NCL Jewel Informative - Watched our ship sailaway in Miami!!

Review by happytraveller on 2010-03-30
MIAMI, FLORIDA 33126, FLORIDA -- First time travelling with NCL. Just cruised on the Jewel from March 21-28. Our flight was delayed for 3hrs in New York with Spirit Air due to "technical difficulties" and we arrived at the Miami port @ 3:40 our ship sailed at 4. We asked a port employee what terminal the Jewel was leaving from. He told us the WRONG terminal number. By the time we had figured out we were at the wrong terminal 10 minutes had passed. We finally got the correct terminal and were told we could not board the gangway was up and they were not going to let it down for us. We watched as our ship sailed @ 4:10...20 minutes after we arrived. Now I want to mention we called NCL (twice) to let them know we were delayed. This apparently is just for their records it does not mean anything to the actual ship...I don't even think they were informed until after. The key note here is that there were 3 couples on our flight all heading to Miami port as well but on a Carnival ship. (Travelled with Carnival 3 times, no complaints) They too called many times (not sure how many) to also inform their cruise line they would be late. Here's the kicker they were told the ship would wait up until 30 minutes past the sailing time. We called several different #'s to NCL from my cell phone pleading with them and were told pretty much "sorry" you can go home or fly to Roatan and meet up with the ship. We were shocked and disgusted in their care free nonchalant attitude. We're Canadian so we just started the first of many costs this trip incurred. We racked up a $50 cell phone bill in just an hour, and then our not so "amazing race" began. My husband and I looked at each other, (we also had our 14 yr old with us) and said lets go for it. We had spent $2500 for the mini suite $1100 on the flight with no insurance we felt it was worth trying. So we checked into a Miami hotel($139 US) dinner ($60) we hadn't eaten a thing all day up until then and went to work on the computer and phone at the hotel. We finally got someone from the travel agency who had booked us. She was the first person to actually listen to what had happened to us instead of the usual "sorry about your luck" answer we were getting. She booked us a flight to Cayman ($350 per person US) which had a connecting flight to La Ceiba Honduras where we were to take fairy over to Roatan to hook up with the ship. Well the next day Monday we headed out took the flight to Cayman arrived only to find out our connecting flight was cancelled due to weather in Honduras. So we had to once again check into a hotel. We were given Cayman airways discount for ($129 US) dinner ($60 US), cab ride to hotel and back to airport ($20 each) not cheap in the Caymans! The only luck we had this trip was meeting a very nice man who was heading home to Roatan who was kind enough to help us out. Because we were suppose to arrive in La Ceiba Honduras Monday, but actually arrived the following day because our connecting flight was cancelled there was NO afternoon fairy running on the Tuesday. Had it not been for this kind man we would have ended up in La Ceiba and missed the ship AGAIN. We later found out that he was the President Commissioner of Tourism for Honduras. He called ahead to La Ceiba aiport and got us on a twin engine plane (10 seater) freaked me out but at this point I didn't even care ($56 US per person. We arrived safe and sound in Roatan. Took us actually to the airport, called port authorities in Roatan to let them know we were coming. (There are still truly kind people in the world)-just an FYI We seriously would not have made it if it wasn't for this man and his wife. Now for the the really ridiculous part, when we finally boarded they acted like nothing had happened...no "glad you made it"....no "how can we make your stay better"...."sorry to hear what had happened....NOTHING, NOTHING at All!!!It was like we were in the "Twilight Zone". To make matters worst we couldn't even buy our son a beverage bracelet because we were too late. They couldn't even make an exception. They even started billing us the mandatory "service charge" for the days we weren't checked in. It was crazy. 7 fights later we are home and safe. I wish we could say we had an alright time when we finally boarded but we didn't. I was sooo looking forward to it, but aside from everything the service was awful. Freestyle is so over rated. I think because you don't have the same server every night, there seems to be a lack of attention to detail. Lesson learned. Once they've got your money....you're just a number to them.
Comments:4 Replies - Latest reply on 2010-03-31
Posted by new57 on 2010-03-30:
Good post which brings up a lot of issues to consider.
1. Spirit airlines is the bottom feeder. I would never depend on them in a crunch situation.
2. Savy cruise/tour folks fly in the day/night before to avoid your situation.
3. Not sure if travel insurance helps here, anyone else care to comment on this?
4. Curious to hear more about the freestyle complaint.
Posted by ticia232 on 2010-03-31:
I'm sorry that you missed your cruise. But the main problem here seems
to be the port employee. Not the airline, not the cruise ship,
but the person who sent you to wrong port for your cruise.
He is employed by neither.

Posted by Anonymous on 2010-03-31:
Sorry about your situation. But I can't understand why folks cut things so close with their travel. It is always best to leave yourself time for problems, because they can and do happen.

Anytime you have a 2 part trip that includes flight, schedule your flight the day before. If you have connecting flights, make them at least 3 hours apart. Better to wait in an airport for a flight than to miss one due to a delay.

I am not surprised the ship did not wait. Just like an airline, they board well before leaving port. Having to wait only puts the schedule behind.
Posted by happytraveller on 2010-03-31:
Do agree new57 that Spirit seems to be the "root" of the evil, but after talking to several people the fact that we made it to the port before the ship sailed seems to hit a sour note with a lot of folks. I know NCL has their guidelines and legislation but it was as if they were "the bullies on the playground" teasing us as I sobbed hysterically. Regarding freestyle, our theory is that if the service and food so incredible in the "surcharge" dining rooms and the food and service in the "free" dining rooms so unbelievably horrible that you'll be forced to pay for good service and good food. It's crazy, in this day and age big corporations don't care. Don't they realize if the big banks can go out of business so too can they????

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