My husband and I cruised aboard the Norweigan Star Feb. 23-Mar. 3, 2002 around the islands of Hawaii and the pathetic Fanning Island. This was my second cruise (my first was Royal Caribbean and it was fabulous) and my husband's first cruise. Also, we were married in Honolulu 2 days before boarding the Star so this was our honeymoon. Actually, it was partly a nightmare solely thanks to NCL for their contributions.
Firstly, I booked our cruise via Expedia and spoke with a very nice girl via telephone who assured me that we did not need passports, only certified birth certificates to board the ship. So, two weeks before we set sail I have not received any sort of confirmation as to the shore excursions I signed up for directly with NCL via their web site (over 4 weeks ago). So I call NCL for the first time. Customer service rep tells me that I am confirmed for 3 of the 4 excursions as the 4th one sold out already and they will send confirmation to me as such via email. Ok, fine. Still nothing 2 days later. I call NCL a second time. CSR tells me I am not confirmed on any of the 4 as they were all sold out. excuse me? "blah blah blah the CSR you spoke with was not a Shore Excursions rep ma'am and does not know how to read the computer screen pertaining to confirmations, I am sorry but they are sold out blah blah blah." Then I receive in the mail an itinerary change excluding Kona and substituting Hilo, Hawaii. So I call a 3rd time. "you are confirmed for 1 of the 4 excursions ma'am." WHAT!! oh my god!! So I take a chance and ask whether we really don't need passports and am told "YES, PLUS A VISA b/c of sailing to Fanning Isl." OK so now my head is going to explode!!
One week before sailing we frantically search the internet and make dozens of calls as to how to go about getting expedited passports. After driving 2.5 hours one way to our state's capital for the certified copy of my former marriage license that shows proof of my name change (from a previous marriage of which I am now divorced,obviously) and explaining our itinerary/story at least 10 times and finding a company out of Austin, TX, who will get them for us, we gather up all of our documentation, overnight it to TX, and $600 later we have our passports in 4 days. Expedia says "tough". I can kind of understand that it is ultimately our own responsibility to obtain the proper documentation required for this cruise, but was naively trusting what the CSR from Expedia told me. It was, after all, our wedding and honeymoon we were talking about so we did whatever it took. (I called NCL again and was told passports were needed, not visas).
Ok, so everything else before and after the cruise was perfect for us. Thank heavens. We paid a lot for and got a really nice stateroom suite with our own butler and concierge and private deck on the back of the boat. We are so looking forward to near gluttony with the food as my previous cruise experience was fabulous and I have been bragging to my husband about how good the food is and there is so much to eat !! Wrong!
I realize we are midwesterners who like steak and potato et al. We're not that fussy of eaters and we enjoy really nice expensive somewhat exotic meals too. We also love seafood. I also realize that the dining fare is going to be slanted toward Polynesian given the purpose of the cruise. But to charge a $10 cover charge to 2 of the 10 (?) restaurants, another one having a la carte pricing, and the majority of the restaurants requiring reservations is ridiculous, much less what I expected "freestyle cruising" to mean.
Anyway, we boycotted the 3 restaurants wanting more money (except for one meal that NCL 'gave' us b/c of our honeymooner status). I am truthful when I tell you that on the menus it takes a 3 line paragraph to explain the filet mignon. They completely boogered it up with bbq sauces, for instance, and crap that totally ruined it. I ordered a hot dog for lunch one day just to see what would happen and it came out all cut up, pretty, but with no bun and the ketchup and mustard in packages like McDonalds. Everything was presented beautifully, but tasted awful b/c they tried so hard to make it too exotic. I don't know how to explain it. Everything had too much going on with it. They need to keep it simple. The peel and eat shrimp were tough, never offered just a plain ole steak and baked potato. Huge disappointment as the meals are a large part of the cruise. My husband said he liked maybe 3 meals total for the week on board the boat.
Three days total to sail to Fanning Island. Bored aboard the boat. Where do I start? They tell us: it is one degree from the equator-oh and don't drink the water!! WHAT?! So they tender 2000 people or whatever, to a very tiny beach which itself is alright but too small for the amount of people. The natives are impoverished, emaciated-looking folks. Crippled, starving, malnourished dogs, pigs and chickens running around. We later find out that they still struggle with typhoid, tuberculosis, etc. on this island. Oh my gosh!! Bottled water is SOLD to us. extremely limited restroom facilities-gross. I was embarrassed that NCL would exploit these poor people this way. Saw an NCL photographer escorting a small native girl over to take her picture. She was ONLY wearing a grass skirt and we overheard him saying "you're so beautiful, can I take your picture?" Oh my gosh!! I am at a loss of words. PLease do not sail NCL or at least the Star or this particular itinerary. I can not believe a cruise line would dump 2000 spoiled/gluttonous/well-off (comparatively) people onto such a poor people and exploit them/their island in that way. We heard other negative comments from other passengers about this island including someone telling us that NCL has to sail out of American waters so as not to allow their employees to unionize or something..... I don't know about the validity of that statement but can tell you DON'T GO.
On the 3rd day my husband had an awful head and chest cold, went to the ship's doctor some $60 later and was given ibuprofen and entex. He feels better after a couple of days, then I get it, not to mention the sea sickness we are both dealing with. Turns out he gets sick again after we are home, goes to our FP doc and he has a severe ear infection and is on major antibiotics. Oh my gosh! What a loser doc on that ship! I am an RN and can tell you to check ears and throat when diagnosing a cold! Worst case scenario, encephalitis......death......that doc completely screwed up. Les I digress.....
Shore excursion:$80 each. Long bus ride up switchback roads to view Waimea Canyon only to arrive and see nothing but $80 fog. Don't you think someone could have called the tour company or someone and said, "hey don't waste your time coming up here because it is completely fogged over with nothing to view esp. since you're on a schedule and can't wait for it to burn off". No they ship us up there anyway. totally ridiculous. Lots of complaints. How these people continue to Forest Gump their way into staying in business is beyond me.
Hilo is a rainy dump of a place to port. but hey we got to go to hilo hattie's! wuu huu!! (sarcasm). That's itinerary change number 1. Number 2 was bypassing Lahaina to dock at Lahului, Maui. but hey they bussed (sp?) us to Lahaina.
took a helicopter tour over maui, that was fun, costs $195 A PIECE, and then find out once we're in the air that the weather would not allow us to fly over haleakala crater. I understand the weather cannot be helped, but give me the choice as to whether I want to still take this tour and only see half of what we were promised, or give me a refund for the missed portion or allow me to cancel with refund. Same thing for the Waimea canyon. After filling out their prescribed paperwork concerning our disappointment with the excursions I have never heard anything back from the cruise line regarding any sort of apology or refund or even acknowledgement of our experience. We were not the only ones standing in line on the next to last day with questions/complaints.
The ship and our room was nice and pretty and the staff were nice. Our room stewards were 2 young folks whom we enjoyed visiting with and did a nice job. The cruise line did send petit fours or canapes, etc. to our room several times, but we are not into caviar and escargot. We had 24 foot swells the first night and it always seemed awfully 'loud' in our room and rough, but maybe that was because we were at the very back of the boat.
I have tried to post a review of this cruise on Expedia but it has yet to be posted. I did try to be 'nicer' in that review but I guess they still did not like it. I have emailed them asking why they don't publish it but they must be in cahoots with NCL b/c they don't respond to me either. I really am not a mean spiteful person, but want others to be well informed about this particular itinerary/cruise before they spend $6000+ on it. I realize I take the chance of not liking the food, etc. with any cruise line but must say that I did not have one complaint about RCCL-and I went on that cruise with my former in-laws!!
The passport issue aside, there is no excuse for the poor customer service NCL provided. They certainly have a lot of improvement needed in that area. They can learn a lesson from some of the other lines.
Give me a break Kim. Are you talkinig about the great customer service that Celebrity is giving for canceling peoples cruises with two weeks notice on the Infinity and Summit? If you read the posts, you would see that there is always someone on every line (HAL, RCL, Carnival, Celebrity, NCL, Princess) whining about the service because it wasn't picture perfect.
Maybe you should cruise Silverseas or Raddison if you want this kind of service.
After reading so many other stories I thought I might add my NCL horror story about a cruise my wife and I took on the Majesty on June 13, 1999 to Bermuda. We found the overall rating of this cruise to be extremely poor. The mechanical condition of this particular ship, as well as the crew’s lack of expertise, and professionalism was inexcusable. We experienced problems with elevators not working; vibrations in the starboard prop, (which did warrant a diver to enter the water in Bar Harbor), and the toilet in our stateroom (room 876) failed to work on three different occasions. I even got the opportunity to shower in brown water, not rusty, but completely nasty, brown colored water.
Our dining experience was poor as compared with what we had experienced on past cruises with NCL. The variety of the menu and quality of food served needs major improvement. On one evening at dinner, my wife found nothing on the menu appealing to her and inquired if there was something else that she could order. She was told by the waiter (Angel, in the Four Seasons) and then later by the maitre d’, that what appeared on the menu was all she was to be offered. She was instructed, to read the menu outside the restaurant before sitting down to dinner. I asked if it was at all possible that she could get grilled shrimp and a baked potato. I was told shrimp was not available. The busboy for my table in the Four Seasons then appeared with a plate of shrimp for my wife’s dinner; he apologized and said he did not see what the problem was since there were shrimp sitting out in the kitchen. Later that evening we ran into the busboy, (Kevin from Jamaica), and he showed us the written warning that he had received for doing this for my wife. What ever happened to trying to accommodate the customer? We also on another evening requested a second entrées and our waiter became quite aggravated by this request. We found the midnight buffets to be very basic and not as elegant as we were accustomed to in the past. If NCL can not continue the high quality buffet that they have been recognized for in the past they should be discontinued altogether. We found the bar staff to be very pushy and if you did not order cocktails, you would not receive any service for anything else such as ice water.
The itinerary was changed on this cruise also. On Monday afternoon, the Captain announced we would only be spending one day in Bermuda (6 hrs.) and would be sailing on to Bar Harbor, Maine and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Two beautiful ports I am sure in the fall, not for when you have packed clothes for 80-degree weather. Bar Harbor was in the low 60’s and Halifax in the low 60’s and raining. Getting off the ship in Bar Harbor took forever. Going ashore tickets, were available at noon to leave the ship and they did not call our numbers 845,846 until after 3:00 PM. The three tender operators did not appear to have the experience in docking next to the gangway; you put your life on the line just trying to get in the tender safely. I understand that NCL can not control the weather but I would like to have seen the Captain make better choices in ports, warm weather ports should be substituted with warm weather ports. We were not ready for the type of cold, rainy weather he brought us to. We did not save our hard-earned money just to waste it on something like this.
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to voice my concern with the medical staff of the Norwegian Majesty. I feel that this staff needs emergency training in order to remain on board and handle medical situations. I upon leaving the vessel on Sunday morning with my wife witnessed a woman frantically coming out of the ladies room on deck five, just outside of the Seven Seas restaurant, seeking help. I was told that there was a lady that just collapsed and bleeding badly inside the ladies room. With my prior experience and training in CPR and first aid, I responded immediately. What I found was a lady that appeared to be in her sixties unconscious on the floor, bleeding from the back of the head, in a seizure and not breathing. I immediately went to her aide, cleared the airway, restored her breathing and had someone run for the ships doctor. This lady was still unconscious and needed immediate medical attention by a qualified professional. Someone from the ships Medical Department did eventually respond. I briefed her on what I knew thus far, and assisted her at that time in retrieving an oxygen tank from their office in place of the pony bottle she brought with her when responding. After obtaining supplies and relaying messages to another member of the Medical Staff in the office. I notified the ships Purser to call an ambulance; the ships Doctor finally arrived on the scene. I assisted the ships Medical Staff at the scene the entire time after that. I witnessed the treatment or lack there of, that this poor lady received, and actions taken by the Medical Staff. I will say again at this time THIS MEDICAL STAFF NEEDS TO BE BETTER TRAINED IN HANDLING CRISIS.
I witnessed the Ships Doctor and what I assumed to be a Registered Nurse’s inability to give an IV, because neither one had done it for so long by there own admission. They never did administer the IV to the patient and one of the EMTs who arrived took the bag-less needle out of the patient’s arm and just threw it at them. I also witnessed equipment failure and lack of knowledge on such equipment, (a defibrillator/heart monitor). There is much more to the story but not knowing whether I may be called upon to testify later, I do not wish to continue. I will say during this dreadful ordeal I was exposed to the deceased woman’s blood and bodily fluids, this has bothered me a great deal. I responded to the person in need first, and did not consider my personal safety at the time.
This in particular is what really bothers me! With the other deaths and medical emergencies that have happened on the Majesty, the Medical Staff is still unprepared and ill trained for this sort of emergency. NCL claims to have had the passengers and ships safety weigh heavy in the decision making process. With the described mechanical problems with this ship; and the incompetence of some essential crew members along with complaints from passengers who sailed in the past, can you explain to me why this ship is still operating? To date the only compensation that NCL has offered my wife and I was a letter from the Captain offering a 25 percent cruise credit on our next voyage. I am sorry but this little token does nothing for the pain and aggravation that we endured that week. I would expect a full refund. If this is an indication in the direction that NCL has taken their operation, I can assure you, we as Latitudes Club members are done with Norwegian Cruise Line.
It sounds like you had a particularly unfortunate incident on the cruise. But I ask, do you honestly think the medical teams are any better trained on any other line? If so, what is your basis for that confidence?
Having spent many years on the management and ownership side of parts of the tourism industry, I am well aware that undertrained staff in areas such as these are the norm. In tough economic times, who and what gets cut first: Staff and training of staff in areas the average guest will not see. This is true everywhere. Do you think RCCL nurses adminster IV's any more often? Do you think they have refresher training courses any more often?
Yet another individual blaming NCL for a tragic incident that could have played out on any ship belonging to any line.
Yes, it COULD have happened on any other line....but it DIDN'T. Now why is it that when anyone has a gripe about Norwegian, and they are legion, some of you just blow up about it. I have looked at the other boards and frankly, I have not seen anywhere near the number of complaints about those lines as I have about NCL. Now all things being equal, it would appear that NCL has a lot more dissatisfied customers that are likely to not be repeat customers. That said, I guess there will be many more complaints on here in the future......
I am not an NCL fan. I have yet to take a cruze on NCL (will this summer). We are not blowing up at you. We are blowing up because this is not a constructive or objective review. It is whining. It is all in presentation. Again, if you read it, this is not an objective here is my opinion and a few issues that I encountered on my NCL cruise.
I have cruised 6 times, 3 with Princess & 3 with RCI. No, everything was not perfect but enjoyed them all. Have not cruised on NCL but as far as food goes, I think you can ask them to cook you something plain (like steak, chicken, etc.j) & they will. I like my food simple, too. But if chefs are any good, they can do something without all the sauces, etc. I have 2 friends going on the Hawaii cruise soon, & hope they like it better than Kim did.
You are exactly correct. It says on the NCL website in the explanation of freestyle that unlike other cruiselines where the food is cooked and served banquet style (meaning it sits under heatlamps until served), the food on NCL is cooked to order given the nature of freestyle. This means that if you want a steak with nothing on it, they are well equiped to do it. It's not a matter of all the steaks are cooked at the same time and plated uniformly only to be picked up by the waiter.
Kim, I think perhaps you are a bit of a whiner or certainly were not paying close attention to requirements and that is not the fault of any cruiseline, but yours and your TAs fault. You should have been forwarned about the passport. Like John, we use passports for everything. This was we will never be surprised or disappointed. Yes, freestyle means what you want they will try to provide. I have sailed both NCL and RCL as well as many other lines. Come on, the food is about the same regardless. Breakfast buffets are never great, I found the lunch buffets to be excellant on the Sun. Great burgers from the grill and one afternoon they served; Lamb Kabobs, barron of beef anyway you requested it and minute steaks. The salad bar was the worst part of the buffet that's for sure. Relax, look at the bright side of things, enjoy your marriage and GET OVER IT!!!!
My family and I will be going on the Christmas sailing. We know it can be rainy and rough, but we'll just take our dramamine and our rain coats and plan to have a good time. We can't wait!! I believe that some people can have a good time anywhere and then others can't have a good time anywhere. It is so often just your outlook on life. I'll let you know the result in January!