Jennifer Carey-Walker, of Shelton, and her family experienced what they say was a nightmare at sea. The seven-day cruise they took in March felt like it was in a construction site, she said.
The family booked a cruise on Norwegian Sun, which departed on March 9 from Miami, and Carey-Walker said the trip was anything but relaxing.
“It’s just an utter disregard, you know, for the consumers’ well-being and safety,” she said.
Carey-Walker said the crew sealed off the ship’s top level with yellow caution tape and her family saw what appeared to be flammable chemicals nearby.
“There was fumes. You could hear sanding and grinding. Things were flying in the air,” Carey-Walker said. “A couple of people had stuff fall in their food.”
On one day, particles were falling into people’s drinks, she said.
Carey-Walker and other passengers complained to customer relations, which directed them to call the company’s headquarters in Miami, she said.
Her cruise experience was similar to those reported by passengers on the same cruise ship that left from Miami a week later on March 16.
That group created a Facebook page to share their stories.
In response to passengers’ concerns about conditions aboard the Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement:
“At Norwegian Cruise Line, the travel experience, safety and satisfaction of our guests is of the utmost importance to us. Recently Norwegian Sun underwent enhancements as part of our continuous efforts to ensure that every ship across the fleet delivers a consistently high-quality passenger experience. While we do our utmost to minimize any impact to our guests when these enhancements are being implemented, we do recognize that during a recent sailing, we did not meet the expectations of our guests, nor our own standards, for which we truly apologize. Norwegian Cruise Line is inviting the guests on the March 16th Norwegian Sun voyage to cruise again and fully experience all that Norwegian has to offer with a 100% future cruise credit of their fare paid, which can be applied towards another cruise of their choice from now through March 31, 2023. We realize that this gesture cannot replace their recent experience but do hope to have the opportunity to welcome them on board again soon.”
As part of cruise line’s offer, passengers on the March 16 cruise received a 100 percent credit toward a future one, but Carey-Walker said Norwegian did not offer her any compensation for her trip a week earlier.
“If we would have known construction was going on during this cruise, we would have changed cruises,” she said.
Fed up with her complaints going nowhere, Jennifer reached out to NBC Miami, where the company is based. The station’s consumer team reached out to Norwegian on her behalf and put her in contact with NBC Connecticut Responds.
The cruise line told our Miami station:
“Our guest relations team is currently in conversations with any past guest of Norwegian Sun that may have questions regarding their cruises.”
Carey-Walker received this letter from Norwegian cruise line:
Re: Norwegian Sun Voyage of 3/9/2018
Dear Mrs. Careywalker:
Thank you for choosing Norwegian Sun for your vacation at sea.
At Norwegian Cruise Line, the travel experience, safety and satisfaction of our guests is of the utmost importance to us. Recently, Norwegian Sun underwent enhancements as part of our continuous efforts to ensure that every ship across the fleet delivers a consistently high-quality passenger experience.
“We do our utmost to minimize any impact to our guests when enhancements are being implemented, We truly apologize for the inconvenience you experienced due to these enhancements.
“As a gesture of goodwill, we are extending a 50% future cruise credit of your cruise fare paid, which can be applied towards another cruise of your choice from now through March 31, 2020.
“This future cruise credit will appear on your Latitudes identification number as listed on your current reservation confirmation. Please note your cruise credits do not have a cash value. The application of the credits cannot go towards the government taxes and fees, airfare, insurance, hotel packages, or any other add-ons. They are not combinable with our cruise credits or fare reduction coupons.
“We hope to have the opportunity to welcome you on board again soon.
NCL US Guest Relations
Carey-Walker said she was upset that the company was offering her half the amount of credit that passengers on the March 16 cruise had been given. While she said she will accept the offer, she is troubled over how the whole situation was handled.
“You would think in this day and age that there are policies or regulations that would say that can’t happen but apparently there are not,” Carey-Walker said.
Construction at sea is very unusual, according to AAA and travel director Suzanne Aresco said cruise lines do most refurbishments while in dry dock.
"There may have been some safety reasons that it was necessary to start during the sailing as opposed to waiting,” Aresco said.
While some things, like sickness, can’t be predicted, Aresco said working with a travel agent might have helped in Carey-Walker’s situation.
"We do get notifications from cruise lines, usually, when these refurbishments are taking place. We let our passengers know. And possibly we can work with them if they want to change their itinerary,” Aresco said.
If you’re booking a cruise, Aresco said you should consider travel insurance. Just make sure you know exactly what’s covered.
For example, will your insurance pay for return flights if you decide to get off the ship early? And does it offer 100 percent coverage?
Some policies will only refund a percentage of the trip cost if you cancel.