Some of you have asked for a detailed accout...well here it is.
My traveling companion & I booked a specific balcony cabin, A621, on the Ocean Princess Explorer Cruise for April 8, 2001 back in December of 2000.
We had also booked a specific balcony cabin, A638, for my mom & dad. This was to be a very special event, as my dad was recovering from a stroke and it was also his 70th birthday. We has chosen these cabins because I needed a cabin mid-ship with outside air access, due to the fact that I get very sea sick. And my dad needed a cabin near the elevator so he didn’t have to walk very far on his bad leg, and my mother who is claustrophobic also needed a balcony cabin. We also put my parents on the wait-list for a mini suite in case one opened up. He was #29 on the list and 2 days before sailing he was #2.
Our reservations & payments were complete & confirmed and we filled out our excursion request forms & other papers from Princess which were then submitted by our travel agent. I then checked on the Princess web site to make sure we were able to get all of our requested excursions (5 in all) and saw that they were all listed & confirmed on the web site. Also listed on the web site were our correct cabin numbers.
We received our tickets and other paperwork from Princess with the correct cabin numbers on ALL documents (A621 & A638) and were anxiously awaiting our once in a lifetime big trip.
Two days before sailing, Princess called my travel agent & said that the Ocean Princess had been overbooked & asked if we’d give up our balcony for an inside room and the cruise would be free. We all said ABSOLUTELY NOT. Princess called her back THREE times asking if we would take this offer and we said NO! We were assured that Princess couldn’t change our cabin without our permission so we were not worried about it.
We were not prepared for the unforgivable & shameful way we were treated when we arrived to board the ship on Sunday, April 8th in San Juan.
We boarded at noon on April 8th and were told we were now in cabin E303.
Which is 20 BROCHURE categories down and in the BOW.
Up until 2 days before sailing, all of our cabin reservations & excursions were in tact!!!! I had been checking with the Princess online booking site all along!!!!
We were given a variety of excuses, runarounds & lies for FIVE HOURS!
Here are the things we were told by the Purser’s Desk:
1. They said my travel agent had cancelled our balcony room on March 1st
2. They said she did not pay Princess in time
3. They said her check to Princess bounced
4. They lost ALL of our excursions & said she never faxed them
We went to extraordinary efforts to reach my TA on Sunday & she made a special trip into her office & faxed 5 pages of documents directly to the Ocean Princess proving that we had cabin A621 & A638. It showed amounts & payment dates & our cabin # from Princess.
We were then told:
1. That those documents had been altered before she faxed them to the ship
2. That they had a 3-way conversation & she admitted she’d cancelled our balcony rooms
No one would give us a straight answer or let us speak to LA or anyone in authority.
My parents boarded at 3:00 and we were at the Purser’s Desk to fill them in on the horrific things that were transpiring. They were devastated and were ready to get off the ship & not go at all.
This was supposed to be a vacation and it had turned into our worst nightmare.
They said they would see about putting us in our correct cabins after they sailed & they knew how full the ship was. This never happened.
We did not unpack for 1 1/2 days, waiting for some sort of answer, and finally decided they were still giving us the runaround.
And all of our five carefully chosen excursions had been deleted. We managed to get 3 of them back because there were cancellations, but the point is that up until 2 days before the ship sailed, all of our excursions & rooms were in tact.
We ran into 4 couples total who said this exact same thing had happened to them. They had balcony rooms & received windows. We also know there were 2 rather large groups traveling together on board the ship. Could we have been bumped because of them?????
No effort AT ALL was made throughout the remainder of the cruise to try & make us more comfortable or to compensate us in any way.
So now the TA & Princess are pointing fingers at each other & we are stuck in the middle.
We just want the truth at this point.
Wish us luck!
And check on your cruise reservations yourselves...it will be worth the trouble!
A story like that makes me VERY ANGRY! Someone needs to fess up some serious money/apologies for the error. How can a cruise line or airline OVERBOOK anything in this day and age??? Doesn't CONFIRMED mean CONFIRMED???
I remember Booking airfare with RCI to/from Miami and seeing a couple get bumped because they overbooked. The woman was in tears and told them they had to get back to their baby. (no one to watch it) The airline did nothing to get them on the plane. I was on the plane, and there were emty seats all over!!!!!
OVERBOOKED is just something that should NEVER happen. They would have had to haul me to jail before I would except the word OVERBOOKED!
Sorry to hear of your troubles. Don't give up on your quest, and keep us posted.
Pete L. <~~~fingers crossed
Feb 8, 2002
My heart goes out to this family. I am planning an Alaska trip in June that includes my parents going. There is a lot of emotion in contemplating a family trip such as this. There are the memories of being a child and going on summer trips as a family, a chance to relive those special times. There is a feeling of gratitude that my parents are still healthy and that I have the chance to create yet another memory that will last me a lifetime. It is the anticipation of seeing my parents enjoy something they have never tried. I do not know if the disappointment for this lost chance can ever be compensated, but it would be nice if Princess would acknowledge that they were somehow a part of an error that should not have happened.
I couldn't agree with you more. The Chief Purser, then the Captain, were definitely the people to see, somebody with authority. I have also communicated privately with Linda that she may need to seek legal counsel if these facts are correct. My suspicion is that the travel agent is more culpable in this case than we are aware.
After Linda wrote to me by e-mail with a more complete explanation of the facts, I replied offering to her my sincere apology for my remarks directed at her on her earlier post. I do so again here publicly. Linda, I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your previous message as a hoax.
I even convinced her to publish the facts on this message board so that everyone else could understand.
I really do hope that someone comes up with a satisfactory explanation for this debacle. Monday night on the Cruise Chat might be a beginning.
You said, "Princess called my travel agent & said that the Ocean Princess had been overbooked & asked if we’d give up our balcony for an inside room and the cruise would be free." Since you in fact <u>did</u> give up your balcony room for an inside room, albeit unwillingly, did you and your parents get your cruise for free? If you did, then you have been compensated and case closed.
If you did not receive a full refund, perhaps your travel agent did accept the offer on your behalf and pocketed the refund since Princess claims the faxed documents were altered. I have no reason to suspect your TA in this matter any more than Princess, other than Princess would appear to have much more to lose than your travel agent. This would not be the first time a travel agent has committed a fraud on a client.
The Attorney General's Office of your home state typically has a fraud division that may be able to assist you in this matter.
This whole thing is very puzzling. Please keep us posted on any developments.
No, we were not compensated either onboard or afterwards. In fact, we have heard nothing from Princess as to what is being done or offered us, if anything. We have sent letters as they requested and the TA & Princess are still pointing fingers at each other. We just want to get to the bottom of this mess.
The last we heard from a Princess Representative is that it is being investigated and will be 6-8 weeks before they get back to us. This is totally unacceptable.
Now I'm REALLY confused. If Princess downgraded you 20 categories and agreed to give you the cruise for free, where the heck is the money? There is a paper trail for the money. Follow the money.
You obviously paid your TA who in turn was suppose to have paid Princess. Now, either Princess was never paid by your TA, accepted the downgrade on your behalf for a free cruise and pocketed the money... or Princess was paid by your TA for your balcony room and the TA was reimbursed by Princess for the downgrade and kept the money... or Princess kept the money that the TA paid for a balcony room, downgraded you and didn't reimburse either of you. In my opinion, the last scenerio is extremely unlikely.
For the amount of money that you must be dealing with for four adults, I would strongly consider an attorney with some expertise in this area of the law.
I have had Princess call several times with "deals" for my clients because of overbooking. It really seems looks to me that your TA accepted the over and pocketed the money. If you paid by credit card (which I advise all my clients to do) then Princess would directly credit you card, if by check, then it would go back to the TA. This is where I would be searching, if a check was written, where is it? I agreewith MacTarheel, follow the money! Unfortuneately there are many unscrupulous people in the world and having dealt with Princess Cruise Lines for 8 years, I think your TA might be one of them.
I couldn't agree with you more about paying for your cruise by credit card. Not only do you get bonus points like air miles, but you get the added security of a large bank intervening on your behalf in case of a dispute.
I just received my credit card statement. The charge for my cruise came directly from Princess Cruise Lines not from the travel agency. This allows a direct resolution with between me and the cruise line in the event of a dispute. If I have a dispute about the charges, I do not have to pay the amount to the credit card company nor is the cruise line paid until the matter is resolved. Obviously, the bank and the cruise line have a much stronger incentive to resolve the matter quickly since neither have your money yet.
In Linda's case, if the facts are as she has laid them out, I also think that the travel agent appears to be the culpable party. But regardless who is at fault, the Princess personnel should have treated her and her family with respect and sympathy. By her account, that does not appear to have happen.
My credit card company informs me that you can dispute a charge up to SIXTY DAYS after the <u>billing date</u> (not the date of the charge) EVEN if the account has been paid in full. I do not know if this is industry wide standard or applies to the Discover Card, but if that time has not lapsed I would certainly register a dispute with them immediately by telephone followed up with a certified letter.
Has your travel agent provided you with any documentation of the transaction? Have you spoken to an attorney? Have you contacted the Attorney General's office in your state?
I don't think anyone has questioned that you paid for your cruise. The question now becomes, if you were downgraded and promised a free cruise, what happen to the money that you paid by credit card? Is Princess claiming that they have your money and you now have to pay the same amount for a 20 category downgrade, i.e., the cruise is no longer free and no adjustments? Or did Princess make a refund to your travel agent? Does Princess claim that they are going to issue you a credit back to your credit card? Exactly, what is Princess telling you? What will it take to satisfy you?
I'm glad to see that you have some legal help involved. It will be of interest to all of us how this is handled and resolved. Good luck and keep us posted.