Wednesday,  May 31, 2023  6:49 pm

COVID pauses more sailings at NCL; Norwegian Gem cancels mid-cruise

COVID pauses more sailings at NCL; Norwegian Gem cancels mid-cruise
Norwegian Gem. (NCL)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Disruptions related to rising COVID-19 infections and ongoing travel restrictions have resulted in more cancellations at Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL).

On Jan. 13, the company updated its travel advisory webpage, adding cancellations on five ships: 

“Due to ongoing travel restrictions,” the following ships will face interruptions:

  • Norwegian Dawn cruises with embarkation dates through and including January 18, 2022
  • Norwegian Getaway cruises with embarkation dates through and including January 19, 2022
  • Norwegian Escape cruises with embarkation dates through and including January 22, 2022
  • Norwegian Joy cruises with embarkation dates through and including January 22, 2022
  • Norwegian Breakaway cruises with embarkation dates through and including January 23, 2022

Last week, NCL cancelled cruises on eight ships, including earlier voyages on Norwegian Getaway (Jan. 5) and Norwegian Pearl (Jan. 14).

The cancellation list also includes Norwegian Sky (cruises embarking Feb. 25); Pride of America (cruises embarking Feb. 26); Norwegian Jade (cruises embarking through March 3); Norwegian Star (cruises embarking through March 19); Norwegian Sun (cruises embarking through April 19); Norwegian Spirit (cruises embarking through April 23).

Norwegian Joy is one of several ships impacted by NCL's cancellations. (NCL)

Passengers with an active reservation on affected cruises will automatically receive a refund in the original form of payment for the amount paid, NCL says.

Additionally, a 10 per cent off Future Cruise Credit will be automatically added to the guest's account as of Jan. 7, 2022. The discount can be used to make a booking from Jan. 7, 2022 through January 7, 2023 and can be applied towards any sailings through May 31, 2023.

READ MORE: Norwegian, Royal Caribbean cancel voyages amid Omicron surge

NCL also warns that more itineraries might be modified “as the global public health environment continues to rapidly evolve and destinations around the world modify their travel requirements.” 

Norwegian isn’t the only company cancelling voyages. Last week, Royal Caribbean, too, cancelled scheduled cruises on four ships: Vision of the Seas’ (return to sea postponed until March 7); Serenade of the Seas (sailings from Jan. 8-March 5, returning after dry dock on April 26); Jewel of the Seas (sailings from Jan. 9-Feb. 12, returning on Feb. 20); Symphony of the Seas (sailings from Jan 8-22, returning on Jan 29).

Norwegian Gem cancels mid-cruise

Meanwhile, Norwegian, yesterday, cancelled a Caribbean sailing, mid-cruise.

According to reports, passengers currently on board Norwegian Gem received a letter on Thursday (Jan. 13) stating that their 10-day voyage, which departed from New York on Sunday (Jan. 8), would be turning around due to “COVID-related circumstances.”

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience but your health and safety, as well as that of our crew and the communities we visit, always comes first. Always,” the letter reads.

The ship was docked in St. Maarten when guests received word. In its letter, NCL didn't say when the ship would arrive back in New York, but invited guests to “get off the ship” and enjoy St. Maartan nonetheless until more information was available. 

According to one guest on board who spoke to USA Today, the Norwegian Gem had already opted to skip port calls in Grand Turk, St. Thomas and Tortola by the time it arrived to St. Maarten, indicating just how the highly-contagious Omicron variant is limiting some voyages at sea.  

"As we continue to navigate the fluid public health environment, while focusing on delivering a safe experience for all on board, today, we made the difficult decision to cancel Norwegian Gem’s current Caribbean sailing, due to COVID-related circumstances," Christine Da Silva, senior vice-president of branding and communication at NCL told USA Today.

Passengers on Norwegian Gem’s cancelled sailing were offered a full refund in their original form of payment (or cruise credit if that's how the passenger paid), plus an additional credit equal to 50 per cent of the voyage fare for the sailing, which can be applied to a future cruise by May 31, 2023.

In its letter to guests, Norwegian noted how it was “terribly sorry” for the cancellation.

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