In her letter to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, Belinda wrote:
As one of the almost 2000 passengers on the NCL voyage through the Panama Canal March 16 – 31, I was totally astonished and horrified by the cruise experience. I would like to report to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association the unexpected, health hazardous and probably dangerous situations we faced. You probably have seen some of the television coverage and read some of the newspaper articles, as well as hopefully have heard from some individual passengers about their personal distress.
I chose this cruise experience in order to specifically travel through the Panama Canal as well as to rest and relax during sea days (which was half of the time. There were 7 days at port and 7 days at sea.). I enjoyed all port excursions which I selected from NCL options. The onboard crew worked hard to create pleasant holiday memories for us.
However, the ship was undergoing heavy construction! Parts of the ship were cordoned off, including access to some muster stations, endangering the safety of passengers in case of emergency. Decks were sanded down and varnished with workers wearing protective respirators while passengers suffered inhalation of toxic particles wind blown everywhere. Mental shards even entered some passenger eyes! People were cursed with skin rashes, itchy skin, runny noses, and breathing difficulties as dust debris coated decks, including the buffet area on deck 11!
Moreover, noise levels polluted the atmosphere as jackhammers drilled day and night, even at 2:00 in the morning, causing some passengers to contact guest services where the solution was to relocate the passengers to another room for the remainder of the night rather than stop the incessant drilling.
Passengers the worst affected seem to be those cabined on deck 6 and those who wanted to enjoy pool area on an upper deck where flammable materials in hordes of buckets were stored openly. Unfortunately the child’s pool was not available for families. Some bars and restaurants were not open because of the floating dock ‘restoration’.
Before this cruise experience I had sailed only with various Turkish cruise companies, including the reputable ETS, and in May, 2017 I finally sailed with Holland America to Alaska. On none of these cruises was there any construction going on. Had I known that the NCL ship I boarded for two weeks was going to subject paying passengers to health risks, inconvenience, non-full ship use, and possible dangerous emergency situations, I would not have chosen the cruise.
This NCL experience was most regrettable and most inexcusable because as far as I know no passenger was advised by NCL as to the state of affairs of that particular sea experience. Plenty of passengers would probably have deferred this trip and done another one. Any ship company should be ashamed of subjecting their ‘guests’ to such situations and to open duplicity. Moreover, there should be recourse to solving problems connected with ‘floating construction’ or better yet policies adopted among cruise association members which allow only dry dock work for renovation and restoration.
Thank you for reading through this email and giving your attention to not only my experience on board but to that of many.
Belinda Burton Atay