Long journeys end for passengers on Norwegian and Princess ships

By Tom Stieghorst

_Gem and Princess after SandyThe Caribbean Princess and Norwegian Gem returned to New York today, days after their original turnarounds were interrupted by Hurricane Sandy.

The ships had moved up to Boston in the meantime and allowed passengers to disembark there.

Embarkation for the Gem's cruise that was originally scheduled to sail for Bermuda on Oct. 29 will begin today at noon, Norwegian said. The ship will operate a five-day cruise to Bermuda and return to New York on Nov. 7.

In a message to passengers on its website, Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan said that the situation in New York "has been unprecedented and extremely unpredictable."

"I would like to extend my personal apology to all of our guests who have been patiently waiting for the latest news and information from us regarding the status of their cruise on the Norwegian Gem," he wrote. "Like you, we have been disappointed and frustrated with the uncertainty regarding the reopening of the port."

Sheehan said that passengers originally scheduled to sail Oct. 29 on the Gem would be "fully credited" for the four cruise days missed, as well as receive a future cruise credit.

He said he hoped people would continue to sail on the cruise to Bermuda, in order to take a vacation "from the stress caused by the storm."

The Caribbean Princess was expected to depart New York today at 5 p.m on a revised eight-day itinerary that will call on Grand Turk and Aruba before ending in Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 10.

Princess Cruises said passengers joining the Caribbean Princess cruise are eligible for a future cruise credit equal to 50% of their fare, in addition to a two-day pro-rated credit for part of the cruise shortened by Hurricane Sandy.

"We fully recognize this is a very unique situation and not the cruise experience anyone expected," Princess said in a statement.

Also, the Emerald Princess will not dock in New York as scheduled. It will substitute St. John, New Brunswick, as a port stop. To accommodate a small group that was planning to leave the ship in New York, the Emerald Princess will make a service call in Boston on Saturday.

Other passengers won't be able to visit Boston because it would impact the next stop in Charleston, S.C., and the rest of the cruise, which is scheduled to end Nov. 7 in Fort Lauderdale, Princess said.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.com. 

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