I and five others were to cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)
out of New York City to Montreal, departing on September 16.
However, soon after the events of September 11, NCL's website
indicated a change of departure port and date, leaving instead
from Boston on September 17.
We called NCL and learned that our only options were to fly to New
York, where the cruise line would then bus us to Boston, or fly to
Boston. When we called US Air (our carrier to New York) to make
arrangements, we found out that our reservations to New York were
cancelled and that there was nothing available to Boston.
While monitoring NCL's website, we noticed that the cruise line
was offering future travel certificates for those passengers in
the tri-state New York area. When we called, and subsequently sent
them a fax, asking for the same treatment, our pleading fell on
"deaf ears." To date we have not even received a
response acknowledging our request. I believe that we've been
slighted, and I would like to report this callous behavior to
other agencies and or websites who might be interested in this
seemingly indifferent cruise line company. Any suggestions?
To find out the whole story I contacted
NCL on your behalf, and it seems that NCL did everything possible to
reaccommodate its guests.
A NCL representative told me that after the September 11 attacks, all
their air/sea passengers had been rebooked on flights into Boston. Because
you booked your cruise with I-Cruise.com and your air separately, NCL was
under no obligation to rebook your air.
Only consumers who purchase a cruise line's air/sea package are covered in
cases like this. Most cruise line conditions of carriage state that
because airlines are independent contractors, the cruise line makes no
warranty, and assumes no responsibility, for any failures or delays in
their contractor's (the airline) services.
In your case, however, NCL understood that many passengers had booked
their own air, and went beyond what was required by arranging shuttles
from New York to Boston. Furthermore, NCL provided a 24-hour hotline to
help customers and travel agents find flights to Boston or New York. If
passengers/agents did not try to contact NCL to assist with alternative
travel arrangements, NCL had no way of knowing they would be unable to
make the cruise.
I firmly believe that had you further pursued your dilemma with NCL and/or
US Airways, they would have found you and your party flights to the New
York or Boston areas, whether on US Airways or another airline. Flights at
that time were operating into New York and Newark, Boston, and alternate
airports near each area (White Plains, Hartford, Providence, and
Manchester) on the date in question. Florida also has several airports
that are within reasonable driving distance from your area.
NCL asserts that it did everything in its power to accommodate customers
who were inconvenienced by the repositioning, and therefore, is unable to
give you and your party a refund or credit. That said, as a resident of
Florida, you are not entitled to the rebate/voucher that NCL offered. It
was only for passengers who live in the tri-state area (New York, New
Jersey, and Connecticut).
Furthermore, I doubt that insurance would have covered you either, as it
would have only kicked in if there had not been any options whatsoever.
With your options for a refund waning, I contacted your "travel
agent," I-Cruise.com, to see what services they provided for their
customers during this crisis. Unfortunately, they did not return any of my
phone calls. I am very troubled because it seems that your representative
at I-Cruise.com didn't clearly convey NCL's position and that this was a
"use it or lose it" situation to you and your party.
When situations like yours occur, you can't always blame the cruise line.
A good travel agent is your best defense when things go wrong. He or she
(not you) will do the legwork when a crisis comes up. When buying a
big-ticket item like a cruise, know what you are dealing with, especially
when booking online. Only experienced cruisers, or those comfortable with
online booking, should consider Internet travel agencies because there's
no guarantee a real person can help out and tell you everything you need
to know before setting sail.
I hope I've been helpful. Happy travels!
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