Saturday, August 08, 2015

Why I would not cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines ever again

Alaska Cruise

About a year ago my dear brother convinced me we should take our families on a cruise of Alaska. During the planning my sister decided she and her husband would come along too and we'd have a sibling reunion--fantastic! Norwegian has cruises that leave from Seattle, and so we booked an end-of-July sailing.
In the main, we had a wonderful time.  But here's what happened that convinced me never to cruise with NCL again.


Laurel had to dodge a fellow passenger while jogging on the jogging track and twisted her ankle.  It promptly swelled up to mini-football size.  My dear siblings Mike (physical therapist) Mary (PT assistant) and Tim (internal medicine doc) all said "oooh--get some ice on that thing right away".  So Laurel, stoic woman that she is, set out for the ship's medical office.

Norwegian Crew's Response

Get your own ice

Laurel found the office closed, and a sign directing her to dial an extension on the nearby wall phone. She did so, explained to the person answering (nurse?) what happened & asked for an ice pack.  The nurse came and unceremoniously thrust two empty plastic bags at her, directing her to go up 8 decks to the cafeteria and fill them up with ice.

That lacked in bedside manner, to be sure, but Laurel got what she'd asked for, so she took it in stride, ascended the 8 decks and got the ice.

Ace Bandage?

About two hours later it became clear that holding the ice against her ankle with her hands wasn't really working.  The plastic bags were small and light enough that gravity was not much help in keeping the ice in contact w/Laurel's ankle.  The swelling wasn't going down, and it was awkward as hell.  "Get you an ace bandage, and we'll lash the ice pack to you so you get compression and ice at once." said the physical therapists.  Doc brother agrees--good idea.  By now my chivalry kicks in & this time I go down to ask for an ace bandage.

The office is still closed, so I dial the extension & the following conversation ensues:

Me: Hi, my wife twisted her ankle on the jogging track earlier, and we need an ace bandage for her.
Nurse: An ace bandage?  I can't give you that.  You need to see a doctor to get an ace bandage.
Me: Seriously?  Well, okay--we're traveling w/my brother, who is a physician & he says she needs it.
Nurse: No, no, no--if you want an ace bandage, you have to see our doctor, and doing that costs $184.
Me: Are you kidding me?  With all the money you're charging us to be on this cruise you can't give up an ace bandage without bilking us for an extra $184?  That's outrageous!
Nurse: That's correct--you must see our doctor to get an ace bandage from us.

I hung up and went back to the stateroom.  Nobody in our group could believe that they'd effectively charge us $184 for a stupid ace bandage (well, they could believe it, but all agreed that it was outrageous).  I later went to the customer service desk to verify that what the nurse said was true, and they confirmed that no, they will not give you an ace bandage without seeing their doctor, and yes, seeing the doctor cost $184.  I gave the poor woman a piece of my mind & stalked off.

What's that--a sprained ankle?  Cha-ching!

So it seems to me that Norwegian Cruise Line looks upon a passenger injuring herself while underway as a revenue-generating opportunity.  While you're at sea they have a captive customer base and so, just like the bottled water package they hawk at you to purchase while on board (among dozens of other packages, treatments and miscellaneous 'experiences') ace bandages are similarly marked way the hell up.

This is not a business that I or anybody should want to patronize.