Did Norwegian Cruise Line mislead customers over coronavirus?
Norwegian Cruise Line has come under scrutiny for its handling of customers’ coronavirus concerns.
Some customers, who were denied the opportunity to reschedule their cruise, tell Kane In Your Corner that they don’t understand why the company approved a new “Peace of Mind” refund policy last week, but delayed its implementation until after their cruise departed. The company has also drawn scrutiny this week for leaked emails, which appeared to show a senior sales manager urging salespeople to mislead potential customers about COVID-19.
Alex Kenney and his family enjoy taking cruises. They’ve taken two in the past year alone. And they were looking forward to taking a third last Sunday, aboard Norwegian Cruise Line. But when the U.S. State Department strongly warned Americans to avoid cruise ships because of the coronavirus, the Kenneys asked to reschedule. Norwegian Cruise Line said no.
“I don't feel like we were asking for anything excessive, just, let's go when it's safe,” Kenney says. “It was a flat-out no. Just no.”
Two days before their scheduled departure, Norwegian Cruise Line announced a new "Peace of Mind” policy, which said that customers could reschedule any cruise for 100% credit until the end of September. But the policy, announced March 6, only took effect “on voyages beginning March 10th,” two days after the Kenneys’ ship was scheduled to leave, which they say left families like them forced to choose whether to risk their family’s health. They ultimately opted to eat the cost of their tickets.
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“By them not offering even a credit, you make families come into the position of saying: ‘I worked all this time, I booked this vacation. Can I give up this vacation’?” Alan Kenney says.
This isn't the only policy at Norwegian Cruise Lines that's raised eyebrows this week. The Miami New Times reported that leaked emails show a senior sales manager urged salespeople to spread false information to potential customers who raised concerns about COVID-19. One talking point reportedly said: "The Coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise." Another said: "Scientists and medical professionals have confirmed that the warm weather of the spring will be the end of the Coronavirus." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization both say they don’t actually know how the weather will affect the virus.
Kane In Your Corner contacted Norwegian Cruise Line. The company did not address whether it will take any action to help customers like the Kenneys. Regarding the misleading talking points that sales reps were reportedly instructed to use, a spokesperson emailed a statement, saying: "We remain committed to operating with integrity and providing our guests with the best possible vacation experiences across the globe. We are aware of the article in question and are looking into the matter."