the forgotten guests – Royal Caribbean Intl, Independence of the Seas

Imagine you’d made all the arrangements for a special holiday on a cruise, with your son, daughter-in-law and two young grandsons. Imagine that this was your very first cruise ever. Imagine also that this was a special occasion like your son’s birthday and you had also ordered a special cake and surprise to be delivered on his special day. Imagine also that you, as parents and grand-parents, wanted to give your son and daughter-in-law some moments of relief, joy and fun by keeping the kids with you on the evenings or diner time, or show time…Imagine that you have chosen the Independence of the Seas to have all this! Yeah! Not less than the second biggest ship in the whole world!

Imagine those days before the cruise, where you’re already dreaming that you’re on board and time seems endless. You start packing. Your family at Southampton gets on board, finally. You’ll be joining them two days after, at Madeira, the first stop of the cruise. This day finally arrives! You  ask a friend to take you to the harbor. This friend is also going to say hello to his aunt who comes in the ship. You can’t wait to be on board that cruise!

And then, your friend says that his aunt told him they weren’t coming to Madeira. That’s impossible, she must be seasick. But the ship doesn’t show, all morning, all afternoon, all night, all day. You understand the ship is not coming to pick you for your travel. And the worst thing? The rest of the family IS on board already, from the initial point of departure, Southampton, remember?

Can you imagine it?

This happened to my dear friends and neighbors Sandra and John, an English couple who lives randomly in Madeira and Cambridge. They waited for the ship that never came. Uninformed, left behind, sad and feeling miserable, they managed to know that the ship had faced bad weather conditions at the Bay of Biscay so the captain decided to skip next stop (Madeira, where the weather is fantastic at the moment, by the way) without any contact whatsoever to their guests left behind, till this moment, ie 27th April, 8pm. They were supposed to embark the 25th April.

After John’s several cell phone calls to their agency in UK, which took knowledge of the situation by the customers (!), they knocked at my door to express their frustration. Surprised to see them again, I decided to help them, so I contacted Royal Caribbean International through their Facebook page as well as through Twitter, and explain what was happening. The answer, 23 hours after, came with an explanation on Mother Nature’s power, and safety and security of guests and crew members (you can read the whole answer at the end of the post), with these final sentences:

“There are many things that we can control but unfortunately Mother Nature is not one of them. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused our guests, and we thank them for their understanding.”

Wow! is this Royal Caribbean International customer service…?

Mother Nature is not the only thing RCI can’t control. It seems they don’t control their guests lists and contacts either. And apparently they’re not aware that their guests-left-behind are quite far from being in an understanding mood at the moment, especially when they still haven’t received any contact whatsoever from the cruise line.

Other than the expenses incurred (all paid in advance), the lost holidays and the missed family gathering  are two things they won’t get back.  Royal Caribbean International took a decision that affected the financial and the emotional life of this couple. The least RCI could do is to give them a call or email them, none of these obviously avoiding the subsequent compensation.

Feel free to follow the conversation here http://www.facebook.com/royalcaribbean/posts/10150834306851397?notif_t=feed_comment or to show your support to Sandra here

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