Cruise line accused of downplaying coronavirus to secure bookings in leaked emails

Norwegian Cruise Line has been accused of giving customers misleading information and downplaying the seriousness of coronavirus to secure new bookings.

A whistleblower at NCL leaked a series of emails to the Miami New Times, in which a senior sales manager allegedly provided “one-liners” to help employees close sales with customers who were on the fence about booking a cruise.

“Team, these are one liner’s [sic] to help you close your guests that are on the fence. DO NOT USE THESE unless the coronavirus is brought up,” reportedly reads one email.

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“The only thing you need to worry about for your cruise is do you have enough sunscreen,” says one of the reported lines, while another resorts to pressure booking by advising that demand for itineraries has soared as a result of Asian routes being cancelled.

“I suggest we secure your reservation today to avoid you paying more tomorrow,” reads the talking point.

At the more worrying end of the spectrum, some of the alleged one-liners appear to contain unfounded information about Covid-19.

“The Coronavirus can only survive in cold temperatures, so the Caribbean is a fantastic choice for your next cruise,” one talking point allegedly says; another reportedly reads: “Scientists and medical professionals have confirmed that the warm weather of the spring will be the end of the Coronavirus.”

Most scientists in fact say it’s too soon to know how the virus will react in warm weather.

The anonymous NCL employee claimed to the Miami New Times that managers are downplaying the threat of coronavirus to staff too: “Even during our department meetings, managers tell us that it isn’t a big deal, that more people die from other things.”

They said they had not used the one-liners on customers themselves as they felt uncomfortable about doing so, but that cruise sales had plummeted.

Despite this, they alleged that sales targets for employees had not been altered.

“If you don’t hit quota, you will absolutely be fired,” they claimed.

NCL declined to comment on the allegations when The Independent got in touch.

It comes after the US State Department advised all citizens against travelling by cruise ship.

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