Recently I booked a short cruise from Melbourne, and shortly before departure received an offer from Princess Cruises looking for volunteers to give up their cabins in exchange for a free cruise. Clearly they had overbooked their ship, and now needed to figure out how to deal with the repercussions of doing so.
I was promised a free cruise anywhere in the world, an offer I accepted. I was advised that they would contact me within 48 hours. That didn’t happen.
So I began researching replacement cruises, found one to Norway and visited my travel Agent to book it. We selected the cruise, the cabin and made arrangements for flights etc pending confirmation from Princess.
I then received an email from Princess, confirming a holiday on a different ship, to a different continent with a price tag 6 times the price of the cruise I had actually booked. So I rang Princess, who had no idea where that account came from, but told me that my replacement cruise was handled by a specialist section called the “Move Over” group.
I asked to be put in touch with the “Move over” group, but was advised that it would be impossible. I asked the operator to ring that group on my behalf. This too was impossible as ringing that section is verboten! However, they told me they would email this elusive section and I could expect a response within 10-15 days.
I advised them that my flights and other peripherals could not be held for that long, and that the cabin we had chosen (which they had no record of) was one of the last available. However, they insisted that nothing could be done to expedite the matter. I asked to speak to a senior person, but none were available. They promised a senior person would return my call that day. They didn’t.
The next day I rang again, and after a struggle managed to speak to a supervisor. She confirmed that the “Move Over” section could not be contacted by telephone - only email. I asked to speak to someone further up the food chain and was advised that she could not do so as they were contactable only by email. I would have to wait 10-15 days, by which time the cabin and flights would be gone.
In disgust, I wrote a lengthy email of complaint to their head office. A reply was swift. I could expect a reply to my complaint, but I would have to wait 10-15 days before it would be dealt with.
If anyone were to go into a travel agent’s office today they could book that cabin immediately. However, because I have done the cruise line a favour and released my original cabin, I cannot do so. Princess lacks the capacity - or should I say willingness - to hold my chosen cabin until the “Move over” crew get around to processing my case.
Apparently Princess cruise lines have evolved to the point where telephones or verbal communication is now being phased out. No longer can a simple telephone call resolve simple queries. Email is the only communication method they will use internally - no exceptions. Princess owes me a cruise, they own the ship and the cabin and they have all the information at their fingertips. Sadly, they do not value their customers enough to pick up a telephone and use those resources. It’s really nothing short of pathetic.
My cabin, my flights and all the peripheral arrangements will no doubt be lost by the time their 15 day limit is reached and I shall have to start all over again. That’s the thanks I get for digging them out of a hole in the first place!!