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tom roach

Age: 47

Occupation:Media executive

Number of Cruises: 16

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Royal Princess

Sailing Date: 2009-09-5

Itinerary: Holy Land

This is the letter that I wrote Princess Customer Relations, stating our issues with the cruise. When I inquired today they are stating that it can take up to 4 weeks to hear back.

I recently completed a 12 day cruise on the Royal Princess in the Holy Land. I have traveled with Princess a total of 98 days and currently hold a Platinum Status in your customer loyalty program. I have three items that I would like to bring to your attention:

1. The dissatisfaction that we had with one of our tours.
2. The discrepancies that we discovered in booking with Princess as compared to others that booked through as travel agent.
3. What we were told repeatedly on the Royal Princess concerning service ratings.

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1. We signed up for the Galilee and Nazareth tour when in the port of Haifa through Princess. Our tour Guide, Diana, was by far the least qualified guide we have had in our decade of cruising with your company. A majority if not all of the people participating in the tour were interested in visiting and understanding the historical/religious significance of various sites. The guide gave us very little information about the religious sites and only gave a very limited time in each site (less than 20 minutes). I became very agitated when she rushed us through the Mount of the Beatitudes, The Church of the Multiplication and Capernaum then allowed us one hour and fifteen minutes to shop in a kibbutz. She stood by the register and monitored the purchase activity which made me as well as others suspect that she was receiving money for the items purchased by our group.

When we congregated back to the bus, several (5 or more) of the tour group complained vocally that they had travelled 6000+ miles to see and understand the important Holy Sites and that they did not make the trip to shop for souvenirs. Diana (Tour Guide) responded back that it was Princess and her Tour Company Management that decide on the duration on each stop, and that she was following instructions. She then continued to discuss what she had been talking about all day which was the superiority of the Israel over Syria, and how the Syrians will destroy all of the progress if lands are returned.

In Nazareth we were again rushed through the Holy Site, and to my and many other's disbelief we were then taken to another store in which she knew the owner to have more shopping time. At that point all of the discussions were among the tour participants as we stood on the street waiting for the bus having no interest in buying souvenirs. Diana was posted by the cash register monitoring sales.

I total we spent more time shopping then we did visiting key religious and historical sites. I went back and read the tour description and it certainly made it seem like the concentration of the tour would be visiting the sites, not shopping. In contrast I took the Jerusalem and Bethlehem tour the next day when in Ashdod and was impressed by the tour and the guides ability to give you the significant relevance of every site from a Christian, Jewish and Muslim point of view.

Once back on the ship I registered a complaint in writing to the tour office and received a reply that informed me that they had made an inquiry to the tour company and had received no information back yet. They also provided me this e-mail address to write to once I returned home.

This is the first time that I have complained about a tour and was surprised at the lack of ability to take a complaint to resolution on the ship. In conclusion I feel that I was robbed of my time in a situation where time was extremely valuable.

2. We travelled with another couple who booked through a travel agency instead of the method that I used which was through my princess representative. Prior to my final payment being due, I received a promotion from princess concerning balcony upgrades. I called and was told that even though my voyage was listed in the promotion it was not available for our sailing. During the cruise we were asked by the couple the price we paid for our rooms and we were both shocked to find out they had paid significantly less for their room which was identical to ours. They then described that they had booked a room and then used a promotion to upgrade to a balcony for a small fee. This was right in line for what I had called about and was told it did not apply to our sailing. In addition the travel agent provided them with a coupon book with savings on such things as portraits and promotional casino certificates for match play. Their travel agent also gave them certificates for two bottles of wine.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that booking through Princess is not economical and does not provide us with promotional items that the other travel agencies have. Looking at the positive side of this, we have since talked to their travel agent, and booked our next cruise at a far more aggressive deal then was offered by your Future Cruise Consultant on board for the same Itinerary. Unfortunately for you we will be sailing our 14 day Asian cruise with Oceana.

3. The last item that I would like to bring to your attention was the directions that we were given by our wait staff as well as the cruise director. During your 2nd formal night the Lobster was very salty and one of our table mates requested something else. The waiter quickly rushed off and got her another lobster with the same results. Our dining partner told our waiter that she would pass on the main course. The waiter was visibly shaken and asked us to stay behind so that she could talk to us. She pleaded that we did not mark anything but excellent on the evaluation form and only write a comment on the back about the Lobster. I thought at the time that maybe our waiter was under some evaluation and could not afford anything but an excellent rating.

I was surprised to then watch our cruise director expand on this in his daily Television show. He stated that in addition we should think of the excellent rating as being only good service and strongly encouraged the passengers only giving the excellent mark. I, as others, was surprised at this comment by the cruise director. How can the Royal Princess improve as a service organization if all of the surveys are being marked as excellent? Overall the service was good, not the service of Princess 5 years ago, but still good, but certainly not excellent.

I am writing this e-mail as a once loyal customer to Princess and as someone who was torn at having to choose another cruise line for my next cruise.

The food as usual on princess was good. The two exceptions were the first night where the meal had no taste and the 2nd formal night where a table mate ordered the Lobster and could not eat it as it was too salty. The waiter brought her a replacement with the same result.

Our Waiter and Assistant Waiter were good, but for those who sailed with Princess 5 years ago know that the service is not the same.

The stateroom was fine. The only complaint with the cleanliness, was there was mold in our shower. As usual the steward provided good service.

The comedian/musician was very entertaining. The other shows were not to our liking.

Again overall Princess offers a good mid level cruising experience, but is trending down. If you are accustom to the Princess Service of 5 years ago, then you will probably be dissapointed.

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