Norwegian Cruise Line was reported to have offered all the passengers on the Panama Canal Cruise that sailed between March 16 – 31, 2018 a free cruise in compensation for the construction cruise. A free cruise sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

But, in this case, free isn’t free.

What they offered is a 100% fare credit to be used towards a future cruise. What that means is a portion of what people paid for this cruise can be applied to another cruise. The fare is only part of the cost. There are additional charges paid to the cruise line such as service charges and port fees. In addition, the credit can not be used to pay port fees, taxes, and service charges on the new cruise. The ‘free cruise’ could cost passengers thousands. What does it cost Norwegian Cruise Lines? Not much in actual fact. They make a lot of their money on the on-board spending, wifi, speciality restaurants, activities, casino, excursions, and such. The fare is just a part of the equation for them.

What about passengers who for one reason or another are not in a position to take another cruise? For them, the credit amounts to nothing.

Some people are still sick from the cruise – chemical pneumonia among other things. They may have legal recourse for further compensation – although that remains to be seen.

There are those that are happy with the credit, and that’s ok! They will likely have a great cruise next time and don’t mind that it will cost them money to take their ‘free’ cruise.

There are more that while not totally happy, accept that this may be the best they will get. Cruise lines have all the legal advantages it seems.

My opinion? Norwegian cruise line should never have subjected passengers to this ‘construction cruise’. We didn’t get the relaxing, luxury cruise that was advertised and we expected. We spent far more time indoors than we would have liked because we couldn’t be out on the decks due to the fumes, particulate, and dust. They should refund passengers for this cruise in addition to the fare credit. In particular, passengers who experienced symptoms from the chemicals and particulate on board should receive further compensation without taking legal action. It would just be the right thing to do. NCL doesn’t seem too concerned with what is right, just what is profitable. They calculated they could not only save money but make money by doing all this work before their scheduled dry dock.

Great companies make money while treating their customers right. Great companies don’t just acknowledge their mistakes, they offer sincere apologies and really make it right for the customer. NCL has shown they are not great.

Hopefully, the very vocal passengers on the Norwegian Sun have brought enough attention to this that no other cruise line will do major renovations on a ship full of passengers and crew.