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  #1  
Old January 25th, 2005, 08:28 AM
rubbercow rubbercow is offline
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Default NCL Norwegian Sea Cruises (Negative)

Good day fellow cruisers! Attached is my October 30th adventure on board NCL Norwegian Sea, a dinghy in dire need of retirement.

I have cruised on other lines, and this is our first complaint letter. My travel agent also received numerous complaints along the same line as my own. Understandably, an old ship like the Sea will have a few idiosyncrasies that might need to be ignored, but it seemed almost like the ship was on its last leg at any given moment. Broken safety hardware, power failures and the inability to get the ship running again after a motor failure, are only a small selection of problems that occurred. All of which are serious and completely ignored by NCL, not only on the ship itself, but also in their response. On board, fellow passengers left and right complained constantly, especially about food service, as we ate with them at community tables. To confirm, the food was fine, the service was not, Mr. Fernandez (who replied) misunderstood that point.

Feel free to form your own opinions on this matter. It is unlikely that we will cruise with NCL again, though we definitely will not cruise on the NCL Sea.

First, our letter. We began composing it at 3am on the trip back, when the motor was vibrating so bad that it shook items off our side table and sleeping was no longer an option. I would like to note that the third floor, stern to port (back left) seemed to be the worst.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
To:
Colin Veitch, President and CEO of NCL Group: cveitch@ncl.com
Bill Hamlin, SVP Hotel Operations, NCL Group: bhamlin@ncl.com
Robert Kritzman, Managing Director NCL America: rkritzman@ncl.com


Care of:
Latitudes Customer Service
P.O. Box 149075
Coral Gables, FL 33114 - 9075


As repeat cruisers we love a good cruise. Sadly, our October 30th 2004 cruise with NCL from Houston on the Seaward was not. Having been on ships owned by other cruise companies, we feel that we've built a fairly reasonable expectation of how a cruise liner should operate.

Since NCL has let us, and the rest of the passengers down, these significant issues should be brought to your attention for resolution.

A.) Skipping Cancun Port: According to our travel agent the Sea has skipped a port six times in a row. This should be included in the paperwork sent by NCL before the cruise and other options should have been given. Calica, Playa Del Carmen and other ports are nearby and capable of short-notice docking. Perhaps returning to previous port of calls would be an option rather than slowing the ship to make it back to Houston "on time". The port of Cancun was one of the reasons we chose this cruise.

B.) General Atmosphere: Due to the lack of stabilizers on the ship and the choppy ride, I fell over and grabbed a handrail. Two handrail brackets were not attached to the wall allowing me to fall to the hallway deck. While certainly dangerous, this example is only one of many areas of poor maintenance. Additionally, the heavy lavatory vent fell down due to constant 3rd deck vibrations. Had the vent hit a head rather than a toilet seat, it would have been a bloody wound. All around the ship, smells, rust, stained carpet, visible mold and thick dust on open surfaces were also glaring examples. The three hour power failure and lack of functioning air conditioning for nearly a full day are yet other examples.

C.) Dining Services: After receiving bitterly inattentive service on our first formal dining (such as, but not exclusively, sitting for over 20 minutes while our waiter laughed with other employees rather than bringing our incorrect and now-cold items from the preparatory station) we decided to use the buffet. We found the food to be cold, after asking for eggs to be reheated we were told no by three different service staff until a cook overheard us and reheated the item. For the remainder of the trip we alternated between the buffet and the dining areas and found the service to remain bad the duration of the cruise.

The ports, atmosphere and dining are the three most important aspects of a quality cruise and NCL has dramatically failed on all three. We've left out other negatives as these are universally in need of attention. The cruise market is far too competitive to allow valuable customers to develop a negative impression of your carefully created brand.

Disappointed,
[Removed]

--------------------------------------------------------------------
And now the NCL response, nearly 3 months later...
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear [Removed]

Thank you for your recent e-mail to Colin Veitech which was forwarded to Customer Relations for review. We appreciate the opportunity to review your comments and concerns regarding your voyage aboard the M/S Norwegian Sea on October 30, 2004.

We are sorry to learn of your dissatisfaction with the change of itinerary during your voyage due to poor sea conditions and high winds in Cancun. Please be assured that the decision not to dock in Cancun was determined for the safety of our passengers. As we explain in the terms and conditions of our Contract of Passage, we do reserve the right to alter our itinerary. While every effort is made to adhere to the published schedule, there are those instances that necessitate change. In reviewing the voyage report for this sailing, our records indicate that a complimentary rum punch party was held from 4pm-5pm and government taxes and fees in the amount of $12.25 were refunded to all passengers onboard.

The M/S Norwegian Sea joined the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet in 1988, and from previous correspondence received, most passengers seem to appreciate the unique charm of this particular sailing vessel. We continually renovate and refurbish all of our ships, and we regret our efforts did not meet your expectations. We have forwarded your comments regarding the conditions you encountered to our Hotel Operations department for any necessary action and apologize for any discomfort you encountered. We regret your disappointment with the quality of the food during the voyage. While a review of the passenger comment cards indicates this was not a common complaint, we have forwarded your observations to our executive chef, so he may be aware of your impressions.

Once again, thank you for joining us onboard. When your plans to sail with us again are firm, please contact Customer Relations, so that we may arrange "welcome aboard" amenities in your stateroom. We look forward to welcoming you back.

Sincerely,
Daniel Fernandez
Coordinator
Customer Relations

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Attached are also shots of the actual letters:




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  #2  
Old January 25th, 2005, 09:13 AM
scg6281 scg6281 is offline
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Not sure what to say to that one. The Executive from NCL responded with a great letter that is more that likely BS. I do understand that this is unacceptable cruising conditions and i surely would not want to be in this position, but with what your knowledge seems to be of the cruise industry... why did you choose a ship that is almost 20 years old. You seem to be up to date with all the changes and features of modern cruise ships and this ship, NCL SEA, offers very, very few of them. Once again i am extremely sorry your cruise turned out how it did, but let this be a lesson to cruise ships that are industry leaders; as all older ships tend to be neglected a bit when you have billion dollar megaships in your fleet. By the way, the SEA is about to be decommissioned from NCL and sold off to a second rate Asian Line. Thats pretty scarry.
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  #3  
Old January 25th, 2005, 09:39 AM
netcomm netcomm is offline
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Default Doesn't Surprise Me.

I cruised NCL aboard the Sun on 12/25. Although the ship was in pretty good condition, I beleive it joined the fleet in 2001. There were already maintaince issues though. Worn out carpet needing replacement, gym equipment that would bind and stick because they didn't keep it lubricated, things like that but nothing as major as engine vibration! However their attitude towards issues is just as you saw in your letter. "Rum punch" was supposed to make up for the incompetence of missing our port of Grand Cayman just like you missed the port of Cancun. Ridiculous! We missed Grand Cayman even though it was smooth and by the ships own information the sea had 1 foot swells. They still blamed it on the "rough seas". People even tendered out to the ship, but we could not tender off. How ludicrous is this?

The best thing to do is not cruise with them again.
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  #4  
Old January 25th, 2005, 10:13 AM
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karfest karfest is offline
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I'm sorry you had a less than stellar cruise. It is always disappointing to have things turn out to be less than you expected.

I think both your letter and the follow up from NCL were done quite well. Your issues were addressed and explanations were given. Did you want more beyond that? If so, you should have asked for it.

I've not been on a ship that old, and after doing research on them, I don't think I will. There are too many new ships to waste money on the older ships that may be in disrepair. I'm glad NCL is getting rid of these ships and will be concentrating on the "big" ships. We'll have far less complaining on these boards!!

Thank you for sharing this with us.
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  #5  
Old January 25th, 2005, 10:21 AM
shoreguy shoreguy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karfest
I'm sorry you had a less than stellar cruise. It is always disappointing to have things turn out to be less than you expected.

I think both your letter and the follow up from NCL were done quite well. Your issues were addressed and explanations were given. Did you want more beyond that? If so, you should have asked for it.

I've not been on a ship that old, and after doing research on them, I don't think I will. There are too many new ships to waste money on the older ships that may be in disrepair. I'm glad NCL is getting rid of these ships and will be concentrating on the "big" ships. We'll have far less complaining on these boards!!

Thank you for sharing this with us.
I couldn't aggree more. You raised your concerns and they replied. You did not ask for any other action.

Had your concerns been raised by many on the comment cards the response might have been different.
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  #6  
Old January 25th, 2005, 10:39 AM
Dolphins Dolphins is offline
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Thumbs down Norwegian Sea with NCL

I understand that Norwegian Sea's days with NCL are numbered. She is slated to depart soon for Asia with several other older NCL ships. She was built in an era with smaller cabins and no balconies and is obviously obsolete alongside the current competition.
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  #7  
Old January 25th, 2005, 11:41 AM
robsvacation robsvacation is offline
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Basically as a ship prepares to leave the fleet the desire to maintain her and the attitude of the staff is bound to be effected.

First off, missing ports is tuff but it's difficult for a cruise line find new ports just hours before they are suppose to dock. Tender ports are always risky. As for tendering staff aboard that's one thing, the liability of having 100's of inexperienced passengers stumble into the tenders in high seas is quite another, particularly if conditions look like they might worsen and it might be impossible to bring passengers back onboard later in the day.

I sailed on the Norway during her first Farewell season a few years back. 2 cruises after mine the ship was forced to stay in port by the coast gurad due to having too many too many temporary patches on the sprinkler system, 100's of them actually. The staff seemed disheartened that "their" ship was leaving, and the ship (obviously much older than the Sea) was sad and tired (I saw little that I could identify as "grand oceanliner" apart from her exterior profile) Personally I now avoid ships close to leaving their fleets.
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  #8  
Old January 25th, 2005, 02:17 PM
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newmexicoNita newmexicoNita is offline
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I believe your letter was appropriate and the response was as well. Was there something else you had hoped for? Yes, NCL does miss Cancun quite often, but to expect them to let you know this is a little unrealistic. Another line misses it's private island quite often, but this isn't made public. I hope Cancun is soon dropped from the itinerary. As for the dining room experience not meeting your standards, food is the most objective subject I can think of: we have found the food in the dining rooms on most NCL ships, the Sea included to be good, but I would say the Sea isn't as good as some of the newer NCL ships. I certainly never found the atmosphere lacking that much. As mentioned, the ship is almost 20 years old, a wonderful ship in her days, one of the first with any atruim at all. Today she just doesn't have the charm the newer larger ships have, but we knew this when we cruised her 2 weeks after you. Actually it was our second time on her. The first was before all the new babies entered the water; we were impressed at that time, she had 2 main dining rooms and Le Bistro: WOW!! now we expect much more from our cruise experience. I think the main issue here has to be: what did you expect for the money you paid? I know the end of Oct the rates were dirt cheap. Don't rule NCL out, just do a little research before booking next time, whether it's NCL, RCI, Carnival or whomever. This would have made your cruise a better experience I am sure. We had a great time overall when we cruise in mid November. NMNita
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  #9  
Old January 25th, 2005, 02:47 PM
runner1909 runner1909 is offline
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I second you NMNita. I hope they remove Cancun from the itinerary as well. Too many complaints on not stopping there. Too many people of the opinion safety, schmafety, we want to go anyway. If that is the only reason for booking the cruise, plan another type of vacation that goes specifically there and not run the risk of disappointment.
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  #10  
Old January 25th, 2005, 04:03 PM
rubbercow rubbercow is offline
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Thanks for all the great replies! The reoccuring theme of many of them was whether I expected anything from my note.

To clarify, I did not expect anything from my letter. I only posted this as I before I accepted the cruise, I saw few posts similar to this about this particular vessel, and I wanted to rectify that. Also, I did not select this cruise, it was given to us at a discount by our travel agent due to mistakes in booking a Princess Cruise. I've cruised other bargain vessels, but this one was a bit worse than I expected.

Thanks.
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  #11  
Old January 25th, 2005, 04:44 PM
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Copper_beeches Copper_beeches is offline
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Default the same travel agent...

...that told you about the Sea missing Cancun so often, gave you this cruise since you specifically wanted to go to Cancun?

I completely understand that you were unhappy with the cruise, and I sympathise with that. However, I tend to take reviews with a grain of salt when there are issues like this included in the complaint...

Feeling the need to validate your reason for being upset that you missed Cancun by saying that this port was one reason you chose the cruise, only to then say that 1. you didn't choose this cruise and 2. your TA knew about the risk of missing the port... seems to detract from the other complaints you have...

Anyway, I'm sorry you had a bad time I've heard nothing but good things about the Dawn... maybe try her or the Jewel if you decide to give it another shot.


"A.) Skipping Cancun Port: According to our travel agent the Sea has skipped a port six times in a row. This should be included in the paperwork sent by NCL before the cruise and other options should have been given. Calica, Playa Del Carmen and other ports are nearby and capable of short-notice docking. Perhaps returning to previous port of calls would be an option rather than slowing the ship to make it back to Houston "on time". The port of Cancun was one of the reasons we chose this cruise."

"Also, I did not select this cruise, it was given to us at a discount by our travel agent due to mistakes in booking a Princess Cruise."
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  #12  
Old January 25th, 2005, 04:49 PM
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We sailed on the Sea in August 2000. We took our then 15 granddaughter on her first cruise and she still claims - after we took her to visit her Italian relatives the next summer! - that that was the best vacation ever. She met a great group of kids and after knee surgery that spring and helping nurse her Mom thru an illness that winter, we just thought she needed and deserved a break. Anyway...she had so much fun that we couldn't help but be happy and enjoy ourselves as well.

Even then there was some vibration problems that we noticed in the DR especially. Never in the cabin though, so we didn't think it was a big deal. (On our recent Galaxy cruise we noticed the same type of vibration, again in the DR...are these ships from the same era?).

Our Sea cruise was before freestyle. We ate at a certain time with the same waiter. At first we thought our waiter was a little stand-offish and not very friendly...we changed our opinion as the cruise progressed. A case of wrong first impressions I guess. I remember that on the last evening he gave every one of us a big hug and actually had tears in his eyes..how wrong people can be before getting to know someone. The food that time was good but not great. A few very good dishes and some that were just so-so.

The entertainment though was wonderful. And the staff as a whole was very good and very nice.

Since the Sea, we sailed on the Sky. A newer ship with fewer little problems. It was a very enjoyable cruise. Our next NCL cruise will be the Sun 12/4/05..a long wait.

I don't think you should write-off NCL. There are things about NCL that I like better and some things I like less than other cruiselines we've been on and those in the mix are RCL, Carnival and Celebrity.
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  #13  
Old January 25th, 2005, 07:59 PM
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newmexicoNita newmexicoNita is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cod
We sailed on the Sea in August 2000. We took our then 15 granddaughter on her first cruise and she still claims - after we took her to visit her Italian relatives the next summer! - that that was the best vacation ever. She met a great group of kids and after knee surgery that spring and helping nurse her Mom thru an illness that winter, we just thought she needed and deserved a break. Anyway...she had so much fun that we couldn't help but be happy and enjoy ourselves as well.

Even then there was some vibration problems that we noticed in the DR especially. Never in the cabin though, so we didn't think it was a big deal. (On our recent Galaxy cruise we noticed the same type of vibration, again in the DR...are these ships from the same era?).

Our Sea cruise was before freestyle. We ate at a certain time with the same waiter. At first we thought our waiter was a little stand-offish and not very friendly...we changed our opinion as the cruise progressed. A case of wrong first impressions I guess. I remember that on the last evening he gave every one of us a big hug and actually had tears in his eyes..how wrong people can be before getting to know someone. The food that time was good but not great. A few very good dishes and some that were just so-so.

The entertainment though was wonderful. And the staff as a whole was very good and very nice.

Since the Sea, we sailed on the Sky. A newer ship with fewer little problems. It was a very enjoyable cruise. Our next NCL cruise will be the Sun 12/4/05..a long wait.

I don't think you should write-off NCL. There are things about NCL that I like better and some things I like less than other cruiselines we've been on and those in the mix are RCL, Carnival and Celebrity.


The Sun is awesome. We have cruised 16 times, some on lines that are defunk, have cruised all but one mass marketed lines and the Sun is still our favorite ship: that's right, even better than Celbrity's Connie, or maybe about the same, but we love freestyle. NMNita
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Old January 25th, 2005, 10:11 PM
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I just returned from the Sea, and while she is showing her age some, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. We found the crew extremely pleasant and helpful. We enjoyed all of the dining, though I did think the buffet was just that a buffet. We were fortunate and did make Cancun, but with the seas fairly calm, there was only 5' of clearance under the ship. Any seas at all and she would have been bumping the bottom. She is one of very few ships that can anchor there.

This was our second cruise on NCL, we have cruised twice on RCCL, and once on Carnival. Overall, NCL is our favorite line.
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  #15  
Old January 25th, 2005, 10:53 PM
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We were on the Sea in September of 2004(the infamous Canada instead of Bermuda Cruise) even with all that we had a great time. Believe it or not the Sea was once the cruise ship of the year!. Yes it vibrates sometimes but it is a ship and a smaller one. I am sorry your cruise didn't go well. I would cruise on it again if I had the chance.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 11:10 PM
rubbercow rubbercow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Copper_beeches
Feeling the need to validate your reason for being upset that you missed Cancun by saying that this port was one reason you chose the cruise, only to then say that 1. you didn't choose this cruise and 2. your TA knew about the risk of missing the port... seems to detract from the other complaints you have...
Absolutely, that is a valid point. I was given a few choices at discount, and selected this cruise based on the Cancun itinerary over the others.

I have two travel agents, one at a major chain, and one our family has used in the past, who no longer offers NCL, and informed me of my mistake when I returned.

As per my note, I have no plans to write off NCL, nor did I expect a refund, though I know that my suite-neighbors on both side did.

I find it odd that I'm having to defend myself, when I'm just notifying the community. However, thanks for the input everyone.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 11:14 PM
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Misguy --

Glad to hear you had a good time. Our 1st cruise last January was on the Sea, and we had such a good time we're going back in May before she leaves the fleet. Did the ship itself begin to compare to the Sun that we took to Alaska? No, but it certainly had it's own charm. Hopefully our return trip will be as enjoyable as the 1st one was.
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Old January 26th, 2005, 12:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rubbercow
Thanks for all the great replies! The reoccuring theme of many of them was whether I expected anything from my note.

To clarify, I did not expect anything from my letter. I only posted this as I before I accepted the cruise, I saw few posts similar to this about this particular vessel, and I wanted to rectify that. Also, I did not select this cruise, it was given to us at a discount by our travel agent due to mistakes in booking a Princess Cruise. I've cruised other bargain vessels, but this one was a bit worse than I expected.

Thanks.
If there were few negative posts about the Sea that should indicate that people seem to have had, at least, an "ok" time.

You do not need to "defend yourself" as you also mentioned - people always voice their opinions on any message board, and with the abundance of experienced cruisers that utilize these boards, I would believe that they know there are positive and negative reviews for any line (or ship).

I am sorry that you did not enjoy your trip, but please also remember that it is only an opinion.
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  #19  
Old January 26th, 2005, 08:22 AM
texsam texsam is offline
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Default The Sea is a good cruise experience

I am always amazed when someone pays a Motel 6 rate and then complains when they don't get a Hyatt experience. The Sea is an older ship, but well kept up for the most part. If you are looking for a cruise to exotic ports at a very good price, she is the right ship. We are sailing her this weekend and plan to have a great time.
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  #20  
Old January 26th, 2005, 08:51 AM
Sea Girls Sea Girls is offline
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We are sailing on the Sea March 5th. Having the ship here in the Houston area and the great price that she has was what helped us decide to take our trip. I've been on RCCL(twice) and Disney in the past 10 years. I don't expect to have the same accomodations as those "mega ships".....and I don't expect to pay those "mega prices" also. However, I do expect to enjoy this cruise just as much. We're looking forward to just relaxing and having a good time. I won't pay attention to the little imperfections of the ship. I've read many times on this board that the crew is great and the ports are wonderful. That's what I'm looking forward too. Remember, a day at sea in an older cruise ship still beats a day at work in a beautiful high rise building! Happy Sailing!
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