“Refund! Refund! Refund!” was the refrain among passengers gathered in the atrium of Norwegian Spirit cruise ship earlier this week after operators canceled another port of call on the voyage’s two-week European itinerary.
“And that is full refund, not the discount because there will be no cruising with you again,” one agitated man is heard saying in a video posted by passenger Matt Rogers.
Matt and Thelma Rogers of Austin, Texas, were in Europe to celebrate both of their birthdays. They understand that itineraries change because they’ve been on 16 cruises. This is their first sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line.
“Let me be clear I don’t condone what those passengers were doing,” Matt Rogers wrote in a Facebook conversation with CNN Travel. “It was inappropriate & over the line but the staff could’ve handled it much, much better,” he said.
“They allowed it to get to where people were genuinely nervous for their safety.”
And “when things got loud, the General Manager just left the atrium which only escalated things,” Rogers wrote.
The ship, Norwegian Spirit, has a capacity of more than 2,000 passengers.
The voyage, called “Mystical Fjords,” embarked from Southampton, England, and was supposed to include stops in Amsterdam, Reykjavik and Akureyri, Iceland, all of which were canceled because of bad weather, according to Rogers. The ship did make some of its originally scheduled stops, including Belfast and Dublin.
Two ports of call were added in Norway when the Iceland stops were canceled, Rogers said. A stop in Greenock – outside Glasgow, Scotland – on Monday was delayed at first because another ship was being repaired. But crew members announced mid-morning that the ship wouldn’t be able to dock because of high winds, Rogers said.
“That’s when everyone in the atrium lost it,” he said. “Keep in mind each time they change the itinerary, most people have to change/cancel tours … some of which are nonrefundable.”
Passenger Cody McNutt of Denver also filmed the protests, which he said lasted until about 10 p.m. that night. McNutt created the Twitter handle NCLHELL to document the voyage.
His posts included scenes of the protests as well as pictures of toilets that were out of service and a letter from McNutt and others to the cruise line.
Norwegian Cruise Line released a statement about the sailing, saying, “Unfortunately, Norwegian Spirit’s itinerary was impacted by severe weather conditions. While nine ports of call were originally planned for the voyage, the revised itinerary allowed the ship to call on eight ports. We are very sorry for any inconvenience and disappointment our guests experienced.”
The cruise line has offered passengers a 25% credit on a future cruise.
Cruise lines’ contracts of carriage do state that itineraries are subject to shift at the cruise line’s discretion.
Terms and conditions posted on Norwegian Cruise Line’s website say the company “has the right to cancel, advance, postpone or substitute any scheduled sailing or itinerary without prior notice,” for any reason, including weather conditions, mechanical difficulties and labor stoppages.
“We understand that it is disheartening when we are unable to call on ports that our guests have been looking forward to visiting,” the cruise line’s statement said. “However, we do ask for our guests’ patience, cooperation and understanding that severe weather conditions are an act of God and cannot be controlled, influenced or remediated by the cruise line.”
Rogers and his wife have another cruise booked on the same ship embarking on October 11, and they’re concerned about that trip, which they booked back in December.
“I believe we speak with our dollars, and NCL will get no more of mine,” he said.
Photo at the top of this story courtesy of Cody McNutt.