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Susan L Pierce-Caress

Age: 57

Occupation:Financial Manager

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Diamond Princess

Sailing Date: May 15th, 2004

Itinerary: Alaska


I have been on cruise-chat.com for weeks regarding our harrowing experience aboard the Diamond Princess on our Alaskan cruise beginning May 15, 2004. It began in Seattle, WA on pier 30. We waited in the drizzle outside with our luggage in a line for over 3 hours before we were checked through customs to board the ship. It was a nightmare and only the beginning of what proved to be a very inept organization for passengers.

Once underway, we arrived late in Juneau and many of the passengers who had booked excursions, were forced to cancel, postpone, and cut short very expensive prepaid plans. The balcony room we purchased was much smaller than the one we had aboard the Royal Caribbean. We had ordered a tuxedo for the week of our cruise and that was supposed to include two shirts. We had to call the purser for the second shirt, a pair of shoes which were to be included, and the studs for the shirt. We hurried up to the buffet as we had not eaten since peanuts on the plane from Sacramento at 8:00 a.m. We had arisen at 4:00 a.m. in order to catch the plane.

Our cruise up the inside passage to Skagway was enjoyable and uneventful. My brother in law became ill on Sunday with a gastrointestinal disorder, I came down with the same illness on Monday, and Tuesday my sister came down with the illness. She tried to obtain pepto bismol aboard the ship. No one at the shop told her to report to the doctor and that there was no charge for doing so when it pertained to gastrointestinal disorders because the ship took those disorders very seriously. By the time she visited the doctor, she was dehydrated and was put on an IV and quarantined for 24 hours.

We learned later that there had been an outbreak of Norwalk virus on the ship. The two of us were ill for the remainder of the trip. On our return trip, we were supposed to stop in Victoria. We were at the early dining when there was a lot of disturbance of rumbling and noise. Passengers were all discussing what was going on when there was a collision of the ship into the pier. We were delayed at the dock for over 5 hours unable to visit Victoria and with no information as to what was happening. We learned later that the propeller was broken and that we were going to limp back to Seattle but would be arriving much later than scheduled. We tried to find out from the purser how we were going to be able to make our airplane reservations the next day and no one was able to give us information. We finally got to Seattle and after being told to have our baggage ready for disembarkation by 8:30 a.m., we were held on board until 4:00 p.m.

We were bussed to a hotel where we had to pay for our own meals, porters, and had to pay for rescheduling our flights home. We also had extra parking fees at our home airport. When our travel agent tried to get a reimbursement for us from Princess, the only reimbursement they would do was for the airline flight change charge. We spent over another $100 on meals, porters, and parking that were not reimbursed. We were very disappointed in the way Princess treated their passengers. It was not only us; we saw and spoke with many passengers who were gravely mistreated with the events of this trip.

There were 2,700 passengers waiting to board our ship when we arrived who had been kept waiting and then were bussed to the convention center in Seattle WA for hours with no complete explanation. Some of these passengers had just flown 15 hours from Australia. There were seasoned passengers who had taken more than a dozen cruises who had never experienced anything like this cruise from beginning to end. Let me conclude by saying that the Alaska cruise is truly beautiful and we would recommend it to anyone…just not on the Princess.

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