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. 

Celebrity Cancels Cruises Aboard Summit

Celebrity Cruises SummitCelebrity Cruises announced that it is canceling the April 8, 2017 cruise aboard the Celebrity Summit and is shortening the April 17, 2017 cruise from seven to only four days, passengers are reporting. Celebrity is offering a 25% cruise credit and $200 per person to go toward re-booking airfare. We received this message advising of the changes this past weekend:  

" . . . there are about 4000+ passengers who have just had their spring holiday ruined. Seems Celebrity Summit is having a problem achieving full cruising speed and is canceling cruises just two weeks out, with a horrible offer of compensation. The ship has had reduced ports & port times for a few weeks because it is hobbling along, all while Celebrity says "don't worry folks, no safety issues here." So now they have completely canceled the 7 days out of San Juan on 4/8/17 and reduced the 4/15/17 cruise for 7 days going out of San Juan to only 4 days. She looks to be going into dry dock for 10 days.

Imagine flying to San Juan for a 4 day cruise? The only air fare compensation is $200 per person which is ridiculous. You would think they would be working with each passenger to get them booked on another cruise for that week, but the passengers say that is not the case. They got an email saying you are canceled. Either completely or you are now on a mini cruise and we will refund you via on-board credit the prorated daily rate for your nice 7 day that is now a mini 4 day. Am not on this cruise personally but Cruise Critic has threads and each roll call does as well and it is apparent there are a lot of mad people. So if each person keeps their airfare and goes on this 4 day mini cruise they have to then get a hotel for 3 nights in San Juan for Easter week which is obscenely expensive. All these passengers are asking what to do....most do not seem to realize they have little to no rights..."

The Summit is apparently suffering from a reduction in its propulsion which has affected some of its prior cruises.

Passengers booked on these cruises are now expressing their natural frustration of having to try and find an alternative vacation at the last minute at high season when the hotel and airfare expenses are appreciably higher. Many people have asked us for advice whether this is "legal."  Unfortunately, the legislation which the cruise passenger's advocacy group was successful in passing is quite limited in scope and provides no legal recourse under these circumstances. There is, of course, nothing that benefits anyone other than the cruise line in the ticket issued to the passengers. 

As a practical matter, affected passengers probably will lose at least a minimum of $1,000 each in higher airfare and hotels expenses. Considering that there are several thousands of passengers affected, these new and unexpected expenses will probably total well over several millions of dollars.

It's fanciful to expect that the cruise industry, which is bent on maximizing profits, notwithstanding the tremendous profits that they are collecting, will offer more than the nominal cruise credit and the minimal $200-a-person airfare amount. 

The cruise lines will remind passengers that they should always consider purchasing insurance which applies to this type of occurrence.

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March 29, 2017 Update: Several readers brought to my attention that this is not the first time that the Summit has had to alter its itinerary because of propulsion problems. A seven day cruise to Alaska was canceled back in September of 2004 when Celebrity put the ship in dry-dock for repairs. Passengers booked on the canceled cruise received a full refund and a free future cruise. More recently, Celebrity delayed the start of its March 27th cruise on the Summit from San Juan due to problems with the ship's propulsion system, which forced the Summit to sail at reduced speeds. The ship had already been docked 3 days in Cozumel earlier in the month while repair efforts were attempted. 

Propulsion problems are relatively common in the cruise industry. Last year, nineteen cruise ships experienced propulsion issues which interrupted and delayed cruises. 

Today, the RCL Blog reported that the Anthem of the Seas is sailing at a reduced speed due to propulsion issues.

Photo credit: Wknight94 - CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Royal Caribbean Cancels Radiance's Stop in Bali Due to Terrorism Concerns

Radiance of the SeasRoyal Caribbean is canceling the March 17th port call in Bali for the Radiance of the Seas due to its concerns over terrorism. The cruise line informed passengers: 

"Hello, this is Royal Caribbean International. We would like to provide you with some important information regarding your March 12, 2016, sailing onboard Radiance of the Seas. In an abundance of caution, and based on the latest security information we have gathered, Royal Caribbean International has made a decision to cancel its call to Bali, Indonesia on Thursday, March 17, 2016. Additional ports of call have been added to your itinerary. A letter with additional details will be provided to you at boarding. We appreciate your understanding as your safety is always our foremost concern."

Last week, sister cruise line Celebrity distributed letters to the passengers and crew members on the Celebrity Solstice indicating that the cruise ship will not be calling on Bali (Benoa) due to the potential of a terrorist attack. You can read our article - Celebrity Solstice Cancels Stop in Bali Due to Concern of Terrorism.

March 10, 2016 Update:  Newspapers in Australia are reporting that the "Radiance of the Seas and the Celebrity Millenium will also leave the island off their itineraries. Celebrity Millenium was due to overnight in Bali on March 16, and Radiance of the Seas was scheduled to visit the following day."

Photo credit: Bahnfrend - CC BY-SA 4.0, creative commons / wikimedia.

Celebrity Solstice Cancels Stop in Bali Due to Concern of Terrorism

Bali TerrorismToday I received copies of letters handed out to the passengers and crew members on the Celebrity Solstice indicating that the cruise ship will not be calling on Bali (Benoa) due to the potential of a terrorist attack.

As you can see below, the letter distributed to the passengers yesterday mentions travel warnings about potential terrorist attacks in Bali issued by the Australian and U.K. governments. In addition, the letter signed by Captain Yannis Berdos, states that:

"the most recent information received in the past few days indicates that the possibility of an incident has increased. Also the Balinese New Year on March 9th, and recent past advisories has named this date as one that would be targeted by terrorists. Based on all of this information we have gathered from various sources, and in discussion with our Global Security team in Miami, we have made a decision to cancel our call to Bali." 

The letter mentions (not to nitpick) that Celebrity felt that it "could not guarantee" passenger safety in Bali due to these concerns.  Of course, cruise lines have no legal duty to "guarantee" safety but only to act reasonably and to warn passengers of dangers which the cruise companies know or should know about ashore in ports of call.

It looks like Celebrity is acting prudently in taking steps to reduce the threat of harm to its passengers and crew. I have been critical in the past of cruise lines when they cruise passenger into dangerous ports of call, like when Costa and MSC sailed into La Goulette, Tunisia and ISIS slaughtered several dozen cruise passengers.

The letter sent to the Celebrity crew members today by the Solstice's Executive Team mentions what is referred to as  "credible security concerns" that led to the decision to bypass Bali.  

Many crew members are from Indonesia and will now be unable to visit with their family and loved ones.

The 2002 Bali bombings (photo above) occurred in October of 2002 in the tourist district of Kuta on Bali. The attack killed over 200 people (including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, and people from more than 20 other nationalities). An additional 200 people were also injured.

Jemaah Islamiyah members, a violent Islamist group supported by al-Qaeda, were convicted of engaging in the bombings which involved the detonation of a backpack bomb by a suicide bomber and a large car bomb. Three of the terrorists were executed.  A recording from Osama Bin Laden stated that the Bali bombings were in retaliation for support of the United States' war on terror and Australia's role in the liberation of East Timor.

The Jakarta Post recently published an article stating that cruise tourism is increasing in Bali, the country’s most famous tourist destination. In 2015, 58 cruise ships arrived on the island.  

March 7, 2016 Update:

A local newspaper in Bali questions the timing of the cancellation, writing: "questions have been raised by at least one passenger via postings on Facebook on the timing of the cancellation of the visit to Bali. The last warning from the Australian Government urging extreme caution for those traveling to Indonesia was issued on February 25th – a date well in advance of the Celebrity Solstice’s departure from Australia to Bali. . . . Questions are being raised as to why the decision and announcement on Bali’s removal from the cruise itinerary not delivered to passengers prior sailing?" 

Trave Agent Central points out that Celebrity's sister cruise line Royal Caribbean, which shares the same Global Security team, is sailing the Radiance of the Seas to Bali later this month as well as in April. 

Top photo: HWT Image Library via news.com.au

Passenger letter credit: NorbertsNiece from Cruise Critic a/k/a 'Linda Lemer Ward

Crew letter credit: Anonymous

Celebrity Sollstice Terrorism Bali

Celebrity Solstice Terrorism

Is Royal Caribbean Telling You the Truth?

When the Anthem of the Seas sailed into the forecasted storm last month, Royal Caribbean's PR department began to downplay the controversy. They claimed that they were surprised by the storm. But the truth is that the storm was accurately forecasted with waves over 30 feet and hurricane strength winds. Even NBC weatherman Al Roker mocked Royal Caribbean, pointing out the forecast and saying "Bullfeathers!" (see video) to the cruise line's claim of surprise.  

Royal Caribbean initially said that no one was injured and the cruise ship experienced no damage. This was also untrue. When passengers began posting photos and video on social media showing the destruction of the storm, the cruise line finally admitted that there were injuries but claimed that only "four injuries have been reported, none severe." This was untrue. I've spoken to far more than 4 Al Roker Bullfeatherspassengers who allege injuries, some of them quite severe. They all say that the ship infirmary was literally overwhelmed by injured passengers. Some tell me that the medical staff finally shut and locked the door to the medical facility in order to keep others injured out.

Royal Caribbean also later said that the ship only had cosmetic damage and was "seaworthy." Again, this was completely untrue. The U.S. Coast Guard revealed that when the Anthem returned to port in New Jersey, one of the two azipods was in fact damaged and had to be repaired before the cruise ship could be cleared to sail.

Several passengers contacted our office seeking to become involved in the class action lawsuit filed against Royal Caribbean because they feel that the cruise line has not been honest with them or the public and had trivialized their concerns and fears. 

Today PIX-11 in New York interviewed a Royal Caribbean passenger who feels that Royal Caribbean was not honest with the passengers on the latest Anthem cruise that was cut short short again.  The cruise line said that they were returning the Anthem early to port because of "rough weather" that was supposed to hit the ship on Tuesday and Wednesday.  But there was no such storm.  Instead there was a gastrointestinal illness outbreak that the passenger believes was the true cause of the early return.  

Listen to the interview.  She's a cruise fan but feels deceived.

 

"Curse of the Seas" Returns to New Jersey for Noro Cleaning

Passengers on the Anthem of the Seas are stating that as of Monday, as the cruise ship continued to head back to New Jersey for deep cleaning, the captain informed them that 109 passengers are sick with norovirus.

Other passengers also tell me that there are more than this sick, but they don't want to go to the medical facility.    

According to the CDC, cruise lines are required to provide notification to the federal agency when the gastrointestinal illness (GI) count exceeds 2% of the total number of passengers or crew onboard. The CDC-required notification is for totals for the entire voyage.

There are between 4,180 passengers (double occupancy) and 4,905 passengers (maximum occupancy) on the cruise ship so 2% turns out to be between 83 and 98 passengers. So expect Anthem of the Seas - Norovirusthe CDC to officially announce that the Anthem to be the fourth U.S. based cruise ship with an norovirus outbreak this year. 

The much ballyhooed "severe storm" that supposedly caused Royal Caribbean to cancel two days of the cruise is nowhere to be seen, as passengers report good weather and calm cruising. 

Royal Caribbean, which didn't mention the topic of norovirus until passengers went to Twitter complaining of the virus outbreak, denied on Twitter that the outbreak was the reason behind returning to port in New Jersey early. But many news sources blended norovirus into the story after an executive with the Associated Press aboard the cruise ship said that the ship’s captain and its cruise director made announcements about norovirus sickening people on the ship.

The AP executive was also quoted saying that the cruise ship "workers are scurrying around like ants, scrubbing down handrails, tables and any other surfaces that can be washed" - an apt although somewhat derogatory description. This is hardly what the cruise line wants the passengers to think about on a cruise marketed as a relaxing pleasure cruise.  

Whoever you believe, whether the Anthem of the Seas is returning to avoid the so-called storm or because of a virus outbreak, there is no doubt that the Anthem's reputation is being mauled in the court of public opinion.  New York Magazine called her the "bad luck cruise ship."  CNN calls her the seemingly perpetually "storm battered" cruise ship. Some people on Twitter are asking "Anthem of the Seas: Cursèd ship of doom, or just a run of bad luck?"  

Of course, any mention of the Anthem today is accompanied by photos and video of the raucous cruise earlier this month which reminds everyone of the fact that the ill-fated ship sailed into the violent storm.

The "cursed" cruise ship theme was blasted in the headlines of the popular U.K. tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail which asked "Is the Anthem of the Seas Cursed?" The Inquisitr, Newsmax, and the Examiner, among others, all joined the Daily Mail in labeling the Anthem "cursed" in their news Anthem of the SEas Norovirusarticles.   

So the overworked crew members continue to spray and scrub everything in sight. Photos sent to me from the ship show the crew members wiping all rails and counters (photo top) and wrapping a rack of cookies-(photo bottom) with a Saran-Wrap like film, apparently to keep the surfaces and food clean. (I have never seen this before).  

Regarding the crew members who had to deal with storm-frazzled passengers three weeks ago, and are now pressed into non-stop noro-eradication measures, I'm sure that they feel that the Anthem of the Seas may indeed be cursed.

March 1, 2016 Update 5:00 PM:  The CDC disease data-base just listed the Anthem of the Seas. It lists "unknown" rather than norovirus so we may find out that there is some other source of infection like e-coli or something more exotic. 125 passengers and 16 crew members are infected at this point. The CDC recommends sending 10 more crew members and 10 contract cleaners to the ship as well as 4 Hotel and Housekeeping Operations Managers, 3 Public Health staff, one nurse from the cruise line corporate office.   

A newspaper in New Jersey published a story that quotes a passenger on the cruise ship saying that the CDC came on the ship in Puerto Rick and tested for e-coli.  

Anthem of the Seas: Afraid of the Weather or More Bad Publicity?

This evening Royal Caribbean announced via Twitter that that it's "closely watching a large storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras. We want to be extra cautious when it comes to weather in the area." The cruise line decided that it is canceling the last two days of the current Anthem of the Seas cruise which will skip Barbados and St Kitts in order to "avoid a severe storm & provide guests with a comfortable journey back home."

Is this the same cruise line which recklessly sailed into a much larger storm three weeks ago?

The forecasted wind and wave conditions seem modest compared to the weather conditions forecast prior to the disastrous cruise on February 6th when the cruise ship sailed into waves over 30 feet and encountered hurricane strength winds.

So why the cautious approach today? Is this a cruise line that really learned its lesson?  Is this the result of new decision makers back in Miami who decide whether the Royal Caribbean ships will encounter rough weather? Remember, Royal Caribbean announced that the last storm revealed what the cruise line said were "gaps in our planning system that we are addressing."

Royal Caribbean also said that it was strengthening its storm avoidance policy, and allegedly added resources at its corporate headquarters in Miami to provide additional guidance to its captains. 

So is the decision this evening to cut the cruise short the result of more cautious meteorologists and fewer macho captains?  I doubt it. The weather reports seem pretty tame. 

It seems that the decision to cancel the remainder of the Anthem cruise is motivated more in order to avoid bad press than bad weather. Why? Passengers are reporting that over 65 people have come down with symptoms of the dreaded norovirus. A code red is underway. If there are 65 official reports, chances are that the true number is much higher. There will be what the cruise lines call "enhanced" cleaning when the ship returns to New Jersey on Wednesday in an effort to kill the noro.  Royal Caribbean's reputation can't take a massive noro outbreak on the heels of subjecting its guests to a massive storm earlier this month.

So what happens when the cruise ship returns to port 2 days early?  If this were truly just a weather related event, then the passengers, whose flights home are still scheduled two days later, should be able to stay on the ship. But if passengers are forced to leave the ship early for the anticipated super cleaning, it would seem that Royal Caribbean is more concerned with eradicating norovirus from its huge cruise ship than risking its guests encountering another round of rough weather.  

Anthem of the Seas Captain's Letter

Celebrity Cancels More Stops in Istanbul

Celebrity Cruises canceled a stop in Istanbul earlier this week because of concerns with terrorism.  We were the first to report on the cancellation involving the Equinox.

Today, Celebrity canceled more port stops, announcing that the Reflection will not stay in Istanbul on August 31st and will depart earlier in the day. Celebrity will also skip the Reflection's port call in Istanbul on September 4th & 5th and will instead call on Athens. 

Cruise IstanbulOn August 19th Costa canceled all port stops in Istanbul for the remainder of the year.

Costa and other cruise lines are under pressure not to sail more passengers into danger like Costa  recklessly did when it cruised to Tunisia in March, resulting in passengers being slaughtered. I called for the security chiefs to be sacked

There are hundreds of cruises scheduled for Istanbul this year. Expect more cancelations

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Photo Credit: rehbergundemi.com

Carnival Refuses Refund for Slain Police Officer's Family

Carnival Cruise Refund PolicyOne issue we write about often is the cruise industry's refusal to refund cruise fares when tragedy strikes their customers. 

We have seen cruise lines refuse to accommodate their guests when family members die unexpectedly, natural disasters destroy their customers' homes, and even when children develop cancer. The cruise lines pocket the fares and then often sell the ship cabins for what turns out to be a double profit for the cruise line.

Seems heartless to me. Some people think its okay because the customers didn't buy insurance (which the cruise lines also sell for additional profit). But there are exceptions to every rule. It's bad karma to obtain a double profit when your customers face the heartbreak of losing a child, especially if he's a slain police officer.   

As WKMG explains, the Carnival representative not only denied a refund to the father of slain Ocala police officer Jared Forsyth, she rubbed salt into the wound. "Well, if you want to play the dead son angle," she told the dad of the dead son.

Carnival eventually refunded most of the cruise expenses (except $1,500) only after the grieving father complained to the local news station which contacted the cruise line's public relations spokesman.

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April 17, 2015 UpdateCruise Line Refunds Vacation to Family of Police Officer Killed at Training. It looks like Carnival was shamed into apologizing to the family and finally giving them a full refund. 

April 18, 2015 Update: The Ocala Post interviewed me regarding the story, which you can read here

Video and photo credit: WKMG

 

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Oceania Cruises Pockets Cancer Victim's Refunded Airfare

National Geographic Traveler magazine ombudsman Christopher Elliott is often asked to try and recover canceled cruise fares when passengers suffer serious illness, a death in the family or other misfortune.

All cruise passenger tickets contain draconian terms and conditions, drafted by the cruise line attorneys, which address what happens when a passenger is forced to cancel a cruise because of sickness or death. Depending on when the cruise is canceled, the cruise line will keep all or a Oceania MS Marina substantial portion of the passenger's money.   

Mr. Elliott writes about the plight of a couple from Canada who booked what they described as a cruise of a lifetime with Oceania Cruises aboard the Oceania Marina in the South Pacific for $43,000 ($29,000 for the cruise fare and $14,000 for the airfare). But the wife was diagnosed with lung cancer and they had to cancel the vacation. The couple did not buy insurance.

Oceania pocketed the entire $43,000 even though the cruise line sold the couple's cabin to another couple and even though the airline refunded the $14,000 airfare to Oceania.

A cruise line keeping a refunded airfare is clearly illegal "unjust enrichment." I find it outrageous and unconscionable.  It seems no different than theft to me, and a theft by a large rich corporation while the victim is in a weak and vulnerable position.  

Mr. Elliott was successful in convincing the cruise line to return the couple's airfare. The fact that Mr.Elliott writes a widely-read consumer blog no doubt helped.

Oceania refused to refund the cruise fare. Yes, the couple should have purchased insurance. But I find this scenario repugnant. It may be technically legal but it is still unconscionable and immoral. Oceania promptly sold the cabin to other passengers, remember. Oceania didn't lose a penny. In fact, it obtained a double profit. Cruise corporations should not be permitted to make double profits because of the death and personal suffering of their guests. 

Oceania's parent company, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), likes to do this too. NCL kept the cruise fare of a passenger whose brother died and the funeral was on the day of the cruise. NCL said "sorry, no refund." The passenger also tried to donate his cabin to a child with cancer, but the cruise line refused that too. NCL then sold the cabin on the Norwegian Sky for a double profit.

Speaking of children with cancer, NCL also refused to return the cruise fare after a family learned that their five year old child was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo emergency medical treatment. NCL pocketed the family's money and sold their cabin for more profit.

NCL also refused to either refund or credit the cruise fare to a 66 year old passenger and his wife after she was diagnosed with bladder cancer and underwent emergency surgery.

It's cruel, greedy, heartless and outrageous conduct by Oceania and NCL.  Yes, it's technically legal. All cruise lines have their lawyers write their tickets to protect only the cruise line's interests. But it's unfair and unjust.

If cruise lines can't apply compassion to situations where their guests are stricken with cancer, and companies like NCL and Oceania are motivated only by money, legislation should be passed to protect consumers when they are in a time of crisis. Cancer victims shouldn't be victimized a second time by a greedy cruise line. They should be entitled to a full refund so they can pay their medical bills and try and beat cancer.   

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Photo Credit: M/S Marina - Jordandkatz - licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A Sick Ship? Adventure of the Seas Can't Shake the Bug

Earlier this month, we were contacted by passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas because of back-to-back norovirus outbreaks requiring "deep cleaning" of the cruise ship.You can read our article about the situation here

A number of passengers complained of some pretty gross conditions:

One lady said "i was swimming and had to go round feces, which was also in the jacuzzi...it was reported but nothing was said . . . "

Another man said "the most serious issue on board the ship was the failure of its sewage system, a point admitted by its officers during the Q and A session. The ship stank like a Royal Caribbean Cruise Norovirussewage farm throughout the 14 days. We we also found the bed linen in our cabin filthy (pillows were brown and needed to be replaced) . . . This ship has problems!"

And then there was the inevitable debate whether the virus outbreak was caused by the failure of some passengers to wash their hands versus noro-contaminated food or water versus a virus-laden ship itself.

Passengers are now telling us that the norovirus outbreak continues on the third consecutive sailing of the Adventure which is scheduled for yet another so-called "deep cleaning" this weekend. Passengers received an email from the company explaining the the ship will undergo the enhanced cleaning before it leaves Southampton on Sunday, October 26th. Will the next cruise become the fourth consecutive "Norovirus on the High Seas?"

Some of the people who contacted us have small children, elderly parents, elderly grandparents or they are recovering from cancer, or have suppressed immune systems. They are asking whether they can cancel and obtain a refund or reschedule. They are asking us what to do.

Unfortunately the cruise line holds all of the cards in this situation. Royal Caribbean will certainly keep your money if you don't show up for the cruise and it will absolutely not issue you a refund. The only issue is whether the cruise line will permit a few people to reschedule on a case-by-case basis. 

Royal Caribbean just announced yesterday that it made almost $500,000,000 in profits for the third quarter of this year (and pays no U.S. taxes on that loot) so you might think that it has sufficient money to be understanding and reasonable under this circumstances. After all, its ship is sick. Who on earth wants to voluntarily subject their family to disease? But Royal Caribbean has a strict attitude against permitting fearful customers to reschedule even if there's something wrong with its ship. 

One person who contacted us said he was nervous about his family "catching the bug" but fell that he has no chance to reschedule. He said he "will let you know how it went!"

Customers should not become human guinea pigs like this. A good vacation should not depend on the success of another last minute "deep cleaning" of a sick ship which repeatedly failed.

The ship is enormous - 15 decks, 10 pools and whirlpools, 15 bars, clubs and lounges, and thousands and thousands of cabins packed into its 1,000 plus feet. Its an enormous undertaking to clean a ship like this. The chance of a 100% eradication of the nasty bug is slim, no matter how hard the crew is pressed into working overtime.  It takes only a few microbes of noro to sicken the next round of guests. The norovirus could be hidden under the commode seat cover or in the fabric of the duvet covers where the prior passengers were blasting millions of microbes of noro-infected vomit and diarrhea into the bathroom's and cabin's crooks and crannies. 

There are few laws protecting consumers on the high seas. There should be a norovirus policy where a passenger can obtain a hassle-free refund whenever there is a consecutive disease outbreak.  

If you get sick on the upcoming cruise, consider hiring a lawyer. No, not me. There's a good firm in the U.K. which has successfully handled cases this like. You can contact them here.

The cruise line is counting on the hundreds of its customers who fall victim to the pukefest not knowing what to do. After all, you and your family are really not guinea pigs, even if the cruise line treats you like one.   

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Propeller Woes Continue: HAL Cancels Third Consecutive Veendam Cruise

HAL Vendaam Holland America Line announced that it is cancelling the 7 night October 11th cruise of the Veendam from Quebec, Canada to Boston because of problems with one of the cruise ship's propellers. 

HAL has already cancelled the sailings on the Veendam for the September 28th and October 4th cruises to try and fix the propeller. 

The Veendam is going into dry-dock to complete the more extensive work necessary to effect the repairs. The company is not disclosing what exactly is wrong with the propeller except to refer to unspecified "technical problems."

USA TODAY published this statement from HAL:

"Repair work has been in progress to address a technical problem with one of the propellers on ms Veendam. As work has progressed alongside in Quebec, it has been determined that a complete repair can only be made in a dry-dock."

Passengers will receive a full refund and a cruise credit worth equal to the costs of the cruise. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Bahnfrend Creative Commons 3.0

"Seasick Princess" Redux: Princess Cancels Another Cruise on the Sea Princess

The newspapers in Australia are blasting Princess Cruises for canceling another cruise on the Sea Princess, again at the last minute, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

We previously reported on the cancellation of the September 14th sailing because the cruise ship went into dry dock to try and perform repairs to the ship engines after the Sea Princess had missed ports in Broome and Bali because of what Princess nebulously called a "technical problem" which reduced the ship's speed. 

The ship has been wracked the week before with norovirus during a cruise from Fremantle to Sea PrincessSingapore, causing as many as 400 people became to be ill.

Last Friday, Princess told passengers that the Sea Princess will not depart Brisbane as planned but the ship would leave from Sydney, and Auckland will not be included in New Zealand trip.

Princess has known for months that there have been problems with the engines on the cruise ship but has put off placing the ship in dry dock. This has caused great uncertainty with the passengers and, ultimately, ruined their vacations.

The cruise line promised a refund of their cruise fare, air costs, taxes, fees and port expenses, and a future cruise credit equal to the cruise fare paid for this voyage.  

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Bahnfrend Creative Commons 3.0

Freemantle - Brisbane Cruise Canceled: Princess Cruises To Finally Fix Sea Princess Engines

The Sea Princess is back in the news.  Following widespread coverage of "cruise from hell" articles about a noro-infected  cruise from Freemantle where the ship was nicknamed "Pandemic Princess," Princess Cruises announced that the sailing to Brisbane was canceled in order to address "technical problems" causing the ship to lose speed. 

Perth Now reports that Carnival Australia spokesman, which is responsible for the Sea Princess, stated that “all guests will receive a full refund of their cruise fare plus a 100 per cent future cruise credit.”

Passengers had complained during earlier cruises that the Sea Princess had been suffering from Adonis Sea Princessreduced speeds which shortened times in certain ports of call and required changes in the ship's itineraries including dropping Bali and Broome.

A poster commented on the Cruise Critic boards: "this ship has been limping along slowly and arriving late to ports/missing ports for months. Princess handled this situation badly."

Another person commented: "Really disappointing. All summer long people have been saying that Princess should just bite the bullet and cancel a couple of cruises down the line and fix this ship. People would have had at least a couple months' notice. Instead, they now have 1900 passengers kicked off on the second day of a cruise that never left port. What a mess."

It's currently unknown how many cruises will be affected.

The Sea Princess is an old ship. It was built by Fincantieri, Italy and began sailing in 1998. It was transferred to P&O Cruises in 2003 and renamed the Adonia (photo above right). It was transferred back to Princess in 2005.  

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Cruiser1210 Creative Commons

NCL's No-Cruise-for-the-Cancer-Child Public Relations Disaster Continues: "Shocking What Norwegian Did"

NCL Norwegian Cruise Line Cancellation Policy The case of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) callously refusing to permit the family of a five year old boy with a cancerous tumor, "the size of a soda can," to reschedule their cruise is back in the news today.

A Long Island, New York news station PIX11 aired an interview with the mom and her son discussing the sad case. NCL refused to cooperate in rescheduling the cruise when the family discovered that their son had cancer.

You can read about our prior article here.

Sitting on the interview couch with the mom and her son was a formidable ally for the cancer-stricken child - Pauline Frommer.

Ms. Frommer is the daughter of the legendary travel expert Arthur Frommer. Ms. Frommer, an accomplished and highly respected travel expert in her own right, explained that NCL has the "most draconian" attitude toward cancellations in the cruise industry.  

She added that "most of the other lines would have shown more compassion."

Ms. Frommer concluded "I think it's pretty shocking what Norwegian did." 

Interested in this topic? Read Rigid Policies Can Sink Cruise Lines' Image.

 

Costa Deliziosa Loses Power in Valenzia

SeaTrade Insider reports that the Costa Deliziosa cruise ship suffered a power failure and blackout in Valencia, Spain yesterday which shut down the ship's electrical systems. After a few hours, the engineers were able to restore power and essential services. However, the cruise ship will not try to sail back to Italy. Costa stated that the cruise ship will remain in port until the cause of the outage is identified and corrected. 

Costa is apparently arranging for charter flights to return the passengers to Rome. 

Costa Deliziosa Cruise ShipLate today Costa told cruise passengers scheduled to sail on a 13-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome), leaving tomorrow, that the cruise is canceled.

Of course there are thousands of people who are currently flying to Rome thinking that they will board the cruise ship, which remains in Spain.

Cruise Critic mentions that the passengers on the current, abandoned cruise will receive a 50 percent refund on the cruise fare and a 100 euros of onboard credit per passenger as compensation. A couple on the Cruise Critic message board says that for the canceled May 29th cruise, Costa offered either a 50% refund and another cruise or a full refund and 250 euro voucher each to be used before the end of the year.

Although a cruise ship going out of service unexpectedly at the last minute is a major inconvenience for the passengers, it is a real hardship for the crew members who earn tips. They will receive no income for the next two weeks.

The Deliziosa is four years old, and is owned by Carnival Corporation.

May 21 2014 Update: Members of Cruise Critic are saying that: "instead of the 21st, their departure from Savona will be on the 23rd, therefore the cruise will now be instead of 13 days only 11 days
(they will get a new itinerary later). Because of that they will get a refund of 25 % and 100 Euro bord account."

Royal PR #FAIL: Royal Caribbean Keeps Adventure & Navigator Passengers in the Dark

This weekend saw the epic failure of Royal Caribbean's corporate communications department after two of its cruise ships, the Adventure of the Seas and the Navigator of the Seas, encountered difficulties returning to their respective ports. 

The Adventure of the Seas encountered propulsion problems last week and, eventually, a total failure on Saturday night, after the cruise ship's "fixipod" leaked oil and the ship lost propulsion. The ship limped back to San Juan on Sunday with great uncertainty whether it could possibly be repaired in time for it to sail. The ship is scheduled for a drydock at the end of the month, but it appears that Royal Caribbean decided to try and do a quick-fix of the damaged "fixipod" and squeeze in one more cruise to avoid having to refund their several thousands of passengers millions of dollars in refunds. Families Port of Galveston - Navigator of the Seas - Oil Spillwho had flown to San Juan to board the Adventure were not told of the propulsion issues and found themselves standing in a long line in the hot sun while the cruise line's public relations department said nothing. As of this morning (Monday), the ship has still not sailed.

While the Adventure of the Seas saga was unfolding, the Navigator of the Seas was delayed returning to port by an oil spill caused by a collision between a ship and a barge. Families who had driven and flown into Houston to make the cruise where not advised of the oil spill or the delay embarking the ship while the Royal Caribbean department remained quite. Meanwhile the Carnival PR department was routinely posting updates on Twitter and Facebook about the problem which its ship, the Magic, faced with the oil spill. Carnival maintained a centralized "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)" on its website.  It timely notified its guests that the cruise aboard the Carnival Magic would be delayed until Monday and that they should locate a hotel and get a good night's sleep. 

By early Sunday afternoon, the Royal Caribbean passengers began openly complaining on Twitter and Facebook about the cruise line's refusal to keep them up to date. A public relations nightmare was unfolding.

Numerous passengers and family members began bitterly complaining that Royal Caribbean was not notifying them via email, test messaging or telephone, and the cruise line was not utilizing its Twitter or Facebook feeds. Royal Caribbean has a public relations account of Twitter, called @RoyalCaribPR, San Juan Long Lines Adventure of the Seasbut it had remained silent for the psst 48 hours. People calling the cruise line were placed on hold, or the service representatives didn't know what was going on. It was as if the entire customer relations department has outsourced to a distant village in India. 

The passengers in San Juan were congregating in long lines in the hot son without water or food (photo left, via @_DanielnPearson). There was reportedly a single restroom with long lines. People were suffering, particularly the elderly. One passenger sent me a photo of the long lines via Twitter. 

One passenger commented on Cruise Critic that Royal Caribbean "is refusing water and people are leaving in ambulances." Some passengers reportedly collapsed due to the heat and lack of water. And @It'sYourWorld tweeted a photo (photo below right) of a San Juan ambulance which arrived at the port to attend to one of the passenger trying to board the ship.  

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean's Facebook page said nothing about either the Adventure or the Navigator. While people began demanding an update on Twitter, Royal Caribbean posted a photograph of a beautiful tropical port of call (photo bottom left). At a time of crisis with customers begging for information, Royal Caribbean was clueless. It was trying to sell cruises with images of paradise when people in the sun needed water. 

As the afternoon dragged on into the evening and night, the passenger attempting to board these Royal Caribbean ships were kept in the dark. When Royal Caribbean finally began to tweet, its tweets were meaningless. One tweet it made over and over said: " We will provide more information . . . as information is available." 

Hundreds of passengers and the usual "Loyal-to-Royal" cruise fans began tweeting every few seconds. Of the hundreds of tweets, here are a few.

A cruise social media expert said: 'Hey @CCLSupport any way you can help out @RoyalCaribbean on their updates? They don't seem to be taking your lead :)"  He added another tweet: "@RoyalCaribbean's last tweet was promo for Ibiza & @RoyalCaribPR's last tweet was Friday. #FAIL"

A woman concerned for her elderly parents tweeted: "@RoyalCaribbean when can incoming guests check luggage? Senior parents (one disabled) have been up since 4am. They are exhausted."

Another woman from Texas tweeted: "My mom received no email or call updates. Found all the update info on Twitter. Pathetic!"

A man from Ohio tweeted: "@RoyalCaribbean why are your offices closed when you have 1000s of passengers waiting for information about boarding the Navigator of Seas?"

A cruise fan from Denver tweeted: "@RoyalCaribbean I understand the oil spill is out of your control but do you know how to use technology to communicate with your passengers?"

He added: "@RoyalCaribbean = confusion."

A member of Cruise Critic left this comment:

" . . . I am appalled by the lack of communication. Problems happen, (like busted ships and oil spills) but this is a problem that they knew they would have today given that it started Wednesday. There absolutely should have been a corporate plan in place to communicate with extra staff at port (3 days to fly staff from MIA to SJ is plenty of time) even if the only thing they would be able to communicate was that they don't know anything yet. Despite what anyone thinks, in corporate America today if you are Ambulance Stressed and Exhausted Cruise Passengers - San Juannot ahead of the news cycle you are behind...tweets, FB etc are required, and certainly emails, phone calls, texts, to passengers sailing are required, not 'optional.'

If as reported, no water or accommodations for elderly and special needs passengers were made while waiting to board; that's another major failure given the huge amount of time the company had to prepare for what they knew would be a problem. A hotel ballroom and shuttle could have been arranged cheaply.

This is completely unacceptable and another huge black eye for the Royal and the cruise industry."

You can read the Cruise Critic comments here.

Throughout Sunday afternoon, we received emails and comments on our blog and Facebook page asking for basic information about these two Royal Caribbean cruises from passengers at the ports, travel agents and concerned family members at home. A cruise line has a major PR problem when guests and travel agents are ignored and have to seek information from a maritime lawyer rather than a cruise representative. We directed a number of people calling us to the Carnival updates about the Galveston situation and also sent the link to the webcam at the port of Galveston so that they could see when the Navigator finally arrived in port (photo top right).

It still remains uncertain whether the Adventure of the Seas will sail today. The Royal Caribbean PR Twitter feed @RoyalCaribPR remains silent. The Royal Caribbean main Twitter page @RoyalCaribbean has offered no updates for 14 hours. The page claims that it offers "inspiration and information from the official sponsor of WOW. Living the #cruiselife 24/7." Hardly.

The problem here is that cruise lines like Royal Caribbean try and squeeze their ships (and employees) to make every dime possible.  It could have decided to take its crippled Adventure of the Seas out of service a week early for dry-dock but instead loaded the new round of passengers aboard to avoid paying a hotel for the night or refunds for the missed cruise. 

This is not Royal Caribbean's first PR blunder in San Juan. In August 2011 as a hurricane headed to the island, Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas sailed 6 hours early. But Royal Caribbean did not contact its guests via the emergency contact information about the new itinerary.  It didn't provide the passengers, who arrived in San Juan to find that the ship had left, with hotel rooms. It abandoned its guests in the middle of a hurricane and didn't bother to tell them.

Super cruise fan Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of Cruise Critic, expressed outrage in her blog Bad Royal Caribbean Fantasy VacationsWeather Blunder: A Lesson in Cruise Crisis Control? "This takes my breath away. And it’s not about the fact that it didn’t offer to pay for hotels and flights . . . . It’s about dropping the ball in a risky situation. Clearly, I’m not the only one who is shocked at Royal Caribbean’s lack of responsibility to its customers. On Cruise Critic’s forums, its blog, and its Facebook page, travelers are incredulous." 

One of the continuing criticisms of the cruise industry is that it may be skilled at marketing fantasy images of idyllic cruise vacations but it is not prepared when disaster strikes one of its increasingly gigantic cruise ships. It's clear that Royal Caribbean has not invested into the infrastructure of its crisis management department and developed policies and procedures to effectively communicate meaningful information in real time. If Royal Caribbean can't handle a weekend when two cruise ships are delayed, one for an oil slick and another for a known propulsion issue, do you think that it can communicate effectively when a fire strands either the Oasis or the Allure on the high seas in rough weather or, God forbid, a huge ship sinks at sea? 

And The Cruise Industry Wonders Why It Has An Image Problem: NCL Screws Another Customer in Distress

David Lazarus of the LA Times writes about how Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) refused to either refund or credit the cruise fare to 66 year old David Warlick and his wife after she was diagnosed with bladder cancer and underwent emergency surgery.

In his article "Cruise Line Unmoved By Customer's Cancer Emergency," Lazarus points out that although cruise corporations are considered to be a person under the U.S. Constitution, "when called upon to demonstrate a little human decency, they almost unfailingly respond with profound corporate indifference."

NCL defended itself by saying that it has a strict cancellation policy. Moreover, NCL pointed out the Norwegian Cruise Line - Kevin Sheehancouple should have purchased insurance. But NCL had no legal obligation to screw its cancer stricken guest. From a moral perspective, it could and should have done the right thing and let the couple reschedule their cruise until a later date.

This is not the first time NCL has acted like a bad corporate citizen.

NCL refused to refund the cruise fare of a passenger whose brother died and the funeral was on the same day as the cruise. The guest notified NCL, asking for a credit on a future cruise. NCL said no. He asked for their cruise to be donated to charity (Make-A-Wish) so a child with cancer could enjoy a once in a lifetime cruise. NCL said no. Then NCL re-sold the cabin to another couple.

NCL got a double profit due to the death of a guest. Ugh.

NCL also demonstrated a lack of humanity when a grandmother, whose home was destroyed last year after being submerged by Superstorm Sandy, tried to reschedule a $4,000 cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel for her family and grand kids. She appealed to NCL for help.

She even wrote the CEO Kevin Sheehan (above right) asking to refund the cruise or reschedule it, but the cruise line and its CEO wouldn't make an exception. NCL said absolutely no refund or rescheduling, even though the grandmother works driving special needs kids to school. This trip was going to be her first vacation ever, in 70 years.

But NCL refused to help the family and took their money. A news station says that when it approached NCL about the terrible situation, the cruise line erected a "stone wall of silence."

 

Photo Credit: prhub.com

Royal Princess Loses Power in the Mediterranean

Royal Princess Cruise ShipCruise Fever reports that Princess Cruises' newest cruise ship, the Royal Princess, experienced a loss of power in the Mediterranean as the cruise ship was sailing between Mykonos and Naples. Here's what Cruise Fever is saying:

The cruise ship lost power around 1:30 P.M. local time.

Emergency generators started. 

Toilets and emergency services are functional. 

The captain is providing updated information. 

"Power is in the process of being restored."

So far I do not see any news organizations reporting on the incident. Cruise Fever states that there has been no indication regarding why the Royal Princess lost power.

The incident has the potential to be another major embarrassment for the cruise industry, following a series of engine failures and engine room fires. The Royal Princess is Princess's newest cruise ship which was debuted with great fanfare in June 2013. It is owned by Carnival which is struggling with its image following the Splendor and Triumph engine room fires / failures where the Carnival cruise ships had to be towed back to the U.S. 

Here's a statement from Princess Cruises this evening as of 6:00 P.M.:

"Today at approximately 1:30 pm local time, Royal Princess experienced a power outage. Power has since been restored and the ship is currently en route to Naples. During the power outage, an emergency backup generator was used to provide essential services, such as toilets. The ship is not in any danger, and the Captain has been keeping passengers regularly informed about the situation. The ship is currently on the seventh day of a 12-day Mediterranean cruise that departed Venice on September 15. There are 3,594 passengers and 1,336 crew members onboard." 

As you can see below, Princess Cruises' web cam for the Royal Princess cruise ship seems to show a lighted ship as of 19:12 GMT heading for port in Italy.  

Cruise Critic posted the following information about the incident:

Cruise Critic member funnyfingers heard from family members onboard that "they were without power for 4.5 hours and had to cancel the Naples stop" . . . 

A Princess Facebook fan posted on Princess' page today that "the ship has had many other problems in the past eight days, plumbing, electrical, air-conditioning, and last night we were delayed leaving Mykonos for over four hours because they couldn't get the anchor up."

September 23 2013 Update: The ship will be taken out of service for repairs. The remainder of the cruise is cancelled. The passengers will be disembarked in Naples and flown home. Princess has promised to provide a refund of the cruise fare and a 25 percent credit. The power outage on Sunday reportedly lasted for at least 3.5 hours.

September 25 2013 Update: After a Series of Power Outages, is the Royal Princess Really Ready to Cruise? 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / barryskeates

Royal Princess Web Cam