In the past few weeks weather has affected quite a few cruise itineraries, but the Royal Caribbean ship the Navigator of the Seas has been affected exceptionally badly.
26 October 2018 Sailing
On 26th October she sailed out of Southampton for a 10-night Canary Island cruise. This was filled with many families as it covered the half term holidays for many in the UK. One of my colleagues was travelling on-board and described how terrible the weather was and, in the middle of the night, they felt a big bang. This was followed by ‘bravo’ announcements and the staff running around with life jackets on. The ships stabilisers had broken and created a hole in the hull of the ship, meaning that the ship was letting in water! I can only imagine how scary that would be. My colleague managed to get a couple of hours sleep and woke up in Vigo (when they were due to be at sea). The ship then spent 24 hours there to allow for it to be fixed. The itinerary change was announced and due to the issues and delays they would now not call in at Madeira or Lanzarote. This caused an uproar from many guests who felt disgruntled that they could not visit these destinations. Lots were unhappy and stated that these destinations were the reasons that they booked the cruise and were outraged at missing them off. Some left the ship in Vigo and made their own way home, whilst others left in Tenerife or Gran Canaria and made their own onward arrangements.
Although I can understand the distress that this caused passengers, my colleague reported to me that her family were happy with the way this was dealt with and they were fairly compensated by Royal Caribbean for an issue which was out of their control and dealt with bearing safety as their utmost priority. Passengers were offered 25% of their cruise fare as an on-board credit. This was given as money if they decided to dis-embark and make their own on-ward plans or didn’t use all the on-board spend provided by the end of the cruise. They were also offered a further 25% of the value of their cruise as future cruise credit to put towards a future booking with Royal Caribbean.
5 November 2018 sailing
Three days before sailing, a drastic itinerary change was sent out to guests from Royal Caribbean. What had previously been a dream itinerary for many including sailing over the Atlantic Ocean into Boston, followed by an overnight stop in New York and docking in Port Canaveral before disembarking in Miami was changed dramatically. Passengers were advised that due to storm trajectories they would not be able to follow the original itinerary and were instead sailing to Zeebrugge, followed by La Havre for an overnight stop before sailing down to Gran Canaria and afterwards straight across to Miami. Due to the severity of the change Royal Caribbean offered passengers on-board credit (depending of what cabin type they are in) and 25% of their cruise fare as future cruise credit to spend on a future cruise. For many though including my customers this was in no way the cruise hey had booked and dreamt about so they decided to cancel. In this case Royal Caribbean offered an 100% refund on all elements of the holiday booked through them. I felt awful for these customers as they had holiday leave booked and were all ready and excited for the trip. I did manage to book up one of my customers on a holiday for the next day though so it goes to show that it helps to book with a travel agent on these occasions as we will do the utmost to help in situations such as this. Rumour has it though that once customers were on-board the Navigator of the Seas the itinerary changed again, and the ship sailed directly to Gran Canaria and added stops on Royal Caribbean private island in the Bahamas Cococay and Port Canaveral before sailing into Miami. I have heard this was a popular change for many who decided to stay on this sailing.
The Navigator of the Seas will be having a $120 million refurbishment in early 2019 including a new water park so hopefully this is the end of the ships bad luck and future passengers will continue to enjoy sailing on her in the future!