Cruise sailed from fog to “nightmare” say vocal passengers

Always choosing safety first, cruise lines pay close attention to the weather and modify itineraries when conditions dictate. Such was the case this time last week at the Port of Galveston when ships were late departing due to heavy fog. Passengers were angry at the time and it seems that anger went along with them to sea.

Two Carnival Cruise Line ships were affected. Carnival Ecstasy was a day late both arriving and departing so the four day cruise itinerary was shortened to three. Guests on that sailing were given options that included cancellation and a full refund among others.

Carnival Conquest was also a day late leaving on it’s seven-night itinerary when the port was closed. That one proceeded on a modified itinerary. Since Montego Bay, Jamaica was too far, the cruise line substituted Progresso, Mexico as an alternative port.

While the situation was obviously out of the control of cruise lines, guests less than understanding.

A passenger on Carnival Ecstasy did not care for the options.

“Carnival has not treated us good. The refund is not acceptable. More needs to be done for everyone on that Ecstasy ship,” a passenger told Click2Houston.

On the Carnival Conquest, sailaway was even further delayed when a fuel barge hit the side of the ship, keeping the ship in port even longer. Ivory Stafford, one of the vocal passengers on Carnival Conquest, told of an announcement over the ship’s PA system

“He said we had a bump by a barge and they’re waiting for the Coast Guard to investigate it,” said Stafford.

Now, a group of passengers are demanding better service and are circulating a petition among fellow travelers on the ship. 300 have signed at last count.

“I would say it was a nightmare. We want the corporate office to either refund our money or take us to Jamaica,” said passenger Thuy Kau. “Progreso (Mexico) is not a consolation.”

The ship’s itinerary which would have taken them to Montego Bay, Jamaica, instead took them to Progresso, Mexico making a total of three Mexico stops. Carnival issued a statement about the ship’s modified itinerary and the weather-related delays that affected it.

“Due to the delayed departure from Galveston, the ship operated a modified six-day itinerary that included its normal stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel with the scheduled visit to Montego Bay replaced by Progreso, Mexico. With the delayed departure, there would not have been enough time for the ship to travel to Jamaica and make it back to Galveston on its scheduled return date of Feb. 27.

Carnival sincerely apologizes for this disruption to our guests’ vacation plans. We hope guests understand that this weather-related itinerary change was beyond our control as the ship was not able to safely navigate the Port of Galveston channel due to severe fog”

On one hand, it’s always a shame when travel plans don’t go just as we anticipated on a cruise vacation. Guest are not paying for off-the-wall adventures of unknown origin. The nature of a cruise vacation is predictable for the most part.

On the other hand, like the all-inclusive nature of a cruise vacation which really does not include everything, cruise vacations are have a predictable nature. Nothing is set in stone where safety of the ship, passengers and crew are concerned.

Carnival made the right move by modifying the existing itinerary to include a total of three ports that they had the time to visit. Had they not substituted Progresso, the same people might very well have moaned that they got shorted a port.

They did have options. They could have taken advantage of Carnival’s unique Vacation Guarantee which states

“If you are not completely satisfied with your cruise vacation experience, all you need to do is notify us before arrival at the first port of call and you must debark at your ship’s first non-U.S. port of call. Carnival will refund the unused portion of your cruise fare and pay your flight back.

It sounds like some of the passengers would have been prime candidates for that plan.

Flickr photo by dkastner

Cheap Cruise Watch- Norwegian Upgrades (almost) everybody

It’s what the cruise industry calls “wave season”, the time of the year when people stop dreaming of a White Christmas and instead have nightmares about getting stuck in snow and ice. Thoughts turn to warmer weather and cruise vacations come to mind. We have been talking a lot about how to get a good deal lately. Today we have one for you.

Cheap prices are good. Cheap prices and you get more for your money are better.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a “Free Upgrades For All” promotion that applies to the new Norwegian Epic going on now through January 16, 2011 where we can book and get up to a 4 category upgrade at no additional charge. That’s nothing really all that exciting but with this promotion, you can book an ocean-view cabin (with a window) and get a balcony cabin at no additional charge. Book a balcony and get a mini-suite too. That’s different and unique to Norwegian.

They’re also throwing in a coupon book “worth over $400” but don’t get too excited about that part. Many of the coupons you probably won’t use but they do add up and some you will. The big attraction here is booking an ocean-view and getting a balcony or booking a balcony and getting a mini-suite on their newest ship. That’s the kind of value we want you to get. It’s available on all 2011 sailings and its pretty easy to do.

Like most cruise deals this can be a little tricky to book so pay attention if you visit the NCL website. For Balcony upgrades, you’ll see a Balcony Stateroom with the same price as an Ocean-view Stateroom. For sailings with Mini-Suite Upgrades, you’ll see a Mini-Suite listed at the same price as a Balcony. A few restrictions apply and it is always a good idea to read the fine print.

Get with your travel expert to be sure you get it right.

Flickr photo by Cruise News Weekly