What is a Legitimate Complaint?
Written by: Kuki
A few years back I was interviewing a Hotel Manager onboard a Royal Caribbean ship. He recalled the story of passenger complaint, when a passenger came to see him, after the ship had to skip a scheduled port call in Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s “private beach” located on the tip of a peninsula on the island of Haiti, but with no access to the remainder of the island.
As with many ports of call without docking facilities, cruise ships must transport passengers to shore at Labadee using tenders (smaller boats). In those cases the ships are at the mercy of the weather and ocean conditions, and on occasion, if it’s determined the tendering of passengers cannot be done safely, the ships will cancel that port stop, and change their itinerary.-
In the Hotel Manager’s story, due to conditions that precluded safely tendering passengers ashore, the ship cancelled its stop at Labadee.
One passenger came to complain about it. He demanded a full refund of his cruise fare, because, as he explained, the only reason he booked this cruise was that he had an important business meeting scheduled in “downtown Labadee”. There was, of course, no refund given because there is no “downtown Labadee” where the passenger could have an “important business meeting”, it is just a beach and the only facilities there belong to Royal caribbean. The complaint was obviously just an attempt to receive unwarranted compensation; though in that case a particularly ill thought out attempt.
So, with that rather extreme example, what can passengers assume is a legitimate complaint, and what makes a legitimate complaint, and how should complaints be handled?
Except for rare incidents, like the one I described above, and the few types of people who are just looking for anything they can to complain about or those who are simply looking for an easy bid for any perk or compensastion (yes, they exist), every incident that is less than satisfactory to the person it is happening to is a legitimate complaint.
Depending on the severity of the dissatisfaction of the passenger, it’s up to each individual to decide if it warrants following up with the appropriate authority onboard, or sloughing it off as anecdotal. Whether the complaint warrants any form of compensation is another matter.
Once you’ve determined you want to take some action to seek a remedy for your complaint, the first step is to contact the appropriate personnel onboard who can assist; that could be as simple as speaking to your cabin steward or dining room staff; or in more severe cases, the Housekeeping Manager, Dining Room Maître D, Bar Manager, or Hotel Manager. The Hotel Manager is the final authority onboard for anything on the ship related to the hospitality services, which includes pretty much every area of the ship, other than serious ship-wide mechanical breakdowns (which occur very rarely).
If your situation is one that is not easily resolved immediately with the staff you encounter daily, your first step should be heading to the Guest Relations Desk to explain your complaint, calmly and effectively. This is important because Guest Relations is required to log every complaint or incident brought to their attention.
If, for some reason, Guest Relations don’t contact the appropriate staff members to satisfy your complaint in a reasonable amount of time, you should return to Guest Relations and ask to speak to the Hotel Manager. That is as high as you can go. Once you’ve discussed the issue with them, there is nothing further you can do while you are on the ship.
It’s important to note that onboard personnel are going to do their utmost in every situation to find a solution to remedy every complaint, and satisfy the complaining passenger.
If in your mind, the issues of your complaint are unresolved during your cruise, and you feel further action is warranted, or you feel that your issues warrant some form of compensation, you’ll want to have followed the steps I described above.
When you, or your travel agent, make contact with the cruise line to discuss your situation, or seek compensation, be sure to refer the cruise line to the paper trail you had established onboard, which will tell your story for you, as well as tell the person investigating the complaint what action they took onboard to try and remedy your issue.
Be sure to register your complaint to the cruise line in a calm and concise manner, including suggesting a solution that would leave you satisfied. And give them time to investigate your issue thoroughly. Expecting to have everything resolved in a few weeks is only going to lead to disappointment.
The very best way to contact a cruise line about an onboard complaint is through your trained travel agent, who knows better who to contact, and which ladders to climb to help you be satisfied with the remedy.
– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –
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Posted: May 24th, 2011 under Kuki.