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Royal Caribbean LineRoyal Caribbean Sovereign the Seas ReviewBahamasAmber West

Age: 29

Occupation:Award Analyst

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Sovereign of the Seas

Sailing Date: February 3rd, 2006

Itinerary: NOT FOUND

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean Sovereign of the Seas Cruise Review
Bahamas

Amber West

I had an extremely bad experience on Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas. I would like to share excerpts from a complaint letter I recently submitted to them, in order to warn others who are considering cruising with RC. See below:

I write to express my disappointment with Royal Caribbean’s Dave Matthews & Friends Caribbean Cruise Getaway.

My boyfriend and I were aboard the Sovereign of the Seas. I imagine by now you have received many complaints from passengers of both ships about all that went wrong with the DMFCCG. If you have not received many complaints, please do not delude yourself into thinking this means the trip was a success. As the days passed (and more and more went wrong), the collective mood on the Sovereign might best be described as bitter disappointment numbed into surly drunkenness. Although on the last day the Cruise Coordinator encouraged us over the loudspeaker to fill out the comment cards left in our rooms, these cards were never provided. We looked for the cards in our room as well as in the ship’s lobby, but they were nowhere to be found. I believe the cards weren’t distributed in a feeble attempt to reduce the amount of negative feedback Royal Caribbean was sure to receive. I take the time to write this letter to make sure you understand that the DMFCCG was poorly planned and falsely advertised, that many fans left feeling ripped off, and that if not for the mellow/“glass-half-full” nature of the Dave fans on board there would have likely been a mutiny.

The Sovereign departed Orlando several hours late not due to weather but to poor planning. Royal Caribbean realized at the last minute they did not have enough electrical outlets on board for the bands that were scheduled to play overlapping/simultaneous shows. What a ridiculous oversight. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of the poor planning. It seemed that once we were off schedule, we never got back on. Throughout the weekend, bands were playing two hours or more off schedule. Printed schedules were distributed late every day, after the morning events had already occurred, and the events listed for the afternoon and evening were not on time (and sometimes did not occur at all), making the printed schedules an almost entirely useless waste of paper.

We were told we would have a full day in Nassau, and many passengers scheduled excursions accordingly. Unfortunately, since the ship was behind schedule, we were only given a few hours to explore Nassau on Saturday, and all excursions were cancelled due to the time shortage. We decided to explore Nassau on foot by walking from the ship to the Atlantis Hotel and a nearby public beach. We returned to the ship in time to get in line for our ferry to the “secret island” for Dave’s show. It did not go unnoticed by the fans that although all website/pre-cruise advertising said this show would take place on a “secret island”, when we arrived in Nassau suddenly the Cruise Coordinator began referring to the location as a “private beach”. Even “private beach” is a stretch, and “secret island” is an outright falsehood. It appeared we were victims of a bait and switch. The ugly spit of sand that was first advertised as a “secret island” and then as a “private beach” faced inland towards Nassau. On one side we had a view of our cruise ships and the local fishing boats parked a few hundred yards away, and on the other side a view of the garish Atlantis hotel, which clearly owned this not-so-“secluded beach”.

We arrived at the beach via ferry around 5pm and I sought out food and drink. The system set up for food and drink purchase was another example of poor planning. I waited in line for a ½ hour to buy 17 raffle tickets, and then realized that I’d have to wait in two more lines- one for food and another for drinks. My boyfriend and I split up to save time. He went to the food line as I stood in the massive drink line. He came back twenty minutes later with my overpriced $7 hot dog. I ate the hot dog while continuing to wait in the massive, unmoving drink line. I waited in this line for over an hour, only to be told when I finally got to the front that they were completely out of beer and wine. (In hindsight I should not have been surprised. Royal Caribbean also ran out of alcohol the previous night on the ship.) At this point Dave had been playing less than twenty minutes. Not only had organizers sorely underestimated how much this crowd could drink, they had not limited how much alcohol people could buy at one time. It appeared that to prevent waiting in line more than once, some fans were buying 24 or more beers at a time. Yes, this means people were paying an absurd $144 for two twelve packs of mediocre canned American beer. In another example of poor planning, organizers underestimated what supplies were necessary for an event like this, and had not created an effective system in order to ensure efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Frustrated, I bought a tiny, overpriced bottle of water for $4, and returned to the ticket line to get my remaining six tickets refunded. I was tired of waiting in line, and didn’t want the lousy $6 can of pissy beer anymore. At first the woman at the ticket stand wouldn’t refund my six tickets. She said she was told to give no refunds and that there was a truck on its way delivering more alcohol. (But how could that be? Weren’t we supposed to be on a secret island after all? How could the truck possibly know where to find us?) More people with handfuls of tickets started looming around sniffing for refunds. Finally she agreed to give me my $6 back so I’d go away.

On Sunday afternoon we heard the news, second hand from other passengers, that the stop on CocoCay island had been cancelled. This was the biggest disappointment yet. Again, little or no explanation was given when something changed or went wrong. This is poor customer service and bad business. We heard that Royal Caribbean was blaming the weather for canceling the stop at CocoCay. This was hard to believe since Sunday was the first nice day we’d had all weekend. It seems much more likely that the poor planning and disorganization that had caused us to be severely and perpetually behind schedule created a situation where there wasn’t enough time to dock, unload, ferry and reload everyone with any significant amount of time to spend on the beach that day. The weather was a convenient excuse, but I do not believe it was the real reason for the cancellation of this key component of the vacation advertised to us.

We had decided not to spend our day in Nassau swimming at the beach because we were told we’d have all day Sunday to do so on CocoCay. We had no chance to swim, to snorkel, to relax on the beach. All of these were key expectations I had for this trip based on what was advertised. It was extremely disappointing to hear that we would not stop at CocoCay at all, and instead were going to sail all the way back to Orlando without stopping. We were trapped on the ship with very few options of what to do since, in following their pattern, organizers had not scheduled music or other things to do in case such a situation arose. We were smashed together on the pool deck, most people drinking themselves silly to forget all that had gone wrong. If Royal Caribbean cared about their customers, they could have provided more free drinks, food and other perks on the ship that day to make up for not stopping at CocoCay. Royal Caribbean showed that it does not care about customer service or satisfaction.

I read the fine print of the DMFCCG contract before our trip began. I understand that to protect yourselves, your lawyers included language stating that you reserve the right to change the schedule without notice, to cancel stops and performances, essentially to say one thing and then do another. But just because you’ve written this into the contract to protect yourselves does not make it right, acceptable, or good customer service, and it may not even be entirely legal. The fact that nothing was done to compensate for all the disappointing changes shows little care for customer service and satisfaction. Please remember that without customers, without fans, you’re out of business.

The DMFCCG was a series of disappointments resulting from poor planning. All of the music was great and the bad weather was uncontrollable, but the vast majority of the mistakes, mishaps and problems were caused by whoever organized (or, perhaps more aptly, disorganized) this sorry excuse for a cruising music festival. Organizing a concert (much less a series of concerts) is a very different animal than organizing a cruise, and it’s clear that whoever was in charge here did not have the skills necessary to organize a cruise/music festival.

I have dedicated myself to nonprofit work my entire life, so this cruise was truly a splurge for which I worked hard and saved long. The cruise was a birthday/Christmas gift from me to my boyfriend, who is a huge fan of the Dave Matthews Band. It is the most I have ever spent on a trip, and it was the first time either of us had been on a cruise. Although we made the most of our trip, loved all the music, and were grateful to Dave & Friends for their dedication to the fans, we will likely never go on a cruise again, and certainly not on a Royal Caribbean Cruise. I believe we should be compensated for the false advertising and poor organization that made this cruise a royal failure.

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