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Steve Oracheskis

Age: 36

Occupation:Business Owner

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Dawn Princess

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean


This is my first review on any vacation so bear with me if this is a bit lengthy and let me explain what you are in for if you cruise with Princess.

For my wife and I this is our first cruiser and have been greatly disappointed the Princess Cruise Line. Without any notice they with the cancelled of 2 out of the 6 islands on our current trip (that is a 1/3 cancellation level with minimal compensation).

When I first found out of cancellation of the islands I complained to the Pursers’ office and (after the cruise) to their customer relations department. I will put my complaint letter to the President of Princess below and their response.


THE BELOW WAS THE LETTER SENT TO THE PRESIDENT OF PRINCESS CRUISES

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alan Buckelew, President
Princess Cruises
24844 Avenue Rockefeller
Santa Clarita, CA, USA 91355


Dear Mr. Buckelew,

Please read the e-mail that I had sent to your boss (I doubt the passenger relations person forwarded it to him) as it will explain all.

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(e-mail sent from the Dawn Princess During the 10 day Cruise Dec 30-Jan 9, 2005)

Attn: Micky Arison, CEO
Carnival Corporation & PCL

Cruisers: Steve Oracheski / Leah Berday (Cabin R345)

My wife and I are first time cruisers and have been greatly disappointed with the cancellation of 2 out of the 6 islands on our current trip (that is a 1/3 cancellation level with minimal compensation). I understand that certain circumstances can force you to deviate from scheduled stops, but I bought and paid for a 6 island cruise with 4 sailing days not a 4 island cruise with 6 sailing days.

The cost of this cruise was substantial (approaching $10,000 CDN) as we have one of the better cabins and the compensation of $200 USD/per person (as an onboard credit no less) is a 'slap in the face' to us and is woefully inadequate. This is doubly more so as I received no notice of this change until onboard the ship. I have also been informed from a number of people that the ship appears to be breaking in a new engine which cannot operate at full speed (which explains why the ship is traveling slower than expected and likely why we are missing Isla Margarita island stop and arrived late at Curacao).

Your company must surely have known about this planned overhaul months in advance and should have told us about this long ago so that I would have had a chance to change/cancel the trip.

Given what has transpired, I therefore am demanding a much fairer compensation level ($500 USD/per person is far more reasonable) to be credited to my account (and that I be personally notified when this is done by your onboard staff) BEFORE the end of the cruise. If this does not occur, upon my return to Calgary I will:

1) File a formal complaint with the appropriate travel associations

(Canada and the US),

2) File a formal complaint with the better business bureau for your

misrepresenting the nature of services to be fulfilled by your

organization under the travel contract,

3) Post this e-mail (along with your response - or lack thereof if that

is the case) on all internet cruise review sites that I can find for

future/potential cruiser to view (along with all affliated cruise lines

to the Princess Line), and

4) CC this information to your competitors CEO's.


I hope that it will not come to the above but I am 'PISSED OFF' (as well as pretty much every person that I have talked to on this cruise so far) an I intend to receive a reasonable level of compensation for this gross inconvenience.

Regards,

Steve Oracheski
Cabin R345 Dawn Princess
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(the below e-mail was the initial response from the cruise line)

Dear Mr. Oracheski:

The circumstances surrounding your cruise were most unfortunate. We realize that the forced change of itinerary for your cruise, due to Hurricane Frances and Jeanne, is a source of disappointment for many. As we are sure you are aware, the course of a tropical storm is impossible to predict. Additionally, as you may be aware, due to operational requirements Isla Margarita was cancelled and the port time for Curacao and Dominica were revised. While our cruise programs are designed to provide our passengers with a premium cruise holiday, we must be remain cognizant of the world situation as it may affect the safety of our passengers and crew. Therefore, we reluctantly advised your travel agent of the necessary changes. Occasional cancellations or substitutions are an unwelcome but unavoidable part of the travel experience. As per all pre-cruise information and as printed in the brochure in the “General Information”

section, “schedules, port calls, hours of arrival and departure are subject to change without prior notice. In recognition of this inconvenience, all passengers were given a $100 per person onboard credit applied to their onboard account. While we regret any disappointment these necessary changes caused, we would be unable to honor your request for consideration of further compensation. Should have further concerns regarding this matter, we kindly ask that you contact the Purser's Office.

Sincerely,

Brenda Tethers

Passenger Relations Specialist
passengerrelations@princesscruises.com

--------

In response to your companies e-mail above I feel that this reply is bull shit as Hurricane Frances and Jeanne went through the Princess Cayes in Sept (you had lots of time to find a different island to go to - or notify me of this issue as I had booked well in advance of this storm).

With regards to the operational difficulties referred to, I was talking with one of the mechanics brought on board the ship (from the engine manufacturer) and he said that one of the engines quit in FEB/04 and that the ship was dry docked a couple months ago to repair it. He said that instead of replacing the engine entirely (which is what his company does in most cases), Princess had some spare parts in a warehouse and you basically stripped the engine down, put the parts on the ship, and he and his team had been rebuilding it for about 2 months. Therefore, your company knew way ahead of time that this engine would not be ready for this trip (or more likely you were hoping it would be ready).

With only 3 out of 4 engines operational the ship could only travel at approximately 18 knots and could not deploy the ship stabilizers (which apparently cause the ship to slow down) which made for an incredibly rough voyage (lots of people throwing up!). It also meant that the ship had to shorten some of the port times (as you have admitted above). What really pisses me off is that the pursers office initially told me that the reason for missing Isla Margarita was due to ‘political instability’ and that it was for the safety of the passengers. I searched the intranet and could not find any reference of anything happening there, and given all the other details discovered later, this was a lie.

Also, (I forgot to add this to the e-mail response to the Passenger Relations Specialist) the incompetence of your disembarking staff caused us to miss our flight to Canada which we then had to scramble and find alternate flights causing us great stress and a late arrival back in Calgary. Essentially what happened was the Dawn Princess could not disembark on time due to Customs. Instead of getting off at 8:15 or so we got out at 9:05. We had a 10:35 flight (which was booked through Princess – what the hell they we thinking booking a flight that close to the ship arrival I can’t figure out as there was one an couple hours later). My wife and I went directly to the waiting bus where I told them we had to leave right away to catch our flight. They assured me that we would make it, so we boarded the bus instead of taking a taxi to the airport. Then they spent over 30 minutes cramming everyone they could on the bus even if they had a later flight (just as long as they were either Air Canada or American Airlines flight ticket holders). To make matters worse the bus driver insisted on dropping off the American Airlines folks first even though I’m pretty sure the Air Canada fight (of which there were 15-25 people on) was taking off right away. He also then indicated that we should tip him for his ‘efforts’. Suffice it to say we all missed the plane. Then when I was trying to find another flight one of your staff at the airport actually told Air Canada that the fault was that of Customs and pretty much tried to push this issue onto them (when in fact we did have time to get to the airport if they were more organized – ie: they should have put all the Orange 2 coded people on a cab bus and sent us separately and that would have solved everything).

Therefore it is very obvious that the Princess Cruise line lied to all the passengers on this cruise, and only notified a few of them ahead of time, in order to save a few bucks on an engine and charge us full fair while doing it. Given this I am formally demanding my money back for your misrepresentations or a compensation of a free cruise for me and my wife for injuries suffered. Also, I have begun contacting the travel agencies in Canada on this issue to let them know what you are up to and to file a formal complaint against your organization so that they can warn their customers. I will be contacting the USA Better Business Bureau if you do not compensate me as well as place this letter on ALL the cruise reviews web sites that I can find. Last, if these measures do not prompt you to compensate me for the money you essentially stole from me, I will be contacting some of the other passengers that had expressed interest in a class action lawsuit against Princess and go down this pass.

As a first cruise your companies deceit and incompetence left a 'bitter taste' in my mouth and I WILL NOT LET THIS GO until you do the honourable thing and provide me back the compensation for your greed!
_______________________
End of letter to the President of Princess:

So you see all the complaints of the cancelled islands that you are seeing on this (and other web sites) are because of a known problem with a dead engine since Feb/2004.

It all became apparent to me what the real issues was when I was talking with one of the mechanics brought on board the ship (from the engine manufacturer) and he said that one of the engines quit and they were still fixing it (see below). Therefore it was known by the Princess Cruises far before they sent me my itinerary that the ship was crippled and could not go fast enough to make it to all the promised islands for our cruise. On shorter cruises no one would noticed the speed difference (you would still make it where you had to go as the ship probably didn’t need to go 21 knots to get there), but on long cruises, such as the South Caribbean cruise we were on, this problem is material to the ability of the Cruise line to offer the service claimed and that we paid for.

Therefore it is very obvious that the Princess Cruise line mislead us, and all the passengers on this cruise (as can been seen by these e-mails) in order to save a few bucks on an engine and charge us full fair while doing it. I know that this is a contractual matter but the terms for cancellation, in opinion, do not supplant the fact that the Cruise Line misrepresented what it was selling (i.e.: they lied)!

If anyone knows of a class action suit being launched against Princess Cruises please contact me at pissedoffatprincess@shaw.ca. I am currently filing consumer complaints against this company with ALL government bodies I can find. Everyone should look to the BBB (Better Business Bureau web site and see the rating on Princess (it is an F – second lowest). I think this says it all.

To end with, I must say that;
1) the food was excellent onboard.
2) Our cabin steward was lazy.
3) I really liked the balcony we had (best part of the trip).
4) The onboard entertainment was ameraturish.
5) I will NEVER travel with Princess Cruises (or any of it’s affiliated lines – Carnival Corp is buying up the industry. I have listed below the lines they own:

Carnival Cruise Lines
Princess Cruises
Holland America Line
Seabourn Cruise Line
Windstar Cruises
P & O Cruises
Cunard Line
Ocean Village
Swan Hellenic
Costa Cruises
AIDA
P & O Cruises Australia

All I wanted (which I think everyone out there wants) is a reasonable vacation with integrity, honesty and have some fun! I found that this IS NOT PRINCESS style.

SteveO

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