Sailing Dates August 1 – August 11, 2005
Destinations: Sitka. Hubbard Glacier, Whittier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Prince Rupert
This cruise adventure started as a present from our parents. We used CruiesShopping.com purchasing an ocean view stateroom class HH on June 5, 2005. We were so excited to get these view rooms.
Then came STRIKE 1. When our tickets arrived we were even more excited to discover that NCL had upgraded or tickets to an H class. Great!! An upgrade… what a great cruise line. We went online and downloaded our room location. Great Room 8247…wait, look real close, our upgrade was to a view of a lifeboat. Thanks NCL. We called but were told there were only 4 HH rooms on the entire ship and those were sold already. OK, guess we at least know where the lifeboats are.
Then came STRIKE 2. Four days before our departure on August 1st we received a letter dated June 30th stating that the ship was experiencing technical difficulties and was running on reduced power. That letter was mailed right before our departure not on June 30th. Was this because NCL worried about cancellations due to this problem what do you think? Because of this “technical problem affecting the Norwegian Dream’s speed, we would not be able to call on Sitka”. Given the Russian influence on this part of Alaska, this is one port we were excited about visiting. Needless to say, my wife was on the phone to NCL Customer Relations. Emily at NCL stated that no compensation was available. After being told she could only fax Guest relations she convinced someone that a person could be contacted and she was able to, after a substantial wait, talk to Kennedy at NCL Guest Relations, she learned no compensation was available for the lost port. Asking to be transferred to a supervisor, my wife was told only the Captain could authorize compensation.
Embarkation went very well, at least for us. The Port of Seattle was well organized and things went quickly. BUT, it seems only a few passengers got the letter about Sitka. There were a few upset passengers at Pier 66 to say the least. The loss of the Sitka port was the leading conversation at almost every table for the next few meals.
Next came the Q & A session with the Captain and the Crew. Seems one of main propulsion generator engines had thrown a rod. The captain and the crew were less than committal on any statements they made about compensation. Someone asked why we couldn’t stop by Sitka on the way up, since we do sail past it, but were told the ship’s speed would not allow it to be included in the schedule.
Having left Seattle at 4:00pm Monday, we got to see the Hubbard Glacier early Thursday Morning. It was glorious and a most wonderful experience.
Four days on a cruise ship is too much for most people. We arrived at Whittier Friday morning. Finally we got off the ship and had a great time visiting the Surprise glacier. Juneau and Ketchikan were also welcome ports to see.
Price Rupert, a required international port of call, was only a five-hour port of call. Did that much time give us more than enough time to see everything available for a cruise passenger? We did leave port late due to bus problems on shore. Most passengers were aboard on time and waited patiently to leave port.
After leaving Prince Rupert, while eating in the Terraces Restaurant on level 9, about 7:30 p.m., a loud banging and shuttering occurred on the floors below. The serving staff suddenly looked concerned, as did most of the people eating. Fifteen seconds later, all was quiet. I figured they had fixed the broken engine and were firing it up for the first time. STRIKE 3, no we lost another engine and were now running on even lower on power. Wednesday morning the Captain told us we would be late getting into Seattle the next day. During the disembarkation meeting Wednesday morning, Soozy, the Cruise Director told us a phone bank would be set up in the board room for passengers to make changes to their travel arrangements. The bank must have been broke because only two phones were made available. That afternoon at lunch, an elderly couple at our table was panicked because they were number 84 on the waiting list to use the phone. We let them use our cell to contact Alaska Airlines and change their plans. Soozy also told us the video of this meeting would be replayed on the TV system for others to review. This never happened so my wife was left to believe my evaluation of the meeting.
We were originally scheduled to arrive in Seattle at 7:00am; we finally docked at about 2:00pm. We disembarked at 4:20pm and there were still four lower floors to go.
The room stewards, wait staff, and bartenders were wonderful. With all of the challenges that were occurring, they kept a sense of humor. We really appreciated their contribution to our vacation. The entertainment was good, although some passengers could sing better than some of the onboard talent. The food was marginal at best. We ended choosing multiple entrees hoping to get a winner. For additional cost, we could have eaten at La Bistro, the upscale restaurant, we didn’t. The chocolate buffet was not worth staying up for.
As for NCL, they seem to have a bait and switch method of dealing with bad situations. They are very good at sending the customer to another person in the organization. No one was willing to make any commitment on how the corporation was going to handle these situations. Granted technical problems occur and that’s just a part of life. How a corporation treats their customers in these situations will determine if the customer will return for more business. Strike 3 your out in our book. These two customers will never step foot on another NCL ship.
Also, we were charged for $170 worth of port fees. Should I at least get some of that back? Since we never entered Sitka is it fair that NCL corporate increases its profit margin at our expense? I think not! Fuel cost must have been less since we ran at a much lower speed than promised. Financial compensation and a written letter of apology from NCL is the least that we can expect don’t you agree?