didn't want any publicity for his gesture."
So who was the CEO? Which cruise line did the right thing?
Here's a clue:
Last year, NCL abandoned a grandmother (and her grandchildren) after she bought a NCL cruise when her home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. NCL CEO refused to reschedule his customer's cruise. But Royal Caribbean stepped up to the plate and gave the family a free cruise. Read the story: Norwegian Cruise Lines Abandons Sandy Victims, While Royal Caribbean Steps Up to the Plate!
July 27 2014 Update: The story goes viral. First a national Fox News station covers the story and then the U.K.'s Daily Mail (the largest online newspaper in the world) covers it. Bad Karma for NCL.
July 29 2014 Update: The public relations fall-out continues. Opposing Views ran a story. TravelPulse also covered the story. Gawker wasn't too subtle with its headline Cruise Line Screws Over Family of 5-Year-Old With Cancer. PRNews wrote Norwegian Cruise Line Drowning in Bad PR. Huff Post Parents Parents Outraged Cruise Line Won't Reschedule Their Trip In Light Of Son's Cancer Diagnosis. Anti-Jared wrote a letter to the NCL CEO.
All of this reminds me of one of my favorite sayings - "Karma is a bitch only when you are."
l to the NCL CEO.