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Old January 15th, 2001, 09:53 PM
ErnieMCC ErnieMCC is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2000
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Default Re: Mercury 12/22 South America Cruise Review

Tim... We had quite a large group on that sailing, with many Captain's Club members and others fond of the Celebrity cruise product and I met in Houston last week at our consortium with a number of other agents with people on the ship. I agree with your comments concerning the weather. It is interesting that another ship... I think the Splendour... elected not to sail from Buenos Aires on the same evening, thereby avoiding the storm. In any case, be assured of the following...

1. Embarkation in Rio was an unmitigated disaster... just a total mess... the ship's first visit there... but... still... totally disorganized...

2. There was little or nothing on this exotic itinerary along the lines of what one finds in Alaska... no Port lectures... no descriptions of the history of the flora & fauna or natural wonders or historic sites about to be seen... nothing...

3. For an itinerary that had many sea days... planned and unplanned, shipboard activities were minimal. I understand that one show in the main theater lasted under 30 minutes. My people... and reports I have heard from other agents... all say that the Cruise Director was totally inept... from start to finish. Without exception he has been described as the worst any of them had ever encountered.

4. Generally, they felt that the food, service, etc. were typically good and quite in line with Celebrity's norms.

5. There is no question that something went very wrong with the planning for this voyage and on board as well. Most guests flew long distances to join the cruise and the same on the return. The attraction was the itinerary and Celebrity sadly botched it.... the Chilean Fjords fiasco being typical... and not a function of the weather. One would think that some care would be taken to be sure that at least some of the scenic cruising promised would be provided.

6. If anything could be worse than the embarkation in Rio, it seems that Celebrity accomplished it in Valparaiso. Yet another long drawn out mess... 15 people at a time disembarking... great difficulties in finding luggage... and on and on. Many of our passengers did not reach Santiago until well into the afternoon.

Tim... no one is more sensitive to issues of safety than I am. What I'm hearing here is that most on board could understand the sudden weather encountered (if not the decision to sail into it... this was not, after all, the QE2)... it was everything else that built up and resulted in a cruise product far below the standards of Celebrity or, for that matter, the Industry as a whole.

Ernie
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