By paul motter
As I write this I am packing for a transatlantic flight to the U.K. so I can join a cruise ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean for its first time - and it just occurred to me that is not always the wisest decision.
Crossing the Atlantic is today a time-honored tradition, but it was once a major accomplishment for mankind similar to reaching the moon. Well, sometimes it is still a major accomplishment.
Men have only been crossing the Atlantic, even by ship, for barely more than 600 years - there are buildings on earth that are five times older than the transatlantic age of mankind - but today we do it with hardly a second thought.
So, let's give it a second thought just for a minute.
I have crossed the Atlantic by cruise ship three times before. I have crossed by jet so many times I have lost count.
I will be sailing on Norwegian Epic leaving on Thursday for what is scheduled to be a seven-day crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from Southampton to New York. A seven day crossing means that ship will need to be sailing at or near its top speed - 23 knots.
The ship just emerged from STX shipyard in France and has only done two cruises so far. Sadly, yesterday's cruise was marred by an engine problem. Word is that there is a problem with the propeller shaft, and newspaper reports are saying the ship is still only capable of sailing at half of her top speed.
Now, the ship did leave the current cruise, sailing from Rotterdam, some seven hours late, but it is not clear if it was because of the propeller problem or because of a security system issue where every passenger had to be checked in by hand. News reports said there were "inspectors" looking at the propeller, but there is no mention of "fixers" of the problem. There are many reports saying the ship left Rotterdam and is still only capable of sailing at half-speed.
Unfortunately, the public relations department has not been timely about releasing updates on the ship's condition since she set sail. I just went to the NCL web site to check the latest press releases - and even though the ship is now officially in service, the latest release online is about the "Capital City Cloggers" winning some kind of talent competition last Friday (there's a show that won't require an online reservation).
Considering the fact that Saturday was the ship's first official cruise and Monday's cruise left seven hours late - and that there are reports that the ship is hobbled - it would be prudent for NCL to be giving far more regular updates. But this isn't my cruise line so I certainly won't be telling them how to run their business.
Anyway, here is a happy ending with a nod to travel agents; I have now gotten word through my travel agent who called NCL that the ship should be in Southampton on time and that whatever was wrong with the ship was an easy fix.
So much for the cruise reporters who are right now reporting that the ship is hobbled and cannot go at full speed. Come to think of it, if she was seven hours late leaving Rotterdam, why wouldn't she be going at full speed?
Whatever happens, please wish me luck on my ocean crossing. Chances are that it will come off without a hitch as far as I know. I am taking the fact that NCL has not yet commented on the state of the ship to be a positive sign that nothing has changed with my cruise plans.
I certainly hope that is right since I have a few $1000s invested in this cruise.
Discuss this article in our CruiseMates Forums: Is Norwegian Epic Hobbled as Reported?