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. 

Carnival Does Right: Reimburses Couple for Cruise & Cost of Engagement Ring

A news station in Cleveland, Ohio aired a consumer investigation segment yesterday about a young couple whose engagement ring was stolen during a recent cruise.

The couple was upset because Carnival refused to replace the ring after it was stolen from the couple's cabin and the ring box was found floating in the toilet.

All cruise lines have exclusions and limitations of liability in the passenger tickets which form the contract between the cruise lines and the guests. Passengers are usually out of luck when they lose a personal item due to theft.  

Federal law does not even require cruise lines to report thefts under $10,000. The title of the television investigative team video is "Marblehead Ohio couple issues warning about cruise ship security after engagement ring stolen."

Our firm is contacted several times a year by passengers who claim that their jewelry was stolen during a cruise. But we never take these type of cases because the courts routinely enforce the cruise lines' fine print. 

I was surprised to see that the news station included a video of me discussing the issue of cruise ship crime. I was not interviewed by this station. It's old tape of an interview years before. 

Even more surprising is that the video of the engagement ring caper ended with the reporter saying that Carnival reimbursed the value of the ring (plus $100) and also refunded the cruise for the couple. Why? I'm not sure. I have never heard of this happening before. But it's certainly good public relations to do so. The couple needs to say a big "thank you" to Carnival (and the investigative reporter).  It seems only fair for Carnival to get some much needed PR when it does the right thing.  

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Under Pressure, Carnival Agrees to Reimburse U.S. for Coast Guard & Navy Costs in Responding to Disabled Triumph & Splendor Cruise Ships

Under public criticism and pressure initiated by U.S. Senator Rockefeller, Carnival announced today that it will reimburse the federal government for costs of over $4,000,000 incurred by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy in responding to its Triumph and Splendor cruise ships. 

Senator Rockefeller set his sights on the cruise industry at a Senate hearing last year following the deadly disaster of the Carnival-owned Costa Concordia cruise ship.  Rockefeller grilled the cruise industry's CEO and questioned why the cruise lines avoided most U.S. taxes and did not reimburse the federal government Senator Rockefeller - Micky Arisonfor the services of some 20 federal agencies.

Senator Rockefeller recently sent a letter to Carnival CEO Micky Arison, who is worth over 5.7 billions dollars, demanding an explanation why Carnival paid virtually no U.S. taxes even though the Panamanian incorporated cruise line uses the services of the U.S. Coast Guard and other U.S. agencies on a daily basis.  Carnival's response was labeled "shameful" by Rockefeller.

NBC aired a special on the story and interviewed Rockefeller (and me) during the program. NBC's Rock Center commissioned an audit of Carnival which revealed that Carnival paid 0.6% in international, federal, national, and local taxes on its many billions of dollars in income over the course of the last 5 years.    

Numerous news sources, including the Huffington Post, published articles highly critical of Carnival. Since then, Carnival has been the butt of "poop ship" jokes and ridiculed for non-payment of U.S. taxes. Carnival has been clobbered in the arena of public opinion.    

Carnival released a statement today saying: “Although no agencies have requested remuneration, the company has made the decision to voluntarily provide reimbursement to the federal government.”

Senator Rockefeller responded by saying: “I’m glad to see that Carnival owned up to the bare minimum of corporate responsibility by reimbursing federal taxpayers for these two incidents. I am still committed Micky Arison - Senator Rockefeller  to making sure the cruise industry as a whole pays its fair share in taxes, complies with strict safety standards, and holds the safety of its passengers above profits.”

The issue of Carnival's avoidance of paying taxes and for U.S. services has been brewing for years. The International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, a non-profit organization focused on crimes and disappearances of passengers on cruise ships, has addressed the issue of cruise tax avoidance for years.  ICV CEO Ken Carver sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the costs associated with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard responding to the disabled Carnival Splendor in November 2010.

Mr. Carver's investigation led to a response from the Navy which revealed that the Navy incurred $1,884,376.75 in responding to the disabled Splendor which included sending the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and helicopters to the fire stricken cruise ship.

Read: Your Tax Dollars At Sea - Who Pays When Things Go Wrong on Cruises?     

Congratulations to the ICV and CEO Ken Carver for raising this issue over the past years.