SAN CLARITA, OHIO -- Recently, our group of 20 friends booked a cruise that was scheduled to depart on 2 March from Valparaiso, Chile, to Rio De Janiero, Brazil. After months of careful planning and work to coordinate flights, visas ($5000 in fees and postage), calendars, immunizations, and other related logistics; an unexpected event occurred at our port of departure. An earthquake hit Chile, causing significant damage to major cities and ports. Star Princess' response to this disaster was slow and calculated. They delayed making any decision to cancel the cruise, and selectively communicated to us whether they were going to leave or not.
At the 11th hour, Star Princess decided to proceed with their scheduled departure from Chile. Then they announced rescheduling the departure twice and did not depart until 9:00 pm March 4th. The obvious problem was getting to the port, which was physically impossible for all of us. Princess failed to disclose the following: (a) prior to March 3, closing of the airport to all but military and emergency operations; (b) the implementation of Phase I (March 3-5) and Phase II (March 6) restoration of the domestic and international flight services into Santiago Chile. American Airlines informed us that they could not fly us in until 7 March.
Despite warnings from the United States government to avoid traveling to Chile, Star Princess informed its clients that they needed to be present either at Valparaiso, or the cruise's first scheduled stop at Punta Arenas (which would have cost an extra $85,000 to have us all fly there). We even tried to fly in from Rio De Janiero to the next port Ushuaia, because the last minute, Princess cancelled Punta Arenas and this domestic fare would require another $21,000 and an additional 11 hours of flying. The message from Star Princess was show up and board or forfeit the payment we made to them. There would be no refunds.
Interestingly, American Airline and Delta Airline graciously refunded our money, and even the mom and pop tourist companies based in Chile and other Latin American countries gave our money back. Star Princess took $26,000 from us. We have nothing to show for either our money spent, or the time we invested into getting together for one of our dream trips among close friends.
We implore Star Princess to do the right and conscionable thing, which is to schedule our group on another cruise or refund our money. To-date, we've gotten nothing except bureaucratic responses and excuses. For the time being, I ask you to not do business with Star Princess, unless you want to risk paying something for nothing.
On our return home from 107-day world cruise, Princess made a mistake by canceling our return flight tickets from Rome to Newark, purchased as a package deal through Princess. At the airport check-in 2 hours prior to our flight departure, we were told by the airline clerk that our tickets were refunded (no idea to whom!) almost 2 months ago (while we were cruising). Yet, before leaving our ship we double-checked with the front office and were assured that our transfers and flights are confirmed.
Princess representative at the airport contacted the company, admitted to us Princess' mistake and assisted in purchasing tickets on next available flight home. Luckily for us, two seats were available. We were left with no choice, but to pay close to $2,000.00 for two coach tickets with our credit card and were assured by Princess' representative that Princess will reimburse us a.s.a. p. It has been 2 months. Without going into all the details about what we had to mail, to fax, how many times we had to call, how many times we heard “we apologize for the inconvenience”, etc., we still did not get our refund.
Another issue: while on the ship, we booked tours at the very beginning of 107 days and were charged and billed right away. Later we found out that this was not the case with other passengers. They were charged for tour(s) on each cruise segment. When we were canceling most of the tours, there was no credit on our shipboard account until the very end of the cruise. It took Princess another month to credit our credit card. When we asked why the charge goes to credit card right away and credit ONLY AT THE END OF THE CRUISE, we were told that this is Princess' policy. What a policy!
We canceled close to $3,000.00 worth of tours. Princess was using our money for 3 months + one month, now they are using again our money for another 2 months. Next time we will think twice before booking a cruise with Princess.
CALIFORNIA -- I booked Princess Cruises for a Bermuda & Eastern Caribbean cruise from Brooklyn. I had been an RCCL-only cruises guy the past 10 cruises, but had trouble on the very nice Explorer Of The Seas. I won't go into it but it was never really resolved, let me just say that.
Anyway The Caribbean Princess is a big ship with a yacht-feel to me. From the moment I boarded, I was really not to say impressed because the centrum or piazza on Princess is small and low 3 decks to RCCL's like 15 high atrium, rather I guess you would say comfortable and at home. I found my way to my cabin and was allowed in immediately. The dining rooms are one level, RCCL is at least two levels and very large majestic-like spaces! So not really impressed.
Now about impressed: "THE FOOD" (and I'm all about food) - it was wonderful! The Horizon is the equivalent of Windjammer on RCCL. Only it is larger as I can tell. It is offering a great selection of really as I say to coin a phrase CFF or "cared for food". Everything is fresh from the bread and rolls to the home-style meats and sauces. Pizza well better than I had in NY or Chicago (everything is great in Chicago though). I mean this is really their claim to fame, the ship is all about great food.
Oh it is a great ship. Really a brilliantly designed vessel because we really didn't move around a lot and there were some heavy rollers I'll tell you. I could point out that the outside carpet was rough on Deck 15 or that the sofa in the Sky Walker was a bit worn and stained but overall the ship was very clean and nice with a real sense of class. They even sent me a birthday card via e-mail on my birthday. They were low aggravation on the debarking and life-jacked drill. Very orderly!
I was pretty depressed when RCCL and I went our separate ways for a bit, maybe longer. I was no longer angry with them because I had a soft landing here at Princess. I will say that they must repair the HVAC; I was hot at times and that should not be. However the food and movies under the stars made up for it! My cabin was nice though no overhead roof outside, looked straight up after exiting my sliders on Deck 9. No privacy but the room was a mini suite, quite large and clean.
The cabin attendant was wonderful and always at the ready to help if called on the phone. The TV programming was good, not many repeats - some good movies and that is different from RCCL. Both lines have good and bad points but the FOOD really blew away the competition here. This was my only Princess cruise until perhaps October.
My wife and I became semi-retired from our business in 2007. We have always enjoyed traveling and have visited about forty plus countries. Up to this time we have used other travel mechanisms. In 2007, friends invited us to join them on a cruise via Princess to the Amazon in Brazil. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and have since then taken regular cruises. We have been averaging about three trips per year, usually to more unusual destinations.
All of our cruises have been on Princess. All cruises have been booked with the cruise line travel department. We have been loyal customers, having achieved your Platinum level in 2008. We are healthy and enjoy extensive travel when time and resources permit. On March 31, 2009 we signed up for a trip to the Holy Land, departing Rome on May 8th. On April 8th, I suffered a serious injury to my eye (detached and severely torn retina), which prevented me from travel.
I contacted Delta Airlines and they immediately said they would provide us with a voucher for the full amount which could be redeemed for up to one year, no restrictions. The only requirement was a letter from my physician stating the circumstances. When I contacted Princess, they informed me that I could obtain only a fifty percent refund based on the departure date because we had not purchased travel insurance. I responded that I have not seen the need for such insurance because of our good health and lifestyle.
I pointed out our ongoing loyalty to Princess and to frequent travels. In fact, your marketing department contacted me, asking permission to quote some of my comments about our Baltic cruise. My request to Customer Services was to no avail. It was quite a disappointment that Princess was not as considerate as Delta.
I have no legal dispute with Princess. I am aware of your insurance offering. However, given our past relationship and usage of Princess, I feel some additional consideration should be provided. Think about it. If your course of action would be like Delta's, feelings would be different. We definitely would travel during 2009 on another Princess trip. Princess would be ahead almost $3,000 and we would be happy and loyal customers! Given the Princess Customer Service Department's response, that is now not the case.
We would like to have the situation handled in a manner similar to Delta's. Their handling of the matter just makes good customer relations sense. It is a win-win situation for both parties. As a businessman, I like those kinds of outcomes.
Update: Letter was sent to the President, VP Sales, and VP Marketing. They flatly refused to consider my situation.
Beware of Princess Cruises. Once they get your money, you are on your own. They couldn't care less whether you ever make the cruise ship. We had booked a 28-day cruise on the Tahitian Princess departing from Papeete, Tahiti on Dec. 19, 2008 and arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on Jan. 14, 2009. Due to weather, our NW flight from Detroit to LA was delayed 2 ½ hours and arrived after our connecting flight to Papeete had departed. We called Princess and they were absolutely no help. We were told that we were responsible for making our own arrangements to catch the ship.
We flew to Tahiti the next morning, arriving 12 ½ hours after the Tahitian Princess had sailed for Moorea and ½ hour before she departed for Bora Bora. There were no seats available on commercial flights to Bora Bora, the last port we could possibly catch the ship before it sailed for South America.
If we were on our own, we would have had to abandon our dream cruise and forfeit the $19,000 + we already had invested. Princess could have cared less as they already had our money and their Princess Gold Travel Insurance does not cover this as a trip cancellation. Fortunately for us there were 11 other Princess clients (2.0% of the total 640 booked passengers) who also found themselves in the same predicament. We were able to join together and charter an Air Tahiti at $1115 each to fly the 13 of us to Bora Bora in time to catch the ship.
When we returned home, we filed a claim for our $2600 hotel, meal and additional air travel expenses with Princess Gold Travel Insurance. We were only reimbursed $500 each per their trip delay policy which merely represented a refund of our insurance premium. We appealed to Alan Buckelew, CEO of Princess. In their response letters, Princess basically claims no responsibility for anything even though they made the transportation arrangements. It is buyer beware when dealing with Princess Cruises.
KETCHICAN, ALASKA -- When checking out, I tried to settle my account with the credit card I had given them when I checked in. It was declined. Apparently, the cruise ship had put over $1000 charges through to my credit card company without my knowledge on the second day of the cruise. The credit card company authorized the charge. The cruise ship said it was declined. After an hour of confusion, the cruise ship came up with the authorization number and didn't continue insisting I pay twice. Hmmmmmm...wonder where that authorization number appeared from? Fortunately the credit card company stuck with the fact that they did not decline those charges.
Other than that bit of grief, the Alaskan Cruise is great. The buffet is better than the dining room food "en masse" (in my opinion). The rooms were clean except for the left-behind pair of men's socks found under the bed of B514 -- if those are yours, we found them! The one-size-fits-all bathrobes is an untruth -- of course!
The entertainment was great, and the dance instructor and activities coordinators were outstanding, except for the Scrabble Tournament which turned out to be a get-together of disappointed players who were expecting the host Ryan to appear. But he didn't, and the players were moved from the theater to someplace else so they would not disturb those watching the movie. Isn't Scrabble a rather quiet game???
The tours were great, and if you book the early (6:30 am) Bear Watch, your chances of seeing a bear (one) is better. It is expensive, but watching that bear catch a salmon is fascinating! And the float plane is an enjoyable flight into Neets Bay near Ketchican. The people on board were the best part -- young and old -- they were all delightful! I didn't hear anyone grumbling, and it was a good cruise overall. Just watch your credit card bill when it comes to be sure you weren't charged twice. I keep a low limit on purpose!
SANTA CLARITA, CALIFORNIA -- Avoid Princess Cruises. We booked cabins next to each other and they changed the cabins around when we were boarding without notifying us. I took the 12-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona to Venice with my family. We booked our cruise 7 months in advance to have cabins next to each other. When we boarded, they put me in a cabin far away from the others in our reservation. They said that they were overbooked and you aren't guaranteed the cabin that you reserve. They also nickel-and-dime you throughout the cruise. We were charged a $400 gratuity at the end of our cruise. It was a terrible experience. Avoid Princess.
LOS ANGELOS, CALIFORNIA -- So often Princess offers promotions to promote sales of occupancy. Discount prices are advertised by Cruses.com and many others contractors. As soon the payment received by Princess, they are in position to control the customer. No company is willing to confirm any deals by email. Customer has no chance other than trust the company that informed that the conversation is being recorded. After time passes, Princess offered balcony for additional charge. Way to make money and get the sale. I call it Princess failed the customer. As everybody, we are looking for the best deal. There is nothing wrong use a coupon or offered saving, is it?
We have just concluded our first experience of cruising with Princess cruises, and what a big disappointment. The staff on the floor were very pleasant but the corporate policies were bordering on outrageous. On the first day of our cruise, they had not reserved a table for our anniversary celebration and it took an hour and a half to find an alternative.
On the second day of our cruise, we received a threatening phone call from the Customer Services Manager threatening to block our cruise card for our entire trip because we had challenged a tip for a drink we had had to fetch ourselves. The food was cold, even the pork giving concerns over health and safety. Everything was about money, money, money. Never again. Were're going with Fred Olsen next year.
SANTA CLARITA, CALIFORNIA -- On a 2-wk. cruise to S. Caribbean recently the disruptions expected due to impending drydock were much worse than expected. Paint and varnish odors were apparent, deck railing being removed with torches, large areas of the ship unavailable to passengers, several floods, many electrical issues, hallways littered with construction debris, game room closed, casino closed last 3 nights, false alarm calls to cabins necessitating life jacket/muster area visits.
Corporate in a phone call says that they are offering no compensation. This following a letter and many phone calls. The only action we can take now is NOT to book with Princess ever again and to make sure that potential passengers are aware of the attitude of this company following a very bad decision. By the way, their coffee - made from some sort of liquid - is HORRENDOUS, and always has been.