Norwegian Gem Suffers Power Problems in the Caribbean

Less than a week after NCL-owned Oceania Cruises' M/S Regatta experienced a power loss while cruising near Hawaii, the Norwegian Gem's propulsion system partially failed according to a New York news station ABC-7NY.

The NCL cruise ship was rerouted to Barbados where passengers were reportedly "erratically divided into groups" and flown back to Newark Airport Friday to essentially "fend for themselves."

"There was no communication, we knew nothing about what was going to happen, if we were going to have a hotel to stay at," one passenger told the New York news station. 

One passenger who contacted me said that "she was a "little disappointed because of the need to Norwegian Gemscramble and lose a day," but felt that NCL "did the best they could under the circumstances." She added "we were all notified Tuesday that we would by pass St. Thomas and were diverted to Grenada and disembarked in Barbados where NCL flew us to Newark and gave us hotel for the night and food vouchers."

In 2016, there were at least 18 partial or complete power losses of cruise ships operated by the major U.S.-based lines, including NCL's Norwegian Star which experienced repeated power failures last year. 

There seems to be some dissatisfaction amongst NCL guests who sailed aboard the Gem, with only a 25% discount on a future cruise. NCL issued the following statement about the shortened cruise:

"Due to a technical malfunction with the ship's Azipod propulsion system that has resulted in the ship's speed being restricted from full capacity, Norwegian Gem's current 11-day Eastern Caribbean cruise that departed New York on October 31 will now conclude in Barbados on Saturday, November 11. Norwegian has arranged for flights to return all guests to New York and hotel arrangements for guests who returned home today.

Norwegian Cruise Line sincerely apologizes for this unexpected change to the ship's scheduled itinerary. As a gesture of our appreciation for their patience, all guests will receive a future cruise credit of 25% of their cruise fare paid."

NCL also canceled the Norwegian Gem's next cruise.

NCL just announced that it collected record third quarter profits of $400,000,000 despite the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean. 

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Photo credit: Corgi5623, CC BY-SA 3.0, wikimedia. 

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Comments (12) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Peter Adely sr - November 12, 2017 5:43 AM

We were on this cruise. Room 9662. We already had a near total change due to hurricane damage. NCL made other ports which were very nice. Then it’s power issue, azipod motor/propellor became inoperative. Questions to officers on ship resulted in “we don’t know” should have been, we were told not to discuss it. NCL limped to Granada as a added stop. It was a great stop! But when we set out again, it was back to Barbados. 8 knots and only power from starboard propellor.
That’s when things started to deteriorate. NCL must have mounted a huge effort to arrange Omni Airs huge Boing 777-300 to take us to Newark nj. That’s at 4am. Saturday morning. No sleep and rather unininformed we left ship in Barbados on large tour busses with our luggage placed at airport. Then all passengers within the color of their disembarking tag were left to search for their luggage. That wasn’t easy. NCL rerouted us to JFK in nyc..during this time we had no sleep. At JFK airport were shuttle busses to take us to Newark Airport. Big busses. More lost time. NCL did offer us a 25% future discount.
Food on NCL Gem was super. It’s cabins smaller than Royal Caribbean. It’s staff nice. But to try to end a bit on a positive note, we had a good time with traveling companions.
We choose to evict ourselfs from NYC airport by getting a Uber SUV and getting out of there. NYC traffics on Saturday we’re very heavy and the Uber driver told us about $35 for Whitestone and George Washington bridge. Crazy.
So happy to be “home sweet home.”

Sharon - November 12, 2017 12:23 PM

I am on this Ship and now in a beautiful hotel that NCL put us. They have bent over backwards to accommodate us. This is a stand up company and things happen you have to make the best of it.

wes wilkert - November 12, 2017 12:44 PM

To add to the above. Uncertainity as to whether ship was damaged in storm prior to our cruise. Letters given to all people on board stating there flights out and times. Originally we were told all flights going to Newark. Some on Friday and some on Saturday. We were given forms to fill out as to how we got to ship and where our final destinations were to be. We were told there would be absolutely no changes to which flights you would be on. Now the fun starts. There was absolutely no attention paid to the forms we filled out. One family had a mother , grand mother and a 10 year old child. They put the 10 year old on a flight by himself. A near riot developed when the staff refused to change the childs flight. Eventually they did change this. I traveled to the port on 10/31 with a bus that was contracted by the ship to pick people up at various stops along the thruway. On Saturday the bus group was scattered amongst 3 different flights ! On top of that late Friday evening we find out they change one of the flights destantions from Newark to JFK. They also tell us we are to be off the ship at 3am on Saturday for our 710 am flight. When we arrive at the airport we find out the flight is in fact at 1015. So know we have people in our bus group at two different airports. Lets go back to our 3am departure. People are leaving the ship via a hallway , starwells and elevators , all joing at the same place. Pushing and shoving and yelling ensued with no effort from the crew to correct the situation. So , we arrive at JFK and to our surprise there were Norwegian reps there and a bus for us but , one of the bus lines buses , on a NYC tour went to Newark to pick up some members of our party. They were then to go back to NYC to meet up with our Bus enroute from JFK. The JFK bus was mired in traffic and a single lane back-up through the Queens Midtown Tunnell. It took the Bus 2 hours to get into the City. Meanwhile the Newark bus dropped our fellow cruisers in Bryant Park , mid-town Manhattan luggage and all. They waited 2 hours in the cold , luggage and all on a city street to finally be picked up. All this should have been avoided if they had paid attention to the responses they had requested. 25% discount hardly covers the tension and aggravation of the last 4 days on the ship. I am hoping we can find a lawyer that was on the ship that can advise us of a legal action we can take against Norwegian.

H Biewenga Hyams - November 12, 2017 2:07 PM

I would like to add a comment here. I was on the first flight out of Barbados with 335 others and we had to be at immigration at 2, left the ship at 3:30 am for the airport. I am handicapped with 4 artificial joints plus a disease in my spine. I use a walker and was not allowed to take it with me the gate. Wheelchairs were in short supply and as I cannot walk without the walker and wheelchair was in use for others couldn’t even go to the washroom. We were loaded on the plane just after 7 and sat on the tarmac till 9:30 before we lifted off, problems with refueling and paperwork according to the captain. The attendants
were great and after an hour started to pass out water. Flight was very bumpy the first half, then smoothed out. After we landed had another problem with wheelchairs, only 3 available when we had between 8-10 needed. Three of us waited to the end and even the crew left before two of us finally got someone who pushed both of us. Other lady not so lucky. Huge lineup at immigration but we were able to pass that with the wheelchairs. And now the fun really began! Seems the luggage was loaded wrong, put on individually rather than in a container and took over an hour before the first pieces came up very very slowly! Then we were taken off the carousel board and a Lufthansa was unloaded very quickly with no passengers in sight, probably stuck in immigration. People were extremely upset, lots of yelling, harassing the poor attendants who were on the phone and trying to get a supervisor to come and talk to us. We did get security people and even customs officers who also got on the phone and we were finally switched to another carousel. Again coming up in dribs and drabs then stopped again. My friend Helena now had a panic attack and we actually got some help. We finally got our luggage at 4:45. Now another long line to get out of the customs hall where we spotted our first Norwegian person. Here it broke down some more. No assistance with luggage and definitely wheelchairs, just people lined up pointing to the FAR end of the terminal, nowhere to sit and rest. Am amazed I made it but totally exhausted, very sore and barely walking by this point. Another line to get to the ONE person who had a list of the hotel rooms while there were 5-6 others doing nothing! my friend and I were sent to different hotels but now just want to get it over with. Getting into the bus was extremely taxing for me because of the high steps but at least they had a room for me, others not so lucky and frieoPaul an Vicky where finally sent to another hotel where they got an $80 voucher for food and drinks whereas we at the Doubletree had an okay but not great buffet and breakfast was very uninspiring and limited. Found out from others who left on the 10am flight that they were on an Air Canada flight and left the airport and were in the hotels by 3!!! So that was our ordeal, unbelievable and really feel that Norwegian let the handicapped passengers down badly!!!

Maureen Solon - November 12, 2017 7:35 PM

What started out as a great and much needed vacation turned into an unnecessary ordeal. We were understanding about the mechanical failure things happen but the handling was terrible 2 days no sleep with announcements going thru the night for people to disembark I'm talking 3:00 in the morning and ongoing than the letter telling us we had to do mandatory customs at 9:00am fine but than started announcements we needed to be there for 7:00 again this is after having us up thru the night with announcements. Than the fun really starts our letter said we needed to get off the ship at 6:am for the half hour drive to the airport for flight that is scheduled for 10:30 than last minute we are being kicked off ship at 4:00am to go sit in airport for 6hrs. Airport was chaos so backed up we has to sit inside overcrowded shuttle bus on the side of the road with no ac. Finally pulled up to terminal and it was just a sea of people no one to direct you just winding rows of travelers It was so bad some of the airport employees started video tapping the lines. We finally started to check in and that's when we are told our flight is delayed now we are pushed back to 1pm flight this does not start boarding till 1:20 at this point by the way no NCL representatives stuck around terminal we were pretty much dumped so almost 9hrs. Sitting in airport people are beyond exhausted tempers are frayed people are fighting and screaming at each other stewardess had to threaten to call security almost 6 hr flight arrived at Newark airport where the baggage carousel not working properly so almost 16 hrs travel time with no sleep. NCL should have offered to put us up in hotels so we could get some sleep rather rather than kicking us out at 4:am. NCL thinks that a 25 percent cruise credit of the amount you paid for this sailing to be used on a future cruise is sufficient if any Miami officials had been onboard or at the airport they would realize how far of the mark they are I am home and after that mayhem i'm more exhausted than when I went on vacation.

Josephine - November 13, 2017 8:12 AM

Hi... I was in this ship... I'm the mother that had the 10yr old child...yes they were trying to force my child to fly out 24 hrs b4 me... it was a nightmare! I have repeated panic attacks... they were no help from ncl... they didn't care we were treated so bad... the only silver lining was a guy named Tom that worked for the airport in Barbados he was amazing and worked really hard to get us in a flight out together.. and he was even kind enough to upgrade out seats cuz this was my 1st flight n me and my son were very scared.,. Flying is my biggest fear and I cried 4 almost 4 1/2 hrs... but it continued to get worse ncl was NO help to us every step of the way... they don't care!! And when I called them they still don't care!!! I enjoyed most of my ports but this while vacation is over showed by the end of it!!! And dream turned into a nightmare very quick!yhey need to be held accountable for what they did to us! Now I'm waiting for my local news to contact me back cuz this story needs to be told!

John - November 13, 2017 12:08 PM

This was an absolute nightmare! Problems happen with ships - we understand that - but Norwegian's response to this was absolutely horrible! Understandably people were stressed and complaining nonstop, but NCL made the decision to communicate as little information as possible and as late as possible to minimize the time passengers had to respond/complain.

This should be a case study of what "not to do" in a crisis situation:
1. Not communicating on a timely basis the original problem - when the extended the visit in Martinique it was obvious something was occurring
2. Notifying passengers on the upcoming cruise it was canceled before telling current passengers of a problem - people were getting messages from their friends about this before anything was communicated to the passengers on the ship
3. Giving no information to the staff. Going to the "front line customer service representatives" to ask about the rumors - they claimed they had no information
4. Notifying passengers at 6 PM that their bags needed to be packed by 10 pm that night for the following day's flights - could they really only give 4 hours notice so people could at least plan accordingly?
5. Telling passengers at 6 PM they needed to be ready at 2 AM to leave for the airport - that was all the time they had to communicate!?
6. Booking passengers in the same cabin on different flights. Newlywed couples were booked on different flights (last names had not been changed - they had just gotten married). A 10 year old child was booked on a different flight than his mother - in the same cabin!
7. Keeping passengers waiting 40 minutes on the shuttle bus to the airport - with no air conditioning - because there were 3 empty seats. Despite multiple communication to the bus driver and cruise staff that we were there at the appointed time and that we needed to go. Ultimately one of the bus passengers had a Panic Attack on the bus - delaying it another 20 minutes (they were newlyweds)! Horrible!
8. No NCL employees at the airport - only Air Canada employees!

Problems happen - we understand that - but Norwegian's lack of customer service in dealing with this type of situation was unacceptable.

I would like to think this was an isolated incident but NCL had a similar issue - and correspondingly poor response - on the Norwegian Star 2 years ago (11/06/2015).

Oh Oh - November 14, 2017 2:35 AM

Someone please inform these poor folks who were on the Gem that an Azipod problem the Norwegian Star created a much better compensation package than they are receiving. Significantly better!!!!!! It sounds like the folks on the Gem were not lead
by some fighters. The passengers on the Star were. If Norwegian realized how much "incredibly good PR" they could receive by having a default " Fair " way of handling these incidents it would be the best free advertising money can buy. I am from the news business and I know how much can be benefited by companies treating customers fairly in situations like this. If a company has a less than " fair " way of dealing with it, THAT IS THE FOCUS OF THE NEWS STORY.

Because I now know "Norwegian" might screw me, I might consider another Cruise Line.

Oh Oh - November 15, 2017 1:24 AM

Further to my comment about how NCL can be more fair than the folks have been treated so far. This is his reply to me asking for an update.

"I don't recall how it was structured, but They kept increasing the compensation to wheree I got a full refund in future cruise credits less taxes on Hong Kong to Australia, and 50 percent on Sydney to Auckland less taxes, plus about $1,700.00 US cash credits on the down under cruise final bills. . I had two future cruise credits of close to $1,400CAD and one for $700CAD to be used within 4 years."

Have a good fight!!!

Donald Kinscherf - November 15, 2017 10:14 PM

The 25% credit from NCL seems to be fair although I would like it to be 50% like the 11/11/2017 customers got but I wish it were in cash or credit. Many people sail but this could be the last time they are able to go on a cruise.

Maureen McSweeney - November 16, 2017 4:39 PM

Hi I was on the Gem for the Oct 31 st Sailing too! NCL gem had the misfortune of having a an Azipod Propulsion system break down and while the could not be helped the reaction the NCL corporate had to the crisis was atrocious. Apparently NCL has had system failures several times in the past and yet have still failed to initiate a proper rescue/ crisis plan. NCL corporate has violated its own code of conduct. The ship’s system was broken for days before it notified passengers. It’s ill- fated and dangerous repatriation plan was scrapped together and totally lacking. NCL treated it’s passengers like animals. The treatment of the elderly, disabled and children were the most shameful. There is very clear data and stories to back up all of the complaining passengers testimonies. I do not know why NCL does not do the right thing and recompensate people for this trip. The company is doing financially well and instead of fixing a broken Propulsion system, they chose to ignore the problem. They did not communicate with the passengers, while causing much stress and anxiety while carrying out a very poorly executed rescue/repatriation plan. They made people abandon the ship In The middle of night so they did not have to pay the port fees and would have room for the next NCL ship that was coming to port on 11/11. It was a nightmare for almost everyone involved . I think NCL needs to apologize, develop a safe and adequate evacuation plan, make it right with the passengers from the Oct 31 Gem cruise.. offering 25% of future cruise is grossly inadequate .. who would want to cruise with NCL again..! It is glaringly obvious they only care about their profits and not about the safety of their passengers. I agree with all of the above stories the NCL employees who were working on the cruise were great... especially our steward Nelson, Dolce the Entourage counselor and Corneilus William but the way corporate and management hide information and access were reprehensible. I hope an attorney from one of the web cruise law pages or one of the many Facebook companies files a class action lawsuit against NCL that is as close as I will probably get to being onboard with NCL again.. #NCLSUCKS. #NEVERCRUISENORWEGIAN.

Marian LaRowe - November 17, 2017 10:21 AM

My Mother and her 3 sisters were on this ship. And the anxiety and frustration they experienced was horrific for them ranging from age 71 to 81. We have filed with AAA Travel Agency and NCL for a full refund as I think they are entitled. In January of 2017 The "Star" ship had a similar incident and they were given 100% of the far they paid for the cruise this credit was good for 5 years, it might take that long to get over this one, but just the same we are given 25%, who are they kidding. My lawyers have been notified and I plan on pursing a full refund and nothing less.

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