Norwegian Cruse Lines Breakaway Passenger Bumped Off “Guaranteed” Cabin and Left at the Dock on Oversold Holiday Weekend Cruise!

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A Reddit user posted yesterday (and then deleted) a post about arriving in Miami to board the NCL Breakaway for a 7 day Caribbean cruise and being denied boarding of the ship. The passenger was presented with this:

a white paper with black text

Regular Frequent Floaters blog readers will be well aware that anyone booking a cruise without an assigned cabin number is taking a huge risk and the risk that they may be bumped off the ship. Unfortunately passenger AB chose to book a rate that included what was termed a “guaranteed” cabin. To be fair to AB the word guaranteed per Merriam-Webster means in part:

Certain to have a specified result or effect

Clearly AB did not get the “specified result” they were certain they were going to get when they booked the cruise. That said, as already mentioned, unless you have a cabin number we know you are not with any cruise line guaranteed to be onboard when you get to the port.

While I greatly sympathize with AB there are number of things they could have done to, not just prevent this from happening, but to mitigate the situation they were left with. Let’s dive in.

AB booked a remarkably cheap cabin for a 7 day holiday weekend cruise paying just $521.79 for the cruise. Paying very little is not an excuse for NCL not to let them sail but as said twice already if you don’t have a fixed cabin and are booking on the ultra cheap you risk not sailing. These are the facts.

Related: Social media post results in canceled cruise.

NCL also did the right thing with step one regarding the denied boarding. They offered, not just a full refund, but a credit for the full price of the cruise booked for future use. They did not state they would cover other expenses but perhaps with negotiation there could be more reimbursement.

Next up, if something like this had happened to me, my yearly blanket Allianz travel insurance should have protected me. AB could have also considered paying NCL for travel insurance and then, perhaps, whatever software algorithm NCL uses would have selected some other unassigned cabin passenger other than AB to be denied boarding.

Once again, had this happened to me, I would have worked to negotiate a better outcome. I am not saying I would have talked my way on the ship but perhaps I could have negotiated to get on another NCL ship in the following days and ask for a much better cabin upgrade after what NCL did to me.

Had NCL not been willing to work with me for another NCL cruise, since I was already in Miami, there are any number of other cruise ships departing day after day and I am sure I could have made my way onto one of them rather than just fly home.
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Lastly, unlike the advice from so many in the Reddit thread, rather than sue NCL for what happened I would have reached out to Chris Elliott and his team for assistance once I got back home to make this situation better. They could have maybe negotiated with NCL to either cover the air and or hotel costs incurred.

a group of lounge chairs on a deck

Bottom line is that NCL “bumped” a passenger off their cruise, that is, denied them boarding and that stinks and in my opinion cruise lines really should not oversell cruises this way but if this ever happens to you know you have ways to avoid it and find options to make lemonade out of lemons! – René

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9 COMMENTS

  1. My understanding is that you can no longer get a cruise at the very last minute at least in the US. The cruise line must submit a passenger list in advance to the government (3 days?)

    • @Dave – Never heard of that. For example, Holland has a new “stand by” program that you may not know up to 2 days before sailing you are getting on. https://www.cntraveler.com/story/standby-cruises

      Even so, if the new limit is say 24-48 hours, you could still hang out a few days in Miami and take a shorter cruise and or change your return ticket. I know as an NCL Diamond I can book the next cruise onboard if I want to as short as the day before.

  2. NCL: “We’re sorry we did this to you. Here’s an opportunity for you to book another chance that we can do this to you AGAIN!”

    I do appreciate when you call out the fails of your favorites (like NCL).

  3. Rene, this is absolutely inexcusable on NCL’s part. You and I know exactly what happened. NCL sold that cabin for more money and bumped off the original passengers. I am a Sapphire cruiser with NCL and I have seen this company slowly decline in customer satisfaction and quality of cruising. With all that time invested in NCL, it is absolutely a shame. I just got off a 14 day reposition cruise and I was very disappointed in the dining situation and embarkation debacles. The ship was full and when we had to wait every meal for 1 hour to get seated in both the Taste and Savor restaurants, that is not what I would call “dining my way.” We waited until after 4:00 pm – we started at 12:00 pm., to go through the horrible lines so that we could get a key card. As a diabetic, it is fortunate that my wife brought some “snacks” so that I wouldn’t suffer sugar lows while in line for 4 hours. The last time we sailed out of New York with Norwegian in 2022, we had to wait 5 hours in baggage claim to get a transfer to the ship from La Guardia. 5 hours!!!! Not the kind of service I expect from NCL. I took your advice and got a status match with MSC with my Latitudes points but thought what a waste of time considering your last few articles on the worst cruise of your life. Are there any other matching opportunities for disgruntled Latitudes members?

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