Royal Caribbean Cruise Was A Royal Disaster


A few months ago, a couple of friends and I took a 7-night cruise on Royal Caribbean. It ended up being a horrible cruise (in our opinion and many other cruisers). Since then, I have attempted to write to the CEO of Royal Caribbean (RCCL), a couple of higher up SVP’s, and finally the Better Business Bureau. To make a long story short… they only gave us $20 credit/person, which was to cover the lunch we had to buy since the ship was severely delayed. I don’t even consider that any type of compensation, since we would have received lunch on the ship had we boarded on time (and not had to buy lunch on land for the $20). RCCL made no other attempt at any compensation at all, even though I shelled out nearly $3000 for the cruise-fare alone. My (somewhat long) email to the executive staff @ RCCL…

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I am finally writing this letter / email today to express my displeasure about a cruise I took in February with Royal Caribbean International / RCCL. I expected to hear from Royal Caribbean since I have attempted to contact them, but to this date I have received no correspondence from them.

I started planning this cruise early this year, and after a lot of research, I found that many former passengers had written great reviews about Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, sailing out of Galveston, TX. Since I have cruised with Royal Caribbean before (and others), I had expectations that this was going to be a wonderful cruise. Unfortunately I was wrong on this count.

I had booked a Junior Suite for the February 18th sailing on the Rhapsody. We flew into Galveston the day before embarkation to be sure we would have plenty of time to get to the ship for an on-time departure. The evening we arrived in Galveston, we received a call from a Royal Caribbean agent stating that the ship would be late, but had no further information as to how late or why. Because we did not know the new departure time, we got to the port on-time and checked in our luggage and figured we would do some shopping. At that time we were told the ship would most likely not depart until around 11 PM or even midnight (compared to 4 PM!). We were told that the delay was because of some electrical engine problems, but we would later find out from several crew members that this was not the case, and merely an excuse because their “dry-dock” was poorly timed.

After walking around for hours, and having sore feet, we decided it was better to return to the terminal to wait there. Once we got there it was like a zoo. There were literally many hundreds of people everywhere. Everyone was told to sit on folding chairs in certain sections. We were happy to sit on chairs, compared to sitting on the ground, but after sitting there for a couple of more hours without any real updates as to the ship’s status, it became quite a bad start to our vacation. There were absolutely no drinks (not even water) provided for anyone – quite disappointing.

The ship did finally depart a little before midnight, although the experience so far was a real disappointment. One of the highlights of a cruise is being on the deck with everyone during daylight hours to watch as the ships depart. Unfortunately for us it was dark already. As for activities for passengers, there was absolutely nothing for us to do. The pool and hot tubs were closed, the casino never opened, even after heading out to sea… We were basically forced to turn in for the night, not long after sailing. Before turning in, I went to take a shower, and the cabin had no hot water. From what we heard, this was not uncommon that night, but at least we had water, unlike some others who did not.

The next day we figured that everything was going to be better now, having gone through such a bitter start. We then found out that the main eating area for breakfast, lunches, and casual dinners, the Windjammer, was closed and would remain closed for the duration of our cruise, because remodeling for dry-dock had not yet completed. It was not a minor delay either, whereby they might open a day late or so. Instead the entire floor was completely torn up, no fixtures where in place, etc, from what we saw through the windows.

Because the Windjammer was unexpectedly closed, it made meal service very frustrating. They had diverted breakfast and lunch service into the main dining room, which is normally reserved for formal “menu style” breakfast and lunches, and made it into a big buffet. The lines were absolutely horrendous, turning something that is supposed to be relaxing into an unpleasant event every morning and afternoon. Needless to say, we were quite disappointed that Royal Caribbean had turned it into a big buffet, with only a small (repeating daily) menu available during lunch. Once of the reasons many people take a cruise is for the upscale and relaxing sit-down dining, but this option was taken away from us for breakfast and lunch because of poor planning by Royal Caribbean.

Since the first 2 full days of the cruise was going to be at sea, we decided it would be a perfect day to relax at the pool. Yet again, another poorly timed dry-dock issue appeared when we found out the entire pool was closed (day 2) because they were painting it! There was literally yellow caution tape everywhere blocking the pool, while people were expecting to be able to swim and relax. That’s what we had paid for at least. The hot tubs were closed off and on throughout the trip for maintenance (day 3 and a few more times later), and the water was luke-warm until the last night, despite my two complaints to staff members who told me the water temperature was preset, so that was what it should be at (other people were also commenting how cold the water was).

Walking around the deck was an even more upsetting experience. There were rolls of old carpet shoved in corners and even a huge roll of wiring with dangerous rusty nails sticking out of it!

As the week went on, the troubles continued. During one lunch, Royal Caribbean ran out of buns and condiments for hamburgers. Another dinner service was running so late that we almost ran into the second seating. We ended up sitting at our table waiting for close to an hour for our dinner.

One day, after returning from port, we were in the room sitting on the bed, and a Royal Caribbean employee was on a the hand railing right outside of our stateroom. He looked in, politely waved and smiled, and kept on with his painting. This could have been quite embarrassing had I just come out of the shower.

Another day, coming back from port, one of the elevators was being worked on, causing quite a delay to get back to the cabins. This was just one of many problems with elevators. We heard of people getting stuck in them for more than 20 minutes!

I won’t go on with more of the negative details. Instead I would like my complaint resolved. I had contacted Royal Caribbean customer service before (including the purser during the cruise), but never got anywhere. I was also told I would be contacted, which also never occurred.

I spent $2861 just for the cruise fare alone! To make this matter right, I would like some sort of compensation, such as credit for a future comparable cruise (hopefully one that won’t have all these issues).

I am sending a copy of this complaint to the Better Business Bureau.

Secondly, if this issue is not resolved over the next two weeks I will post this experience, along with the photos to the Consumerist web site (www.consumerist.com) for everyone to see. I don’t like to resort to this, but I feel like RCCL is simply ignoring me now that they have my money.

Regards,

Rob

rccl3.jpgrccl4.jpgrccl5.jpgRCCL’s response:

Dear Mr. [redacted],

Thank you for your inquiry through the Internet to our corporate office regarding the above-referenced cruise. Messrs. Fain and Goldstein and Ms. Norsworthy were pleased to hear from you and, after reading your e-mail, have asked that I respond on their behalf. As a Crown and Anchor Society member, we especially value your patronage of Royal Caribbean International and appreciate this opportunity to address your concerns.

We are very pleased that you and your traveling companions joined us onboard the Rhapsody of the Seas. As great measures are taken in all areas of operation to ensure that our guests enjoy the most relaxing and rewarding cruise experience, we were sorry to learn of your displeasure with certain aspects of this sailing. It is never our intention to disappoint our guests in any way and we would like to offer our most sincere apologies for any elements of your time with us that did not fully meet your expectations.

Feedback from our guests is always welcome and we appreciate the time you have taken to share your experience onboard the Rhapsody of the Seas with us. We truly regret any inconvenience you encountered and assure you that the observations outlined in your letter, including those pertaining to pool maintenance, menu choices and service in the dining room, and the roll of wiring left by the pool, have been directed to the appropriate management teams for further review. We are committed to continually improving our product and services and thank you for bringing these important matters to our attention.

Additionally, we regret that you were not informed of the delay in boarding. However, an attempt was made to contact all guests prior to their arrival in Galveston. Nevertheless, we offer our sincere apologies that you were not aware of this delay and the goodwill gesture of a $20.00 onboard credit offered to assist with covering any lunch costs incurred while waiting to board the ship.

While we understand you remain disappointed with this recent cruise and sympathize with the concerns expressed, we must kindly advise that we are unable to honor your request for any compensation. We are sorry for any disappointment you may have with our decision and remain genuinely apologetic for any inconvenience you encountered during your time with us.

Again, Mr. [redacted], thank you for contacting our corporate office. We look forward to regaining your faith in Royal Caribbean International and hope to have the opportunity to welcome all of you back onboard one of our ships again in the future.

Sincerely,
Joan Bernheimer
Sr. Executive Representative

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Even if you think some of the complaints are minor, these aren’t:

• closed casino
• closed pool
• closed dining area, buffet only
• cold showers
• tepid hot-tubs

RCCL shouldn’t have even put this ship out to see with passengers on it. Or, they could’ve informed the passengers that many of the expected amenities would be unavailable and given customers a chance to cancel. The $20 on-board credit is a pittance, adding injury to the insult of the copy and pasted customer service letter full of empty apologies.

Rob should write Messrs. Fain and Goldstein and Ms. Norsworthy and let them know the person responding on their behalf is a poor representative if they actually care at all about customer service.

Personally, we have little interest in getting on one of these floating prisons but if we did we would certainly hope we would be able to enjoy the full compliment of floating prison services and accommodations.

Comments

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  1. Addison says:

    When you write them, you can let them know that they just lost two customers who are going to cancel their cruise out of Tampa next month.

  2. lestat730 says:

    This is horrendous! I’d be so mad if this happened to me after I spent thousands of dollars to go on vacation. There wasn’t even a pool to swim in! Their response letter is ridiculous, they might as well have not bothered writing it at all.

    The worst part of the letter is at the end, they look forward to regaining his faith? That’s going to be a bit hard to do since you ‘kindly’ cannot offer any kind of compensation.

    I hope this company gets in some kind of trouble for this. I’m not very knowledgeable in law but if theres tons of unhappy customers maybe there could be a class action lawsuit?

  3. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    I’ve never taken a cruise and don’t really plan on it. Cruise lines are basically their own country and are all chartered to 3rd world countries so they don’t have to follow any sort of laws. You can complain all you want to the Better Business Bureau but there’s nothing they can do about it.

  4. lesbiansayswhat says:

    Simply, wow. How could whoevers decision it was to book a ship not expect that those hundreds of people wouldn’t demand a full refund?

  5. Scazza says:

    The offer is more a slap in the face then any compensation at all. They can be sure that I will be changing my plans for next summers cruise and RCCL will not be getting a penny from me, until consumerist.com posts a nice response on how the chap got his full 2800 bucks back.

  6. GrantGannon says:

    Can anyone suggest a good cruise line other than RC? I’ve sailed Carnival before (good, not great) and was looking at RC for my Dec. cruise…..until now.

    If I were guy, I’d sue. The pool, casino and restaurant are advertised and weren’t delivered.

  7. reykjavik says:

    Anyone dumb enough to go on a cruise deserves what they get.

    No laws,
    no rules,
    relying on a crew they don’t even know,
    held captive,
    forced to pay their prices,
    wake up when they tell you to,
    a tiny room the size of a closet….


    why not just fly to an island and do what you want, when you want for the price you want under a government with laws? I don’t care how much free shrimp they’re willing to shove down your cheap bastards faces, I will never, under any circumstance, go on a cruise.

  8. famoushair says:

    This is appalling. As a former employee of a luxury retreat center, I find that Rob’s experience aboard ship (once he was finally able to get on the ship, natch) is sickening, and the flaccid response by the money-grubbing Royal Caribbean representatives really makes me lose my lunch.
    Rob was essentially a captive on a boat that was, in essence, rendered non-functional due to maintenance. Give this man back his money, and then some!
    Have RCCL’s Public Relations crew lost their collective minds, issuing such a dismissive and snooty response? Yes, cap’n!

  9. Thrust says:

    Beware Princess Cruise Lines as well (And Holland I guess, if you read the crap-in-the-carpet post, but my experience on Holland was good).

    My boss went on a princess cruise lines trip to California with a whole large group of friends, but one of his friends’ wife couldn’t make it due to a death in the family. His friend couldn’t get a refund for her ticket as they claimed it “Too close to departure date”, but for sailing alone in his double occupancy cabin he had to pay an ADDITIONAL 20% or so on top of the wife’s ticket he couldn’t refund. So bring a friend right? Nope, anyone other than the person originally listed for the cruise would be around a 25% charge to change the booking. So sail alone and pay more, bring someone else and pay more, or cancel the trip and loose all the money paid (plus probably some cancellation fee).

  10. timmus says:

    I’ve heard stories like this for about 5 or 10 years now from cruise line passengers, and is why my wife and I will have never booked a cruise. This kind of negative publicity can a far more potent force than any BBB complaints. Of course that depends though on whether people bother shopping around for a cruise.

  11. timmus says:

    (have never, not “will have never”)

  12. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    I’ve actually heard decent things from cruises that sail from Seattle/Vancouver up through Alaska. Those tend to attract a more sober, older crowd who are content sitting on the decks and reading their books.

  13. @GrantGannon: “Can anyone suggest a good cruise line other than RC? “

    Holland America. Been twice, both times excellent.

    @stanfrombrooklyn: Did that with my extended family and we had a great time. I was in college when I did the Carribbean and I thought it was too full of drunk college students even THEN!

    The “downside” of the Alaska cruises is that the casino/dance clubs are fairly empty at night, if that’s your thing. But it was a much quieter cruise in which you could actually sleep without drunk people trying to bust into your cabin, lots and lots of family-oriented entertainment (and lots of “adults without kids/kids w/o adults” stuff too), and SOOOOO many interesting things to do and see at port calls.

    I would definitely do the Alaska cruise again, even if I went to exactly the same ports. I liked it that much. It was particularly fun traveling with three generations of family ranging in age from elderly grandparents to 5-year-old cousins, but I’d do it alone or with people my age as well.

  14. Thrust says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: Done the HMS Westerdam Alaska run (apparently the OLD westerdam as the new Vista class has replaced the one I was on). Vancouver to Cetchican (sp), Junea, and some other port I forget the name of. NICE cruise, but the only damned movie they played in the theatre was Fried Green Tomatoes. Pleh! Otherwise nice ride.

  15. OKH says:

    What about notifying the Coast Guard? I’m pretty sure having unsecured construction debris on deck while under way is a violation.

  16. EtherealStrife says:

    Royal Caribbean is still one of the best of the cheaper cruise lines. I used to take the Mexico ones a couple times a year, and no real complaints.
    A full refund is a bit over the top (cruises are about the ports), but they should be able to do a heck of a lot better than $20. Do you have a high level in the Crown & Anchor Society, or do any of your friends? They’d probably take you much more seriously if the complaint were coming from a frequent cruiser (Diamond, or at the very least Platinum).
    Also you might want to weed out the whinier complaints, and stick with the bigger issues. The pool and Windjammer closed, 7 hour delay leaving port, casino closed (unless it was just closed the first day, in which case ditch this complaint), and the invasion of privacy in cabin. These issues are scattered throughout the email, mixed in with the occasional elevator servicing, casual breakfasts and dinners, and bun shortages. Cut the slack and send the shortened email to a different person.

  17. laineylain says:

    How about redacting the name of the passenger in the last paragraph of Joan Bernheimer’s response?

  18. wezelboy says:

    They may have some recourse if they paid with a credit card by disputing the charge.

  19. MadMolecule says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: Maybe he can’t sue, but he can make some noise. If the cruise line is smart, they’ll see that his story can generate more than $3,000 of negative publicity, and refund his money. In fact, it already has done that much damage; see the first comment on this post.

    @reykjavik: This letter isn’t about whether the writer validated your aesthetic preferences; it’s about the fact that he didn’t even remotely get what he paid for. I have no interest in going on a cruise either, but if someone pays $3,000 for a vacation, they deserve far better than this.

  20. br549xt93 says:

    I would never take a cruise. I like to think of them as giant floating petri dishes.

  21. QTex says:

    @GrantGannon:
    Many people on Consumerist are pretty down on cruises, but my wife & I enjoy them. We like the idea of unpacking once and not having to worry about any additional transportation, the (usually) outstanding service, good food, seeing many ports/islands, and the fact that cruises can be a good value.

    While there is certainly no excuse for the RCI’s treatment in this case, we’ve been on 4 or so RC cruises and have loved each of them. Our last RC cruise was a 14 day, and we didn’t even mind the 5 days at sea.

    Again, there’s no way I’m going to defend RC’s behavior here. I just wouldn’t completely rule them out because of this once terrible incident. I’m sure you can find horror stories from passengers on every cruise line. On that note, we did a Princess cruise this past December and were thoroughly disappointed with the ship (even though it was brand new), service, and the food.

    Oh, and without even getting into getting why this isn’t false advertising (it’s not even advertising), any other contract claims are pretty effectively disclaimed in the ticket agreement.

  22. jbohanon says:

    I had a pretty good experience with RC about five years ago, but I will say that I learned to avoid the elevators altogether. There’s 14 or so floors on the ship and we were on floor 3. Every trip to the pool required a stop on every single floor, so it was pretty much faster to walk up the stairs.

  23. QTex says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn:

    “Cruise lines are basically their own country and are all chartered to 3rd world countries so they don’t have to follow any sort of laws.”

    Wanted to mention that your statement isn’t entirely accurate. While it’s true that most cruise lines’ ships are registered in other nations, the cruise line itself is almost always subject to the U.S. legal system.

    Usually, the ships are registered to foreign ports to avoid fees and taxes. However, the cruise corporation itself has at least minimum contacts with the U.S meet personal jurisdiction requirements. While I don’t know where RCI is incorporated or registered, they certainly have minimum contacts with the U.S. given the fact they advertise, cater to, and operate cruise lines out of many U.S. states. And in fact, RCI’s corporate office is in Miami (so they meet the Supreme Court’s nerve center test, too). You could bring a proper torts or contracts suit against RCI in U.S. Federal Court, and probably in most state courts as well.

    And even at sea, maritime law governs. I don’t know much about that subject, though. Can’t speak to the BBB, but I’ve never found them to be very effective, anyway

  24. taylorich says:

    Well I was about to book a cruise from Galveston on Royal Caribbean and I certainly will not be doing it now. RC’s response just lost this customer and a $1500 booking. I’ll definitely stay away from them after this sorry excuse for a response and sorry excuse for customer service! RC you should be ashamed!

  25. dieman says:

    Buffet only should get them back at least half the fare, personally. Thats obscene!

  26. toteadler says:

    @OTC:
    The spool on deck isn’t really a safety issue, and besides the USCG doesn’t really have jurisdiction as explained further below.

    @JustBrag:
    As a professional mariner maybe I can clear things up a bit.

    As you mentioned, ships are often registered in foreign countries to save on taxes as well as if it is a US ship it needs a US crew which is more expensive, and the ship must meet the laws of the nation it is registered or “flagged” in. While the US has more stringent rules, there are some countries that only require the minimum. As a requirement for calling in a US port, the CG does do safety inspections on foreign ships (particularly cruise ships) to assure that they conform to the international treaties that specify the minimum about lifeboats and fire fighting equipment and whatnot. Anything beyond the scope of the international treaty is the responsibility of the registered country. The countries that these ships are normally registered in often have lax rules to begin with or do not have the manpower to enforce their laws on all the ships that are registered in their country, these are what are often referred to as the “Flags of Convenience.”

    As an aside, one way companies often get around the “flag” versus where the company is actually located is that they own a bunch of individual companies which coincidentally only own one ship each. This limits the parent companies’ liability if there is a wreck or oil spill or something else really costly.

    Personally it sounds like the ship could have used a few more days in the yard (unexpected things do come up) and it may have been a choice of sailing on a ship that wasn’t quite ready or canceling the cruise. Neither choice would have made their customers happy but they are in the business of making money so its not surprising that they would opt for the choice that would make them money even if it ticked off their customers.

    Sorry this is so long, just had a lot to say. ~Will

  27. taylorich says:

    @justbrag:

    “I’m sure you can find horror stories from passengers on every cruise line.”

    Not trying to start a flame war, but it’s not just the horror story that is the issue. Yes, those do happen frequently. It’s the lack of doing what’s right for the customer, and downplaying and dismissal of what are valid complaints/issues with service. When the company will not stand behind its own product/experience, it’s just not right…and they don’t deserve our business.

  28. rolla says:

    thats BS! you should be offered at least 1/3 of your money back. This is bordering on fraud since in their brochures, they offer you a great time on the ship and some of those amenities were not available to you. The biggest things are the food and swimming pool problems. For the record, after reading this, i will NOT be booking any of my future cruises on RC. There is a reason why theyre one of the cheaper cruise lines…poor customer satisfaction! They obviously dont understand that customer relations is THE most important aspect of doing business.

  29. CapitalC says:

    Take a crap in a box and mail it to them – tell them that’s what you think of their “compensation”. It’s total BS. I’ve had friends who worked on cruise ships (a couple of them positions which would deal with customer issues like this) and they certainly can and will issue compensation greater than $20. FIGHT FOR IT!

  30. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    I smell a chargeback in the future……or the person should file a chargeback with their credit card company. For $3k, I expect to be treated like the king of England.

  31. safaristevesk8 says:

    Just for another opinion, I took a RC cruise 3 or 4 years ago and had no problems. It was very pleasant.

  32. koath says:

    I was signed on by an entertainer 2 spring breaks ago onto the Radiance of the Seas. It was a great time and I would probably go through them again.

    If I were on that ship though I’d have been extremely pissed off. The dining was some of the best food I’ve had and I spent way too much time in the casino. I met a great couple in the dining and they ended up being a highlight of my week in the Caribbean.

    I would cut the email down to the main points as mentioned above and resend it or if you have a friend in the Crown and Anchor Society send it in, if you have any. If you get another poor response from them I hope you charged everything on a credit card (which I think you probably did since they link your account to a card) then do as mentioned above and dispute the charge.

  33. Demaskee says:

    RCC Here’s another 3000 dollars you can say goodbye too!

  34. SOhp101 says:

    I’ll keep in mind to remove RCC off a list of prospective cruise lines, thanks.

  35. Secondly, if this issue is not resolved over the next two weeks I will post this experience, along with the photos to the Consumerist web site (www.consumerist.com) for everyone to see.

    I give Rob props for including this as the last line of his message. Obviously, RCCL doesn’t have a certain website on its RSS feeds…yet!

    I’ve never been on a cruise, nor do I ever plan to go on one, but this story brings up some interesting questions. What if there had been rats running around in the ship’s dining room? What if there had been viscous mold growing on the walls of Rob’s room? What if there had been another case of food poisoning, as seems to happen fairly often? And what if Rob had taken his still camera (or even his video camera) and documented the whole thing? Would RCCL still refuse to give the guy a refund? What is the level of risk — and, frankly, media attention — that they’re willing to accept before they correct a problem that they obviously brought on due to their own laziness, negligence, and/or incompetence?

    $20 for lunch isn’t good enough, folks. Rob, I’ve never had to do one myself, but that chargeback seems like a damn good idea. And RCCL, you should be ashamed of yourself. You promised to provide a certain level of service to your customers AND YOU FAILED. It’s as simple as that.

    Make it right.

  36. homerjay says:

    Oh yeah, a chargeback is SO in order. You may not win it but there’s no harm in trying. Take everything you posted here and send that to the CC company when you file the chargeback.

    It doesn’t cost you anything but it makes them take notice!

  37. the cultural icon says:

    Find a good attorney versed in tort an maritime law. Thats always my response, “GET A LAWYER.” I’m not saying this to be pro-litigious or anything, I’m just thinking that an attorney will help guide/take you through the process. Galvaston should be filled with attorneys who deal with claims against cruise lines.

    You should be stoked that you weren’t on the big red boat when it was arrested in the Caribbean. Can you imagine being on a crappy boat then having to find your way back home because the boat you were on was arrested at port? That might be worse.

  38. FunPaul says:

    Isn’t RCC the line that plays that song about doing heroin in their ads? I know they took the explicit parts of the song out, but now I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t to sanitize the song for public consumption. My theory is they were probably consuming the “liquor and drugs” lyrics over at corporate.
    $20 in credit? They’ll never see my business.

  39. mrmysterious says:

    I’ve been on a cruise every year for for the past three years and have been lucky.

    I think that the cruise industry needs to be held accountable for things like this.

  40. Here comes Johnny Yen again
    With the liquor and drugs
    And a flesh machine
    He’s gonna do another strip tease

    Hey man, where’d you get that lotion?
    I’ve been hurting since I bought the gimmick
    About something called love
    Yeah, something called love
    Well, that’s like hypnotising chickens

    Well, I’m just a modern guy
    Of course, I’ve had it in the ear before
    ‘Cause of a lust for life
    ‘Cause of a lust for life

    I’m worth a million in prizes
    With my torture film
    Drive a G.T.O.
    Wear a uniform
    All on government loan

    I’m worth a million in prizes
    Yeah, I’m through with sleeping on the sidewalk
    No more beating my brains
    No more beating my brains
    With the liquor and drugs
    With the liquor and drugs

    Well, I’m just a modern guy
    Of course, I’ve had it in my ear before
    ‘Cause, of a lust for life (lust for life)
    ‘Cause of a lust for life (lust for life, oooo)
    I’ve got a lust for life (oooh)
    Got a lust for life (oooh)
    Oh, a lust for life (oooh)
    Oh, a lust for life (oooh)
    A lust for life (oooh)
    I got a lust for life (oooh)
    Got a lust for life

    Well, I’m just a modern guy
    Of course, I’ve had it in my ear before
    ‘Cause I’ve a lust for life
    ‘Cause I’ve a lust for life.

    Well, here comes Johnny Yen again
    With the liquor and drugs
    And a flesh machine
    I know he’s gonna do another strip tease

    Hey man, where’d ya get that lotion?
    Your skin starts itching once you buy the gimmick
    About something called love
    Oh Love, love, love
    Well, that’s like hypnotising chickens.

    Well, I’m just a modern guy
    Of course, I’ve had it in the ear before
    And I’ve a lust for life (lust for life)
    ‘Cause I’ve a lust for life (lust for life)
    Got a lust for life
    Yeah, a lust for life
    I got a lust for life
    Oh, a lust for life
    Got a lust for life
    Yeah a lust for life
    I got a lust for life
    Lust for life [repeat and fade]

    Boy, this really makes me want to go on a cruise. You?

  41. gone725 says:

    I live in the Cayman Islands and see 10-30 ships in port a week. After seeing the crap that tourists deal with (and bring) on a daily basis, I can assure you that I will most likely never go on a cruise again. The once luxurious cruise industry is steadily declining in value, standards and reputation.

    But, this is takes the cake.

    Some traveler’s insurance packages would have covered this, but I am sure it would have raised the price by at least 25%.

  42. MeOhMy says:

    Forget e-mail. You at least have to write a good old-fashioned pencil-and-paper letter.

    It would have been more precious if she had added “Don’t spend it all in one place!” after she offered the $20 shipboard credit (yeah like you are ever going on another RCI cruise again)!

  43. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    They can count my vacation dollars as going somewhere else, too. I was looking forward to doing a cruise this summer, but now they can, um, kiss me where I sit.

  44. GreatMoose says:

    For those asking for recommendations, I HIGHLY recommend Norwegian cruise lines. The service is fantastic, the ships are georgeous, and the best part they have freestyle dining, meaning you can eat where you want, when you want, and with whoever you want. It’s niiiiiice…

  45. shertzerj says:

    “RCCL shouldn’t have even put this ship out to see”

    To see what? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself)

  46. homerjay says:

    @GreatMoose: Oddly enough, I had an experience eerily similar to this one on Norwegian about 5 years ago. In this case, oddly enough, the ship I was on was on its way INTO drydock, not out of it.

  47. foghat81 says:

    the complaint letter needs to be more focussed and shorter.

    we were on this ship for our honeymoon (my first cruise). no complaints. i’m not a huge cruise person, but i tend to disagree with the “floating prison” analogy. It’s not that bad (except when there’s terrible stuff like this happen)

  48. humphrmi says:

    It’s more expensive, their boats are smaller, and their itenararies are more limited, but we had a great time aboard the Orient Line’s Marco Polo for a Black Sea cruise.

  49. Paul D says:

    “floating prisons” indeed.

    I cannot think of a worse idea for a vacation than a freakin’ cruise.

  50. FatLynn says:

    @homerjay: I was about to agree with GreatMoose on how much I like NCL. Their “freestyle cruising” was great. For me, the main perk was no set dinner time, but there are other things about it that they advertise as well.


    Is it possible just to ask when the ship is going to be in/out of dry-dock when you book a cruise? Will they give that information out to consumers?

  51. quagmire0 says:

    When I first saw this post I thought to myself ‘oh boy, here comes another whiny travel complaint’. I thought it was just going to be about how the ship was late and lines were long to board (which happens). But really, after reading the story and seeing the pictures, you have a really valid complaint. While most of the ship was ‘operational’, that cruise should have never happened – or they at least should have offered everyone a discount or free 3 or 4 night cruise. I’m a past RCCL customer and probably the worst thing I saw was on our first cruise when they were still cleaning the outside of the ship and repairing parts of the atrium when we boarded.

  52. quagmire0 says:

    @paul d: No way man, cruises (when you don’t run into issues like this) are awesome – and are a great value when you compare them to other all-inclusives.

  53. Ausoleil says:

    My wife and I annually go to the Caribbean for a week’s vacation on Saint Martin. We stay across Great Bay from the cruise ship port, from which we of course see the comings and goings of all the ships, as Saint Martin is a major stopping point for the “cruisers.”

    Anyway, we actually feel sorry for the folks that come and go on the major lines. First of all, the stores on the island are far, far less willing to bargain on days the ships are in, and some go as far as raising prices on certain items. Supply and demand, sure, but at the same time, the simple fact is cruisers pay more for what they buy today than I will tomorrow for the same thing when they are gone.

    Secondly, it’s virtually impossible to see even the 35 square mile island of Saint Martin and get to know it in the short time the ship is in port. Forget making the short trip to one of Travel and Leisure’s top ten beaches on the adjacent island of Anguilla, Shoal Bay Beach. No way can a cruise passenger disembark, make the ferry and clear customs (twice) in order to make the round trip before they put back out to sea.

    Finally, forget dinner at the fine restaurants on the French side of the island of Saint Martin. Instead, the cruise ship is leaving at around 5pm.

    So, when folks call a cruise ship a floating prison I can see where they are coming from. A guilded cage, to be sure, but when the stopping points only allow the briefest of visits, it’s almost like never being there at all.

    Us, we just wave at the happy faces as they pull out and know it will get quieter, cheaper and we have the rest of the day and all night to explore the island and those nearby, like St. Barth’s.

  54. RogueSophist says:

    I’ve been on several RCI cruises, each more impressive than the last, the last on Rhapsody of the Seas itself.

    I’ve never experienced anything like this, and will be as horrified and indignant as you if I ever do. It’s not uncommon (and, indeed, desirable for the comfort and safety of the passengers) for cruise lines to perform maintenance during a cruise, but not to the extent you experienced.

    The casino was closed the first night, and the Windjammer for the duration of the cruise? I would have thrown myself overboard right then.

  55. Bobg says:

    I read on the Internet that there have been 21 passengers that turned up missing on cruises in the past 25 years and there is little anyone can do about it. I cannot find an official confirmation of this fact so don’t take it as gospel. As for lawsuits-I’m sure that there is little that anyone can do to win against these “floating countries” unless you have several million to throw away. I have always been leery of the promises and hype from the cruise lines.

  56. homerjay says:

    @FatLynn: As it turns out, the one we were on was WAAAY cheaper than all the other options at the time. NOW we know why. I wonder if the same thing happened in this case.

  57. plumeria313 says:

    I do agree that the cruise industry is severly lacking. I went on an RCI 5 day cruise 4 years ago on Enchantment of the Seas and it was wonderful, the food was excellent, we went to the shows every
    night, it was just an all around good cruise experience. I just got back from another RCI cruise, this time 7 days on Liberty of the Seas. This is their newest ship and our sailing was on it’s fourth sailing out. Honestly, to me, the ship was just TOO big, the elevators were stupid, you’d have to wait like 20 minutes on an elevator going where you were going. The Windjammer food was terrible. Well I take that back, it was good the first day, but eating the SAME thing everyday gets boring. By day 3 we were so tired of hamburgers, hotdogs, minute steaks, and mashed potatoes we thought we would have a better time if we jumped off the boat. And, we had looked forward to eating at Johnny Rockets, but they didn’t open until the second to last day because, as a crewmember told me, “A pipe went Poof on the last voyage.” They couldn’t fix it before the boat went out again? Oh, and this pipe was not that old. By the time the Johnny Rockets did open, we were ravenous from hunger and we tore that place up. In addition to the bad food, there were also bad shows. The only show I went to was the ice show. The rest of them sounded pretty dull. But this wasn’t all, no, the Norovirus, the virus that cruise ships have been having, was going around our boat. The people on the last cruise had started getting it, and then people on our boat started getting it. Everything was covered in bleach, we had to use hand sanitizing wipes everywhere, people were paranoid, it was crazy. And the really sad part was, if you got the norovirus, they locked you in your room, taped the door up, and put an armed guard in front of the door. No joke, they had tasers or something. There were people all around our rooms that had it, so there were armed guards up and down our hall. So needless to say, this was a rather disappointing experience.

    On a higher note though, there are more cruise lines than just the major ones you hear about. (I wouldn’t go on Carnival either, my parents went on one and said it was a big party boat with a bunch of drunk people.) There are smaller cruise lines, with what they call boutique ships that are smaller, more personalized, and probably more for the older crowd. They sound very nice. If you really want to go on a cruise, but don’t want the big main stream cruise line ships, do some research to find the less publicised ones.

    That being said, I will most likely go on an RCI cruise again, because I really do like the company. I will not let one bad experience taint me. However, I will be going on a smaller ship next time, like the Enchantment.

  58. banned says:

    Try a chargeback if you put it on a credit card.

  59. tvh2k says:

    Chargeback?

  60. dvddesign says:

    @speedwell

    You managed to make that phrase sound even dirtier by changing your phraseology.

    I’m not a frequent cruiser, but I can now strike RCL off my list of choices. Thanks RCL, made my decisions a lot easier in the future.

  61. madktdisease says:

    @the cultural icon:

    Find a good attorney versed in tort an maritime law.

    Chareth Cutestory? LOL.

  62. Thrust says:

    @shertzerj: Actually there’s a problem with them NOT putting out to sea. They sell these damnable tickets up to two years in advance of the sailing date, and when does ANYTHING ever go as planned? So they skip repair dates to keep on track figuring they can fix at sea because the alternative of canceling just ONE cruise means refunding two plus thousand passangers and making amends for the cancelation (since they no longer would have their money, they MUST make the customer happy to get the cash back). But fixing at sea, as we see here, means NO refunds of any money, and since they have the cash already, no compensations.


    Heres a good way for Mr/Mrs Redacted ( :p ) to get their complaints across. Find out what the most common ports are for the RCL line, contact the major paper in that city and give em this story. Cruise lines rely on the good favor of their port cities, and say Vancouver no longer liked Royal. You can bet they would be more thorough on inspections and violations, or at least the few places in north america they can be held accountable in would keep an eye on their biz.

  63. Melsky says:

    Between this story and the other cruise line with the raw sewage in the cabins, I’ll not be taking any cruises.

  64. peachkellipop says:

    For what is is worth, you might want to check out:
    [www.cruising.org]

  65. ManiacDan says:

    I have a RCCL cruise planned for the end of the month on the Rhapsody, for my honeymoon. I’m going to call them today, and ask them:
    1) If they’ve seen the article
    2) If they have a response to the article
    3) When is the next drydock scheduled for this ship
    4) What guarantee do I have that the services on board will be operational
    5) Who do I contact ON BOARD if something is not up to my expected standards.

    To the others who have said they don’t want to cruise: I’ve been on a few cruises and every one was great. Cruise ships aren’t “floating prisons,” because most prisons don’t have pools, outside sun decks, shopping malls, multiple restaurants, and dance clubs. A cruise is very similar to a high-end resort that just happens to float.

    I’ll be recording the call that I make today, so if they give me answers that are ridiculous I can send it on over to you guys.

    Speaking of which (off topic paragraph coming up), I have a LG VX8100 phone, and it only records what THEY say, not what I say. I have to three-way call to another phone, and then let my cell phone sit there recording while I talk on the other phone in order to get the entire conversation. Who designs something like that?

  66. lamorevincera says:

    This has been submitted to Fark. Hopefully the admins will be nice and greenlight the link, and then this’ll get more press.

  67. foghat81 says:

    @madktdisease: kudos :) Long live AD

  68. wintersfootsteps says:

    They should get a full refund. I have never been on a cruise, but after hearing this, and other stories I doubt that will happen. It’s either a ship that is falling apart, or everyone on board getting sick. Not to mention the crime on board!

  69. AcidReign says:

    &nbsp &nbsp That’s an amazingly bad story. We did a Carnival 5-day last year, from Mobile to the Yucatan, and it was a great time. And, it was the oldest ship in the fleet (the Holiday). The service was excellent, the food outstanding, and it was only $249 a person. You can’t even hardly eat every meal out for five days, for $249.

    &nbsp &nbsp There were a few drunks, yes. We largely avoided them. We had one of the cheapest rooms, way down in the bowels of the ship, with no windows, on the Riviera deck. Most of the passengers willing to get pay extra for enough $8 drinks to get drunk, were housed on nicer decks. The Riviera deck was nice and quiet, and didn’t rock as much as the rest of the ship, either. If you have the discipline to hit the sit-down meals, the drunks won’t bother you there, either. They line up like buffalo at the buffet line on the Lido deck.

    &nbsp &nbsp To me, a cruise is a good opportunity to be a total slug, eat well, and catch up on my reading. As far as drinking on ship, buy a bottle of Crown or Cuervo at the duty-free store, and avoid the bars.

  70. TPK says:

    Here is a forum thread posting from (presumably) another passenger on the same sailing. Sounds like a poorly timed cruise, indeed:

    [boards.cruisecritic.com]

    Interestingly, just a few weeks ago, the holding company launched a new brand (Azamara), and their first cruise (ship also emerging from drydock) was not ready, in many ways similar to this report. That cruise was delayed one day and the entire cruise fare was refunded to all passengers! Azamara is a “higher quality” brand, but I have to wonder if that refund was at least partly due to complaints from this incident.

  71. ManiacDan says:

    Alright, I just called them (I said I would in a post at 10:54AM)

    I spoke with Zeke in Customer Service, who was very pleasant. They have no knowledge of this article and have no standard response to it.

    I did get my 5 questions answered:
    1) If they’ve seen the article
    –No
    2) If they have a response to the article
    –No
    3) When is the next drydock scheduled for this ship
    –February 2012
    4) What guarantee do I have that the services on board will be operational
    –Explained below
    5) Who do I contact ON BOARD if something is not up to my expected standards.
    –On board: Guest Relations Desk. Afterwards: Post-cruise customer service (800) 256-6649

    As for #4. I was told that they couldn’t GUARANTEE that there wouldn’t be anything wrong with the ship. Sometimes things break and they have to fix them. This, I understand. The original complaint was that EVERYTHING was broken. Zeke seemed shocked when I went into the extent of the complaints I had found here. He said that he’s never heard of a ship being that badly in need of repairs before. Of course, he’s a first-level tech, and he may been INSTRUCTED to say things like that, but it’s good to hear.

    Anyway, the deal seems to be: Ships are drydocked every 5 years. A drydock period can last up to 2 months. While I was on hold so Zeke could check the drydock schedule, the annoying hold music lady informed me that a certain boat of their had just come out of a 2 month drydock, and had so-and-so improvements because of it. Our Mr. Redacted unfortunately encountered a ship that had just missed its drydock appointment, and so was literally about to fall apart. Personally, I think they should drydock them more often if major systems quit working at 5 years and 2 days.

    Basically, it boils down to this: Call them and ask them about the drydock schedule for their ships in the time period or port that you’re interested in. If the ship has been out of drydock more than 3.5 years, don’t take i, and tell them that you’re not taking it because of their reputation for drydocking their ships too infrequently.

    Incidentally, Zeke was very helpful and apparently went through some considerable effort (or got a cup of coffee) when I asked him for the drydock schedule. I also asked if there were any currently known issues with the boat, and he looked that up and reported that the pool was closed in February but everything is reported functioning currently.

    The recording isn’t interesting enough to post. It’s not like I screamed “CANCEL THE BOAT” over and over again.

  72. Youthier says:

    @madktdisease: He was fantastic in getting a conviction in State v. Hook (and now I will be singing “You’re a crook, Captain Hook” for the rest of the day)

    @taylorich: Definately agree. Every company has a problem product, flight, trip, etc every once in awhile. It’s all about the resolution and RC is severely lacking here.

  73. I_would_be_mad says:

    I was going to pre book another Royal Caribbean cruise on my next cruise to get On Board Credit…I guess it’s back to Princess for me!!!

    You should post this over at Cruisecritic.com–You’ll get the pot stirred for sure over there!!!

  74. CreativeLinks says:

    How does someone at RC make the decision to send out a cruise without proper dining facilities?

    I mean, why else go on a cruise if not for the food and dining experience?

    I can put up with delays, the pool not working, wiring on the ship, and I can’t blame the poor guy who was painting outside your cabin.

    But, BAD dining? that’s when I call my lawyer.

  75. plumeria313 says:

    Well the first cruise we went on, Enchantment of the Seas, we had actually been scheduled for a certain date, and they cancelled that cruise date and rescheduled it, I suppose it was for repairs. But they gave each of us $100 of onboard credit. Thankfully they let us know in enough time so we could fix our flights.

    To the person that said buy liquor in the duty free shop and use that, that’s exactly what we did on our first RCI cruise. Since then, RCI has changed their rules about liquor onboard and they don’t allow it anymore. If you buy liquor in the duty free store, they box it up and deliver it to you on the last night. If you try bringing it onboard, if they find it, they will confiscate it and give it to you on the last afternoon. I don’t know how it happened, but we bought liquor at the Bacardi factory in Peurto Rico, and we had it in our Bacardi bags and we were more than willing to hand it over to them, but they sent our stuff through the scanner and let us go on. We were like WHAT??? So we drank some of that. Ha! Then a couple of days later when we were getting on from St. Maarten, our alcohol was hidden in a regular bag and they took it away from us. Very weird.

    I got very upset with the bar service because every drink I ordered had WAY too much hard liquor in it. It’s like, they were purposefully trying to get me drunk. I started having to say, I would like a such-and-such, light on the tequila, rum, vodka please. And I got hastled so many times by the bar attendants. I look a little young for my age but gah, I didn’t think I had to carry my ID around with me the whole time. I had, on numerous occasions, the bartenders call me a liar. No joke, they said “You’re lying, you’re not 21.” That was very rude and it pissed me off.

  76. John Markos O'Neill says:

    My wife and I have often joked that I would like to go on a cruise someday. She, on the other hand, has no interest in doing so.

    After I read this I told her that she wins this debate. We’re never going on a cruise.

  77. Dibbler says:

    I’m sorry but to me the e-mail/letter sounds whinny and just bitching to try to get money out of them. Oooooooh! Dangerous rusty nails! I think maybe if the letter would have explained what you were expecting from the cruise vs. what you received it may have gone better. When on a cruise I would expect to be treated like a king and it sounds like you were herded around like cattle.

    My letter would have stated something along these lines: I was promised swimming, hot tubs, casual dining, etc. and instead I was given cold showers, bad food with long lines and no swimming while doing my best to avoid stepping on rusty nails and carpet rolls. What do you guys plan on doing about this so that I don’t spend the rest of my life telling people to avoid you?

  78. axiomatic says:

    Wasn’t Royal Caribbean in “breach of contract?” They advertise pool/casino/etc. and did not provide it. Could you take them to small claims court? I’m not a lawyer so I don’t really know, but in my opinion you paid for services they did not render.

  79. WhatsMyNameAgain says:

    Wow, wow, wow. That’s really insulting customer service. That was the most obnoxious template e-mail I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to read the follow-up to this in the future.

  80. WhatsMyNameAgain says:

    Oh, but I do think that part about “we were waiting without drinks!!!” sounds kind of stupid… And by kind of, I mean he should be hit in the teeth.

  81. FatLynn says:

    Why does every ship on every line have a bar or restaurant called “Windjammer”?

  82. Amsterdaam says:

    @WhatsMyNameAgain: Yeah, they should be kicked in the teeth for waiting 4 hours in a lawn chair without anything to drink. That is a perfectly reasonable complaint for someone that wasn’t planning to sit in a lawn chair for 4 hours at a dock. In Galveston.

    Maybe they have a job for you at Royal Caribbean Customer Service, they seem to think just like you.

  83. vinchbr says:

    here in brasil the royal caribbean makes some great college cruises for singles =)
    loads of fun and you´ve guessed, put 500 single college students in a boat for 7 days… party all day long and room parties as well =P

  84. plumeria313 says:

    ^^^^^^^
    Exactly why I hate going on cruises. Drunk college kids. They think they are the only ones around.

  85. MeOhMy says:

    You have to pick your cruises and timing. I did not find many drunk college kids when I went to the Caribbean in early December.

  86. LAGirl says:

    i’ve never understood the appeal of cruises. for the same money you spend on a cruise, you can travel around Mexico, Central America, Europe, Thailand, Hawaii, Caribbean, etc. i’ve done it. many, many times. climbed Mayan ruins in Tikal, went snorkeling at Phi Phi island, eaten dim sum in Hong Kong at midnight, driven the Hana Highway, met Vaclav Havel at an art opening in Prague, etc.

    i’ve had some of the most amazing experiences in my travels. met great people, seen beautiful places. none of it would have happened if i had been on a cruise. you need more than an afternoon stop at a port to really get to know a place.

  87. Amsterdaam says:

    @FatLynn:

    If they didn’t, all the other restaurants would be entirely too windy. You need something to jam that up.

    buh-doom pah!

  88. MeOhMy says:

    @LAGirl: Sightseeing is strenuous and tiring. You get home and you wish you had another week off of work to recover. Cruising is all relaxation.

    They are completely different products, both are worth doing.

  89. Gopher bond says:

    Cruises are craptacular. The whole idea of being stuck on a boat with other people too stupid to think up better vacation ideas should be offensive to all races, religions and creeds. Where do you want to go on vacation? How about a floating strip mall? If you like cruises you are bad and you should feel bad.

  90. shertzerj says:

    @Thrust:

    Oh, I agree, they shouldn’t have put the ship out to sea. I was just taking notice of the wrong usage (sea/see) in the post at the top. Just being a grammar jerk. ;)

  91. mynsye says:

    I am so glad I saw this. I was about to book this same cruise out of Galveston – I am definitely not going to now. They just lost my business and hopefully this will have an effect on others.

  92. sailyn says:

    We are Crown & Anchor Diamond members with RICI and have sailed on the Rhapsody many times. I’m am absolutely appalled at your horrible experience. Thank you for posting this. I’m so sorry for your basically lost cruise. When you spend that much money on a cruise you certainly don’t expect this. I’ve forwarded this to all my cruising friends and am considering canceling our upcoming cruise. RCI’s response to your concerns is totally unacceptable. If they maintain this attitude toward their customers soon they will have no customers.

  93. dalieu says:

    i agree about the complaint letter being too long and whinny. however, RC giving only $20 credit was like a slap to the face after splitting on you. i’m going to avoid them like the plague if i ever plan a cruise.

  94. Rockwell says:

    It’s not cheap, but Crystal Cruises is fantastic. Food is incredible, good crowd, and the staff is constantly falling over themselves to hook you up.

  95. ValerioB says:

    I will never take a Royal Caribbean Cruise because of what I’ve just read. I will not let any of my friends or family go on one either.
    Instead of refunding one ships’ worth of passengers, you will pay by having fewer bookings on many future ships.
    Where is the genius management decision? Take some lessons from jet blue you idiots.

  96. spideyman says:

    Wow!! It’s events like this that make me really happy to be terrified of going on a cruise. Open water with no sight of land is not my idea of a vacation or good time. The fact that Royal Caribbean offered such a paultry sum is an insult.

  97. Sawta says:

    Wow, I really can’t believe that someone thought that it would be _okay_ to let this crusie line ship sail in the shape that it was in. I mean, I understand that construction has to be done, and on a regular _fishing boat_ or naval boat, that would be fine, but when your paying large sums of money to be on board this vesisle, its quit a diffrent story.

    I can only hope that you don’t blame the person who sent you the letter with the 20.00 rebate in it for what happend. Although it deffinatlly feels like their mocking you, they probably geniuinly do have no control over how much money they can offer you.

    I hope things turn around for you after this story starts to pick up. (It got onto the front page of digg at least).

    The only advice that I can give you is that if you get into contact with customer support again, try not to chew them out over what happend. Try to stay calm and explain what happend in a civil manner because the happier an employee is to help you, the more likely your going to end up getting what you want (this can be applied to just about anything, by the way).

  98. kelise says:

    Wow! Remind me not to use RC for my next cruise. Geez, I know it sounds bad but you would’ve been better off injuring yourself on a nail in their repair site. Then, maybe, you could have received a $40 rebate. What a joke.

  99. linnab says:

    I was on this cruise and was just thinking today what to do, i think I am going to file a small claims lawsuit against them and the travel agency locally. It was worse than what was described.

  100. aegarza17 says:

    I was standing on the precipice of booking a cruise with these clowns. Thanks for pulling me back from the edge. They just lost 4 tickets.

  101. atomicpuffball says:

    RE: Refund. If you were *promised* things (ie, “take a dip in our sparkling pool”, “enjoy the excitement of our casino”) that you did not receive, then you have a claim. Contact the Attorney General’s office in A)your state of residence B)Texas, since the cruise originated there C)the state where the company is headquartered in the US. AGs have departments for consumer complaints, and I find that companies sit up and take notice when they get a letter from the AG. Be *specific* about the exact amount of time that each promised amenity was unavailable.

  102. Chefotto says:

    In my early days of food service consulting I worked with a number of cruise lines and maritime outfitters. RCCL was at that time known by the employees of various lines as the “KMart of the Caribbean”, with low prices and service to match. We worked with Royal Hawaiian, Windjammer, Holland America, V Ships and more. Some seemed quality operations, but the moderately priced ships were the most interesting.

    Some of the stories brought back by the management we worked with included infighting between several American maritime labor unions (to the point of setting fire to the laundry rooms, putting eye drops into the food of the other union members), government regulations (The Jones Act) which impeded effective management and delayed comfortably set deadlines, and what was presented to us as organized crime. (Chefs being told to accept rotten produce from preferred sources if they “knew what was good for them”, drug stashes planted in the cabins of those who stubbornly refused to deal with specific suppliers, management coups with people from scary places intervening.)

    One newly renovated liner for Tahiti still didn’t have the kitchen installed – or the air conditioning. The kitchen and service crew worked around the clock bolting down equipment when they weren’t cooking. They got sick, and since they were making the food and the onboard temperature reached 120F, so did nearly everyone else on board. This same liner sustained a gaping hole just above the water line from some obstacle, but already well behind financial predictions due to red tape and perhaps mismanagement, was sent to continue the voyage, scaring the daylights out of those passengers who stayed on board.

    My impression at that time was that
    a) running a cruise line is an entirely expensive proposition, and there is no such thing as a 100% guaranteed safe and satisfying cruise on an ship running under an American flag. Good cruises cost a lot.
    b) The best cruises are run by the northern European conglomerates, which are all interconnected (Holland American, Norwegian, etc), partially because they use the best outfitters and have access to their own excellent shipyards. They pay their people up to three or four times more than the American lines. Greek lines also have a fairly good reputation. Reports from Russian returnees were just scary.
    c) There was and probably persists a great deal of cronyism and corruption in the American lines. Also not a small number of perpetually soused chefs. This may be international. (What else is there to do on the floating prison?)
    d) Ships flying South American flags or flags from odd duchies somewhere in East Africa are doing so to avoid the rigorous inspection of the more traditional seagoing countries and are therefore riskier. Probably better to be avoided.
    e) As in everything else, Americans have become addicted to frequent bargains rather than unique special experiences. By paying 1/3 the price three times, you are probably increasing your risk of a miserable or at least less satisfying experience twenty fold. Quality costs money. Just the insurance the corporations pay is astronomical. We Americans are a nation of cheapskates. The cruise companies, however, are at fault for indulging our demands and not simply drawing the line and saying: We can’t do what you need at the price you are willing to pay. You should probably cheap cruises with the same survival instinct that would prompt you to avoid cheap sushi.

    The complaints here definiteley show some sad service by the company and their response should be cause to fire the people in charge, but on the whole it’s inconvenience and lousy service rather than gross incompetence. The liner did the right thing by keeping areas closed that could not be managed effectively. There’s probably no cause to sue, but I sure would not think of a Royal Caribbean cruise. Of couse, it really was a profound desire. Life is too shot and, frankly, too precious.

  103. tentothefour says:

    Wow, what a poor decision on RC’s part. The last RC cruise I was on was great, and it was a Vision Class ship, like the Rhapsody. They’re beautiful boats, but your cruise should never have happened. I mean, if I’ve got a guest at my house, I’m not putting them to sleep on a couch in the middle of re-upholstering.

  104. laschofield says:

    My son and I just cruised on a day cruise to the Bahamas and LOVED it. This was with a small cheapy cruise line, so I’m sure the bigger names must be good as well.

    We were very dissapointed to see when we boarded that the pool was also empty (like the pictures above) and roped off with caution tape. My son loves swimming and was looking forward to the pool. Oh well, we thought. Then, when out to sea, the caution tape was removed and the pool was filled! This is a standard practice, and if you are experienced at pool-keeping, will understand. View the post at [www.cruise-addicts.com] for more information on this practice. I think inclusion of photos of the closed pool would discredit the letter as a phony.

    Check out Centsible.net’s advice on writing effective complaint letters. There are a few other points I would’ve suggested.

    For those that have not cruised before, a cruise is great value and a lot of fun. And I’ll bet that pool was functional once the ship was out to sea a bit further!

  105. publisher says:

    If you think THAT’S bad, consider how they treat their employees. My son worked on one of these “floating prisons”(a term I think quite apt).
    They hire people from all over the world and mix them up on the various ships. These folks do not have a common language, thus no chance to organize and strike against the hideous working conditions some of them face. Then, these big gross hulks dump their garbage into the sea they rely upon. I have been on one cruise when my son was entertaining. Morally it would be hard for me to give money to these people who register in foreign ports so they don’t have to pay U.S. tax or adhere to U.S. labor and environmental laws.
    There are other ways to see the world.

  106. Cowboy67147 says:

    Here was my letter to Royal Carribean.

    “Hi,

    I just wanted to let you know that although I have never been on a cruise, My wife and I will be booking one in the next 6 to 12 months and after reading this, [consumerist.com] , I can assure you, it will not be on a Royal Carribean cruise line.

    have a nice life.”

    sent it to the only 2 emails I could find. lsierracaro@rccl.com, crownandanchor@rccl.com

    Good luck.

  107. CruiseMates says:

    Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean (lines incorporated in the U.S.) belong to the Cruise Lines International Assn (CLIA). These ships are not lawless or petri dishes at all (those misperceptions only show you know nothing about the topic). They regularly inspected by both the Coast Guard and CDC quarterly. They are subject to U.S. laws when it any incident involves a Us.S. citizen the FBI has full jurisdiction no matter where in the world the ship may be.

    Now to the point – yes, a much better compensation than $20 for lunch should have been given, but I also agree one should ditch the small complaints. One elevator not 8 not working is not an issue. The casino being closed 1 night is not an issue. Even rugs and wire sitting on the deck is just nitpicking.

    If there were no pools at all, and if the hot tubs were truly not functioning well, and that is why you cruise, then you have a complaint. And the main compliant is the windjammer being closed and the late departure.

    You will NEVER get your full fare back, after all they transported, housed and fed you for 7 days. But I am in the cruise business, and I don’t understand why RCI doesn’t just quietly slip you a nice credit on a future cruise. They got away with giving most people a $20 credit, but now they have lost you as a customer for good. Just dumb.

    By the way – things like this can happen on any cruise line. I like Holland America a lot, but it could happen there.

    Personally, I think it is better to have your travel agent try to fight this battle for you, and be prepared to accept a realistic settlement, noot your money back.

  108. CruiseMates says:

    Sorry for not editing my prior post before uploading. First thing in the morning.

    Regarding the disease-ridden comment. I just want to point out that cruises still have the highest satisfaction ranking of any travel alternative. It is almost always the people who have never been on a cruise who say the worst things about them – while people who HAVE been on cruises almost always say “if I only known it was like this, I had no idea how great this is.” OK, allow me to ask the obvious question. Assuming you have a completely open mind, to whom would you give the benefit of the doubt? Quite presumptuous, don’t you think, to warn others to stay away from something they have never even tried?

    In any case – regarding disease, here are the facts: 6,300 passengers on cruise ships became ill with gastrointestinal illness in 2006. For those unaware, Norovirus (or the Norwalk Virus) is a gastrointestinal ailment that is the second most common virus in the United States and is found not just on cruise ships. It is also called many other names including, “stomach flu.” The cruise industry is the only facet of the hospitality industry required by the CDC to provide detailed statistics on the number of cases of gastrointestinal illness. That is why you read so much about “Norovirus” on cruise ships and nowhere else despite the fact that it is very common everywhere.

    Now think; if over 12 million passengers will cruise this year, even if as many as 6,000 become ill with a gastrointestinal illness that puts your chances of getting sick at .05% of all cruisers (one in 2000).

    So – that tosses out both your “disease-ridden” and “unregulated” comments in one swoop.

    One is not “stuck on a boat” for their vacation. One is settled in on a travelling hotel that takes you to different destinations while you sleep. Most cruises include far more days in port than they do at sea. The average European cruise includes 10 days in port and 2 days at sea. Many cruises are in port every single day of the cruise.

    I just finished just a cruise on Windstar, in 7 days we sailed from Barcelona to Tuscany. Generally we used the ship as a hotel and woke up fresh with a new destination every day. That seems like a really great way to see Europe to me when the alternative is trying to sleep sitting up on a train or bus, or spending half your vacation looking for hotels, taxis and train depots.

    I just get so tired of the same narrow-minded fools regurgitating the same misconceptions they picked up someplace about a topic of which they obviously know nothing.

    The truth is cruise lines sail their ships at over 100% capacity on almost every sailing (they only count the beds on the floors as 100%) despite the fact the capacity of staterooms has tripled in the last 10 years. That is how successful this industry is, and most of it is repeat cruisers. As I said, you don’t know until you try one.

  109. Ponygirl says:

    @madktdisease:

    LOL

  110. plumeria313 says:

    Laschofield: Closing the pool while in dock is indeed a common practice, however, our pool was open while in ports, and while departing ports. That being said, our pools did close very frequently during out cruise. One time in the kiddy pool it was an accident and was closed due to a “Fecal Accident” but the other times there was no explanation given. I’m sure to clean them out. However, I didn’t use the pools because they had bits of trash floating in them, and oil on the surface. Public pools are quite disgusting.

    Cruisemates: I was just on a cruise where people were getting the norovirus and while, yes, it is a common virus, when you’re in close quarters and it spreads very quickly, it tends to ruin your vacation. I think people need to know what goes on on cruise ships instead of people wasting their money. If they want to experience it, they will experience it, but at the same time they need to know the stuff that could possibly go wrong.

  111. bobbiejo says:

    I wanted to comment on the royal carribean cruise issue.I have been on two and they were good, but what they have done to this man and the other people on that cruise is unnaceptable, and first of all the ship should not have even been in service if it cannot give the customers everything it normally is, and not operating in this way,as if it was being worked on and remodled thats rediculous,it should have been docked until all was fixed or working. I will think again before going on my third with them until they refund these people, they need to refund this man and any others that went through that. The responce to the man was a joke,that proved to the public what they are really made of, and if thats what they want to continue to be,than good luck with that.I hope you get your money back.or a credit.
    bobbie

  112. looneytunes31419 says:

    I think that Rob has a need to be upset. I understand where he is coming from they should not have sent that ship out to sea with that many problems. RCCL should have sent another ship to replace that one or should have called and told them the truth as to why it was running late and give the option to cancil their trip and with a full refund for their unfit manner for the ship not being ready. As to RCCL response letter, That was totally uncalled for. No one wants to hear your appoligies we want results. RCCL needs to give the man his money back the full refund and give him another cruise for free of his choice.. Who do they have running their customer service office. They need to loose their jobs considering how many people cruise RCCL and how many people are platinum members to their crown and anchor club. These people are the ones they need to keep happy considering that it is because of us people that keep giving good reviews and compliments about their ships. That is up till now. That is all I have to say on the matter. Good luck Rob on trying to resolve it. We are right there with you.

  113. britneynollaf says:

    My husband and I just returned from our honeymoon Cruise on Royal Caribbean International. We had missed our departure due to an address given to us by RC. We had to fly and catch up with the cruise ship at the next port of call. When we asked RC for help to get us to the cruise they did not help us at all, they said they are not responsible even though they gave us this address which took us to a residental part of the city, no where near any cruise port. We are very upset by RCI and will not be going on another RCI cruise.

  114. Dolphinlover says:

    I took this ship in December 2006 and had a great time. It wasw about 7 hours late arriving in Galveston. I am grateful I made my plane. RCI seems to get overwhelmed when anything out of the ordinary happens. I would be as unhappy as Rob had the construction been going on during my trip. And the response from RCI is unacceptable. My experience with RCI is that it is better just not to need them to do anything for you they are not already doing. I take cruises to relax. I have walked my feet off in many cities of the world, but I go on cruises to relax. Really I don’t care too much about the ports of call. I like to not have to decide, sometimes, where to stay, where to eat, what kind of entertainment to look for. I swam with the dolphins in Cozumel, but do not want to spend the night in Cozumel. I love seeing places, and many times will drive and stay or fly and stay. But when my mind needs a rest, I take a cruise. Try it! You might like it!

  115. TomasT says:

    Our August 2007 cruise aboard Adventure of the Seas

    Our cabin’s outside veranda, where the bullhead and the deck meet, had 10′ rust scar. Why should I notify maintenance, the cabin attendant is in my room at least twice a day, once to make funny towel marionettes; whoopee! Never scrapped and painted.

    Outside veranda had chipped deck furniture, e.g. paint removed to bare metal. Why should I notify maintenance, the cabin attendant is in my room at least twice a day, once to make funny towel marionettes; whoopee!

    The glass sliding door to the outside veranda had a damaged or failed rubber gasket (maybe a design defect). Why should I notify maintenance, the cabin attendant is in my room at least twice a day, once to make funny towel marionettes; whoopee!

    A light bulb in the room was inoperative upon first arrival. Why should I notify maintenance, as the cabin attendant just cleaned the room after the previous occupants departed?

    Paste on plastic “wall” hooks affixed to the ceiling in various locations; for what reason.

    Upon arrival, the bathroom floor was filthy with spots on edge molding. We notified cabin attendant who returned and then properly cleaned the room. But, why must I notify the cabin attendant, as the cabin attendant just cleaned the room after the previous occupants departed?

    Bathroom door hinges creaked. Why should I notify maintenance, the cabin attendant is in my room at least twice a day, once to make funny towel marionettes; whoopee!

    Closet door hinges creaked. Why should I notify maintenance, the cabin attendant is in my room at least twice a day, once to make funny towel marionettes; whoopee!

    We went to the Crown and Anchor party. The musical combo played so loud that I could not have a conversation with anyone. Why do bands think it is important to blast their music?

    We went to the 12th deck bar one evening before evening. The guitar player was superb. But, when he finished his stint the “canned” music was activated. It was too loud. The waitress responded to my request to lower the volume (as no one could carry a normal level conversation) with its controlled by the bridge. This is patently a lie. When I asked that the bridge be contacted to lower the volume, she said she did couldn’t.

    So they scrub the pools. Nice, but they never clean the accumulation of slimy sea algae beneath the wooden treads. This is just another sign as to the lack of quality in most facets of the ship’s operation.

    No more sit-down “served” lunch as it is an all you can eat self-service buffet in the Windjammer. So for thousands of dollars, I must serve myself.
    Some lunch time delicacies:
    • Franks – no comment
    • Hamburgers – NHL hockey pucks
    • Quiche – dried tasteless cardboard
    • Roast beef from the slicing station – tough and try
    • Smoked loin of pork – tasty, but dry slabs
    • Eggplant parmesan – limp and squishy
    • Beef stew – tangy and OK
    • Pork medallions – tough and chewy to strengthen one’s jaw muscles
    • Salads – ok, can’t really kill lettuce

    Breakfast is either sit-down in dining room or Windjammer
    My choice was sit-down.
    • Breakfast pastries – ok
    • Bacon undercooked and greasy
    • Egg omelet – overcooked and dry
    • Juices – no grapefruit or mango juoice
    • Coffee – winy

    Dinner
    • Steak tough and chewy
    • Group salads (served in a big bowl atop a stand in the middle of the table) awash in salad dressing
    • Incorrect items (e.g.: not ordered) substituted for ordered items at least twice per dinner.

    Overall food is more show than substance.

    Passageways within the cabin deck areas often had old laundry, ice bucket rolling carts and vacuum cleaners abandoned for hours. I guess there’s no room in the cabin attendant pantries.

    Oftentimes, folks would leave a glass/cup with liquid atop the trash receptacle in the elevator lobbies. Shame on the uncaring individuals! But, the glass/cup most often rested atop the trash receptacle for hours before it was removed. I guess RCCL does not want the staff to be visible to the paying customers.

    Elevator call buttons in elevator lobbies sticky from use. Seems to me, the buttons are never cleaned.

    There is a slotted board imbedded in the decks outside the sliding doors. Likewise these slotted boards are on outside staircases. There must be a design defect as the screws in boards are backing out and have become a tripping hazard. But, maintenance does not care as none were repaired in the one week.

    Day of week carpeting in elevators sometime replaced and sometimes not updated. Not a big dealing of itself but it does speak to the overall lack of quality assurance?

    Lingering large (24″ x 12″) carpet stain in an elevator lobby, first day, never cleaned. No not a wet spot from spilled liquid.

    They made a big deal the first day in the Windjammer by distributing hand-wipesâ„¢ to stress cleanliness, but only once.

    On previous cruises, the cabin attendant always placed the life jackets on the bed as a reminder of the first day life boat drill. No more! I guess it takes too much time, so the attendant does not bother.

    On previous cruises, the cabin attendants always left the doors wedged open for all cabins until the occupants’ first arrival. No more! I guess it takes too much time, so the attendants do not bother.

    On previous cruises, the cabin attendants always provided a tour of the cabin and its accoutrements. But the cabin attendant was no where to be found, so it was a self learning exercise. I guess it takes too much time, so the attendant does not bother.

    The head of “hotel operations” had no time for me for a casual chat (on the last evening), regarding just my observation (not phrased as a complaint) about some of the Windjammer food but rather he dumped me onto the food and beverage manager who thought I should be eating something else. Swell! The RCCL staff is great at passing the buck, it ain’t my job or it ain’t my fault is the RCCL motto.

    Late returnees to the ship from ashore visits occurred in every port. This is absolutely the height of rudeness to all others who can abide by the time widows established and published. The captain delayed departure in every port.

    RCCL excels at moving folks through the boarding formalities onto the ship, extracting money throughout the “cruise” and then moving luggage and folks onto the pier so the next “guests” can be boarded.

    Cruise lines, not just RCCL, and church carnivals are designed to separate you from your money. I know where the church carnival money goes, I cannot fathom where RCCL spends its money.

    By the way we have cruised before. In the last ten years, I have seen a diminution in the quality of services as well as the amenities offered.

    Basically, no more cruises, especially with Royal Caribbean (RCCL)

  116. TomasT says:

    Let me provide some background.

    I just completed construction of a mega-million dollar data center with thousands of servers and hundreds of network devices, not to mention many other components.

    My motto is “zero defects”, and it is not my money.

    To accept otherwise is accept mediocrity; and the potential for costly disruptive failures in the days, months and years ahead.

    My money is earned through hard work and the demand I place on others, I place upon myself first and foremost.

    A senior chief petty officer (a tin bender) who was our assistant company commander in officer candidate school left us all with a credo: “pay attention to detail, because if you don’t, you may kill or injure someone”. The one time, I didn’t pay attention to detail, one of my radiomen was injured; enough said. To this day, I remember the incident and more importantly his name

    So why should I accept, and settle, as has been suggested for less than perfect accommodations, when it is my money. In point of fact, I am not complacent even if it is my firm’s money paying for my accommodations, as they often do.

    Have we all been lulled into an atmosphere of accepting mediocrity?

    Are we so wealthy, we can throw away money without question on poor service?

    Have we become so inured to lackluster services? RCCL and other cruise lines, certainly have glitzy ads and commercials, but where is the substance?

    Do we think the world is a “d” average, maybe so?

    = = = = = =
    What ab Let me provide some background.

    I just completed construction of a mega-million dollar data center with thousands of servers and hundreds of network devices, not to mention many other components.

    My motto is “zero defects, and it is not my money.

    To accept otherwise is accept mediocrity; and the potential for costly disruptive failures in the days, months and years ahead.

    My money is earned through hard work and the demand I place on others, I place upon myself first and foremost.

    A senior chief petty officer (a tin bender) who was our assistant company commander in officer candidate school left us all with a credo: “pay attention to detail, because if you don’t, you may kill or injure someone”. The one time, I didn’t pay attention to detail, one of my radiomen was injured; enough said. To this day, I remember the incident and more importantly his name

    So why should I accept, and settle, as has been suggested for less than perfect accommodations, when it is my money. In point of fact, I am not complacent even if it is my firm’s money paying for my accommodations, as they often do.

    Have we all been lulled into an atmosphere of accepting mediocrity?

    Are we so wealthy, we can throw away money without question on poor service?

    Have we become so inured to lackluster services? RCCL, and other cruise lines, certainly have glitzy ads and commercials, but where is the substance?

    Do we think the world is a “d” average, maybe so?

    = = = = = =
    What about the clutter in the passageways? What if there was a true need to abandon ship? How would passengers, perhaps in darkness, overcome the bulwark of detritus left in the passageways?

    Has a disaster occurred happened on a cruise ship? The reader is left to answer the question.

    = = = = = =

    By the way to reinforce my point; one evening at the mid ship shuffle board court, (deck 4, port side) I leaned against the rail and panicked. I thought the rail was giving way and I was going over the side into the Caribbean at night.

    In point of fact, the dogs/nuts were not tightened sufficiently to prevent the railing from giving way to seaward. Loosely tightened? Yes. But correctly tightened? No. How do I know this? I then checked the other lifeboat stations and found all but the one I leaned against to be totally secure. Again a lack of attention by the ship’s crew to common safety practices.

    The next time RCCL loses someone over the side at sea, don’t come looking for me.

    If you need more details, just ask, and I shall reply.

    = = = = = =

  117. toddy says:

    My husband and I too just finished a cruise with Royal Caribbean, we bought duty free and a package was delivered to our stateroom the night before disembarkation, we did not open it as we believed what was in there was what we purchased and paid for and as you are not allowed to carry liquids on the aircraft, put it into our main luggage. On arriving home and opening the package some of the alcohol was missing, we have contacted crown&anchor by e-mail three times now with no response except a return e-mail acknowledging our e-mail and telling us not to make any more enquiries or it will delay the response. How long does it take to remedy a simple situation. I will never cruise with them again, they are a money grabbing mob.

  118. Anonymous says:

    Avoid Royal Caribbean if you expect any service recovery after a bad cruise. RCCL is not a bad cruise line, at least in our first 14 cruises with them. But our 15th cruise was a disaster: On arrival, our bathroom was flooded and our cabin attendant had no clue as to his responsibilities (soiled robes, no ameninies for our “diamond” status, no pool towels, no ice, and finally he hid the appraisal form at the end of the cruise, thinking that if we found it he would not get good marks!).

    The casino charges 3% even before you make your first bet. Any experienced player recognizes that the casino has a huge % advantage in normal play…. adding 3% to that is absured (NCL, for instance, has no such charge). For four prior cruises, we were seated at a table for four in the dining room, despite our requests for a 6 or 8 person table. We did not complain… but on this cruise, we did ask for a larger table and the head waiter was not helpful.. in fact borderline annoying. The clincher was that the other two guests scheduled for our table never arrived… so we ate alone for seven nights.

    When I returned home, I sent a careful letter of dissatisfaction to the executive section of customer service at RCCL. I received three phone calls from a very slick and sophisticated customer service rep… one of their best I am sure. She told me that, after 14 cruises with them (no complaints), compensation to us was two restrictive certificates in the amount of $52.00 each.. $104.00 total! I could not believe after spending tens of thousans of dollars with RCCL their response as service recovery for one really bad cruise was $104.00!!!!

    I challenged that as not being a proportional response, common in the industry, and the customer service rep blew me off… well, what she really said was that she would buy me a bottle of wine on my next rccl cruise.

    Goodbye, RCCL…. every bit of good that you did on our many cruises with you has been destroyed by a lack of service recovery… NCL is going to benefit from your decision…just booked two cruises with them.