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Old 03-04-2006, 11:42 PM
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Read a bit to get into the story please....

> I had a terrible cruise on the Grand Princess. It was the only bad cruise I ever had so I called Princess Cruise Line Customer Service. Princess Customer Service listened to me talk about my adventure and told me that they could only help me if I wrote. Good idea.
>
>
> Part 1. Tipping
> Part 2. Gaming
> Part 3. Champagne
> Part 4. Colors of the Caribbean
> Part 5. Class
> Part 6. Expectations
>
>
> Tipping
> I just received notification of my enrollment in the "Captain's Circle" club. This means that I have sailed once with Princess Cruise Lines. Now, I will be receiving email advertising in a more familiar tone than the regular advertising that non-members receive. These emails, I expect, will promote weekly spur-of-the-moment jaunts to out of the way retreats like 12 days in the Greek Isles fare-free for me when I talk 11 friends into paying full fair before Thursday 6pm. Captain's Circle Club is easy to become a member of and there are thousands of members. I would like to brag to you that on February 4, 2006, my family and I were inducted into the "Captain's Half-Circle Club".
> This rite of passage was enjoyed by some 3500 passengers and crew some time around 18:00 hours. Military time is appropriate for reenacting naval events such as this. It is, however, unfortunate that all of those on board, save those in charge of the ship's steering, refer to this time in ways less military such as "Supper time", "Happy Hour" and "Out on Deck Orientation Time". My family and I have been on several cruises in the last 2 years so we knew the drill. First, get on board and get a big lunch in before setting sail. The reason for this is that you don't want to climb up to highest deck on the ship to have the best view of the departure only to also have the best vantage point of the wonderful smells of the send off deck party distract you down from your perch. Come to find out, there isn't a yummy deck party on the Grand Princess. The lack of deck party meant everyone was up on the high decks watching the luggage torture testing on the dock.
> We were in our stateroom when our initiation into the club began. The television was tuned to the ship's forward view camera. I like the music that plays on the television when you are viewing ahead. It is not really Muzak and not a spicy Caribbean instrumental either. It is calming and tranquil hammock music. The drawers on the dresser opened on their own. All over the ship, passengers and employees of the cruise line were coping with the same surprising shift in gravity.
> Those dining were made members of the Supper in your Lap club as the ship tilted sharply to starboard side. The children in the swimming pools were reported to have been washed out of the pool as the ship continued to tip. All manner of items made of glass and crystal were shattered in the on-board shops. My family could view the television and see that the horizon was sharply off and we were still moving into harm's way. The music on the television was relaxing, however.
> How far did we tip to starboard? I don't know what that angle was but I can tell you this. A ship on the port side of us could have read on our underside "If you can read this sign, please recycle". We got to enjoy all of this action without the benefit of a warning prior to, instruction during or calming words after the incident. We all had our own ideas of what was happening. I figured the captain was playing Blackjack. Close as he could get to 21 (knots) without going over.
>
> Actually, a 180 degree turn without slowing down in as tight an area as the captain could manage.
>
> Later that night, the captain is nearly scolding the passengers as he addresses them over the ship's speakers system when he says 'We made a necessary turn in a limited channel and the ship was never in danger.' The comedian on the ship would tell us later that the average age of the cruising passenger was just over 60 years old. That is the average. The thought on my mind and many others was "who cares about your dumb old boat, what about us, you put us in danger." In fact, the medical center reported many injuries from passengers and crew.
>
> The cause of the sudden turn was stated to be an emergency maneuver required to route a cardio patient back to meet an intercepting coast guard vessel. If I am ever missing enough heartbeats in a row to cause a ship to dart back to land at 20 mph I hope that I am also in an area that has a helicopter. While it is unfortunate that there was a person who needed medical attention, there was obviously an issue with judgment on behalf of the officers of the vessel. Reckless and hasty is how I see it. I liken this to a firetruck that drives through its un-raised garage door to save time to an accident, an ambulance that does not slow down at the school's crosswalk to get a patient to the hospital, or like putting a new age medicine section in the emergency room. Well, maybe, not like the new age medicine in the emergency room but can't you just imagine "Crystals, STAT!" or "Gunshot wound? Give me the acupuncture needles and a tincture of thistle and dill weed. Stand back and watch nature heal herself!"
> What is it like after a boat rolls on it side like that? I can tell you that there were fans blowing all week because the water from the pools followed gravity. The back eatery had this musty subtropical funk that matched the pattern of the carpet rather well. No need to put up a sign that said "Closed to passengers". This however was not the case with the crew. Unlike any other cruise I had been on, passengers and crew intermingled on deck, through the mini golf game, and buffet. Their quarters had to be a bit more effected to be willing to dine in the must-melon room. As we traveled through the ship, we hit spots of open "sewage whiff". I don't know if you ever traveled in Mexico before the big tourist dollars started pouring in but there is this very special scent that lingered in the area between the street and the sidewalk. If someone asked me back then if I thought that it was created by humans, I would have bet not. Last week, it lurked. My wife said the smell was either preceded by or accompanied by an scent of incense like it was being covered up. I liken it more to an episode of Star Trek where the "Salt Sucker Beast" would materialize shortly after this sweet then acrid scent. You know the rest, dead man in a red uniform. I wore a lot of yellow last week. The scent did not fill the floor but did pop-up all over the ship. It was a bit creepy. One can only speculate which came first, the cardio patient or the smell. Was he just another victim? What color was his shirt?
> Princess claims to sell more framed art than anyone. That is a lot of art. They say that people go on their cruise just to buy the art. I was baffled when I heard this. When I bought my ticket, I did not receive a list of all of the pieces of art that were going to be available on that cruise. It seems like a serious collector would need to know what art is going to be on that ship at the time of sailing. I guess some people just think "Hmm... Last time we were on that ship they had art. Darling, want to book a cruise for that empty spot above piano?" It must work, they have framed art and our cruise had some with glass that was still perfect!
> The stores were closed for a couple hours except the kid's store and that was down for days due to broken bottles of alcohol all over the floor of that store.
>
> It took ten to fifteen minutes beyond the tilting to discover what had happened and why it had happened. It took one hour before dining resumed and we were asked to come to supper in a need to eat order. We were two to three hours late to Costa Maya but that is OKAY. There was an emergency. Responding to an emergency is appropriate. Hastily responding to an emergency is dangerous.
>
> The bottom line for us was that after this event, the rest of the cruise was not near as pleasant or as peaceful as the first two hours. The number of hours that were required of the crew to fix the messes all over the ship were beyond capacity for most and it showed in our care. Some were injured. I believe that some were experiencing the same diminishing trust of our officer's judgment and leadership. Only a few of the remaining crew members were professional and prepared enough to remain personable throughout the cruise. The conditions of the ship and the staff as I witnessed, were substandard for Princess, I am hoping. These conditions were a challenge to my family all of the days that we were on the ship. We were not able to "Escape Completely" as the logo assures.
>
>
>
> Gaming
>
> We live in Texas and there are deals out of Houston all of the time to go to the Yucatan area. That is why we go there, you don't have to be rich to see blue water. My family and I have been there a dozen times by air in the last 10 years and 3 times by cruise in the last two years so the thought of going again so soon was not really all that appealing to me.
>
> I told my family that I would not entertain the notion of going cruising again so soon unless we went somewhere new. See, when you cruise, you are married to the ship except for those daylight hours when you are at port and off the ship. We tend to sail on 7 day cruises which are either 3 or 4 port destinations. That comes out to 30 to 40 hours of shore time at best in a whole week. The rest of the time a good cruise liner offers opportunities for entertainment. My favorite is pointing out previously pallid northerners that have suddenly gone all red in the shape of this afternoon's deckwear.
>
> Picking the destinations is important because they are the reason for being on the ship in the first place. Disagree? Princess does, but try to find a person who wants to take a 7 day cruise in a bay. Book 2,500 hundred folks every week for 26 weeks a year that set sail to "warmer weather" but don't get off anywhere. Every night could be "lobster, sushi, and tasty meat night" and still no one would book passage. The cruise would have to be a 1 in 10 chance in winning on Pepsi cap game to fill the ship with winners. "Congratulations, You've won a week at sea!" On the Grand Princess, you could have water skiing. If you fall, the captain will turn the boat around on a dime and come get you. Anyway, the point is this; people cruise to places and I wanted a new place to visit.
>
> We surfed to the travel agent's website and searched Departure Port and Destinations. We could leave from Galveston and go to Grand Cayman. This would be on the Grand Princess. We did not want to sail on the lowest of the Carnival Line which shares the name but mid-line would be good. Holland America, I am guessing is their best full size line. They must save those ships for cooler climates as none were offered.
>
> About 30 minutes before I became a member of the Captain's Half Circle Club, I found out that the company had canceled the stop in Grand Cayman. I reserved an excursion on-line for the Grand Cayman port of call. This held a spot on a tour to the island's famed turtle farm, a trip to a town called Hell to send a postcard to a friend, and shuttle to hand feed stingrays in stingray city beach. I had that reserved for a very modest price but the ship was not going to sail there. There was a last minute change of schedule. The company said they sent emergency notification.
> Oh. Emergency notification sounds good, right? Emergency is right, last minute notice would be an emergency right? This would give us time to make other arrangements, right?
> No, the emergency notification was intended to go to the travel agent.
> I checked with mine on my return. She verified that one was never received from Princess.
> What would happened if my travel agent would have received that emergency notification?
> Princess Customer Service told me that I could have been offered another open cabin on another ship if one was available at that time. Not that one may have been available. That was strongly emphasized. Oddly and strongly emphasized. My travel agent called their contracts at Princess and got what I feel is the real information. They were told that emergency notification doesn't really do anything. It tells the passenger that the itinerary changed so that they may ... leave behind the postcards to be mailed from Hell, ditch the extra cans of stingray food and take notice to begin writing letters to Customer Service?
> Everyone that I tell this story to asks me if this isn't a clear case of fraud. I say "no". If it was clear, Princess would have known that and would have done something to prevent absolute out and out fraud.
> There was a $75.00 "Goodwill credit" applied to everyones shipboard accounts as a way of saying "we didn't do what you expected that we would do. Keep our commitments".
> I contracted to go to Grand Cayman but Princess does not see it that way. Playa del Carmen was a suitable substitute. The major land mass that would have been most near to Grand Cayman in location and conditions would have been Cuba, but that is a whole different kind of trouble. So, here is the gamble. Princess waits for people to register complaints by mail only. Odds are some portion of the portion of the 2,600 passengers don't care that the itinerary was not honored. Of those that care, some percent won't care enough to do anything. Some percent that does do something won't do enough. The rest get next to no compensation. The company has a casino on every ship, duh! They had a Casino night just for the kids club that included Roulette, Blackjack and Bingo. Start them young like Joe Camel did, I suppose. Princess should be experts on odds and how to run with the numbers. Gosh, I hope that I am one of the lucky ones who gets all of the way to the "next to no compensation" phase. Open a lifeboat and maybe you'll find emergency Keno kit and a box of $10.00 Tanzinite earrings.
>
> The ship "anchored" off of Playa del Carmen which is some 12 miles from Cozumel. This was our next port of call. We could see the buildings of the next exotic destination. So we must have had a short sail over to Cozumel? The ship's record shows more that 130 miles logged that night as we headed into international waters. I figured so that the casino could open or to escape the rubbernecking of the other cruise ships who may pull up next to us to see the ship that lost its lunch, actually supper.
> There were excursions available for the new stop but just a few and there was nothing that was unique to this stop. We went on the "swarmed by taxi drivers" tour. Although a hundred taxis were willing to take you to anywhere, Princess forgot that the most powerful hurricane recorded had just hit here. The choices were Mayan Ruins or Mexican ruins. We went to Tulum.
> Bottom line I contracted for destinations and the transportation provider did not deliver.
> The Joke on the ship was that at least Princess is not an airline. A ticket for Los Angeles could get you to Las Vegas.
>
>
>
> Champagne
> Upon returning from Playa del Carmen with my family, I found myself in a disagreeable situation with a security specialist.
> For a moment, both of us were angry and I was resolved to report the incident. I reported first to the purser who said I would receive attention that same evening. Later, I ran into the Director of Customer Relations. I explained that I wanted to speak with the head of security on this matter and he listened to my issue. He apologized and said he would follow up. I heard nothing that night. I spoke to the security specialist's supervisor the next evening. He asked if I got anything in my room. I told him I had not and that as far as I knew the actions of the security specialist were condoned by the officers of the ship. He said he was still researching. The next day I found a bottle of Champagne in my room. I got a call right then from room service to see if I got it. I told them that we did not want it and asked them to remove it. They came for it and brought 8 or so chocolate dipped strawberries. I talked to the supervisor again the next day. I asked if it was resolved. He asked me if I got something in my room. I said "yes, champagne" but that I had to return it. Then he said that investigation was resolved. He talked to the security specialist. It was a matter of a personnel record which was personal. Those are private and there was nothing else for me here. He offered that I could write customer service if I wished. It was resolved officially in his view.
> Bottom line He never asked me about my story/view/perception so I was not part of the investigation. He had no interest in how or why I believed I had been accosted by his staff? I believe that the only real investigation was about the booze getting to my room so I would quit whining. Apparently, drunk people don't whine.
>
>
> Colors of the Caribbean
> Two white men stood across the counter from me. One was indignant and the other was embarrassed for him. I had told them that some of the staff told me that there was a policy that prevented this ship from hiring black people from working face to face with customers. They thought it was absurd. The man behind the counter said to me "What about him"? I said "He is colored but he looks like he is from the Philippians or that area... I mean black...." The guy pointed to a bar waiter "He is black" he said. I looked. "He might be from Thailand or India but not black" I said "Like African-American black." The man behind the counter said "I am black."
> I had struck a nerve. I had only asked the day before after we had noticed that we had not encountered any black staff during our stay on the ship. I said "Sir, clearly, your are not the black that I am talking about." He was more white than me. He was outraged. He started a speech about his mother and father and I said, "sir, look, you are not who I am talking about." He took it as discrimination because I did not see him as black. I made a motion with my hand that almost aways accompanies "anyways...." and the other man said "There is a black man upstairs at the Pursers desk. I went upstairs and there was a black man. He was tall, lightly black and handsome. The one and only black crew member that we came into contact with all week, except if you count the white one.
> I know that this is an international crew but I guess I equate Caribbean islands and Caribbean people as a good match. There was an on-deck band that was comprised of black guys doing Bob Marley tunes. I don't know if that counts because that is a bit like type casting. Kind of like the one black dancer in the dance show. One member of the crew said to me 'in X years I have only seen 2 black people work with passengers' and the man that was working with Vanilla Ice said 'is there any American company that can get away without hiring blacks today?' I don't know if they can get away with it or not as I don't think that hiring practices work on ships like they do for shore jobs. The Internet is full of conversations on that topic.
>
> Class
> My son is a certifiable science fanatic. We were lucky to choose the only cruise line that had an advanced science and cultural educational program for kids. The Princess literature touted their relationship with the California Institute of Whatever their accomplishments in the fleet for making outstanding informative companion material that an 11 year old like my son could participate in. The material was focused on the geography and civilizations of the areas that were being visited during the cruise. What wonders my son imagined as we readied for the trip as we would sail and study about the Western Caribbean and all that would be discovering about that region. Reef study was one of the program's offerings. Big build up? Here is the let down. There was one class session for the whole week, roller coasters. Building roller coasters could be relevant, I suppose, if we were sailing to Orlando, Florida. They did have casino night and that is mathematical, I'm betting. Other items on the agenda were less than their billing. Free tokens in the arcade. Now this really would have been valuable due to the fact that every game costs 1 US dollar to play. This, however, was canceled because one of the machines was influenced by the force of inertia during the devil-may-care U-turn. The Golf course hours before dark. What do you call a person who works for the ship but who is not friendly, is unpleasant and doesn't even pretend to care about the passengers? Either a Troll or a golf-pro from the virtual golf simulator. So, the troll told us that we were naughty customers for sneaking in. My wife and I merely walked up the stairs to the coarse. The big screen TV which made up one of the walls of the course blared "Brother's Grimm" to 70 or more folks watching from the pool. The person who chased us out was stern and said that it was unclear why the area was closed but we had to leave. We showed the troll the mystery entrance that we used to gain entrance onto the heavenly fairway. I guess she knew about the magical portal because she had a key and locked it and left. Mystery solved.
>
> You didn't get to teach my son about reefs but you did get to serve as examples. It is good for him to see that in the real world 'reward follows deed'.
>
> Tipping using the shipboard account is a good method if service is excellent throughout the ship and I have used this method each time we have sailed on Norwegian Cruise Lines. I tip extra to those who provide extraordinary service. On this ship, my family and I were regarded as a nuisance or with indifference during the entire cruise except by two professionals a waiter and his assistant. Our first experience with them was so good that we requested them time and time again. Is it proper to reserve a distributed tip to the entire staff all over the ship who had neutral or negative effect on our week while we reward those two people who made us feel like there were no others more important on the ship? I think so. I am certain that they provided that consistant service to all of their customers just as I suppose that those who met us with sour dispositions met all of their passengers with consistent lacking.
>
> Example: Every night, the woman who seated in the dining hall on the Plaza Level called us to follow her like we were dogs following snapped fingers, wave this way, she was curt and quick without any graciousness. She behaved the same with the other parties. I think that she believed that she was being both efficient and professional. The combination of the two during resort casual dinner is out of place. In the context of a factory floor, however, I would have given her praise. Much of what happens on the ship is mechanical and rigidly controlled just like a factory process, I suppose. I just didn't want to be the product in that process. I want to be the consumer of the product of that process.
>
> Our waiter and assistant were professional. We returned to them because of that.
> They remembered us and we built a relationship. On other ships, I have had relationships with the housekeeping staff, desk staff, sales staff, and entertainment crew. It is built first of professionalism. Your staff may be efficient but that won't make my gratitude points or tips raise. Someone said "Cheaper, Better, Faster; pick two" but Deming's law says that you can only do one well. I have seen better from others who charge less. As best you could, you were punctual. I give you ... Faster. You are the Faster provider of the sea. Can you slow down a bit and do better? It is a cruise after all.
>
>
>
> Expectations
> I have shared different issues and have different expectations.
>
> 1. I would like assurance that there will never again be any surprise maneuvers on the Carnival lines.
>
> 2. I would like to travel to Grand Cayman Island so that I can complete my excursion.
>
> 3. I would like to understand why my complaint about being accosted by security were not taken seriously.
>
> 4. I would like to understand your policy on hiring African raced people to work directly with the public.
>
> 5. Don't advertise what you don't deliver. This goes from kids scientific study to first class hospitality. I would like to have my son complete at least one study on a Caribbean related topic. I would like to have a whole Princess staff treat my family and me with a level of class that is comparable to a Hotel. Most hotels don't have formal nights 2 out of 7 nights so I think that I am being reasonable for asking for this level of hospitality while expecting more than I received.
>
>
>
> Please reply,
>
> Warren Ingalls
>
> Simply@sbcglobal.net
>
>
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 03-06-2006, 09:03 AM
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Wow, you really are disgruntled. Sorry to hear about your negative experiences, we've also experienced changes in itineraries, but have never been as bummed as you seem. Things do happen, and not only on Princess. We've been on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norweigan Caribbean, Holland American and Costa and have experienced changes in itineraries. While it is nice if the cruise line will offer a token offering, which they did in your case, it is not required. If I had been the one having the heart problems, I would have been glad to have a captain that cared enough to try and get me help. Maybe you should have tried the champagne or a couple of rum punches and been thankful for being able to afford a cruise. It takes me all year long to save, having to cut corners in food, clothing, electricity, water, etc., just to be able to go once a year. Being able to feel the warmth, smell the ocean, snorkel, look at the beautiful ocean, eat great food, enjoy a few cocktails and be away from work makes every cruise a great experience. Don't sweat the small stuff, life's too short.
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Old 03-06-2006, 09:21 AM
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Is there anything at all you liked about the cruise Warren? I concur with "Penny's" previous comments. I obviously don't know you, but some of your issues do seem a bit "picky", and you do seem to have gone out of your way to find or create major problems where perhaps there were some which were only minor ones. I'm not an experienced cruiser by any means,and on our first cruise 2 years ago with Princess there were problems which we didn't let effect our overall experience. But hey, this is your vacation and if you can't find at least one thing that enabled you to have a good time,I do wonder why you bothered going at all. Hope you have better luck next cruise!
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Old 03-09-2006, 11:16 PM
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Oh my goodness! I have tears streaming down my face....you have done a great job of turning a bad experience into a 'funny little article worth reading"....maybe you could get a gig on the cruise line as a guest comedian? (The irony of that alone is funny)
I am scouring this forum for the fax number (they call it customer service but I am not convinced) that I need to use in order to officially complain to Princess, Fortunately I ran across your "experience", and couldn't stop reading.....well only to wipe tears...anyway, I have sailed with Princess 5 times so far and have never had a bad experience until now. We are doing the Amazon cruise in April and decided for the first time to use Princess Air....bad, bad mistake....apparently they find seat sales on numerous flight so that it can take you two complete days to fly from Vancouver, BC to Fort Lauderdale, and then two complete days to fly the 5 and half hours home. I am not amused as our 12 day cruise is now requiring 17 days of vacation time! Did I mention the really long waits (12 hours)in the airport in Brazil? And yes, Princess is putting us up in a hotel when we get into Fort Lauderdale at 3 am.....we should be in our room by 5 am and will be expected to take the 10am transfer back to the airport for our 3 pm flight to Montreal. We have flown to Fort Lauderdale many times to get on a cruise and have been able to do it in half a day....and we have never had to go to Montreal??? I must admit I have been a Princess fan for many years (took many years to become a platinum member and get free internet for the entire cruise!). We took a 23 day cruise from Vancouver to New York a few months ago on the Norwegian Spirit; FYI,the staff were so friendly for the entire 23 days that we invited our room steward and his wife to visit us at OUR home so I could wait on them to return the favor. Even after consistantly superb service on Norwegian, I still maintained that Princess was my first love, even though the food on Norwegian was noticably better than any Princess cruise we have been on. I am beginning to realize that complaining is not going to change my flights, but they do need to know that they have lost another customer, maybe if there are enough drops in the bucket....the arrogance will drown and customer service will evolve into more than a door plaque! If you can help with the fax number, it would be appreciated! Thanks, Ange
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 03-10-2006, 02:48 PM
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I just had to reply after reading your "article"--I also happen to be one those unreasonable people who expect too much from the company that I have paid thousands of dollars to for vacation. Your humor was wonderful and your observations were dead on, especially the part about the "factory process" on board ships. Effecient, but not at all personalized and therefore lacking, from Headwaiters to waiters to cabin stewards. We recently travelled on a cruise with children and a disabled relative. Believe me, that combination requires personalized service and the lack of it negatively affected our vacation. I am pleased to see that others still expect more from the Cruise Corporations, too many people just accept substandard service and I believe that is why service is substandard.
 
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