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Passengers protest, demand refunds after Norwegian cruise ship skips several stops

A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line said that it has no control over the weather and apologized for any disappointment.
/ Source: NBC News

Cruise passengers upset about being forced to miss several scheduled stops in Europe erupted in protest aboard the Norwegian Spirit cruise ship.

Protests broke out earlier this week in the lobby of the ship with passengers chanting “liars, liars” and “we want refunds” after the ship was supposed to dock in Scotland but instead turned away from port, said passenger Cody McNutt, 31, of Denver.

Video posted to social media captured the angry chants. McNutt described the protest as peaceful.

The demonstrations came after a series of missed stops — including to Amsterdam and France, which itself was a substitute for a missed stop, and Iceland. The cruise line said weather forced the changes.

"Imagine you plan a trip in January and you go on this trip and nothing is [as] expected," McNutt, who ended up booking a flight home from Ireland, said in a phone interview Thursday.

Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement that Norwegian Spirit’s “itinerary was impacted by severe weather conditions” and that “we are very sorry for any inconvenience and disappointment our guests experienced.”

The cruise line said that nine ports of call were originally planned for the 14-day cruise but that the schedule was cut to eight, and it offered passengers a 25 percent credit to be used on a future cruise.

"We understand that it is disheartening when we are unable to call on ports that our guests have been looking forward to visiting," a spokesperson for the cruise line said. "However, we do ask for our guests’ patience, cooperation and understanding that severe weather conditions are an act of God and cannot be controlled, influenced or remediated by the cruise line."

The statement did not mention protests and did not say whether any of the eight stops it referenced were substitutions for other canceled stops.

McNutt said the ship left from the United Kingdom on Sept. 27 and was scheduled to stop in Amsterdam, Ireland, Iceland and Norway.

Almost immediately, he said, passengers were told the Amsterdam visit was scrubbed and the ship would be docking in France. That stop, too, was canceled because of weather.

The ship did make it to Norway, but the stop in Iceland was called off, again because of weather, and “people were very disappointed,” because “a lot of people booked this trip to go to Iceland," McNutt said.

The Norwegian Spirit has a series of missed stops — including to Amsterdam and France, which itself was a substitute for a missed stop, and Iceland. The cruise line said weather forced the changes.Devon Stephens / Alamy

The Norwegian Spirit then went back to Norway and was supposed to go to Scotland on Monday, which was a substitute for Iceland, but it turned away and instead went to Belfast.

Valerie Nove of Montreal, who was traveling with her mother, son and husband said a “massive uproar with passengers" erupted when the ship turned away from Scotland.

“That's when we started rebelling. We were fed up. People were furious. We started demanding to speak with the captain. We started chanting to speak with the captain," Nove said.

Smelly or non-working toilets and the suspicion that food had turned stale also added to passengers’ ire, he said.

McNutt and his girlfriend got off in Ireland and caught a flight home to Denver. He said he was not impressed with the 25 percent credit Norwegian offered. We're “feeling like we're hostage on this ship and now they're offering us 25 percent off to go again," McNutt said.

He said they planned the trip in January and will never travel with Norwegian again.

“We always do our best to provide our guests with a truly enjoyable and memorable vacation, but our very first priority is to ensure their safety and the safety of our crew,” the Norwegian Cruise Line spokesperson said in the statement.

The Norwegian Spirit is an 880-foot-long ship with capacity to carry 2,018 passengers, according to the cruise line's website.

Nove said passengers were particularly irked that the ship spent so much time in Norway because of the rescheduling. “This was not a Norway cruise," she said. "This was supposed to be four countries."

"This has not been a vacation for us. We're absolutely exhausted,” she said. “We're very much looking forward to going home. We're very disappointed and exhausted from this whole experience.”