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Michael Deer

Age: 58


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Grand Princess

Sailing Date: August 30th, 2005

Itinerary: Mediterranean

To Whom. It May Concern:

I would. like to share with you and your readers my experiences regarding a very disappointing Mediterranean voyage aboard the Grand Princess cruise line.

The cruise that I am writing about originated from Barcelona, Spain on August 30 and ended in Venice, Italy on September 11th, 2005. All of my friends who took the same cruise during previous years bragged about how fabulous it was, I am thinking now that they must have been drunk, as many other people aboard were, because IT WAS THE WORST VACATION OF MY LIFE !!!

I do not know how often, if ever, the Health Department check up on ships but the food was not kept at safe temperatures. Some of it was absolutely inedible. Multiple people came down with food poisoning. This did, not stop many others from eating like there was no tomorrow but I spoke to quite a few passengers who, like me, ate enough bread and butter on this cruise to last us a lifetime.

The entertainment (and I use that term loosely) was worse than any amateur show and the majority of the ship’s activities were scheduled during the times when, most of the passengers were ashore doing sightseeing. To top it off, our time ashore was continually cut short. When my husband inquired as to why we had to come back before our scheduled time, he was told that it was because “It is cheaper. When, the ship is docked, port fees have to be paid.” This did not seem fair as all of the port fees and taxes had already been charged to the passengers.

My husband gave this cruise as a gift to me. It was our anniversary so he purchased a special package that included a massage and a facial. I was very excited about this. However, the therapists who worked at the spa were obviously salespeople as well and they kept pushing various different products and additional services to me. This made me very uncomfortable. Even after I politely declined and said I was not going to buy anything, they did not give up. When I finally responded with a very firm “No thank you.” I received several extremely unpleasant looks. It is very difficult to enjoy yourself and relax when anywhere and everywhere you go you are being solicited to buy something.

Then, right before we were supposed to arrive in. Turkey, the unthinkable happened---Our ship broke down in the middle of the sea. We were not moving. After about 5 hours, we were told that we were going to have to skip our stop in Istanbul. Many of the passengers got very angry. The next morning, we docked at a very small Greek island called Samos. There was nothing to see or do there. Of course, the captain and the crew acted as if we should thank our lucky stars that we were allowed to stop anywhere. Later that evening, we received an announcement that we would be skipping Turkey completely. Passengers went from angry to enraged. The combination of frustration and alcohol is never a good one so about 600 passengers got together in the middle of the ship and began to riot. They started screaming that they wanted to see the ship’s maintenance log. The response was that a maintenance log was not kept since 1999. Security eventually came out and told everybody to disburse. Two hours later, after a lot more drinking, we had a second riot. This was definitely not my idea, of a good time. The next day we were told that, due to the generosity of the Princess Cruise lines and their incredible customer service, we would each receive a $400 credit. Unfortunately, this credit could only be used aboard, the ship, was not retroactive, and could only be used at the present time. It would expire once the cruise ended and no cash refunds would be given if the total amount was not used. Everyone aboard felt that this was completely insufficient for all we had been through.

By now we were completely off schedule so we arrived in Athens earlier than, we were supposed to and, all of the sightseeing was completely cancelled. It was obvious that the ship was moving far slower than it was supposed to and it began making very loud noises. We then had to spend an additional day out at sea. It was at this point that I began to pray. A day before our cruise ended, my husband was in an elevator that was marked “capacity 18.” There were only 12 passengers but the elevator ground to a halt. Neither the emergency button, the phone, nor the air-conditioning was functional. People began to panic. Finally the passengers, with no help from the crew, had to force the doors open to get everyone out.

By some miracle we made it to the last day. We were in Venice. What a magnificent city that is! On the way from the city, we had three cruise ship employees sitting behind, us. They were discussing the ship’s current situation. My husband and I could, not believe what we heard! Apparently there was complete and utter chaos going on below. The maintenance people stated that it would be impossible to fix all of the problems in time for the next voyage but, rather than cancel, the management had decided to proceed with the ship “as is” and start the next cruise and just skip ports. My husband and I were stunned! 2700 people were about to board that ship in Venice to go to Barcelona and they would have no idea what hit them. Oh, but I am sure that Princess came up with some line of BS stating that all of the problems were totally unexpected and unavoidable. What a joke.

I truly hope that you will publish my letter. Cruises may seem like a great vacation idea but people need to know what really goes on “behind the curtain.” Lord knows that I will never take one again.


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