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Bad Experience with Norwegian Cruise Line

I am writing this post not only to express my negative experience with NCL’s Customer Support, but also to get feedback if Social Media really influences decisions made by companies. To make a long story short, I booked a cruise through a travel agent that included at hotel package at Waikiki Beach and a seven night tour of the Hawaiian Islands. A week after paying the tour in full, I learned that they have changed my hotel from a very nice hotel to one that is nice but in an undesirable location. When my travel agent and I complained that this change was unacceptable we were told that they were sorry but they had a clause in the contract that the could change hotels at their discretion. That is true. What upset me was their attitude. They said it was too late to cancel as the penalty would be substantial as I had already made my full payment which was required by last week. I asked if there were any compensation and both the first person we talked to and the supervisor said there would be no compensation. They even admitted that the new hotel was in a less desirable location. This change had been in the works long before I booked the reservation, but they waited until I made my full payment before they informed me. I wasn’t asking for much. A hotel upgrade, a meal at one of their speciality restaurant ($30), or free Wi-Fi which would not have cost them anything as I wasn’t signed up for it anyway. They held firm. No compensation. My Travel Agent said she would not be recommending NCL to other customers. I said I was very savvy on Social Media and they weren’t concerned in the least.

Have any of you ever had trouble with NCL or any other company over a very trivial matter that could have been resolved easily? I think the harm a person can do on Social Media to a company should weigh heavy on a company when a $30 comp could have resolved the matter. Obviously, I would have liked more compensation, but I thought I would see if they even would take me up on one speciality dinner. No compensation.

Posted by
5262 posts

Geez, this this board "social media"? I may have to rethink my participation! ;-)

We booked two cruises on NCL last year, both for this spring, back to back. A few months later they cancelled first one, then the other, with no explanation except "change of schedule." The second cancellation happened right after we had booked nonrefundable air tickets home, but luckily within the 24-hour window so we could cancel. We took a different NCL cruise last month, and it was overall disappointing compared to the many others we've taken. (Though maybe I shouldn't complain, they got us from NY to Europe safely and on time.)

My sense is that NCL is starting to lose the customer focus that made it so special when Kevin Sheehan was running the place. The new guy, Del Rio, seems more focused on the bottom line even in petty ways -- like your experience. I hope you're sharing your story on Cruise Critic, where you'll have a much larger relevant audience. That said, I wouldn't share your outlook about "the harm a person can do on social media to a company." People do harm in many ways on social media, to companies, public servants, and each other. That's one reason I keep my distance.

Posted by
3334 posts

The new hotel can't be that bad if you would be satisfied with a free meal or WiFi as compensation. They're within the terms of the contract you agreed to when you made the booking. Chalk it up to exprrience.

From what we have seen from our previous cruises, buying pre cruise packages from the cruise line is more often than not a fools game. They're counting on cruisers who are too timid or otherwise disinclined to doing their own research and booking independently. Which is invariably less expensive for comparable hotels and transportation.

From what I've read , threatening any company with bad reviews on social media will only get you a corporate shrug of the shoulders. Most of the time the complainant lacks the necessary skills and comes off looking poorly. So I wish you luck. By the way, have you posted this on Cruise Critic and TripAdvisor as well?

ETA I noticed on the NCL forum on CC that there is a current thread discussing exactly this topic. It appears people are being diverted to more than one hotel. So far no complaints. What is the name of the hotel you're now booked into?

Posted by
8499 posts

Dick's right--go to Cruise Critic and find the NCL forum and your roll call. NCL personnel read the posts on CC and your Roll Call.
CJean is right--threats and social media complaints will just get the door slammed. Stay cool and polite. Refrain from what we all feel like saying "I'm never using this company again" because that gives them less reason to satisfy you.

Now it's up to your TA to get you some kind of comp: a meal, wifi, onboard credit--all seem reasonable to me. Check out the Chris Elliott forum to see how they go about dealing with these companies. http://www.elliott.org/
NCL is on there. I've never had a problem with NCL, but I book the minimum--no tours, no hotels, no air, no transfers....

Good luck! And let us know if you succeed.

Posted by
6509 posts

Sorry to hear about your bad experience with NCL and hope you get some kind of satisfaction/compensation. Social media 'shaming' can sometimes work but it's not a given so don't expect success. One person (or a few people) complaining and shaming a small hotel or a small local travel agent or tour company, might accomplish something. When it comes to large companies (cruise lines, airlines, large hotel chains), even hundreds of complaints may not be effective unless people start avoiding or boycotting said companies to the point where their bottom line becomes affected - and if people give those social media complaints as their reasons for not patronizing the company. Then, and only then, will there be any satisfaction in shaming them on social media.

Posted by
1058 posts

I agree that threats of posting on Social Media may not have an impact on Management, but at the same time, people need a way to express their views on how they were treated. Would a $30 dinner really satisfy me? The answer to that is no, but it confirmed to me that they were not even willing to budge an inch on their position. They said they record all conversations and I hope Senior Management will, at some point in time, review how they handled the situation. Due to the volcanic eruption, our cruise might not stop at Hilo or Kona and I totally support that decision if it comes to be. It is out of their hands. But this is something that they have the ability to make right and they refuse to budge.

Posted by
5630 posts

We have done six NCL cruises and still occasionally cruise with them. Our last cruise was Alaska on the Sun and it was great.

Still, I would be upset if this happened to me. As another poster stated, I would go to cruise critic and post this story on the NCL thread. Also, right a letter to the President of NCL, providing all the details, include the specific hotels that were involved.

Posted by
6876 posts

If a contract doesn't guarantee specific hotels and gives the other party wiggle room to make changes up until the date of the trip, then they really don't have to offer any additional compensation. If they apologized, then that's the most you can hope for. I know it's disappointing, but you signed the contract terms so you agreed with them.

This change had been in the works long before I booked the
reservation, but they waited until I made my full payment before they
informed me.

Did they tell you this, or what's the source of this info? Does the contract give a timeframe by when they'd have to notify you? (I doubt it, since it's a one-sided contract written by their lawyers for their benefit, not yours). I guess, at the end of the day, you weren't going to cancel and they knew that (the evidence is that you asked for so little to make up for the hotel change) so you had no leverage to extract any additional concessions from them.

At this point, just take your dollars elsewhere on your next trip if this issue is really important to you.

Posted by
1058 posts

I was told by another person that there were negotiations with Marriott that did not go the way NCL wanted. As this was a big change for NCL, I am sure that it just did not happen over night. Regardless, NCL’s attitude was really bad. They should have said let’s see what we can do to make a bad situation better for you, but instead they reminded me that I had no options as we were in the penalty phase of the contract. I told them I did have an option. I could get on social media and let everyone who reads it know how I was treated by NCL. I think it says a lot about their company that would rather receive bad publicity on this site, Cruise Critic, and Trip Advisor that make any attempt to see what they could do.

While this is totally off the subject, I was surprised that they added all the tips into the bill and that if I find that the service was not worthy of the amount of the tip, I had to go through some type of arbitration process to get my money back. I would never hold what NCL did to me against an innocent crew member, but they sure cover all the bases in NCL’s favor. I wonder if this is standard on all cruise lines?

Posted by
3334 posts

For discussions on the automatic gratuities added to your onboard bill, I encourage you to do a search of the NCL forum on CC. You will find MANY threads on the subject.

AFAIK, autograts are standard on all mass market cruise lines.

Posted by
8499 posts

You don't have to go through arbitration to reduce the gratuities but to the service desk on board. This is standard on all large-line ships now. Only the upscale deluxe ships have the gratuities included in the deluxe upscale price.

Posted by
1058 posts

Bets, you are correct and I stand corrected regarding gratuities. They do have a “structured guest satisfaction program” where they try to work out a satisfactory solution to any issue. If I don’t like the resolution of the problem that they come up with, I have the right to adjust the level of service charge that I feel is appropriate. Thank you for pointing that out. I was under the impression that is was arbitration.

Posted by
3334 posts

Thanks for the thread. It reinforces why I'm so dang hesitant to go on
a cruise!

It shouldn't deter you at all. Please realize that the OP's problem is with a pre cruise hotel and has nothing to do with the cruise itself. DH and I have cruised for decades on multiple cruise lines and have enjoyed them very much. Snafus can happen any time, any where, whether you are on a cruise or a land vacation. It is all in how you approach these unexpected alterations. You can rail against the fates, or you can make adjustments and carry on. If you were to take a look at the NCL thread on Cruise Critic that is discussing this very situation, you would find that the OP is the only one upset about this change.

Posted by
13673 posts

I told them I did have an option. I could get on social media and let
everyone who reads it know how I was treated by NCL.

Yosemite, it's too bad about the hotel change but threatening an internet blitz of poor reviews for lack of compensation was unlikely to get you anywhere. As we see from the amount of first-time posters who come HERE with beefs, you don't have to be especially internet savvy to write a review, and any business in the hospitality industry pretty much expects them, good or not-so, and have for many years now. Threats of "bad publicity" will do nothing but cause defensiveness on the part of the person being confronted, and they may very well not have authority to offer comps, based on various contractual agreements.

So write your review on Cruise Critic, which is probably a more appropriate site for your situation than RS, but understand that published complaints, justified or not, are a dime a dozen so the threat is unlikely to help your case. I shrug a lot of gripes off myself unless it's a consistently reported issue with a hotel, restaurant, attraction, etc.

Posted by
3332 posts

If a contract doesn't guarantee specific hotels and gives the other
party wiggle room to make changes up until the date of the trip, then
they really don't have to offer any additional compensation. If they
apologized, then that's the most you can hope for. I know it's
disappointing, but you signed the contract terms so you agreed with
them.

This is my response too.