Here is a letter of my experience on the Ryndam and I have yet to hear from anybody at the company! Here is a link to a radio interview also!
March 5, 2007
Mr. Stein Kruse,
President & CEO,
300 Elliott Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119
Dear Mr. Kruse:
On February 7th, a client of mine asked me to join her on a Jazz Sea Cruise aboard the Ryndam February 21 - March 3, 2007, since her friend had to cancel due to illness at the last moment. I of course said yes, thinking this was a vacation of a lifetime.
On February 21st we boarded the ship, were directed to our stateroom, opened the door and proceeded to find dirty towels under the bed, a half empty bottle of wine, several opened canned beverages in the refrigerator, dirty kleenex and half empty bottles of shampoo in the drawers. After I emptied out all of this and placed it on the table and sofa, I called our cabin steward and showed all of this to him. He apologized and said it was his first day of work. I later found out that the ship had been contaminated with “the virus” on the cruise before us. We were not notified of this before we boarded and didn’t think it was a concern. I found out later that some passengers were asked to sign a wavier stating they were boarding at their own risk. I signed no such letter, neither did most of my party. I had a can of Lysol and sprayed everything in our room after touching all of the trash that was left for us to find, and every 12 hours for the rest of the trip.
My cabin steward was responsible for 12 cabins.* From talking to my neighbors in these 12 cabins, I learned that occupants in three of those 12 cabins became ill and had to be quarantined.* Three infected cabins out of 12!
Our toilet was clogged, and it took several hours to get somebody to unclog it, the next door neighbor had black oil-ish liquid coming from her faucet, and the Jazz Sea Cruise director had her toilet blow up!
My next experience was booking three excursions and the excursion employee, Greg, told me the next day that the first excursion was canceled due to “the catamaran broke”. He didn’t show me anything that was comparable that I could book, just that it wasn’t his problem. I later found another excursion on my own, on a pirate ship that I booked, and afterward, this was canceled also. So the first two ports, we wandered ashore finding our own entertainment.
Upon arrival at Topolobompo, we were told there was wonderful shopping in Los Mochis, boarded a bus and found a Woolworth's store in the indoor mall along with several shoe stores, clearly a local’s place to shop. This was the “wonderful shopping experience”. We returned on the next bus and we were then told (in the ship’s daily letter) that they had a wonderful beach “the prettiest in the state” and could take a bus. I boarded the bus after being assured from three different sources at the port that the beach was wonderful, they showed me brochures and even gave me a gift certificate for a free margarita at one of the restaurants. I left on the bus and was dropped off in the middle of what looked like a ghetto. I only got off because they assured me that I had to walk away to the beach. I stayed for two hours, until the bus picked us up, befriended a couple and asked to stay with them the whole time, since I was fearful of my life. Trucks of young men were driving up and down the beach taunting me. I’m enclosing photos and the brochures I was given along with the ship’s newsletter.
Upon arrival back at the ship, I loaded the photos into my laptop and went to see Greg and showed him what had happened. Unbelievably to me he said “NOT MY PROBLEM”!!! He said he couldn’t be responsible for what I did on my own. I told him it was recommended in the ship’s newsletter and that the ship’s busses took me there. He insisted very rudely that he wasn’t responsible and blew me off. I then asked to see the beach excursion in Cabo San Lucas, (since all I wanted to do was get off the ship and lay on the beach) was showed a photo and I booked it. I was so furious not only because he wouldn’t take responsibility, did not apologize for his behavior, and didn’t even offer me as much as a free cocktail for what I had been through. I then asked the front desk who Greg’s boss was, got his name and the following day stood in line for 25 minutes, and asked to speak with Francisco Parro, the Shore Excursion Manager, in private. I told him my story and then showed him the photos. He apologized, and assured me that he would talk to Greg that this was not the way the ship did business. He didn’t offer any compensation, just assured me that Nikki Beach in Cabo was beautiful and I would love it. He asked if I could stay a few minutes while he brought Steve Guerra, Port & Shopping Ambassador, to talk to me. I repeated the story and Steve told me they never had even seen these places, just relied on local information! I can’t believe you have customers go to places sight unseen! I was really beginning to wonder what kind of company practiced this kind of quality control! The night before my Nikki Beach trip, I received a letter that it was CANCELED too!!! Unbelievable! They said there were not enough people that signed up. Another example of horrible customer service!
I did get to go on the Deer Island Kayak excursion, but didn’t get to go shopping, because the sea was too rough, and didn’t kayak, because it was too cold! It lasted four hours instead of five, again, no compensation, just “not my problem”
Meanwhile, people are dropping like flies around the ship getting this violent virus, nobody told us how it was transmitted, what the incubation time was, or how many people had it, and how long it took to recover. Anytime I would ask, I was told “it was under control”! Nobody gave us any information whatsoever--just the request that we wash our hands as often as possible. We were finally told the CDC was boarding the ship to ask questions of the sick people, for example, what they ate before boarding, where they were born, and other irrelevant questions. The sick customers were given a shot, and among other things, a package of powdered Gatorade and then CHARGED FOR WATER to mix it with!
There were rampant rumors regarding the virus which should have been corrected by reliable administrative reports. Avoiding panic is not achieved by complete secrecy.
When I ordered room service for breakfast, three out of six times they were late (they actually called once), another time THEY NEVER SHOWED UP AND DIDN’T BOTHER TO CALL!
When I went to check out a book. I asked the librarian what to do, she said find a book, just look at the spine, tell her what it was and she would get it. I stood there while she opened the cages and opened mine, took a book out six inches from the book I wanted and I asked her to hand it to me, and she said she was pulling books for other people. There were two other people in the library and both reading something. She proceeded to pull the books on the “list” and ignored me! I couldn’t believe it. I was so upset, she never explained the procedure, just told me I had to wait. I waited more than 20 minutes and finally left. I then went back, was explained the procedure by someone else, and FIVE HOURS LATER, I finally got my book!
Every night when my party of 14 went to the dining room, it was a huge ordeal of where we were supposed to sit to eat. Carol Neumann, of Jazz Sea Cruises, gave us a seating assignment, which was different every night, and nearly every time, we all were waiting around for a place to sit while others were waiting for us to get out of the way. Several of our group gave up and went to the Lido to eat nearly every dinner. This is first class service???
This trip was the nightmare of a lifetime, and to cap it all off, when it came time to disembark, at 8:30am like we were told, they kept putting us off. I asked several employees, and all said that the ship had not received clearance to leave. After TWO AND A HALF HOURS, and a lot of people missing their flights and having to book another flight, and some even had to spend the night, I asked the front desk what they were going to do....they replied they would let us use their phone AS A COURTESY to call for another flight, but of course I received another reply of NOT MY PROBLEM!
When it came time to finally get off this ship, we were told there would be plenty of people to help find our luggage in the huge warehouse and get to the bus when we were allowed to leave. I had two very large and heavy suitcases, a carryon and a purse. There was not ONE PERSON I COULD FIND TO HELP. I carried all four of these to the bus myself, as did hundreds of other people, including a large number of elderly. I made my plane with only seconds to spare, (and that’s only because the driver felt sorry for me and dropped me off first) after 10 days of absolute hell! The others in my party didn’t make it home until the following day!
While I can understand that a “code red” is extremely hard on employees, you apparently don’t realize what a hardship this is on YOUR customers, since we are obviously treated like dirt, and we never knew about the virus in the first place.
Apparently you decided it would benefit the ship if you charged 15% gratuity on all bar purchases and a $10 a day person gratuity for other services, since nobody would voluntarily pay for this kind of service. I reversed the charged of $100 and paid the employees who actually deserved it.
This experience has been extremely stressful and basically the worst “vacation” I have ever had in my life!. I was expecting to be pampered like your commercials advertise, at the very least, treated with respect. I also found out that the ship was being kept in port while they finally “disinfected” it! We should have never even been allowed to board the ship in the first place, obviously it’s only the bottom line that counts!