Guests aboard Norwegian Getaway who set sail on February 1, 2023 for a cruise to Bermuda learned they wouldn’t be visiting the tropical destination after all, but instead were bound for The Bahamas due to the high likelihood of severe winter weather.
The ship will still be visiting Nassau but for just a few hours because of the greater distance the ship must travel, and guests are being offered generous compensation for the unexpected change.
Norwegian Getaway to Skip Bermuda
Guests onboard Norwegian Getaway‘s 5-night Bermuda sailing that departed New York on February 1, 2023 will not, in fact be visiting the British territory, but will instead be calling on Nassau, capital of The Bahamas. Guests were only notified of the change as embarkation was underway on Wednesday.
“As a result of a recent increase in winter weather activity, and in an abundance of caution we have made the decision to alter your voyage as a safety precaution,” the letter read.
Norwegian Getaway was to have been docked in Bermuda from 9 a.m. on Friday, February 3 through 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, February 4. During that time, winds are predicted to range from 20-30 knots (23-35 miles per hour / 37-55 kilometers per hour), with gusts that could reach as high as 48 knots (55 mph / 89 kph).
Such high winds make navigation around Bermuda’s natural reefs a challenge, and ships risk not only damaging the delicate reefs, but also being pushed into dock facilities and potentially damaging the ship or the pier. “The safety and security of our guests, crew, and communities we visit is our top priority,” the letter explains.
This is not the first time this winter a cruise ship has diverted away from Bermuda due to poor weather. Just last week, Norwegian Gem was forced to skip calling on Bermuda during a 12-night voyage to Panama because of an anticipated storm. Earlier in January, Norwegian Gem also shortened its visit time in Bermuda because of severe thunderstorms and high wind.
Port Time Dramatically Reduced
Instead of visiting Bermuda, Norwegian Getaway will head to Nassau, but the port visit time will be a disappointment to many guests onboard. The visit to Bermuda had been planned to last for nearly 31 hours, but the ship will now only be docked in Nassau for six hours. The timing of the visit is even more disappointing – from 9:45 p.m. until 3:45 a.m.
This strange port visit time is due to two factors: port visit requirements for cruise ships out of United States ports, and the distance the ship must sail to reach Nassau.
All cruise ships that depart from a U.S. homeport are required by law to visit a non-U.S. port before returning to their homeport. For ships departing New York, the options are severely limited. In the case of Norwegian Getaway for this winter sailing, ports in Canada are not feasible because of weather, and with Bermuda no longer safe, Nassau is the only option.
The extra distance to Nassau also greatly impacts the possible time in port. To reach Bermuda, the cruise ship would have only traveled approximately 780 miles (1,255 kilometers). To reach Nassau, on the other hand, the ship must travel approximately 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers).
The maximum cruising speed of the Breakaway-class Norwegian Getaway is just over 21 knots (25 mph / 40 kph). To cover the extra 320 miles (515 km) of distance, the ship will have to sail at top speed for nearly 13 hours, one-way. This means much less time is available for the requisite port visit.
While there are many great things to do in Nassau, many options will not be available with such a late arrival and very early morning departure. Guests may be able to enjoy some late dining in Nassau or visit the Atlantis casino, but most other shore tours, shopping, and beach visits will be unavailable.
Generous Compensation Offered
Because of the changes, all shore excursions booked through the cruise line are being automatically refunded to guests. Those refunds will be processed back to guests’ onboard accounts.
Due to the dramatic change of ports and loss of port time, however, Norwegian Cruise Line is also offering guests onboard $200 (USD) per stateroom of non-refundable onboard credit, posted as $100 per person for the first and second guests in the stateroom.
Furthermore, all guests are receiving a 20% future cruise credit (FCC) based on the cruise fare paid, which can be used for any upcoming Norwegian Cruise Line voyage on any ship in the fleet through February 1, 2024.
This compensation is being provided as “a genuine acknowledgment of the inconvenience caused” by the significant changes. “Thank you for your understanding,” the letter concludes.
Whether it is winter storms or summer hurricanes, weather can always impact cruise itineraries, destinations, and port visits. Guests should always be flexible and understanding when such unavoidable changes occur, and make the most of their opportunity to enjoy everything the cruise ship has to offer, no matter where or when it sails.