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Friday, November 25, 2011

Kauai: Day of shopping and sun tanning  ship's deck


Today we decided that we would each do our own thing. The ship stayed in the harbour overnight so I got up early, had breakfast and went for a walk to one of the shopping centres near the docks. I asked if there was wifi and the woman I asked said that I had to walk back to the ship and get the shuttle to the K-Mart Mall. That was not the smartest idea on Black Friday. The mall was jam-packed with people trying to get a bargain so each cash register had about 15 people in each line. I decided that I didn’t need anything that badly that I was willing to stay in a checkout line for an inordinate amount of time.

I went back to the ship in time for lunch and then spent some time on the deck trying to collect some rays so that I could go back to Winnipeg looking like I had some sun that just might last me for part of the winter. The ship sailed at 2pm and about 5pm, they sailed to the North part of the island which is the Na’Pali coast. Apparently the best way to see it is by helicopter or boat and since I was already on the ship, that was sufficient for me. It was stunning in its wild natural beauty. The mountains looked like striations on the side. The ship did a 180 degree turn so that everyone could see the beauty of a 14 mile coastline that is well preserved. Once again, there was an amazing sunset and looking at it, you could totally see that the clouds covering part of the sunset didn’t have a silver lining but a beautiful gold and very glittery lining.

We went down to the Teppanyaki restaurant but before that, I went to the front desk to ask why the desk service manager had not called about the issues that we had on the ship since we arrived. The desk person said that the restaurant manager said he would give us half price off our restaurant meal and a complimentary bottle of wine. I asked to speak to the manager and I got the run around. I said that I would not leave until I could speak to him or her. The desk person then gave me another message from the manager saying that at this late date, there was nothing that they could do. I insisted on speaking to the manager himself and reiterated that I would not leave until I spoke to him. Finally she said that he would speak to me and she took me into his office a few feet away from her counter.

I entered the room to see not one but two managers there. I explained that I had spoken to the Guest Services Associate the night before about the issues that occurred over several days on the ship and the lack of attention to the details of a cruise that makes for a nice vacation. I did not sound angry but I was definitely firm in letting them know that I had done other cruises before with other cruise lines and they were far superior in every aspect than Norwegian Cruise Lines. He (the manager) said that this ship and therefore the experience was not the same as other cruise lines. I said that it was evident from the lack of service. He explained that the ship is registered in the US and therefore they have to follow strict US labour laws. I said that I was aware and noticed that most of the crew were from the US. He said that was correct and that they are not allowed to work their crew more than the labour laws allow. I said that common courtesy does not contravene any labour laws and from the sounds of what he was saying, Americans are rude and nonchalant about their jobs, not seeming to think that they needed to make any effort given that they would be getting a share of the mandatory $11 per day per guest that was already pre-paid. I told him that I write a blog and so far, I could not find anything nice to say either about the ship, the service or the staff in general – with a few exceptions. It should be the other way around – that good service should be the standard, not the exception. I asked him to give me one good reason why I would want to travel again with NCL and he said he could totally understand why I would be disappointed. I then asked what he was prepared to do about the situation. He said that he would pay for the dinner in the Tepanyaki restaurant. I told him that it was insulting to think that they mixed up my reservation and I would get a free meal – for which half was paid for anyway. I said that he would have to do better than that. He said to go and enjoy the dinner and by the end of the night, he would get back to me about other compensation for the other issues.

We went off to the Tepanyaki restaurant (which has a cover charge of $25 per person) and had dinner. The restaurant manager gave us complimentary bottle of wine with the complimentary dinner. At the end of the evening, we received a letter from the Guest Services Manager stating that they would refund all the gratuities for everyone in our group. So, all together, we received a credit of $420 plus the 5 dinners and an $80 bottle of wine. Sophie said that was impressive. For me complaining effectively means being calm but authoritative, stating my case clearly and concisely, and asking the other party for reasonable compensation based on the severity or complexity of the incident(s). It worked well but with all that being said, I cannot think of a reason that I would want to travel with NCL again.

In speaking to another woman who came off the ship the same time as us, she said that her travel agent warned her to lower her expectations when travelling with NCL’s Pride of America ship. They are the “only game in town” when it comes cruises to the Hawaiian islands so that’s another reason why they don’t think they have provide good service. Another reason apparently is that because of the American economy, many of the staff take this job as a job and not because they really want to be doing this kind of work. The Guest Service Manager as much as said that. I am lucky to do the kind of work that I do and every day is not perfect but that does not give me permission to do less than my best. My little lesson here is that there is nothing common about courtesy and a Good Morning or Good Afternoon goes a long way.

sandra

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