Norwegian Cruise Line has reversed a policy prohibiting passengers from taking food from restaurants to their cabins, effective immediately, President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Stuart told Cruise Critic.
The decision came in response to feedback fromNorwegian’s passengers, who were unhappy with the concept when it rolled out earlier this month. At that time, Norwegian said it had asked passengers to refrain from taking food from restaurants, including the main buffet, to eat elsewhere in the interest of keeping its cruise ships clean.
When the new rule went public, multiple threads were launched on the Cruise Critic message boards. Community members speculated, among other things, that the policy was an effort to force passengers to pay a newly instituted $7.95 room service fee if they wanted to eat in their cabins.
The reality, said Stuart, is the timing was coincidental.
“It was more about the guest experience, not about room service,” Stuart said.
In fact, the decision to ban food came after Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. President and CEO Frank Del Rio sailed a Norwegian ship and noticed numerous dishes in the hallways, as well as passengers carrying plates loaded with food, sloshing over the sides and onto the carpet, Stuart said. When Del Rio returned from his cruise, he spoke with Stuart, and they decided to ask passengers not to transport food.
Stuart said the conversation lasted about 2 minutes. There was no motive, he added, except “how do we fix this issue?”
The passionate response came as a surprise, said Stuart, adding the topic is “clearly important to guests.” The cruise line has reverted to the previous policy; passengers can once again carry out food from all restaurants.
Further, crew onboard will fix the problem Del Rio identified by making more regular sweeps through corridors, picking up dishes and cleaning up spills.
“Obviously, this was an emotive issue for people,” Stuart said.
Stuart lamented the fact some of the great things Norwegian Cruise Line has rolled out have been lost in the discussion of the policy. In particular, Stuart cited the success the line has seen on its ships since it eliminated the cover charge for its Asian restaurants (excluding Teppanyaki) — 12 venues across its 13 ships. The number of diners in these restaurants averages 250 a night, up from 50.
He also pointed to the variety — and volume — of add-on deals Norwegian has offered, saying items such as a complimentary Ultimate Beverage Package or Ultimate Dining Package create value that makes cruising a more inclusive product.
“The number [of people] who booked during this time period, with a much more inclusive product than ever before, is astounding,” Stuart said. Also this year, Norwegian announced, beginning in 2016, Norwegian Sky will be fully inclusive, allowing passengers to pay one fare that includes items like beverages and alternative dining.