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gunckel September 15th, 2002 06:48 PM

Cruise check in horror story
When I cruised to Alaska with Princess in May 2000 on the Sea Princess, the ship was delayed getting into port and they had the brilliant idea to check in the passengers at the airport hotel instead of the unheated pier. Well, my particular airplane was almost completely booked with passengers going on the same cruise. We get to the Vancouver airport (a beautiful airport by the way) and were informed what was going on. Well, the hotel was on the other end of the airport which was quite large and the signs Princess had directing you there were barey adequate. We get to the hotel area and have to wait in line at the bottom of the escalator for almost an hour. We then get to go upstairs in wait in another line for approximately another hour! This was bad enough in itself, but come to find out that they had only two Princess employees there to handle checking in what I believe was several hundred cruisers. Well, they finally get two more employees to check passengers in and guess what they did? They directed the people In the back of the line who had just arrived there to the new employees and they were checked in and on their way in less than a half hour. While we who had already waited for an hour & half got to wait in line another half hour! Talk about putting a damper on the start of your expensive vacation!
I tried writing to Princess several times to get some sort of reimbursement to no avail. The staff on board the cruise ship, Sea Princess, could not have been more delightful, but the ground staff were very poor, and I found this throughout the land portion of my tour. They weren't rude, but very inadequately trained for their jobs!
Any other stories out there?
Bottom line, I don't think Princess will be my first choice next time I cruise.

ErnieMCC September 15th, 2002 09:31 PM

Re: Cruise check in horror story
Well... things happen and clearly they were trying... although not up to what you'd expect. I wonder what you'd have said if you were allowed to proceed to the "unheated pier". At least they tried. I would suggest that your experience was anecdotal and not typical of Princess... a line which most agree was the most efficient of them all in handling problems on 9/11 over in Istanbul. Your positive shipboard experience was much more in line with typical Princess cruise product. I'd give them another try one day.

Frank September 16th, 2002 04:17 PM

Re: Re: Cruise check in horror story
ErnieMCC wrote:

> I would suggest that your experience was
> anecdotal and not typical of Princess...

Not sure. We noticed very poor use of ground crew at San Francisco's pier both during embarkation and debarkation. On the latter, the Crystal Harmony had arrived at the same time as the Regal Princess. Crystal had about 20 people helping those from both ships get their luggage and move to transportation. Princess' attitude seemed to be that the cruise was over as was any obligation to their passengers. We felt like they were just dumping us.

gunckel September 16th, 2002 07:47 PM

Re: Re: Cruise check in horror story
Thanks for your response Ernie If I try Princess again, it will probably be with me making my own air transportation arrangements. The staff on board the ship were by far the most friendly of any cruise I've been on. I just wish Princess would have had a better emergency plan in place for the situation encountered (ship delay) and at least tried to be more apologetic and considerate of their customers.

gunckel September 16th, 2002 07:50 PM

Re: Re: Re: Cruise check in horror story
Thanks Frank for your response.

ErnieMCC September 16th, 2002 11:17 PM

Re: Re: Re: Cruise check in horror story
I hope you do try them again. At any given time, Princess has some 20+ thousand guests at sea, most of whom use their land arrangements. Are they perfect? No... no line is 100%. But the boards are not full of complaints, either. You did have a bad experience, and that is regretful. Is it the norm? NO, I don't think so.

DavidPR September 17th, 2002 03:24 PM

Yes, but how was your cruise???
Sounds awful, granted. How was the rest of your trip??? I can't imagine never crusing on a line with such a good reputation just because of one bad embarkation experience, which certainly is not typical for Princess.

Do you not fly on airlines where you have had bad experiences?


Connie September 17th, 2002 06:31 PM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Cruise check in horror story
We are planning on sailing on Princess in February.
We had a horrible experience with the land transfers in San Juan earlier this year. We had to search out the Princess Reps at the airport and had to wait over an hour for a van. That was after waiting an hour for our bags - which was not Princess' fault.
The return trip at the airport was even worse. There was no organization at all!
The lines were totaling confusing.
It really was a bad way to begin and end a cruise.
Unfortunately, we are hooked on Princess and plan to grin and bear it.
We hope by this time, they have become more organized.
Keeping our fingers crossed.

norm September 17th, 2002 08:53 PM

Re: Cruise check in horror story

You did mention that you went in May, when there probably were a lot of new shore staff just learning the ropes. It's no excuse, but that aspect probably does explain a few of the rough edges. In spite of the best efforts of a training staff, there are always pieces that are not totally clear to the trainees on their first time out. Maybe the lesson here is to avoid the first few cruises of the season at each destination....

The irregular operations due to the ship's delayed arrival also probably did play a role (and probably also explain the make-shift signage and the failure to take everybody in order of arrival).

In any case, I don't see why you think that you are entitled to some sort of reimbursement. Princess apparently did deliver the promised product even though a couple details did not go quite as smoothly as we all might have preferred. My impression is that your expectation of a partial refund probably is way out of line.


carol September 17th, 2002 09:38 PM

Re: Re: Re: Cruise check in horror story
Perhaps Crystal has more employees because they are the Rolls Royce of cruise lines, and their prices reflect this!

Shar September 18th, 2002 08:14 PM

Re: Cruise check in horror story
I just got off Regal Princess on Monday and was very impressed with the debarkation at San Francisco. We had to wait for a friend to pick us up and ended up "people watching" because we got off of the ship one-hour before the estimated debarkation. The only complaint I'd have was that the gangplank was verrry steep. I had to hold onto the hand rails for dear life to keep from sliding down. I know this wasn't Princess's fault, to the best of my knowledge, they can't control the tide yet. There were Princess reps every step of the way, once off that ramp. They asked each person for their baggage color and pointed them in the correct direction. You couldn't walk more than 20 feet before someone was asking for your baggage color. After Frank's experience, it's too bad it too until the last cruise before they got organized. There were plenty of porters and also very good traffic control at the curb.


Frank September 18th, 2002 10:41 PM

Re: Re: Cruise check in horror story
Shar wrote:

> After Frank's experience, it's too bad it
> too until the last cruise before they got organized. There
> were plenty of porters and also very good traffic control at
> the curb.
I'm glad they finally got it right. What really screwed up our arrival was having two ships disembarking at the same time, Crystal Harmony and the Regal Princess. I'm glad to hear they had so many Princess employees this time.

It's also too bad they didn't do something about that gangplank. Hopefully the new cruise terminal, if it is ever built, will improve all of this.

gunckel September 20th, 2002 08:08 PM

Re: Re: Cruise check in horror story
Of course we are all entitled to our own opinion, but I felt my treatment was horrendous and the trip was very expensive. It was like pulling teeth to get anyone at Princess to even say they were sorry!

gunckel September 20th, 2002 08:20 PM

Re: Yes, but how was your cruise???
As I said, it was delightful. I didn't say I would never sail with Princess again, it would probably just not be my first choice...and I'd be hesitant to allow them to take care of my air and land transfers.

P.S. I fortunately have never had any problem with any airline, so I can't make the comparison.

Thanks for your comments David, its good to get other people's perspectives.

Carole Dunham September 23rd, 2002 03:01 PM

Re: Re: Cruise check in horror story
Hi Norm,

This whole unfortunate experience reminds me of all the poll workers in my state. Over 50% of them walked off when they realized they didn't know how to program our new touch screen voting machines.

(from the state that hasn't figured out how to vote yet)

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