Major Change to Itinerary - Maiden Voyage NCL Encore, November 2019.

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Jul 2, 2019
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In May 2017, on the NCL Jewel, I signed up for the CruiseNext programme where they double one's "investment" and paid $1,000, getting me $2,000 value for 8 x $250 credits for future cruises. I used one of those $250 credits for a January 12th.2018 Pride of America cruise round the Hawaiian Islands thus being credited $500 towards the total cruise cost. On October 22nd. 2018 I made a reservation through a travel agency in Miami for the 12 day maiden voyage cruise of NCL Encore, from Southampton, England to Miami, with a single stop for one day at Ponto Selgada, in the Azores, a place we've always wanted to visit. We planned on a few days in Miami after the cruise before flying back home to British Columbia, Canada. I paid a deposit of $1,000, utilizing another of the $250 CN credits which gave me $500 of the price. The balance of the deposit was paid to the travel agency, and their policy is that if I were to cancel the cruise they would charge 15% of the cruise cost. The cruise cost was $1,646.96 for each of us, or a total of $3,293.92. This meant that were I to cancel, the travel agency would charge me $495 from the $500 I had paid them directly.

In late 2018 the travel agency advised they'd heard from NCL that our itinerary had been changed, that the cruise was to be shortened to 11 days, but we would have a reduced total cost. Given that it was to be shortened by one day, I assumed that we would no longer stop in the Azores and obviously accepted that although we were very disappointed. I am aware of the Contracts for Carriage utilized by many cruise lines, in which they reserve the right to change itineraries, and NCL's states due to " strike, lockouts, stoppages of labour, riots, weather conditions, mechanical difficulties or any other reason whatsoever. has the right to cancel, advance, postpone or substitute any scheduled sailing or itinerary" Their section ( c ) outlines their policy with much the same description of the types of reasons why a Captain might choose to change itineraries, all of which stated reasons are those beyond the control of the Captain - ie. severe weather, government intervention as recently when the U.S. Government ruled that cruises could not stop in Cuba, or following the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka it was deemed unsafe to dock in Columbo.

In early May it became obvious that NCL no longer intended to go to Miami, rather the destination was changed to New York. The reason why the cruise was terminating in New York after 11 days is that they have plans to keep the ship there for at least a week to allow NCL to promote the new vessel to the media and to travel industry professionals. After the transatlantic crossing, passengers would be be able to stay on the ship while docked in New York so to complete their 11 day cruise. Not wanting to go to New York in the winter, and particularly as we'd hoped for warming weather as the originally planned cruise headed south, followed by our planned few days in Miami, I contacted the travel agency and asked them to cancel the reservation, and to ask NCL to recredit to my account the CruiseNext voucher which had been used in part payment, also understanding that I would lose almost all of the payment I'd made to the agency as part of the deposit. A few days later the agency confirmed they had cancelled the reservation, that I was being charged $495 of the $500 I'd paid them, and that NCL had agreed to recredit the CruiseNext account, where I now have 7 remaining credits which must be used by May 2021. As we have made travel plans for the balance of 2019, except now for getting back from England to our home in Canada, and have also made plans for all of 2020, the rules of the plan require us to now take seven cruises between the Christmas - New Years season 2020 and May 2021, which is totally unrealistic for us.

Accordingly, I have requested of NCL that they pay compensation for the $495 I have lost to the travel agency, plus the value of my part of the CruiseNext account, or $750. I have not yet made plans to fly home to Canada from England but believe they should pay additional compensation for this. My direct approach to the company, has been unsuccessful .

Any help or advice from other members of the forum would be greatly appreciated.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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As someone who was another “victim” of NCL changing an itinerary a week before we were leaving (cut the cruise by two days leaving people scrambling to make hotel reservations) you already see you are up against NCL throwing the Contract of Carriage at you.

You can ask NCL to reimburse you for the travel agency fee but you can probably expect a no. Why would you book with an agency that charges that kind of fee when you can cancel before final payment with absolutely no penalties at all by going directly through NCL or many other agencies that have no cancellation fee? The amount that agency is charging you is outrageous.

Has NCL offered any kind of compensation or lowering of price to offset the change in itinerary? They have us 40% off the cruise and paid either a $300 pp change fee for changing flights or $300 pp towards two hotel nights.
 
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justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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Neil from posts I've seen on cruise critic they weren't offering anything other than the lower fare. This was announced earlier than May as I saw posts about it when I was on often in April for my cruise the first week of May - so at least 2 months before final payment. A lot decided to cancel not wanting to do the northern route in Nov. Not sure of the actual date it was announced though.

As for the Cruise Next certificates they usually allow a one time extension of the expiration dates. Though I believe these are Haven CN and am not 100% if they have more fine print as I only buy the regular $250 certs. I forget how long they extend it - but it would be worth a call to extend. Also, they are transferable so you can sell them, but if they're the Haven ones they are harder to sell due to the smaller market.

I second finding a travel agent that doesn't charge a cancel fee!! I've used 3 different ones and none had a cancellation or booking fee - cruise lines still pay commission to agents so if I'm booking just a cruise I pick ones without a booking fee.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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Shimmin, the TA you worked with is not behaving properly. TAs are paid handsomely by cruiselines, there is no reason for them to be penalizing you for cancelling a cruise that has turned out to be completely different than the one you booked. Don't call the TA, send them an email letter and ask them to refund this ridiculous fee. Then find a competent and ethical TA who is a cruise expert. Is there a reason you just don't book a different cruise that goes in the same timeframe? ... somewhere nice and warm, not NYC in November! Then you could use the credits, or some of them. The terms seem to be very odd and I'm not sure I understand them.
 
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justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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The terms seem to be very odd and I'm not sure I understand them.
Cruise Next is NCLs on board booking program, but focuses on buying certificates to use when you next book vs actually booking a cruise on board. The normal deal is if you buy two $250 certificates they give half of the value in on board credit. So spend $250 and get $500 in certificates (in the form of two of $250 each). The Haven ones are similar concept but the numbers are different. So you can use a $250 certificate you paid $125 for as your deposit on a cruise. The certificates are good for 4 years from the last day of the sailing you buy them, are transferable, and they sometimes run an offer an ability to use two in a cabin or other deal (the Haven might differ some).

It's a great deal (even more so if you have to use OBC) if you plan to cruise with NCL again within the next 4 years. I've used 4 of them myself.

https://www.ncl.com/cruisenext In case my explanation is confusing!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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Shimmin, the TA you worked with is not behaving properly. TAs are paid handsomely by cruiselines, there is no reason for them to be penalizing you for cancelling a cruise that has turned out to be completely different than the one you booked. Don't call the TA, send them an email letter and ask them to refund this ridiculous fee. Then find a competent and ethical TA who is a cruise expert. Is there a reason you just don't book a different cruise that goes in the same timeframe? ... somewhere nice and warm, not NYC in November! Then you could use the credits, or some of them. The terms seem to be very odd and I'm not sure I understand them.
I beg to differ about agents being paid “handsomely”- that is just not true. What do you consider handsomely? 20- 25-30% That’s not at all what agents are paid. Cruises are among the worst paid type of travel an agent can sell. Do you know that cruise lines have what are called noncommissionable fares- anywhere from $200-$400 off the top of a cruise price that agents aren’t paid commission on? Trust me- we hate selling cruises because the commissions are terrible.

That said- some agents have a cancellation fee -maybe $50 - but what this agency is charging us outrageous. This is the highest cancellation fee I have ever seen in 18 years of being in this business. I don’t understand why this fee didn’t cause the OP to book elsewhere.
 
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