Date of Trip: April 2011
My husband & I went on a Mexican Riviera Cruise on 04/09-16/2011 for what we had hoped to be an unforgettable 30th wedding anniversary. The beginning of the cruise was somewhat uneventful considering, we had been cruising for 20+ times. We were somewhat disappointed on the so called mini suite with balcony because it appeared a lot smaller than the Regular Balcony Cabin we had occupied @ the NCL,Dawn in 2004 & definitely a lot smaller in comparison with other Cruise Liner’s similar category cabin. The food was somewhat average. The line at the regular Dining Rooms were always enormously long that we end up always eating @ a specialty restaurant with cover charge, of course which varies from $10-25pp (the negative side of Freestyle Cruising)We tried Le Bistro on the actual day of our anniversary,04/11/11 & the food was awesome & the service was excellent,thanks to our server, Cristy. We spent an additional $120.00. $25pp/cover charge + additional $10pp for the type of menu we selected & a bottle of wine + 18% gratuity included. I also tried a Spa Treatment, stone massage & mini facial which was acceptable,Cherry,the masseuse was very nice & friendly,however I had better experiences before. They canceled Mazatlan for Security & Safety reasons so we docked twice @ Cabo San Lucas which was beautiful as ever.(we went on a Carnival Mexican Riviera Cruise about 14 years ago & there was no beach on the other side where the arch & cave & rock formation is located.) To cut the story short, this cruise was mediocre at best in comparison with our other cruises including with the previous Mexican Riviera Cruise we took 14 years ago.
The highlight of this Cruise for us was, when we were left behind in Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, 04/13/11. There was so many time changes, firstly the difference between the Ship’s time & Los Angeles daylight’ saving time, secondly there was also a time difference between Mexico & the ship’s time so both my husband & I were confused about the time that we missed the deadline to get back to the ship. Funny part was we decided to only hang out at the Mall across the Port where our ship was docked after I had a Spa Treatment @ the same Mall (may I add that it was way better & cheaper than the NCL’s Mandara Spa)& thought we still had plenty of time so we decided to have some Dryers Ice Cream. We were both enjoying our ice cream when my husband said, “I think that’s our ship & I think it’s moving” I looked at his watch & it read a few minutes before 3pm, I said ” Nah, we have time, we’re supposed to go back @ 3:30 PM, you did synchronize your watch with the ship’s time, didn’t you?” He nodded & then we decided to walk around the mall again. Then, his cell phone rang, our son Kris on the other end & asked “Where are you guys @, Are you safe?” My husband replied, “Of course we are & why wouldn’t we be safe? We’re here at the Mall across the Port.” “Well, the ship called & said, they left without you” Kris added. Just as my husband finished repeating the news to me, we both looked at each other then screamed, “nooooo” & started running like we had never ran in our lives before but just the same we saw the ship sailing away!!!
The ship finally contacted my husband & instructed him to get some assistance from Javier, the Port Agent for all the Cruise Liner. Javier was very polite & helpful & he pleaded for us via text to the Ship’s crew to try to get us back to the ship as he had witnessed it several times @ the discretion of the Ship’s Captain,to actually take place with other Cruise Liner but to no avail. He said, NCL is the most difficult Cruise Liner to deal with when it comes to similar situations such as ours, which by the way, according to him happens quite often if not every week. He also tried to convince them to at least send our passports, diabetic medicine & insulin via helicopter since they were still very close but again to all our dismay, they denied all the plea again & again!!! Needless to say we tried to salvage our disastrous vacation & decided to stay in Puerto Vallarta & figure out how we can get back to the US without a Passport. A little bribe here & there to the Mexican Immigration Authorities, which we were asked blatantly for cash only by the way, that we made it through the border in Tijuana, Mexico.As expected,we had to purchase some clothes, medicines & toiletries from the local Wal-Mart which to our surprise were a bit more expensive than our local Wal-Mart here in America.
We flew from Puerto Vallarta via Volaris Airline, a local airline for $247pp/one way. If we opted to fly directly to Los Angeles, it would have only cost us $167pp/one way but we had to get a temporary passport for $137pp + rush mail charges of about $40 as it can only be issued from Guadalajara, about 4 hour drive from Puerto Vallarta. We decided the TIJ route because the US Consulate couldn’t guarantee that we will receive the temporary passport in time. My husband wanted to be at the Los Angeles Port to collect our things which were packed for us by the ship’s crew. He wanted to ensure that no valuables are missing. We arrived at TIJ on Friday afternoon,04/15/11 & we were again harassed by the MX officials by not having our passport but again, Mr. Benjamin Franklin helped us through. The following day, Saturday, 04/16/11, we went to Los Angeles Port to collect our belongings, we were passed around like we never existed. Our luggage went through customs & then we were cleared by the immigration officials & we were told that we need not go through our luggage but we insisted that we needed to, to ensure that all our valuables were there also & lo & behold, all of my jewelries, laptop, camera, etc, etc were missing!!! We immediately notified one of the Port Agent, who seemed irritated & acted soo busy & didn’t really want to be bothered by our problem. We were finally told after waiting & wondering if somebody will really come back for us, that our valuables were packed separately & that we had to sign for it at the next building where we had registered prior on our embarkation day.
We realized that it was truly our fault not to be back in the ship at the afforded time but we were somehow expecting some kind of courtesy & or sympathy given the circumstances we went through but to our disappointment, frustrations & really disheartening experience,NCL Crew instead added more injuries after the fact. We believe we could have been treated more appropriately.
I spoke with an NCl’s Customer Service Rep, Jay in Miami office, re: a photo that I was supposed to get @ the conlusion of our trip & he really helped me out on the matter & admitted to me that it was in fact feasible for us to be returned back to the ship @ our own expense & @ the discretion of the ship’s Captain. We would have definitely considered the chance, had we been offered the option!!!