How to Complain to a Cruise Line and Get Results

| 02.13.12

A poll of our readers finds surprises in the most effective ways to get satisfaction for problems -- including financial compensation.

Step Three -- Establish Your Compensation Value When you describe your complaint, this is not the time to threaten or to demand compensation for every little thing that was wrong. Be specific about how you were "injured" monetarily and make a suggestion on how you feel you should be compensated. If you say, "I paid for an oceanview cabin on an upper deck, but I ended up in an inside cabin on deck three, then I see the difference in the brochure rate is $____."

In the letter, give them as many details as possible: the ship name, cabin number, sail date, the names of everyone on board you sincerely thought did a very good job (let them know you are a detail-oriented person). Also include your home address, telephone numbers, and email address. You can add your laundry list of complaints, but do say "I don't expect compensation for this, but thought you should know."

If you do not get immediate satisfaction, then go back the next day and repeat the process, but this time ask for the names of the Hotel Manager and the Captain. Write a letter explaining your problem and make three copies; mark one as "Front Desk, Passenger Services" and address the other two to the Hotel Manager and the Captain, including your name, booking number and cabin number.

If you do not receive a phone call by the end of the next day, the next time you see the Captain or the Hotel Manager, ask them if they received the letter. If they say "no," explain you left it for them at passenger services. If they say "yes," then politely ask them what they thought of your complaint.

Example: jacdenv24 Wrote From Celebrity back in 2000 we got a very good response to what I think was a legitimate complaint. We booked an inside cat. on the bottom deck of the Horizon. When we checked in, we were informed that we had been "upgraded" but it turned out we were moved DIRECTLY under the galley! Noise was really horrendous -- trolleys rolling across the floor at all hours, and dishwashers running.

After the first night, we asked to be moved back to our original cabin but apparently someone in a group occupied it. After the second night, we asked for another cabin, anywhere as long as we could get some sleep. The ship was fully booked.

We made a point of going to customer service every day to register our complaint even though we knew we wouldn't be moved. As soon as we got home, we wrote to Celebrity and explained the problem in detail. Within a month, we received a letter of apology plus a credit of $750 per person on our next cruise, which was close to a complete refund!

Step Four -- Have Patience Once you have fully documented and aired your complaint as described above, be prepared to wait for the resolution. Our readers tell us that sometimes they got immediate satisfaction. But sometimes they didn't. Most of the complaints that got compensation involved cabin problems -- maybe you paid for an oceanview and got an obstructed view, or maybe you were under the gym and had to listen to footfalls every waking hour.

If you get moved to a better cabin during the cruise, good for you, case solved. But we have read dozens of complaint letters where guests who demanded to be moved during the cruise also demanded some financial compensation during the cruise. This rarely happens, mainly because such decisions are not made by the onboard management, but rather by the onshore customer service or consumer affairs departments.

Many of our readers were not financially compensated during the cruise, but by following up with phone calls and letters after the cruise they received their compensation after the fact. While this is not ideal, let's look into why it works this way.

Example: seadog2 Wrote DW and I were on the Monarch and a water main burst outside our cabin just above the door. We were flooded out at 2 o'clock in the morning. It was well after 3 before we got back into our cabin. The next day we were relocated to another cabin. When we returned home we called RCI and were told that the incident had already been reported and we were given 40% off our next cruise. That's 20% each. The vouchers came about 30 days later.

Continue Article >> Registering a Complaint After the Cruise (Part 4)

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