On the same day that Norwegian Cruise Line sent out a letter to expect sudden itinerary changes in the entire fleet, the Captain of Norwegian Gem sent out a letter detailing sudden changes for the vessel sailing from New York.
The vessel departed on a ten-day, round-trip Caribbean cruise from New York City on January 9. A letter from the Captain arrived the following day, detailing changes to the itinerary, including the cancellation of two Caribbean ports, Grand Turk and St. Thomas. It will have been a disappointing message for guests onboard, who only learned about the changes on the first day out of port.
These are challenging times for cruise lines, shown once again as the Norwegian Gem itinerary sees multiple changes due to different requirements set by Caribbean ports of call. The worldwide surge of Omicron cases is causing havoc in an industry that was on the verge of recovery, a process that would seem a lot further away now than just one month ago.
In a statement to guests on January 10, Captain Kim Karlsson of Norwegian Gem informed guests of the sudden itinerary change the cruise line has had to implement. Instead of sailing to Grand Turk and St. Thomas as the first ports of call, the entire itinerary has been shuffled around.
Captain Kim Karlsson: “It is always our intention to maintain original itineraries. However, at times. unforeseen circumstances require us to make modifications. Our team has been working diligently with local government agencies to return to the great destinations we are fortunate enough to visit. However, at this time, clearance protocols required by several destinations resulted in our inability to visit Grand Turk and St. Thomas.”
The vessel departed New York on January 9, and guests will now spend three days at sea while the ship makes its way to St. Maarten, arriving on January 13 instead of January 14. The vessel will sail to Road Town, Tortola, have another day at sea, and then sail to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The new itinerary is as follows:
- January 9- New York
- January 10- At Sea
- January 11- At Sea
- January 12- At Sea
- January 13- St Maarten
- January 14- Road Town
- January 15- At Sea
- January 16- Puerto Plata
- January 17- At Sea
- January 18- At Sea
- January 19- New York
Guests to Receive Onboard Credit and Discounts on a Future Cruise
The January 9 itinerary included five port calls, which has now gone down to three port calls, with two additional days at sea. Out of 10 days, guests are spending six days at sea. While some will be overjoyed with the additional days at sea, it will be a disappointment for many guests.
NCL is giving guests a $100 non-refundable onboard credit per reservation to ease the disappointment. In addition to that, guests will also get a 10% discount applied to any cruise through January 17, 2023. The cruise line said the following:
“We share your disappointment and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. As a result, all reservations will receive a $100 non-refundable onboard credit. We sincerely appreciate your loyalty, and we cannot wait to provide you with the cruise vacation you were hoping for and likely need now more than ever! Therefore, in addition to the onboard credit listed above, all guests will receive a 10% OFF discount on their next cruise with us, combinable with all available promotions at the time of booking.”
Any guests who had shore excursions booked in the cancelled ports of call will be automatically refunded any monies paid, while the tours for the other ports will be updated to reflect the new dates.
NCL Warns Guests of Changes in Itineraries
On the same day that Captain Karlsson sent out the letter informing guests onboard Norwegian Gem, NCL sent out a letter to guests and travel agents. In this letter, which can be read in its entirety here, the company warns of possible, sudden changes to voyages:
“Destinations may suddenly modify their travel requirements and restrictions, requiring us to revise our itineraries and potentially skip scheduled ports of call. Furthermore, under certain circumstances onboard services may be impacted or limited to provide the safest environment possible. As always, we will do our very best to communicate any changes with you as soon as the information becomes available, however, many of these modifications may come at very short notice, or even during the voyage.”
While the two letters are most likely related, the changes to itineraries onboard all cruise ships are putting a damper on the resumption of cruising that had been going exceptionally well. With cruise lines setting standards unsurpassed worldwide in terms of health and safety, the current cancellations and itinerary changes are something that not many would have expected at this point.