HAL pulls Noordam from Eastern Med in 2014

HAL pulls Noordam from Eastern Med in 2014

By Tom Stieghorst
Holland America Line said it has made the decision to redeploy the Noordam away from its Eastern Mediterranean itineraries for all of 2014.

HAL had already canceled port calls in Egypt for 2014 due to the unrest there. It said those cancellations created further operational and port implications that led to the redeployment.

Noordam will now do central and western Med itineraries next spring and summer. The cruise line is in the process of notifying guests and travel agents.

Guests booked on the previous itineraries can choose any 11- to 14-day cruise in Europe as a substitute, and receive the same stateroom category for the original cruise fare paid, plus a shipboard credit based on the stateroom category previously booked, HAL said.

Defining adequate compensation

Defining adequate compensation

By Michelle Baran
InsightMassive flooding in Central Europe earlier this month deprived many river cruise passengers of the journey they had paid for, leaving many of them very disappointed and looking for proper compensation. But that begs the question: What kind of compensation is proper?

At least one group of passengers expressed their unhappiness by forwarding to members of the media an email exchange between them and their cruise line in which the passengers requested a full refund for a river cruise they claim was severely damaged by the flooding.

“We missed Koblenz, Speyer, Rudesheim and all the castles along the scenic Rhine River Gorge — which was our primary reason for choosing this particular cruise,” they wrote. “We had a wonderful visit to Marksburg Castle, but it took a multihour bus ride there and back to do so. We paid for eight days on a boat, not partial days on a bus and missed itinerary points. … We did not get what we paid for.”MichelleBaran

In this case, the river cruise line explained that because the rains and floods were a force majeure, or act of God, beyond the company’s control, the passengers were not granted a full refund for the disrupted cruise. Instead, they were provided with a future cruise credit.

Whatever the outcome of this individual case, it was certainly one of many individual customer service disputes that each river cruise line had to resolve on a case-by-case basis.

And while the email exchange brought to light the fact that a number of passengers were unhappy with how the crisis was handled, the situation was just as disappointing for the river cruise companies, which lost untold millions of dollars when they were forced to cancel or shorten cruises. And those losses will continue as the companies honor future cruise credits.

While some travelers clearly felt that river cruise companies came up short in terms of customer service and crisis management, the fact is, the cruise lines and passengers alike suffered losses in the path of Central Europe’s surging rivers.