If the cruise is still available, why did NCL cancel my booking?

Norwegian Cruise Line cancels an Alaskan cruise booked in the United Kingdom, but oddly enough, that same cruise is still available to those in the United States. Can our advocates help?

Question: I booked our family holiday of a lifetime — a 14-day Authentic Alaska – Southbound Cruisetour on Norwegian Cruise Line. Four months after booking, I received a call from the NCL cruise consultant (who booked it originally) informing me that our cruise had been canceled — the tour package was no longer available. I was horrified.

I booked the cruise directly with NCL. The price was quite competitive, so the cruise consultant made some inquiries with her supervisors to ensure the cruise was available at the advertised price. I then made my deposit and received a confirmation email from NCL. The booking details, itinerary, and price were all correct.

Then, strangely enough, the tour disappeared from the U.K. website a few days later, but was still available on the U.S. website (at a much higher price). When I telephoned NCL a few months back, it assured me that my reservation was intact.

A few weeks ago, I received a second call from NCL. This time the cruise consultant asked me to cancel my booking. Even though I did not, it was followed by an automated email stating that my reservation had been canceled. No reason was given, and there was no option for rebooking on another cruise. I was left not knowing what to do.

Why would Norwegian cancel my cruise and say it’s not available when it is still available in the U.S.?

My communication with Norwegian failed to get a response. I then escalated my request to the NCL contact found on Elliott.org.

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I am getting nowhere with Norwegian Cruise Line. I have been trying to get this resolved for over six months. It still has my deposit, and I don’t have a cruise.

I joined the forum on Elliott.org and received some helpful advice.

Can your advocates please help me? I’d like to get our cruise back. — Sonia Peloe, Cambridge, England

Answer: I admire your determination. Having your cruise canceled for reasons unknown leaves you at a loss.

On a cruise message board forum, you learned that other U.K. passengers were also canceled from this same NCL cruise and, again, no reason was given. It seemed that Norwegian Cruise Line changed the ship from the Sun to the Jewel. The conjecture was that U.S. customers were rebooked on the new ship, whereas U.K. customers were canceled.

Norwegian Cruise Line has not confirmed this speculation. The fact remains that you were canceled from your cruise and were not given any option to rebook, nor was your deposit (paid six months ago) refunded.

According to NCL’s U.K. terms and conditions:

If we have to make a significant change or cancel, we will tell you as soon as reasonably possible. If there is time to do so before departure, we will offer you the choice of the following options:
(a) (for significant changes) accepting the changed arrangements or
(b) purchasing an alternative holiday from us, of a similar standard to that originally booked if available (if the chosen alternative is less expensive than your original one, we will refund the difference but if it is more expensive, we will ask you to pay the difference) or
(c) cancelling or accepting the cancellation in which case you will receive a full and quick refund of all monies you have paid to us.

On the flip side, if passengers cancel their cruise, here’s what Norwegian Cruise Line has to say:

Penalties may apply if you cancel or change your reservation. Penalties can be up to 100% of your total trip cost. We recommend purchasing insurance to protect against covered unexpected events.

Cruises offer a terrific adventure on land and sea, and most avid cruisers can’t wait to book another. From the cases received at Elliott.org, it’s usually the cruise lines’ policies that diminish the experience.

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Our advocate from the United Kingdom intervened on your behalf. It took some endurance on your part (six months) and that of our advocate, but you finally received a response from NCL, and it’s a good one.

Norwegian Cruise Line is now working on putting your cruise package back together at the same price as your original booking. They will rebook your cabins on the new ship and will send you a confirmation.

Your grateful response made what we do at Elliott.org all worthwhile. You shared that there was “no doubt” that our advocate (“a real star,” as you called him) was the one who made this all happen. You played a big role as well, and I commend you both for your efforts.

Stephanie Patterson

Stephanie is a published book author and travel columnist with a focus on preparation and protocol. She is committed to helping travelers be informed and avoid potential problems while traveling. Stephanie's most recent book is "Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad". For travel insight when planning your trip, visit Know Before You Go Travel. Along with writing, Stephanie does interior designing.

  • sirwired

    If they want to be a bunch of lazy *bleep!*s and simply issue wholesale cancellations when they change out the ship well in advance, fine, it’s stupid, but whatever… But the note about the forced cancellation should most certainly have ALSO included a note that a full refund has already been processed. (And a generous credit for a re-book wouldn’t be amiss either.)

  • Alan Gore

    There may have been an unexpected surge in demand for the cruise on the US side, perhaps from people not wanting to risk going to Europe this year, leading NCL to cancel low-priced bookings previously made. After all, their terms of service allow them to do that. Once again, they would have gotten away with it were it not for the stink of potential negative publicity raised by our advocates.

    On this side of the water, there are people who made hotel reservations in the path of eclipse totality a year ahead of time. In the final month before the event, demand soared and some properties couldn’t resist the temptation to cancel old reservations for handwavey reasons so they could accommodate latecomers willing to pay a lot more.

  • Bill___A

    That’s a nice outcome, but why did they do this and what happened to all of the other UK bookings? There seems to have been a lot of grief caused for a long time…..for no justifiable reason other than apparent greed on the part of the cruise line. Good job by the Elliott team, but this really disturbing.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    It is my guess that 1) they cancel the UK bookings because they paid a lower rate than the US bookings and 2) they didn’t think of the ‘consequences’ of cancelling the UK bookings.

  • Annie M

    Why did they cancel in the first place? Did they rebook all the other U.K. Clients they canceled?

    I suspect they wanted more money for this cruise and when they got caught- have in so as to not have any bad publicity.

    What difference does it make if the ship was changed? If they were still selling it in the US they can’t use switching ships as an excuse.?

  • Annie M

    And never expected Elliott to go after them

  • Mel65

    I love to see this kind of case on Elliot Org, where the customer has done no wrong and you save the day! Kudos all around.

  • greg watson

    I don’t speculate, as some of you do…………I try to stick to what the problem actually was……..if the OP has been wronged………….regardless of what the companies policy is…………the wrong should me made right…………….which is why successful self advocacy & team Elliott are priceless !

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