Hawaiian Airlines veteran Pua Morrison from Maui, Hawaii became the first financial victim of the coronavirus in Hawaii due to corporate greed by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). Pua is a Hawaiian native and has been working in the travel and tourism industry for 45 years.
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Pua is frustrated today telling eTurboNews: ” I have never seen any corporation or company be this unforgiving and unforgiving and unwilling! She was referring to Norwegian Cruise Line who took a good portion of her life-savings.
It can be a lot of fun going on a cruise, but it’s also big business and in the case of Norwegian Cruise Line it has a good portion of corporate greed included. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) had an adjusted income in 2019 of US$1.1 billion, and their corporate policies may show why.
In February 2019 Pua went to Costco Travel and charged approximately $30,000 to her Costco Citibank Visa card. She was to take her family of 8 on a dream cruise. The Norwegian Jade cruise was to bring together generations of her family counting the days to February 2, 2020. The Morrisson family was looking forward to having a time of their life onboard the Norwegian Jade exploring East Asia and China.
Norwegian Jade is a cruise ship for the Norwegian Cruise Line, originally built as the Pride of Hawaii for their NCL America division.
Pua told eTurboNews: “I booked my family on the ‘Norweigan Jade’ for an 11-day cruise starting in Singapore, stopping in Cambodia and Vietnam, and ending in Hong Kong. We were to stay in Singapore 3 days prior to sailing and 3 days in Hong Kong at the end of our cruise. Our cruise dates were for February 6 leaving Singapore.
“We were supposed to leave Maui on February 2, but with the Coronavirus in China. I was taking my cousin with chronic lung disease and an 80-year-old Aunty with a heart disease
“In the meantime, the airline started canceling flights, after the U.S. issued a level DO NOT TRAVEL warning. Already before the warning, Hawaii Governor Ige told everyone in his state to avoid travel to China.
Pua contacted Costco on January 30 to find out what it would take to cancel her trip and provide a credit for another cruise on a later date, or issue a refund.
Costco did not want to take the responsibility and asked Pua to contact Norwegian directly. Costco also did not respond to eTurboNews.
Morrison said she has been pleading with Norwegian for the past couple of days to have them authorize a refund or a certificate for a future cruise, but every time she speaks with someone at Norwegian, they tell her the same thing, and finally stopped calling her back altogether.
She told eTurboNews, “How could Norwegian think anyone would enjoy a cruise when it takes you into the world of uncertainty?”
On January 31 Norwegian Cruise Line responded and said that none of their itineraries had been changed, but they are implementing additional health precautions, including temperature screenings for passengers embarking in Hong Kong. None of their vessels are docking in mainland China.
Pua continued: “I trusted Costco Travel. They always refund with no problems, but this time was different.
“Costco Travel put another plea in for me at NCL to refund my money or credit our reservations but NCL would not give in!
“Four of my family members decided not to write off the money and left for Singapore to board the cruise anyway.”
The Norwegian Cruise Line issued a statement 3 days after Pua was supposed to depart saying:
The safety, security, and well-being of our guests and crew is our number one priority. We have proactively implemented several preventative measures outlined below due to growing concerns regarding Coronavirus infections in China. We will continue to consult with The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and take appropriate additional action as needed.
Policies currently in place include:
- Guests who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, within 30 days of their voyage embarkation, regardless of nationality, will not be allowed to board any of our vessels. The standard incubation period recognized by the WHO and US CDC for this virus is 14 days. – Guests who are denied boarding will be issued a refund when they provide proof of travel.
- The recent Hong Kong port closure will result in itinerary modifications and we will share the revised itinerary as well as further details as they become available.
- Prior to the port closure in Hong Kong, we implemented non-touch temperature screenings for all passengers embarking from this destination and any guest who registered a body temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius or higher, were not allowed to board. Guests on these voyages were also subject to temperature screenings when returning from shore excursions at ports of call. – Guests who were unable to sail due to a high temperature were advised to open a travel insurance claim with their insurance provider.
- For all guests, we will continue standard pre-boarding health reporting and evaluation. Any guests who appear symptomatic are subject to pre-boarding medical evaluations including but not limited to temperature checks as deemed necessary.
- Any guest who exhibits symptoms of any respiratory illness while on board will be subject to additional screening at our onboard Medical Center and may be subject to potential quarantine and disembarkation.
- We have implemented additional cleaning and disinfection protocols on board all voyages. These protocols will be enforced in addition to our already rigorous sanitization standards in place.
- Our crew members who have traveled from, visited or transited via airports in China, including Hong Kong and Macau within 30 days will not be allowed onboard our ships.
- Singapore and the Philippines are not currently allowing Chinese nationals to disembark at their ports. Guests with a Chinese passport who are traveling on voyages that disembark in one of these regions will not be allowed onboard our ships. If additional port restrictions are put into place we may have to modify this policy as needed. – Guests who are denied boarding due to this will be issued a refund.
The above measures will remain in effect until further notice and are subject to change at any time as we evaluate the situation and continue to consult with local health authorities.
NCL told eTurboNews:
Jose, a media spokesperson from Norwegian Cruise like told eTurboNews: “Please know that we always strive to do right by our guests while maintaining the business policies and practices we have in place to help us manage through situations just like this. It is because of the very nature of unexpected situations that we strongly recommend that guests obtain travel protection insurance. As a convenience to our guests, we offer a few travel protection plans at the time of booking, as well as during several follow-up communications.
The plans allow for coverage in many situations. Some plans offer guests the opportunity to cancel for any reason. Also, as is common in the travel and tourism industry, we have developed cancellation policies. They are communicated to our guests at the time of booking and can be found on our website “
Pua Hears From Her Family Onboard Norwegian
“Ironically, today I received an email from my family who did go on the cruise that they were advised the cruise has been rerouted due to the port closure in Hong Kong. When contacting Costco about this, I was told since we canceled before the cruise sailed, the 4 of us are not eligible for the 10% refund or 25% credit on another cruise which all passengers that were brave enough to get on the cruise ship will now receive from NCL.
“Again, this is the kind of situation we did not want to encounter, and especially with my elderly mother.”
Pua added: “The amount of money is really not the only point in this case nor does the fact that we didn’t buy the correct insurance, everyone in the tourism and travel industry is understanding what is going on in the world with this virus. Rather than risk more people getting this virus travel companies are allowing people to cancel with refunds or credits. NCL is about the only company that is not allowing this. No one expects that a killer virus would spread as quickly as this one is!”
Now, Princess Cruises has a ship in quarantine in Japan with 10- passengers sick. Two passengers onboard Princess Cruises are from Hawaii. Pua said: “That could have very well been our ship. The bottom line is we didn’t cancel because we just didn’t want to go, we canceled because we didn’t want to risk our lives in taking a chance of getting this virus, not to mention our Hawaii Dept. of Health, Governor Ige, CDC and WHO was advising people if it wasn’t essential to travel to Asia “DON’T GO”.
“I think NCL is being very unreasonable in understanding our situation and being very stubborn as to not allow us a refund or credit! “
“We booked our reservations through Costco Travel and were at no time offered the expensive “CANCEL FOR ANY REASON” insurance.
“I didn’t purchase protection insurance on my airlines or hotel accommodations either but all of them were understanding and allowed us to cancel without a problem.
“Norwegian Jade was unable to dock in Hong Kong the passengers loose out on going to Hanoi and sailing back down to Singapore where all the guests on board had to make airlines and accommodation changes!
“In my 45 years working in the Hawaii Tourism Industry, I have never seen any corporation or company be this unforgiving and unwilling to assist!
“I will be sending my final letter to the CEO and President of NCL, Frank Del Rio in hopes that he will understand my situation and be forgiving in allowing us a refund or credit. It would have been really nice if NCL had contacted me directly with concerns.
“There are policies and procedures for every company but sometimes we have to be understanding, forgiving and put ourselves in the customers’ shoes and step outside the box! “
Perhaps Pua Morrisson has a very good case to dispute her credit card payment to Norwegian Cruise Line with Citibank.
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