NCL Joy - Maiden Voyage - Not Ready For Passengers

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Jun 1, 2019
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We returned a few weeks ago from the NCL Joy's maiden voyage (post drydock) in Alaska. We are frequent cruisers (25+ combined between myself and my wife). We have cruised every class of cabin from inside to Haven and we do not have unrealistic expectations. In fact, we have never felt the need to complain about anything when we got home but we had an unbelievable amount of issues with this trip.

I have attached our letter that was sent to NCL, as well as all photographs and their response.

I have summarized our issues below, but the attached documents provide a lot of detail as well as additional issues not summarized below.
  • We were placed in the wrong cabin class (booked mini-suite - placed in ADA balcony room).
  • Sewerage smell coming through the shower. They poured something down the drain but it got worse as the cruise went on.
  • The Internet did not function forcing us to work in port. It was pinging off of servers in Asia and was never updated after the dry dock so it timed out on all requests. Not resolved after we pointed out the reason to the ship crew.
  • The ship time was not correct. It was still set for Asia. This resulted in missed wakeup calls because they were delivered 10 hours late. This was not resolved, despite being brought to the attention of crew.
  • We were scheduled to leave port in Ketchikan at 2:30pm. The night before, the daily program said that we would be leaving at 12:45. There were no announcements made, the app still said 2:30, the TVs still said 2:30, NCL corporate said 2:30, and there was no clear direction given by NCL.
  • It took nearly 2 hours to get off of the ship on the last day. The line began on the aft staircase, went all the way to the forward dining room, and wrapped it's way through the ship, back aft and off again.
  • NCL allows you to book reservations prior to getting on board. We booked our shows and dinners, but as soon as we got on board, many of the reservations were changed. Instead of everything working in conjunction, we were now scheduled to go to shows at the time that we were scheduled to be in port and dinners and shows were scheduled at the same time.
There were many more issues that are outlined in the attached documentation, but each time something didn't go according to plan, were told that "it is the first time that this ship is going out of dry dock and it will be better next time", "We are going to improve on that", or "We know that is a problem and it will be fixed before the next trip". While this makes sense, this was our vacation. We paid full price and we were never told that this was a "trial run" cruise. I did not book this trip to help NCL figure out what needs to be fixed before the next cruise. We booked this as our vacation, took time off of work without pay, and spent thousands of dollars.

We reached out to NCL with our concerns and we were met with a copy/paste form letter as a response. While the categories were correct for some issues, they did not address what we discussed. Instead of specifically addressing the fact that the internet was pinging off of the wrong servers, they just said that satellite internet isn't as reliable as internet on land (which we know from being on 25 cruises). The font throughout their response varied, clearly indicating that they just copied and pasted from generic sources instead of reading what we actually brought up.

We just wanted a response that would address our concerns instead of a form letter
 

Attachments

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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Sure hope they get this fixed we are booked for 3 cabins over Christmas.
Question did you pick out your Cabin # , we already have Cabin #’s for all three bookings. It certainly sounds like a screwed up mess.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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Did you ask them for anything in your letter? If you didn’t, how would they know you wanted them to do anything but acknowledge your complaints?

This is not unusual for the first few months on a new ship (or a ship just coming out of drydock).We’ve learned never to take the last cruise before a ship goes to dry dock and the first few after because there are always issues with the ship becoming a “new” ship plus on on a new itinerary. We just had NCL notify us a week before a transatlantic cruise they were cutting two days off the cruise and taking 50% of the ports off. They gave us a 25% discount and paid $300 per person to cover 2 hotel nights and meals for the years extra nights we had to spend in
London. 25% for cutting 50% of the ports? That certainly is not right.

They probably won’t refund you perhaps give you a small credit towards another cruise.

Most of your points are valid except the port time in Ketchikan and the time it took getting off the ship. When you get off the ship there are signs where you swipe the card telling you what time to be back as well as a sign with last boarding time at the bottom of the ramp.

Did they provide you with a refund of the difference in price between the mini suite and the ADA cabin? This is the point I would have been furious about and you need to be made whole for the price difference.

As far as getting off, the cruise line is limited by the number of people in Immigration and Passport Control to check guests out. If people don’t show up for work and lines get backed up, it’s not NCLs fault.

As far as the Internet, did you pay for it on the ship? If you did they should have refunded you.

What you should do now is start writing one by one to the Executives one at a time and tell them what you want. I suggest asking for a future cruise credit of 10 -15%. You didn’t lose any days and the other things were really minor inconveniences. The time issue was annoying but can be over come by using your own watch instead of relying on the ship clocks.

Here are the executive contacts:
https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/norwegian-cruise-line-ncl/

This is how to write:

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/
 
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Neil Maley

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Sure hope they get this fixed we are booked for 3 cabins over Christmas.
Question did you pick out your Cabin # , we already have Cabin #’s for all three bookings. It certainly sounds like a screwed up mess.
It will be fine by Christmas. There are always issues when a ship comes out of dry dock and we never book these. It’s basically a new ship on a new itinerary with new crew so there are things that might now be working right yet and new crew on a new itinerary take a little time to break it in.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
3,924
4,032
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It will be fine by Christmas. There are always issues when a ship comes out of dry dock and we never book these. It’s basically a new ship on a new itinerary with new crew so there are things that might now be working right yet and new crew on a new itinerary take a little time to break it in.
Thanks Neil and exactly why I would not have booked a sailing right out of Drydock.
 
Jun 1, 2019
18
3
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32
Sure hope they get this fixed we are booked for 3 cabins over Christmas.
Question did you pick out your Cabin # , we already have Cabin #’s for all three bookings. It certainly sounds like a screwed up mess.

We didn't pick our cabin number. When we selected midship mini suite, that is the cabin that selected / suggested on our behalf. I didn't try to change it becusse it didn't indicate that there was any reason to do so.
 
Jun 1, 2019
18
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32
Did you ask them for anything in your letter? If you didn’t, how would they know you wanted them to do anything but acknowledge your complaints?

This is not unusual for the first few months on a new ship (or a ship just coming out of drydock).We’ve learned never to take the last cruise before a ship goes to dry dock and the first few after because there are always issues with the ship becoming a “new” ship plus on on a new itinerary. We just had NCL notify us a week before a transatlantic cruise they were cutting two days off the cruise and taking 50% of the ports off. They gave us a 25% discount and paid $300 per person to cover 2 hotel nights and meals for the years extra nights we had to spend in
London. 25% for cutting 50% of the ports? That certainly is not right.

They probably won’t refund you perhaps give you a small credit towards another cruise.

Most of your points are valid except the port time in Ketchikan and the time it took getting off the ship. When you get off the ship there are signs where you swipe the card telling you what time to be back as well as a sign with last boarding time at the bottom of the ramp.

Did they provide you with a refund of the difference in price between the mini suite and the ADA cabin? This is the point I would have been furious about and you need to be made whole for the price difference.

As far as getting off, the cruise line is limited by the number of people in Immigration and Passport Control to check guests out. If people don’t show up for work and lines get backed up, it’s not NCLs fault.

As far as the Internet, did you pay for it on the ship? If you did they should have refunded you.

What you should do now is start writing one by one to the Executives one at a time and tell them what you want. I suggest asking for a future cruise credit of 10 -15%. You didn’t lose any days and the other things were really minor inconveniences. The time issue was annoying but can be over come by using your own watch instead of relying on the ship clocks.

Here are the executive contacts:
https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/norwegian-cruise-line-ncl/

This is how to write:

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/
Thanks for the reply. My photos didn't
Did you ask them for anything in your letter? If you didn’t, how would they know you wanted them to do anything but acknowledge your complaints?

This is not unusual for the first few months on a new ship (or a ship just coming out of drydock).We’ve learned never to take the last cruise before a ship goes to dry dock and the first few after because there are always issues with the ship becoming a “new” ship plus on on a new itinerary. We just had NCL notify us a week before a transatlantic cruise they were cutting two days off the cruise and taking 50% of the ports off. They gave us a 25% discount and paid $300 per person to cover 2 hotel nights and meals for the years extra nights we had to spend in
London. 25% for cutting 50% of the ports? That certainly is not right.

They probably won’t refund you perhaps give you a small credit towards another cruise.

Most of your points are valid except the port time in Ketchikan and the time it took getting off the ship. When you get off the ship there are signs where you swipe the card telling you what time to be back as well as a sign with last boarding time at the bottom of the ramp.

Did they provide you with a refund of the difference in price between the mini suite and the ADA cabin? This is the point I would have been furious about and you need to be made whole for the price difference.

As far as getting off, the cruise line is limited by the number of people in Immigration and Passport Control to check guests out. If people don’t show up for work and lines get backed up, it’s not NCLs fault.

As far as the Internet, did you pay for it on the ship? If you did they should have refunded you.

What you should do now is start writing one by one to the Executives one at a time and tell them what you want. I suggest asking for a future cruise credit of 10 -15%. You didn’t lose any days and the other things were really minor inconveniences. The time issue was annoying but can be over come by using your own watch instead of relying on the ship clocks.

Here are the executive contacts:
https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/norwegian-cruise-line-ncl/

This is how to write:

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/

Had we known that this was the first cruise post drydock, we never would have taken it. It was the first-week NCL was running Alaska for the year and we just thought that it was their normal route switch over.

Regarding Ketchikan - I may not have clarified that properly in my abbreviated version in the forum, but I went into detail in the attached letter to NCL. To me, this was actually one of the most serious issues. I have been on a lot of ships where they change the itinerary, but they tell you that there is a change. Much of the information on the ship was still giving the time that was originally booked (TVs, App, ETC), crew said "there was no change" because in their records, it was originally supposed to leave at 12:45, not 2:30. It was not a choice to change the port time for a safety issue or a concern. It was a failure of information and the ship didn't know what time we were leaving.

When we had to skip Sweden, there were a lot of announcements. When we had to leave a port early because of a storm in the past, there were announcements made and information sent to the cabin that specifically said that there is a change. It isn't about the 2 hours lost in port. It is about conflicting information and being told "we are still figuring this out because it is our first trip"


I know that the wake up calls may seem small, but we were dealing with time zone changes in port and didn't want to take a chance with our phones and time zone changes so we thought that a wake up call would be the most reliable. We learned about the issue when the call didn't go off for our 7am arrival in port.

Internet was refunded. Unfortunately, it isn't a luxury item for us. We can only travel by keeping our businesses afloat so we were stuck working in port since we couldn't do it nightly on the ship.

We were not refunded for the difference. We were told that the cabin descriptions on the website might not match the cabin that you get.

We didn't ask for anything. The value of the trip that was a disaster towards another cruise would be nice, but we really just wanted a reply from NCL that wasn't a generic form letter that was not copy / paste with different font sizes and styles. They gave us onboard credit for a future cruise which is fine, but it seems like none of our concerns were even read because their reply, which was attached to the original post, seems to just copy information that is "Complaint about room" or "issues with internet".


My photos from disembarkation didn't seem to attach. After 25 cruises, this is not normal. The issue was on the ship side, not the customs side. Once we got off of the ship, we walked right over, got our bags, and walked out of the terminal.

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 9.07.24 AM.jpg

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 9.07.32 AM.jpg

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 9.07.29 AM.jpg

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 9.07.37 AM.jpg
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
3,924
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We didn't pick our cabin number. When we selected midship mini suite, that is the cabin that selected / suggested on our behalf. I didn't try to change it becusse it didn't indicate that there was any reason to do so.
It does sound like you got the cabin assigned and it just happened to be a Handicap Assessable cabin. In the future it’s very helpful to have the Deck Plans up to look at the cabins available and the “Symbols and notes” for each cabin. I look at that deck plan to see what is above and below me and what is all around my cabin. The Legend on each deck show the meaning of the symbols you will find. The ADA cabins are clearly marked and no they do not have tubs. And yes they can still be the Cabin Category you booked. It’s unfortunate you didn’t notice the room description on the deck plan itself.

You say they offered compensation, I would accept but ask for a 24 month window to use it.
 
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Jun 1, 2019
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Sure hope they get this fixed we are booked for 3 cabins over Christmas.
Question did you pick out your Cabin # , we already have Cabin #’s for all three bookings. It certainly sounds like a screwed up mess.
I would assume that it will be resolved by then
It does sound like you got the cabin assigned and it just happened to be a Handicap Assessable cabin. In the future it’s very helpful to have the Deck Plans up to look at the cabins available and the “Symbols and notes” for each cabin. I look at that deck plan to see what is above and below me and what is all around my cabin. The Legend on each deck show the meaning of the symbols you will find. The ADA cabins are clearly marked and no they do not have tubs. And yes they can still be the Cabin Category you booked. It’s unfortunate you didn’t notice the room description on the deck plan itself.

You say they offered compensation, I would accept but ask for a 24 month window to use it.
I never even knew that they would assign an ADA cabin unless we needed and requested it.

Reading our reservation, it never mentions that it is an ADA cabin and there were no symbols on it when booking. I suspect that this is a byproduct of coming out of a drydock renovation but I could be wrong. If it was retrofitted as ADA after we booked it, we wouldn't have known at the time of booking.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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We try to avoid booking guarantee cabins for clients. This is what can happen. 50% of clients were happy with what they got, 50% were not. But a handicapped accessible cabin is bigger than a regular cabin and you just have to deal with the shower. If a tub was important- you should have booked a category that would allow you to choose the cabin.

Did you book this on your own? It was well known the ship was going in for drydock. Did you get a great rate?

Your disembarkation picture looks just like ours did.

I totally get the clock thing. When we sailed, we had to do a one hour time change 7 times as we crossed the Atlantic. We never knew what time it was- my wife actually bought a $10 watch to keep track of what time it was. Did you ask Guest Services to give you a wake up call?

All we received after having 2 days cut, 50% of the ports taken away and having to add two hotel nights in London that there $300 compensation didn’t fully cover and having to pay for two days of food we would have had on the ship was 25% off and 25% towards a future cruise good for two years that we will not use if we can help it.

If they are offering you a future credit for the inconveniences you incurred (since they refunded your money) consider yourself lucky. At least you got to all your ports
 
Jun 1, 2019
18
3
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We try to avoid booking guarantee cabins for clients. This is what can happen. 50% of clients were happy with what they got, 50% were not. But a handicapped accessible cabin is bigger than a regular cabin and you just have to deal with the shower. If a tub was important- you should have booked a category that would allow you to choose the cabin.

Did you book this on your own? It was well known the ship was going in for drydock. Did you get a great rate?

Your disembarkation picture looks just like ours did.

I totally get the clock thing. When we sailed, we had to do a one hour time change 7 times as we crossed the Atlantic. We never knew what time it was- my wife actually bought a $10 watch to keep track of what time it was. Did you ask Guest Services to give you a wake up call?

All we received after having 2 days cut, 50% of the ports taken away and having to add two hotel nights in London that there $300 compensation didn’t fully cover and having to pay for two days of food we would have had on the ship was 25% off and 25% towards a future cruise good for two years that we will not use if we can help it.

If they are offering you a future credit for the inconveniences you incurred (since they refunded your money) consider yourself lucky. At least you got to all your ports
We didn't book guarantee category. We booked a specific cabin to get the 5 bonus items. When we selected midship mini suite, this is the room it put us in. We had the room assignment at the time booking.
 
Jun 1, 2019
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We didn't book guarantee category. We booked a specific cabin to get the 5 bonus items. When we selected midship mini suite, this is the room it put us in. We had the room assignment at the time booking.
Also, we didn't get a good rate or realize that this was a drydock run. It was close to $2000 each.

The credit is $400 on board credit
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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Did you check the deck plans when you booked the cabin? It should have showed it was an ADA cabin.

$2,000 is an average mini suite price for Alaska.

We don’t open attachments - how far up to NCL did you go? You could ask for a future credit but look st the fact you got to every port and you got a mini suite which is what you booked, correct? Many aren’t so lucky.

What you can do is use our company contacts and ask for a future discount for another cruise. The worst that can happen is they say no, the best is your letter lands on the desk of a sympathetic executive who offers you something.

Just kept in mind my story of what we got on a cruise that had half the ports removed and shortened by two days.

Or what this passenger experienced:

https://www.elliott.org/blog/cruise-itinerary-changes-ruined-trip/#more-83999
 
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JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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I just tried pulling up Joy’s Deck plan and to start a midship booking but I’m in Normandy France and the NCL website blocked me :(
What cabin # - when booking our 3 cabins for our Joy Christmas sailing the Deck Plan Legend was very specific. Those small details are visible on the deck plan but don’t show on the actual reservation. You actually need to go and check your specific room details when you get your cabin assignment.

I’m so sorry this happened and it’s a good lesson to others of things that can go wrong to nice people who simply want the cruise they expected. I will consider myself forwarned about debarkation issues. We usually do self debarkation to be 1st off the ship.

Curious did you book direct with NCL?
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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Regarding disembarkation - I was on the first Bliss Alaska cruise and ours went just the same way so it wasn't from the Joy crew. Either the port & CBP were slow because it was the beginning of the season or it's just always that way. The terminal is WAY smaller than the one these ships go out of in Miami and Port Canaveral.

As for the port change when I booked only 30 days before Victoria was a 730pm arrival and it was 830pm in the daily and there wasn't any announcement about that. I didn't ask if it was always that and the online itinerary was wrong - just shrugged my shoulders even though the time change meant I didn't get to see Victoria.

As for ADA rooms - they will book people that doing need an ADA in those rooms if no one needs them. (If someone comes in after needing an ADA room they'll often move someone out of the ADA room.) Have you looked up your room on NCLs site and verified it was balcony not mini suite? Because the ADA rooms are designed to accommodate wheelchairs so they usually have items found in "regular" rooms removed and the bathrooms are wheelchair accessible so it wouldn't be like a "regular" mini suite bathroom.

The reservations you had changing sucks. Did they no longer offer the original ones you booked or move them? If they no longer had the original ones then they might have had to switch the schedules, if the original times were still there that's a problem. But with the Alaska itineraries NCL runs some of the shows have to be during port times and if you stay off in port the whole time you would miss dinner service.

The ship time is weird that they didn't fix it! The Bliss switched ship time 3 times with bo issue so odd that Joy couldn't get it together.
 
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Did you check the deck plans when you booked the cabin? It should have showed it was an ADA cabin.

$2,000 is an average mini suite price for Alaska.

We don’t open attachments - how far up to NCL did you go? You could ask for a future credit but look st the fact you got to every port and you got a mini suite which is what you booked, correct? Many aren’t so lucky.

What you can do is use our company contacts and ask for a future discount for another cruise. The worst that can happen is they say no, the best is your letter lands on the desk of a sympathetic executive who offers you something.

Just kept in mind my story of what we got on a cruise that had half the ports removed and shortened by two days.

Or what this passenger experienced:

https://www.elliott.org/blog/cruise-itinerary-changes-ruined-trip/#more-83999
In all honesty, a credit would be nice but we really just wanted an answer from NCL that wasn't a form letter. I know that you don't open attachments but I can paste our original message and their reply into the forum tonight. I was trying to keep it clean with attachments
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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Also, we didn't get a good rate or realize that this was a drydock run. It was close to $2000 each.

The credit is $400 on board credit
While some people avoid a ship right out of drydock, there's others that love to be on the inaugural sailing. It pushed up Joy's prices way high for that first cruise, meanwhile the Bliss sailing that left the next day and the second Joy cruise were considerably less. Just a function of demand.

As for avoiding right after or before drydock, just check out the cruises before and after the one you're looking at to see what's going on. Though the Joy had a sailing up/down the coast right before so it wasn't their very first US sailing.
 
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Carrie Livingston

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As for avoiding right after or before drydock, just check out the cruises before and after the one you're looking at to see what's going on. Though the Joy had a sailing up/down the coast right before so it wasn't their very first US sailing.
I think they may have been somewhat of a publicity thing. Some woman from one of the networks was on that sailing and blogged about it.
 

Carrie Livingston

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NCL assigns ADA cabins if they aren't already booked. People who need disabled cabins generally book them when an itinerary is first released so they have a chance to get the cabin they want.

Regarding disembarkation I think that may be the norm for a first cruise out of a port. They have to get things coordinated between the cruise line and the port personnel.