We are writing this letter to you in regards to our being “downgraded” on our stateroom on the Pride of Hawaii, July 10 through the 17th, 2006.
In January 2006, while looking at the NCL website, we found out that the new ship, Pride of Hawaii, was going to start sailing during the summer of 2006. We thought it would be an exciting opportunity to be on a new ship. We also learned on the website that we could get a category BB stateroom for the price of a DD stateroom, plus $50.00 onboard credit, as they were having a special (on bookings made between 1/3/06 and 2/28/06 for sailings between 2/18/06 and 4/30/07). This was an answer to our prayers, as money is very tight for us.
On February 6, 2006, we made our reservations by phone through Hawaiian Airlines Cruise Vacation. The Representative set up a conference call with me and an NCL representative. They located an available balcony stateroom #9572 in the middle of the ship and we paid the $500.00 down payment on that same day, with the final payment due before April 26, 2006. We received a confirmation email from Hawaiian Air Cruises, and a Norwegian Cruise Lines reservation Number, with our stateroom #9572 on it, stating that our stateroom was reserved for us.
On April 24, 2006, I contacted our Hawaiian Airline Cruise to make the final payment. I received an email confirmation from our Representative on that same day, stating that all payments had been received and that we were confirmed in room #9572, it also listed the NCL Reservation Number. When our Travel Documents arrived, I checked them for the sailing dates, and names which were all correct.
Saturday, July 8, 2006, the first day of our vacation:
My wife asked me for the emergency number and stateroom number so she could give them to a family member in case it became necessary to reach us. It had been months since I made the reservations, and I had forgotten what room number we had by that time. I looked up the emergency phone number on the travel document, but I could not find anything that said “stateroom”. I looked up my email confirmations from Hawaiian Air which stated that we were in room #9572. In the process of packing I came across the luggage tags; they had 5026 FWD on them. At first I thought that this must be some type of code that the porters use, but then it started nagging on me, so I decided to contact Hawaiian Air Cruises by phone to get a better understanding, since it did not say #9572.
I talked to a representative from Hawaiian Air Cruises. She looked up the reservations by NCL reservation # and it showed that we had stateroom #5026. I told her that my confirmation from April 24th, stated that I had reserved stateroom #9572. She looked further into their records and said, “Hmm, this does not look right.” Hawaiian Air Cruises showed in their records that I did in fact reserve stateroom #9572 through them.
She then put me on hold so she could contact the NCL Rep. The NCL rep stated that it showed originally, room #9572 was reserved, but that it had been changed on April 24, 2006, when the final payment was made. They did not have any more information. Both the Hawaiian Air Cruise Rep and the NCL Rep said that they had never seen anything like this before! Our Hawaiian Air Rep said that they have a Follow-Up Department that looks into these types of matters, but they were already closed for the day. She said they would open at 9 a.m. Eastern time, and suggested that I call them on the following day. I live in the Los Angeles area, so this meant getting up to talk to them at 6 a.m. on the second day of my vacation.
Sunday, July 9, 2006:
After a very troubled sleep, 6 a.m. finally came around and I called and spoke with a lady in the Hawaiian Air Cruises Follow-up Department. I explained the whole thing again, and after she confirmed with NCL everything that was said on the previous day, she informed me that the NCL department that had made the change did not work on the weekends. They would not be in until Monday morning, at 9 a.m. Eastern time. I told her that we were flying out of LAX early on Monday morning and that it was very disconcerting to fly to Hawaii without knowing what was going to happen with our stateroom! She told me that we did at least have a stateroom reserved, so the flight would not be wasted.
Monday, July 10, 2006, first day of the cruise:
Again, after very little sleep, I made another 6 a.m. phone call to the same Hawaiian Air Rep. She contacted an NCL Rep. and after much phone time she told me that she had contacted the correct NCL department, but that they had never run across this problem before, so they did not have an answer yet. She said that she would contact me on my cell phone as soon as she had more information. She felt that possibly NCLA would be able to sort through all of this by the time we reached the ship. We arrived in Honolulu and I checked my messages, but had not received any from Hawaiian Air, so I checked with the NCLA Rep at the Pier. It was very frustrating to find out that he did not know anything about this problem.
I would have expected some type of notes to be in the computer, especially since we had been dealing with this problem for three days already! I told him I was worried that our bags would go to the wrong room, since we were supposed to be in #9572. He told me that we should check into stateroom #5026 and work with the front desk to get this straightened out. He assured us that our bags would show up in room #5026 and we had no choice but to board the ship.
Once onboard, I went to the Front Desk right away and explained all that had transpired to one of the staff at the front desk. She checked with her supervisor and replied that the ship was completely booked and that they could not move us up to a balcony room. She said that we would be ‘first in line’ if one of the other guests failed to show up and a balcony stateroom became available. She informed us that the ship must wait for 48 hours to allow all passengers to ‘catch up’ to the ship in case they had missed its departure. We said ok since there was nothing else we could do. She said that someone in the Front Office would let us know the outcome once the 48 hour time period elapsed.
Tuesday July 11, 2006:
While in port, I decided to call Hawaiian Air Cruises again. I talked to a different Rep. I again explained everything that had transpired. She said she would be contacting me after she did some research.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006:
The Hawaiian Air Rep. contacted me. Their records showed that when the Original Representative from Hawaiian Air Cruises made the final payment to NCL on our behalf, her screen displayed a lower price than what NCL had originally shown. She asked the NCL rep if there had been any price changes since the original reservations were made and that the NCL rep had said “yes”. The price was adjusted, but the NCL rep did not state to Hawaiian Air Cruises that there was any change in the stateroom, category, or special upgrades. She gave me the NCLA Customer Relations address and said that there was nothing else that she could do. I would have to take this up with NCLA customer relations.
After the 48 hour waiting time expired, we had received no communication from the Front Office. My wife and I decided to see if we could speak with someone in management, the Assistant Manager was available, so we met with him in his office. We explained everything to him, including our frustrations over the fact that this was supposed to be our relaxing vacation. We showed him the confirmation paperwork that we had received from Hawaiian Air Cruises, and he said that in the years he had been with NCLA he had never run across this before. He was very professional, and we felt that we finally found someone in the NCLA organization who had the ability to truly help us resolve our dilemma. He said that he would look into this further, but needed time to check everything out.
Thursday, July 13, 2006:
We received a phone call from the Front Office Manager. He said that he would like to meet with us when we were available. We met with him in his office and he said that the Assistant Manager had brought our unique situation to his attention. He wanted to communicate with us to let us know that he was working on this with the NCLA corporate offices, and he was waiting to hear back from them. He was also very professional and personable. My wife and I have nothing but praise for him in how he handled our complaint.
Friday, July 14, 2006: (Our anniversary)
Late in the afternoon, we were again contacted by the Front Office Manager. We met with him in his office and he informed us that indeed NCLA records showed that someone had changed the reservations on April 24, 2006. We informed him that we had been told this before and that we were very frustrated that neither NCLA nor Hawaiian would take responsibility for this “change”. We never requested a price reduction or a room change. He told us that even in his position, he was not able to resolve this issue. It would be necessary for us to write a letter to NCLA Customer Relations in Florida. He gave us the proper name and assured us that their office was very prompt in handling customer concerns. He was very kind, and said that the best he could do for us was give us a $200 on board credit.
We worked very hard for a long time to afford this cruise. My wife and I are employed by a small private university, and we are raising four children, so extra money does not come easy for us. I took on a temporary second job to earn the money for this cruise. We were willing to invest the extra time and stress since we would soon be celebrating our special anniversary, by cruising through the Hawaiian Islands, on a brand new ship, knowing that we would be able to enjoy the beautiful views from our own balcony. This was going to be a dream vacation. We were counting the days!! Through the internet we eagerly followed the progress of the Pride of Hawaii as she was getting closer to her maiden voyage.
Instead, it turned out that while I was supposed to be relaxing and unwinding with my wife, I came out of this more stressed than when I went in. I could feel our plans for this dream vacation ‘going down the tubes’ one day at a time. It felt like someone else had been given our vacation that we had worked so hard for. We missed having our own private balcony to see the wonderful Hawaiian scenery, the beautiful sunsets, the night time lava viewing.