I just re-read my last blog entry (Singapore) and so much has changed in so little time. We were scheduled to leave last night at 6 pm but due to extra-slow check-ins, were delayed until 7 or 7:30. Clayton and I sat out on our balcony waiting for the sailaway to begin. Not at 7:00, not at 7:30, not at 8:00. Around 8:30 the captain announced over the loudspeaker that there was a problem with the propulsion system. The ship’s engineers were investigating it and were hoping it would be a quick fix. He would let us know more in another half an hour. Assuming it was a quick fix , we could still get to our next port in time as long we were moving by 2 am.
No news at 9 pm other than that they were still investigating and had not solved the problem. 9:30, same report. At 10 pm he said that it was not going to be a quick fix and that we would be given more information in the morning.
I did not sleep well (mainly due to laryngitis turning into a nasty head cold) and kept waking up wondering if we were moving yet. First thing in the morning, Clayton said he felt the ship move at around 4:30 am, so was sure we were on our way. Unfortunately, when we opened the curtain to our balcony, we still saw the skyline of Singapore. We had been towed out to the middle of the harbor rather than taking up a place at the dock.
Speculation about what would happen was running rampant around the ship. Would they cancel the cruise entirely? We knew that we would be missing our first port, but would we miss any others? Slightly after 10 am, the captain came over the loudspeaker. He told us that one of the azipods was not functioning and it was beyond the capabilities of the ship’s engineers to fix it. We would be returning to port at 6 pm tonight so that it can be inspected further. The Star’s speed will be restricted which will necessitate a revised itinerary. No word on what that itinerary will be; a letter will be sent to our cabin’s this afternoon. The only silver lining in all of this is that NCL will be refunding 100% of the cost of the cruise to all passengers and also giving us 50% of the cost towards a future cruise. I assumed that the new itinerary would be awful given what they were offering us.
The Cruise Critic Meet & Greet took place at 11 am, following the captain’s sharing of the bad news. I had spoken to the events coordinator the previous evening to let her know how many people to expect and to verify that some of the ship’s officers would be in attendance. She also verified that I would have a mike to speak to the group. When we arrived at La Cucina, there was food, but nothing else. No mike, no officers, no event coordinator, no name tags, no sign-in sheets, nothing. I wasn’t too surprised about the officers given the situation with the ship, but was a bit disappointed that nothing else was there. My voice was not at full strength, but I called the group to order at 11 am. I welcomed everyone and introduced myself. I also had others that had organized tours introduce themselves, and then suggested that anyone signed up for a tour exchange cabin information so that when we did receive “the letter” that we could be in contact with our group members. There was a suggestion that we get together after we had more information in order to make further plans. I let everyone know that if they needed to contact me to leave a note on my cabin door rather than calling. On the first two legs of the trip, our cabin phone rang off the hook every morning and evening (people wanting information on the next day’s tour). I even left it off the hook and it still rang!
The events coordinator showed up after I finished talking. She told me that the officers were all in meetings (which I assumed would be true) and would not be there. She did have name tags and a sign-in sheet. She also had a mike which I no longer needed. I told everyone to make sure to sign in so we would have a record of room numbers if we needed it. I made sure that I had information for the people I was touring with written down and then left (I was definitely not feeling well).
Mid-afternoon, our cabin steward knocked on our door and delivered the letter. Out of 11 days on the cruise, 7 would be sea days. Only two ports would be the same – Nha Trang, Vietnam, and Sanya, China. Our overnight trip to Bangkok was gone. For me, that would have been the highlight of this cruise. The date for Nha Trang had been changed, as had the date for Sanya. I did not care about Sanya since we can’t get off the ship there anyhow (unless we take an overpriced NCL tour; there is not much to see there anyhow). So now, tour companies had to be contacted. Unfortunately, I had pre-paid all of the tours for this leg except one. In addition to telling the companies that we had to cancel the tours, I had to ask for our money back as well. The only company I have heard back from is the one that I had not pre-paid. If we can’t get our money back, we will make a claim under our travel insurance policy. We booked a non-refundable room in Bangkok so will have to pursue reimbursement for that through travel insurance as well.
Perhaps the message to me in all of this is to be careful what you wish for. I was wishing I could see the Christmas decorations in Singapore at night; we will be docked overnight so I could get off the ship to see them if I really wanted to. Given how lousy I feel, that will not happen. I was also exhausted from all of the tours on the past two legs and was wishing for more sea days. I now have seven!
I am curious how this will affect the cruise that leaves from Hong Kong on December 22nd. I am not sure how the azipod is supposed to get fixed between now and then. If it is not fixed, will it delay or cancel their cruise? If you are on this cruise and reading my blog, you should call NCL to see what the plan is.