Norwegian Told Cruisers Not To Worry About Coronavirus

Filed Under: Travel

Florida’s Attorney General is looking into claims that Norwegian Cruise Line instructed employees to mislead consumers about the risks of coronavirus.

The cruise industry has been hit hard by this situation

It goes without saying that along with the rest of the travel industry (and much of the world, for that matter) the cruise industry has been hit extremely hard by this current situation.

Many cruise lines have suspended operations for 30 days, and it seems likely that those suspensions may be extended, given that things aren’t really getting any better globally.

Norwegian Cruise Line downplayed coronavirus

This investigation comes after some Norwegian sales employees in the Miami area shared communication that managers at the company were sending to employees. This is all per Miami New Times.

During department meetings, employees were told that coronavirus wasn’t a big deal, and that more people die from other things. But perhaps what’s worst is what employees were instructed to tell guests who were either concerned about coronavirus, or who were in the process of finalizing a cruise.

Employees were given several one-liners to share:

“Team, these are one liner’s [sic] to help you close your guests that are on the fence. DO NOT USE THESE unless the coronavirus is brought up.”

For one, for those who were in the process of booking a cruise, the company encouraged employees to use the following sales technique to get people to book:

“Due to the Coronavirus we have cancelled all of our Asia cruises on the Norwegian Spirit. This has caused a huge surge in demand for all of our other itineraries. I suggest we secure your reservation today to avoid you paying more tomorrow.”

For customers who were concerned about coronavirus, staff were instructed to use the following one liners to reassure them:

  • “The only thing you need to worry about for your cruise is do you have enough sunscreen?”
  • “The Coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise.”
  • “Scientists and medical professionals have confirmed that the warm weather of the spring will be the end of the Coronavirus.”
  • Coronavirus “cannot live in the amazingly warm and tropical temperatures that your cruise will be sailing to.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody released the following statement about the investigation:

“My Consumer Protection Division is conducting an extensive investigation to get to the bottom of the disturbing allegations against Norwegian Cruise Lines. Let this serve as a warning to anyone seeking to mislead consumers during these challenging times. I will do everything within the power of this office to hold accountable those who would prey on Floridians during this health crisis.”

Bottom line

Ouch. It’ll be interesting to see what Florida’s Attorney General determines, and what kind of punishment Norwegian will face for this…

  1. Question regarding bailouts. The US fed stated “we’ll provide significant financial help to industries that are essential to every American, ” and I quote that myself just heard a few day ago on TV. …. “like auto industry, food industry, cruise lines… ” Wait. Cruising is luxury. No? Why is it essential to our life?

  2. cruises help florida’s economy

    norwegian is flagged ex-USA

    they will get a slap on the wrist fine with the size depending on trumps impression of his chances in florida

    if he thinks he has no shot, then bigger fine

  3. I could never understand the attraction of cruises… getting on one of those ships in 2020 is pure madness

  4. So glad our tax dollars are bailing this worthless industry out!

    Practically, the COVID epidemic will continue for at least 18-24 months, cruises will be impossible until then.

    We should let the cruise companies fail and wipe out the equity holders; someone can pick up and mothball the cruise ships in case it ever becomes practical again. This is not a systemic risk to the economy.

  5. Listen, I’m no warrior against corporations, but companies like this do not deserve to survive. It’s one thing to skirt regulations when it comes to refunds, but to actively deceive customers and knowingly put them at risk – there’s no circumstance that would justify that.

  6. Trump can’t help them if he wanted to because they are non US flagged. The tax advantages outweigh the bailout .

  7. Anyone who knows anything about the cruise industry understands that NCL is a bottom-feeder catering to the least-discriminating of travelers, so I’m not the slightest bit surprised by their careless and unethical response to the coronavirus.

  8. Let these criminals fail and let the government take over their ships and use them as floating hospitals once sanitized
    Despite the appeal to some they have been floating disease outbreak vessels for decades even before this more deadly outbreak
    Prior to this pandemic I wouldn’t step onboard even if you paid me
    I’ve had others offer me free cruises or asking me to join them over the years and I’ve always declined due to the countless failed health inspections which were shocking

  9. I’m happy to read in the Washington Post this morning that the Cruise Industry was excluded from the bailout.

  10. @ Frank
    Maybe the advantages looked great till now. I strongly feel that there is no way my tax revenue should pay for benefits to a firm registering their liners outside the USA. I even am not sure why cruises are fundamental to the US existence and why we should support them.

  11. Bill Maher had a great take on this – if there’s one industry out there that deserved to just go away completely, even pre-CV-19, it is the cruise industry. They are floating sickness-filled, insane emission flouting, local ecosystem destroying barges.

  12. Nice to see a travel blog who isn’t in the pocket of the cruise industry actually report this kind of stuff…

  13. That’s exactly the logic of a great industry and why my family does NOT ever take cruises anymore…they are real Petri dishes.

  14. Not just Norwegian. We had an Alaska cruise booked for this summer on Holland America Westerdam (booked prior to the Coronavirus outbreak). I called expressing concern when the ship was turned away at Southeast Asian ports, due to a suspected Coronavirus exposure.

    They initially told me not to worry, in that the ship will be thoroughly cleaned prior to our cruise. I eventually cancelled the cruise (only losing a $500 deposit due to doing so more than 90 days prior to cruise). However, if I hadn’t been on top of the daily Coronavirus progression, I may have lost a lot more. I suspect that a lot of other customers fall into that camp.

  15. I was on the Norwegian Breakaway March 7th-14th, 2020. Yes the last cruise to sail before they docked all sailings due to COVID-19. We were first time cruisers on our honeymoon. I called twice to make sure the cruise wasn’t cancelled and with concerns of whether we should still go or not. I was told a few of the “one-liners” stated above. Call me naive but as a first time cruiser, I believed them. They also stated that they were the only cruise line that hadn’t had a virus outbreak because f their amazing cleaning protocols. We went. They did clean as stated. We could not port in the Bahamas and were told due to weather (not sure now if that was true or not). We ported in Jamaica, Grand Cayman & Cozumel. During our sailing on day 3 they implement more precautions that included the staff handing us plates, silverware and not being able to get our own drinks so we didn’t have to touch dispenser handles. We thought they were just adding more precautions. (Little did we know what we were going to find out later). We got the ALL CLEAR overhead to disembark. Everyone cheered as we all thought we made it through with no virus! We disembarked with no temp taking as we had to when we got on the ship, which we all thought was odd. We stayed in hotels, flew home on planes, saw loved ones when we got home. Business as usual as far as things went. 5 and I don’t say that lightly, 5 DAYS after we got home we received a 3 sentence letter from Norwegian saying there was a passenger on our ship diagnosed with COVID-19. Ok, maybe a bit expected since there were a lot of cases everywhere….hummm….but researching further my husband googled Norwegian Corona virus and up popped a new article that told of the passenger that was extremly ill to the point of in and out of consciousness that was carried to isolation on….get this….DAY 2 of our trip!!!! She was taken off the ship on DAY 4 by ambulance by an e-unit dressed in hazamat gear and taken to a hospital in Jamaica then flown to FL. Per the news article the family was told she had COVID-19, and tested and confirmed in FL on day 5 of our cruise. Per the news article the family BEGGED Norwegian to notify and quarantine the passengers but they did not!! They failed to inform us until 5 days after we disembarked and covered it up. I feel they never would have notified us except that the family went to the news. (See article here
    So, not only were they corrupt in their sales pitch but they were corrupt in failing to protect us other passengers and everyone we came in contact with for days, including 3 other islands. This is Ludicrous!!!!! We are outraged!!!!! As soon as we found this out we put ourselves in isolation, not that Norwegian said we had to, in fact they never even said we should, but we didn’t want to possibly infect anyone else. We could have already infected so many!! Needless to say we were first time cruisers and LAST TIME cruisers. They just didn’t want the quarantine, the negative publicity and loss of money. SHAME ON THEM!!!!

  16. I was really hoping that between my generation and COVID, cruising would finally be a thing of the past.

  17. Funny thing, the US president has been touting a lof of this BS for some time… maybe NCL can sue the prez if they get in trouble?

  18. If the cruise lines want a bailout, I’d say we give it to them with a couple of requirements: 1) They reflag their vessels to the USA, so US laws would be applicable during every cruise. This would include safety, labor, and environmental laws. 2) A passenger Bill of Rights, akin to EU261.
    This would make the cruise lines, which are normally exceedingly profitable, a bit less profitable but a lot more accountable.

  19. Close the bastards down….sink the ships for use as artificial reefs. First it was food poisoning, including salmonella and wisteria, now this virus. These cruise ships are a health hazard…

  20. @Melinda Glad you made it out in one piece.

    The travel industry is just dirty. The airlines, hotels and cruise just trying to pick your pocket until you’re a corpse or broke.

  21. Nice sales training Norwegian. But when your tiny commission is worth more than someone else’s life, deception becomes robotic.

  22. No one bends your arm to go on a cruise. You go because they are fun and relatively cheap. Each person decides for themselves. By blaming the cruise line, you become a victim. Take responsibility for your life. As in all decisions right or wrong I will take responsibility. I have a cruise planed for Iceland at end of May. I will decide if I go. Not some politician, Not some alarmist web page or newspaper, and definitely not NCL. My wife and I set a date, we will look at facts and decide. It easier if it is someone fault but not mine, than I can blame them for my bad choices.

  23. My husband and I have cruised Norwegian almost a dozen times! I want to say for a fact that these are very clean ships! For people who are unable to afford 7,000 $ vacations every year, cruising is the way to go, period. As a matter of fact we have a cruise booked to Bermuda at the end of April. We are both hoping that we will be able to go.

  24. Not all cruise lines are the same. These lower end $499 7-day extravaganzas are dangerous on many levels. The margins are so low that they are forced to lower operational costs. ie… sanitation and disinfecting. These 6000 pax behemoths have to be turned around in less 7 hours. And with lower crew counts, this is where things go south. Never heard of any infections of any kind on Seabourn, Crystal, Ponant… they have smaller ships, less passengers higher passenger to crew ratios and they have enough margin to make sure ships are cleaned and sanitized appropriately. Having said that I do not support a bail out of any kind for them.

  25. @Russell Peterson – Completely agree that we all make choices and determine our own risk tolerance.

    However, when cruise lines withhold information from passengers, thus downplaying the risk, this is borderline criminally negligent. I honestly wouldn’t get anywhere near a cruise ship (high end or not) until we have clear evidence that Coronavirus has been controlled worldwide AND my family and I are vaccinated.

  26. Norwegian cruise line owns Oceania, which cancelled my mother’s and my cruise and refused to refund our money!

  27. If you are thinking of taking a cruise on Norwegian, read their “Guest” contract clause 6e:

    “The carrier shall have the absolute right, without liability for compensation to the guest of any kind, to comply with governmental orders, recommendations or directions, including but not limited to those pertaining to health, security, immigration, customs or safety. In the case of quarantine, the guest agrees to bear all risks, losses and expenses caused thereby and will be charged for maintenance, payable day-by-day, if maintained on board the vessel for such period of quarantine. The guest assumes all risks and losses occasioned by delay or detention howsoever arising. Costs connected with embarkation or debarkation of guests and/or baggage and costs of transfer between vessel and shore as a result of the circumstances enumerated in this paragraph must be borne by the guest.”

    After reading the above paragraph and with the current conditions worldwide with CoVID-19, who would get on a cruise ship right now? Norwegian Cruise Lines still claims they are going to get back to cruising on April 12th.

  28. Excuse me Ben, but could you cite your sources for the employee(s) in the Miami region that shared these communications from their managers? A columnist at the cruise critic has debunked this as a single source of emails from one person, and those emails cannot be authenticated. If this is the same story, then it needs to stopped being copied into other news. It may be easier to believe the worst sometimes, but I still believe that stories should be fact-checked and sources should be credible.

  29. Can we have a the date this story was written and the date the Miami Times published the story, with a link to it?

    Of course we are about a month past these comments, so we all have a lot more info available about a lot of things. None of it good news.

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