Due to undisclosed COVID-related circumstances, Norwegian Gem is cancelling the remainder of its current sailing and returning immediately to its homeport, New York City. Guests will receive a full refund for the interrupted cruise, as well as other compensation and assistance rebooking their travel plans to return home after the ship arrives in New York City, if necessary.
Norwegian Gem Cancelled Mid-Cruise
Norwegian Gem is currently sailing what was to have been a 10-day Caribbean itinerary that departed New York City on January 9. The ship was scheduled to visit Grand Turk, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Tortola, and Amber Cove, but on the first day of the cruise, which was a day at sea after setting sail the evening before, guests were informed of dramatic itinerary changes.
Two ports – Grand Turk on January 12 and St. Thomas on January 13 – were dropped, and the remaining ports were rearranged. No new ports were added, and instead the cruise was to have two additional days at sea, for a total of six sea days on the 10-day cruise.
At that time, guests were given a $100 onboard credit per reservation, as well as a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) worth 10% of the current cruise fare paid, which could be used for any future cruise through January 17, 2023.
Just three days later, guests received another letter from the ship’s captain, Kim Karlsson, informing them that “as a result of COVID-related circumstances, we must cancel the remainder of your Norwegian Gem cruise currently underway.”
No further details about those circumstances were provided, but the letter did continue “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience but your health and safety, as well as that of our crew and the communities we visit, always comes first. Always.”
The ship overnighted in St. Maarten, and guests were able to get off and enjoy that single port of call on January 13. The ship is now returning to New York City, but does not yet have an estimated arrival date or time.
Dramatic Compensation for Dramatic Changes
Because of so many changes to this voyage, Norwegian Cruise Line is offering a full refund of the cruise fare to all passengers, which will be returned to the original form of payment. If the cruise was paid via a Future Cruise Credit (FCC), the full value of the FCC will be returned to guests’ Latitudes account.
This is surprising compensation, because often when a cruise is interrupted, guests receive a prorated refund based on the amount of the cruise vacation they had already been able to enjoy. It is likely that the full refund is being offered in this case because of the combination of two lost ports and the shortened voyage.
Guests still have the $100 onboard credit they received earlier in the cruise, but the 10% FCC previously offered as compensation for the missed ports has now been upgraded to a 50% FCC. That FCC is now valid for cruises through May 31, 2023.
Norwegian Cruise Line is rebooking airfare for all guests who secured flights through the cruise line, and is providing internet access to any guests who may need to rebook their own independent travel plans to return home. Compensation for independent arrangements is not being offered, but guests are advised to work with their travel agents, airlines, and travel insurance providers for possible reimbursement options.
Future Cruises in Jeopardy?
While the next Norwegian Gem sailing – another 10-day Caribbean itinerary – is still scheduled to leave New York as planned on January 19, many guests and cruise enthusiasts are questioning whether that voyage will happen. This comes as Norwegian Cruise Line has already canceled upcoming sailings for multiple ships in the fleet.
Cancellations on eight vessels were announced on January 5, with additional sailings on other vessels cancelled just days later, on January 12.
Norwegian Gem was not on either of those suspension lists, and some of the ships are due to restart sailings later this month. Will those lists become longer, and will Norwegian Gem join the Norwegian Cruise Line ships currently suspended? Cruise Hive will keep you updated.