This letter is a formal complaint regarding the handling of problems that arose during the Dec 22 sailing of the Grand Princess. My wife and I were assigned to cabin E317 for this seven day trip over the Christmas holiday which proved to be one of the worst holidays I can remember. On Christmas day, a drain line broke in the hallway outside of our cabin releasing odors and chemicals that can not be described in this letter. Suffice to say that it was worse than the trash dumpster behind a bar. The resulting flood of waste water had filled the walls and soaked the carpeting to such a degree that it took several days to remove the water and dry the carpets. During this time, extremely strong odors and chemical smells filled the halls and entered the cabins and at no time did we see more than one or two people attempting to correct the problem. At the peek of the effort, there were several sections of walls cut away and equipment left throughout the hall with no workers present for hours at a time. Even the cabin stewards were avoiding our area.
Repeated requests to the hotel staff for assistance were greeted with the highest level of indifference and claims that the problems had been corrected when in fact little had been done. When I asked that a member of the senior staff come to our section and inspect the conditions, I was told that the accommodation manager would come to our cabin and a senior steward was sent in his place. A passenger calls and complains about waste and chemical leakage in a poorly ventilated, confined space and they felt that a cabin steward is the appropriate response? Or perhaps they already knew of the problem and did not wish to have to come into that air and speak with us.
When we asked, we were told that other cabins were not available which I find difficult to believe and not until the last day of the cruise was another cabin offered which upon inspection had been vacated by someone that was likely ill before leaving the ship at the last island stop. Not wishing to risk exposure to the unknown, my wife and I remained in our original cabin for the last night. At this point, we had been living in the stench for several days and there was only one day left in the cruise.
Please understand that for several days, in an effort to dry the carpets, the carpets were partially raised and a fan placed on the floor. This only aggravated the situation by pushing the waste into the air for the passengers to breathe. I do not want to think about the waste we where forced to breathe especially in light of all of the recent problems with shipboard illnesses. For several days, my wife and I were so sickened by the smells, we refrained from eating most meals and tried to avoid our cabin. However, we had to sleep and bathe leaving us no choice but to sleep in the stench and risk whatever we might be breathing. On multiple occasions, the purser desk informed us that the carpet was being removed only to find that nobody was even working in the hallway on the problem. We were forced to keep the cabin steward from cleaning the room during those days as he is required to leave the door open while working and that only allowed the fan to blow more contaminated air into the cabin.
To think we paid over $2000 for the privilege of spending our holiday trapped in a broken sewer with a desk staff that was very clearly disinterested. I can only say that we have no intention to cruise with your company again and that none of our acquaintances will have any illusions of how our trip was handled. Upon my return, I spent time reading travel logs written by people like myself on a number of web sites and have come to understand that while the entertainment staff on your ships seems to have a good reputation, your hotel management personnel are frequently the target of some of the worst reviews I have read and often termed as arrogant and only interested in collecting payments with no regard to passenger welfare. This is my second cruise with your line and while noticing this callus attitude on the previous cruise, I did not fully appreciate how little interest they have in the passengers until confronted with it directly on this trip.
After going through this experience, I have little expectation that your company will feel even the smallest regret about this incident as the shipboard management staff obviously did not. I am writing this letter in hopes that someone will prove me wrong. It is currently my intent to post this letter to as many of the travel log sites as possible. In light of current health issues on these cruise ships, I feel the behavior and attitudes of your shipboard staff should be made known to the traveling public.
I'd be surprised if you ever got an answer. Princess is also very lousy in that regard too. One can't get answers at their web site, the 1-800-Princess people don't know diddly and they don't answer letters. My last was sent on November 22nd. And I'm a platinum member with 2 more cruises scheduled.
I wish Celebrity would move some of their ships into these routes that Princess runs instead of keeping most of them in Europe.
Since this was a Christmas cruise I think they most likely didn't have another cabin available. Your experience with Princess reminds me of my own experience with Holland America and the lack of anyone able or even interested in fixing our problem (a non functioning toilet). Now Celebrity is only fixing it's meat medium or well done (ugh!), Princess and HAL's service is falling apart. We take the the Radisson Voyager cruise in August with cruisemates and I salivate to go to Antarctica, but I think after that I'm done and will stick with land based vacations. Christmas in London, New York or Vienna sounds a lot better than lousy service and bad food on a ship. Come to think of it, Christmas in New York in 2002 was pretty great. Hairspray and Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair de Lune, lots of old friends, great restaurants and with all of that, I still lost 10 pounds!