Imagine saving up money for a themed cruise of a lifetime, just to spend it on a nightmare. According to cruisers, this is exactly what they encountered on Norwegian Cruise Line's 10th Annual "Capital Jazz Cruise" out of Miami Florida last week.
From extremely long lines, overbooked shows, smaller concert rooms, malfunctioning interactive apps, lack of communication, and an unscheduled destination, the trip did not live up to the cruise goers expectations.
From the moment cruise goers boarded the ship, Theresa Rankin, 56, of San Pedro, California, says things were chaotic and out of control. Filled with live entertainment, great food and drinks, the weeklong cruise costs anywhere from $1,895 to $4,500 per person plus airfare cost.
“It was chaotic. I never experienced anything like that in my life. It was senior citizens and disabled people who couldn’t get around, so they couldn’t book any of the shows,” says Rankin.
“They had a helluva lineup, but they didn’t get to see half of the shows because things were booked. The reason I went on the trip was for the lineup. It was my first time on this cruise, and I know others in the past that have experienced greatness. For a first-timer, this was some scary sh*t!”
“When you tried to make a reservation, it was already sold out or overbooked. Once it filled up, it was filled up. They had lines on the ship to get tickets to the shows. You had to make a reservation to see the ‘featured’ shows. The Interactive App did not work on the ship and we hadn’t even pulled out of Miami when we had to get in lines to operate the apps to book the ‘featured’ shows. There were long lines and if “line A” didn’t work. You had to go to “Line B.” If “Line B” didn’t work, you had to go to “Line C.” They (managers) came out to talk to the crowds, but the staff was booed. The people weren’t enthused about sh*t. People were angry. People were pissed off.”
However, cruise goers Valrie and Jimmy White, of Atlanta, had an entirely different experience. As soon as they got on the ship, Valrie said they immediately got in line to book the ‘feature shows’ and were able to book every show they wanted, except one. The cruise was her pre-retirement gift, and she said they enjoyed the cruise.
“It was our first time cruising with Capital Jazz. Norwegian Getaway was a nice ship. My balcony was fine. However, the service could have been better. There were some concerns that needed to be worked out. Overall, we met some great people, and the entertainment was outstanding,” says Valrie and her husband. We only missed one show that we wanted to see.”
As if, day one was not enough drama… On day two, the drama was worst. The cruise was scheduled to go to the beautiful Great Stirrup Cay Island. However, Rankin says the Great Stirrup Cay did not happen at all; instead they were bused to a location in Nassau Bahamas, where the famous Atlantis hotel was the backdrop, opposed to the Great Sirrup Cay Island that was supposed to be part of the trip. The Program Highlight for Day 2 of the cruise states:
“Free day on NCLs Private Island Great Stirrup Cay.” It goes on to state that,
“The SuperCruise will have this beautiful island all to itself for the entire day! Enjoy fun beach activities with other SuperCruises, plus a free buffet lunch on the beach!”
However, Rankin says no one gave them any explanation as to why they were rerouted to Nassau, Bahamas, for the live concert and they did not receive the free buffet lunch that was supposed to be included with the Great Stirrup Cay destination.
“The free outdoor concert at Stirrup never happened. Far as I’m concerned, that Jill Scott sh*t was a rip off. Jill Scott did four songs and was gone. They never apologized. The professional management didn’t come out. They sent their unprofessional people. I want to see the #1 or #2 guy and they never came out. Rankin says she knew a lot of the artists and says, “The artists were complaining because they knew people didn’t get to see them.”
When Rankin complained to the people that they did send out to address issues, she said they added a few comedians shows at midnight to try to compensate for the sold out shows, but the comedians were not the ‘featured shows’ that everyone came on the cruise to see.
“They gotta do something besides offer more shows. They need to give people a discount. They had no professional PR people to come out and apologize. They sent their volunteer staff out to apologize and these people were not professional. Customer service is one thing. Public relations are another thing. It was a definite breakdown in communication,” she says.
The owner, Cliff Hunte, was nowhere to be found.
When asked, was it the weather that caused the change in the cruise, she said she did not know because they never announced why. She also indicated that they never used the intercom system on the ship to relay messages or updates that the cruise goers deserved to receive.
“They never told us why the change. If it was a weather situation, they should have told us,” says Rankin.
“People weren’t even laughing at the comedian (Wanda Sykes) because everyone was pissed.”
Since returning from the cruise, she called Norwegian and she said they told her it was bad weather in Great Stirrup Cay.
Although Rankin was clearly upset and not pleased with her cruise experience, she managed to make the most of the last few days of the trip. She said the food was great and almost the highlight of the trip.
“The O’Jays was the highlight of the trip. They were classic. All the musical artist was the sh*t. That eased some of my pain. I was in there partying like there’s no tomorrow. I got some of my anger out by partying. To not see some of the shows and we hadn’t got off the water good… That was crazy sh*t,” says Rankin.
Rankin says she met a judge on the ship and he went on Facebook and blew them out with comments. She said the judge wrote a lot of negative comments and so did many other people but they were all deleted.
“There were a lot of angry black women pissed. And, the men were mad, too.” says Rankin.
“It was my first cruise with them, but it was a cruise to hell and back. The last three days we tried to make the best out of it,” says Rankin.
“They need to apologize to us or give us a discount or something. There was a mix of feelings and emotions because people didn’t get to do what they paid to see. People were upset about the Stirrup beach trip.” She added,
“The communications was so f**ked up. If you come out and apologize, it would be a great thing to do. We didn’t make the mistakes, they did. The trip was a nightmare, a headache and no sleep,” Rankin exclaims.
Rankin says she called the Capital Jazz Sales office again and spoke to a person but the person wanted to remain anonymous.
“I told her the communication with us customers was broken when the communication went bad with Norwegian. The brand had no PR to communicate to us things gone bad that affect the itinerary. Example, Norwegian posted on their website that Great Stirrup was hit by the hurricane. If Capital Jazz had PR representation, it would have been able to communicate effectively the changes made to the itinerary. Instead, a lot of angry folks was not happy, felt unimportant and left out. I suggest the brand needs to place PR in their business structure to protect their brand when things happen that can give them negative response and also be effective in communications with Norwegian.” She added,
“It would be nice to receive a discount because I paid for entertainment, in addition to the cruise, instead I and others got short changed because of their broken communication with Norwegian. Clearly, that was not my fault. Norwegian’s technical feed was not working that interfaced with interactive and advance reservations. Therefore creating total chaos, long lines and made dysfunctional energy.”
Comment after comment were posted on Facebook expressing disappoint in the 2016 cruise. Some said they would never go again, while others said they need to fix the issues before they consider another cruise with Capital Jazz. Some people were highly upset that the owner never apologized publicly on the ship, while others expressed disappoint in receiving an unsigned document supposedly from the owner apologizing for the issues encountered on the cruise.
“Capital Jazz is reimbursing everyone for their mistakes. Everyone is receiving $300 voucher for the next three years if you cruise with them again. Mistakes happen. We were determined to have a good time anyway. We did! We will back,” says Valrie.
At press time (three days later), EURweb still had no response from the owner. Rankin and many other cruise goers still feel management needs to come out from hiding and apologize publicly.