Monday, 10 August 2009

Norwegian Cruise LIne

Today's exchange rate is as follows £1.00 = $1.6586.

You need to keep that figure in your head if you are to appreciate the finer points of my first post since Mrs Meldrew and I returned from our Mediterranean Cruise. In two weeks we sailed to Malaga, Barcelona, Cannes. Livorno (Pisa), Citiavecchia (Rome), Gibraltar, Lisbon and Vigo. The ship, was clean and the staff were delightful so why do I feel somewhat disappointed?

The weather was excellent and many of the places we visited could only be viewed at their best We met some old friends and made some new friends and yet...NCL employ such a rigidly cut throat commercial operation that I left the ship feeling very uneasy.

We soon discovered that all on ship payments were made by an NCL credit card so unless you were prepared to sift through the copious receipts that one collects throughout the day then it was almost impossible to track your expenditure.

This cruise cost us over £4000 and I always thought that we then ate free but you can only do that with NCL if you visit three of the restaurants/cafes. The rest will cost you a surcharge of up to $25 per person.

NCL also do organised tours at every port. Some of them are quite short but if you wanted to take advantage of the large 'all inclusive' tour then you will deeply out of pocket. If you select the most extensive tours at each port (not the VIP tours) it would have cost you Malaga $189.99, Barcelona $85.99, Cannes $97.99 (visit to Monaco), Livorno (Florence and Pisa) $239.99, Rome $259.99, Gibraltar $75.99 Lisbon $429.99 (Lisbon and Fatima), Vigo (Santiago) $189.99.

Now I have omitted the more exclusive tours but as you can imagine it totals an additional $1569.92. That means, for the average family of four, finding an extra $6000 for tours alone!

Then we have the question of gratuities...I know that the Americans regard this as a legitimate charge but it is contrary to the British culture to tip for every beer brought by guys and girls who are being paid to serve. For example every beer cost about 5 bucks and the gratuity was 0.75 cents. On one occasion I ordered a large beer and a small beer and it cost me $12.54 in total!

When every purchase that one has made on board is subject to a gratuity it become an even greater shock to learn that NCL expect every passenger (over the age of three!)to pay wait for it $12 dollars per person per day! This means that we have to pay $336 before we pay for everything that we have consumed and to my mind that is not small change!

I loved the cruise, the weather was great, the itnary superb, the staff excellent and the ship beautiful so why do I return home feeling well...ripped off!!

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