Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Windjammer Barefoot
Sailing Date: May 2002
May/June 2002, my 11 year old son and I were looking for something neat to do. I came across Windjammer's Web Page and called them regarding available cruises and kid's Programs. I was told they had 2 cabins left (many people on our cruise were to be told, 'only two cabins left'(???)) for a departure two days away. My big concern was a Kid's Program, as this is what my son looks forward to most while on a Cruise. We were informed of the Jr. Jammer's Program, which offered 'wonderful' stuff for kids. I called back twice specifically about the Jr. Jammer program (how many kids in it, hours and availability). Everything seemed set, so we booked.
Two days later, as we boarded the ship, we were informed that while the Jr. Jammer staff were on board, it was a training program, and the actual Jr. Jammer's doesn't start until the following Cruise. They apologized for the misunderstanding.
My son and I were pretty bummed out about it. Upon boarding the ship, they give each cabin a piece of paper that specifically states "If you are dissatisfied with anything, don't wait until the end of the cruise to complain, when there is nothing we can do. Speak up early."
I went to Sonia, the cruise director. I explained the situation. She reiterated that the kid's program doesn't start until next week, and that this is clearly stated in the literature (two days prior to the cruise we had no literature and it wasn't stated on the web page-- our only source of literature). She suggested it was merely a 'misunderstanding' and that I was too focused on that one issue; kick back and enjoy everything. A nice philosophy, though my frustrated 11 year old son had trouble embracing this mend.
Given that my priority for taking this cruise was specifically the Jr. Jammer's events for my son, and being told that this was just a big miscommunication (vs. Misrepresentation), we tried to look forward to the cruise. My son has been on over 12 cruises, and now on the Legacy, our cabin was the worst I've ever been in. As noted in a someone's Epinions.com review elsewhere, (either we had the same cabin mentioned in their dismal review, or multiple cabins are this bad on the ship.. I'm not sure!!), this one had literally nowhere to sit (the bed siding prevented sitting on the side of the bed) and the lighting was dismal (and this was suppose to be a higher end cabin). The food was definitely not geared for a kid's palate which was a constant sore point for my son (grilled cheese with tomatoes!!!???).
Then, I found that 6 other parents were also told that Jr. Jammer's would be operational. I complained to the Captain, who was supportive, but not really in a position to do anything. When I informed Sonia of the larger scope of people involved, and that 7 families shared this 'misunderstanding' and she now seemed annoyed at me for persisting with this.
I think the other families were merely disappointed about the misrepresentation by the sales staff of the cruise as a kids program, but it didn't stop their enjoyment of the cruise. There was lots to do. My situation was a little different in that our priority was specifically to partake in the Jr. Jammer program. Plus, we're from St. Petersburg, Florida. We're on the water. We have a pool. There's not much novelty being in water or beaches, etc... Compared to other kids from St. Louis, Ohio, or out West.. for them, warm sunny beaches, diving, and fishing are exciting novelties, not a mundane way of life!!
Taking it one step further, I emailed family from Nassau, regarding my complaints and the lack of support from the staff. Since Windjammer solicits our complaints DURING the cruise, I asked family to contact the main office directly in Miami Beach regarding my situation.
The response I got back was surprising. The best WindJammer had to offer, was if I was really dissatisfied, I could fly home from any of the major ports... I wasn't a prisoner on the ship!! Even the Captain seemed surprised at the lack of problem-solving finesse.
While in Nassau, another family got on who were also sold a 'Family Cruise', as well as a couple who were sold an 'Adults Only' cruise... Obviously, both were surprised!
Wednesday, two days before the conclusion of the trip, the Captain initiated the Jr. Jammer's schedule. I would guess he did this due to mounting complaints by the passengers, but I'm not sure.
At the conclusion of the cruise, I made two calls to WindJammer which essentially made no difference. Despite selling the cruise as a family cruise, which it wasn't, they further believed that they delivered a wonderful product and I was just a disgruntled passenger who let circumstances interfere with a potentially wonderful experience. I asked for a partial refund. They refused. I had initially booked a singles Cruise at the same time I paid for this cruise, at that point both site unseen. They felt that my current personal experience with WindJammer was such that I might not relish all that they had to offer, and we mutually agreed to cancel that upcoming Cruise, and they gave me a full refund for that trip. But they would do nothing regarding the Family Cruise, that wasn't.
Since in the end, they did implement the Jr. Jammer's Program for two days, and the cruise is advertised as an 8 day cruise (how they figure Friday night boarding at 5PM with a midnight departure and then returning and disembarking by 8AM Friday counts as EIGHT DAYS of Cruising, I don't understand, but I'll certainly use it to my advantage!!!), 25% of the cruise [2 days of 8], I got what I paid for.
I am disputing 75% of my bill through American Express!