So you've read the "Royal Caribbean At Its Best" story posted earlier. I was on the same cruise, just got back home, thought I'd give you the REAL deal on what happened at CocoCay tat caused Royal Caribbean to refund our cruise fares and give us a free cruise in the future.
I took a tender to CocoCay at 11 am. Seas were running about four to six feet at that time, brisk winds. By the time I got to the island I noticed that the wind had increased, and waves were now crashing up over the rocks at the shore. One of the islanders standing at the point called out to me and pointed out to sea, yelling "waterspout." As soon as I saw the waterspout I looked at the angry black sky to the west of the island and decided to go back to the ship immediately. As I passed the vendors' booths, they were frantically packing up their wares, as the winds were increasing by the minute. I got on a tender, which left the island around noon. Seas were now about six feet. We reached the ship, made a u-turn, and went right back to the island, with no explanation. We waited at the dock for thirty minutes, then were told to get off the tender to "stretch our legs."
I waited at the tender dock for about an hour, then boarded the same tender once again. At 2pm we left the island. As soon as we got out of the narrow harbor, the waves were huge (8-10 feet) and the wind was howling. I was standing on the top deck at the stern in front of the wheelhouse, and got several great photos of the tender enveloped in spray as we headed down the crest of one wave and the flat bow slammed into the next oncoming wave.
I was the last person off the tender, and I saw no other tenders leave the island. It was inconceivable to me and others that evacuation of the island was not ordered hours earlier. (In fact, evacuation was NEVER ordered, to my knowledge) Anyone who looked at the ominous black skies to the west, which stretched all the way to the horizon, could see that the situation was only getting worse by the minute.
Did none of the ship's crew even LOOK at the approaching weather? How could they trust a weather report that said "winds will diminish" when the foul weather was coming right at them? Somebody really blew that call, and I guess the ultimate responsiblity lies with the captain.
The 1400 people who got stuck overnight on the island had much to say about it the next morning. They looked like drowned rats. Most of them got no sleep, and said that RC's relief efforts and organization skills left much to be desired. They told us of greedy people who grabbed armloads of free RC jackets, simply because no one was distributing them in an orderly manner. Some I spoke with said they huddled together in the largest hut amid the swim fins and snorkels. Some of the castaways even got drunk and rowdy (which is understandable considering the circumstances)
No injuries? I rode the elevator with an elderly gentleman on his way to the infirmary for treatment of a nasty gash on his leg. Everyone asked the same question - why was evacuation of the island not ordered LONG before the weather got too rough? Is sticking to the posted schedule THAT important? I didn't have the advantage of updated doppler and satellite weather reports, but I have enough sense to know that when I'm looking right at dark skies, waterspouts, and high winds - it's probably not a good time to invite 2000 of my closest friends to an island picnic.
I continue to marvel at the beautiful work of the "spin doctors" of our world. What would we do without them?
Seriously, though - I was thrilled to learn that our cruise was free, and that we get a free cruise in the future
(anytime before 12/15/03)
But I was there, and I know WHY we ALL got that freebie. It's because they didn't know who was stuck on the island and who wasn't. When we got OFF the tender, no one checked our security cards or ID's when we got back on the ship!
Anyway - thanks for letting me share the real deal.
What a sad commentary. This gent, no doubt, has better weather forecasting abilities than most pro's. (The weather forecast, of course, doesn't come from the Captain... but this chap could see what neither the forecasters nor the Captain could not.)
And, of course, Royal Caribbean delighted in stranding 1400 people on the Island... and refunding the entire cruise... and giving everyone another. I can assure the readers of this post that the previous poster's remarkably negative and unhappy attitude was far from the norm on the ship... far from it. Also, for the record, no one I know in the Industry can recall a similar event... skipped Island, sure... rushed return sure.. but not this. Again, I find the post totally misleading and sad.
I tend to agree with ErnieMCC. RCL has been top notch from what I've seen of their handling of customer's concerns. I find it VERY hard to believe that RCL would have risked passenger safety on a deserted island had they known there was a safety concern. It is not in their or their passenger's best interest..so why would they do it. I can appreciate someone being upset over the situation that occurred, but from reading the two posts, it sounds like RCL bent over backwards to compensate and assist the passengers. This has been my experience with RCL's customer service also.
There are always going to be people who see the same situation differently. Whether someone "blew the call", or not, is somewhat irrelevant.
If, as often happens, the Captain would have decided to skip the stop entirely, there would have been people moaning and groaning about that too, saying the seas were fine.
The fact remains that a problem arose, which is likely a first (I've certainly not heard of it happening before), and it sounds as though RCI did a reasonable job of handling it under the circumstances. (it could have been alot of worse. Thankfully it wasn't).
I believe Dreamweaver. We were on a Princess cruise that stopped at their private island. When we went back on the tenders the seas were terribly high & people were falling all over in the tender. One lady passed out & they had to bring a doctor aboard before we could all get off. Yes, it's very possible Royal Car. blew it!!
And despite those fantastic weathercasting abilities, he boarded the tender and went to Coco Cay. Only when he realized that the weather was turning, did he attempt to return. Hindsight is wonderful. As far as people hoarding blankets etc. it seems to me that the fault lies more with those selfish and self-centered individuals than with those attempting to distribute the materials under what were probably less than ideal conditions.
Would RCI have been so generous if they felt that they had not made mistakes? Luckily, no one died or the compensation, that some of you praise RCI for giving, may not have seemed so generous. As with most of the people posting on this thread, I was not there. Dreamweaver was there......so instead of praising a profit driven organization with a very large public relations department and questioning the accuracy of the post... I would say to the cruisers who WERE there....I am glad you came through it. That which does not kill you...makes you stronger .
What a shame! Coco Cay is such a wonderful place and they had tenders that were actaually boats. By contrast, even in regular weather we had tender troubles at Catalina Island on a Celebrity cruise.. The tenders were the life boats, staffed by folks with limited Eng. language skills to convery how we would be loaded (shoved) in. In fairly high seas but "normal weather" the tenders bobbled all over. One person got a huge egg-sized bruise when his head bumped into a part of the tender. I have sworn off the life boat tenders after our bobbly experience at Catalina (the island was not worth it at all!).....Hope this was an isolated experience at Coco Cay.
Do you remember the cruise ship that sank off the Canary Islands? I remember reading about this disaster and the first people off the ship and in the life boats were the employees and the captain! They were calling the capt. "the new chicken of the sea."
Truthsayer - I wish I could post my photos, taken at intervals during that day; before I went to CocoCay on the tender, while returning to the ship on the tender at 2pm, and from the Windjammer lounge at 4pm. Alas, I only have Web-tv, so I am strictly low-tech here.
My only point in all this is that there just might be a darn good LEGAL reason why we receieved a full refund as well as a free cruise following ths incident. Could it be that RCI was ENTIRELY RESPONSIBLE for 1400 people being stranded overnight on that island.
Why did they not order the evacuation?
Could it be that they are no different from trains, subways, airlines, buses, etc.?
Their bread-and-butter is ADHERING TO AN ESTABLISHED SCHEDULE! Have you ever in your life heard of a cruise ship NOT leaving port, for example, because someone called them just before departure to say that they were stuck in traffic. (Oh sure, we'll wait on you!)
People EXPECT strict adherance to the daily intinerary. Its how the cruise lines MAKE MONEY. (Remind me to tell you about the cruise I was on in 1998 where we left port (Port Canaveral) with a full ship in July in 100 degree heat with NO AIR CONDITIONING. Yup, the cruise line knew full well it wasn't working, but would they hold up the cruise to fix it? People passed out from the heat, some flew home as soon as we reached the Bahamas. But that's another story)
If even ONE PERSON stuck on that island had been seriosly injured or (heaven forbid) killed when a coconut palm fell on them in 40 mph winds during the night, do you think ANY attorney would have ANY trouble establishing the PROXIMATE CAUSE of the injury? Do you think their family would settle for a free cruise as compensation? (Why were they on the island overnight in the first place?)
Why is this so hard for most of you to understand? At least Bill and Delores (above posts) can see the forest for the trees.
No one loves cruising as much as I, but I can't render RC totally blameless in this case just so I can receive rave reviews of my fairy-tale version of events on this site. If you like happy warm fuzzy stuff, read Ernie's account, then read no more about it and you won't be upset by "negative" accounts.
The refund and free cruise were simply RC's way of "settling out of court".
I'm simply suggesting that they KNEW they were responsible, and that is WHY the unprecedented refunds were offered. THEY offered. WE accepted. SETTLEMENT was established. PERIOD.
How much MORE would they have lost in good will, public relations, and REAL DOLLARS in the future if they had not offered the settlement they did?
I apologize to those of you who think I'm ungrateful, or for having enough sense to take responsibility for my own safety and return to the ship when I saw the weather turning bad. I guess you'll be glad that don't have anything else to say on this subject.
I was not only on that cruise; I was also on the island for the night. I find it hard to believe that you, someone who got off of the island and was obviously not there feels you are the one to give people the "REAL deal" on what happened. My husband and I were standing on the beach and watching as the water spout formed. We made our way back towards the main part of the island and were told by SeaTrek ( ship official) that the evacuation of the island had been ordered. This was at 11:30 am. We went to the tenders and were to be the third tender to leave. We never got to to try as your tender was returned to the island (for your own safety) as the seas were to high to contineu the attempt. The second time we boarded the tenders we again to be the third tender out. We watched as the first tender partially unloaded and was turned away the two tenders terurned and scared passengers from both unloaded. People on the tender that was partially unloaded said the deck of the tender was rising higher than the ceiling of the doorway onto the ship. The tender was turned away for the passengers safety. We were sure that no other attempts were to be made by 5pm. We staked out our beach chair, and settled in for the night. At 6pm, we learned that left oveovers from the afternoon barbaque was being served. We had hot dogs, french fries, and cookies. We were served by the wait staff stranded with us. There were a few deliveries made early in the evening of sweatshirts and blankets. It was anounced that these items were for the elderly and children. This I felt was a logical and conscientious move on the cruiseline's part. There were a few greedy people as you mentioned who felt they were more needy than the eldery and the little kids. So shame on them, they were the exception not the rule. My husband and I slept in garbage bags and beach towels until the tender from the Norwegian Cruise line (who was aware of the incident after Royal Caribbean notified the Coast Gard of the situation - again our safety as well I'm sure regulation) was able to bring in blankets and additional food and water. Their tenders were heavier and able to get through the high seas. They also brought additional crew from the ship to help with despencing of the blankets and food. They not only brought these items to each person on the island the covered eachof us so as not to disturb anyone who was asleep. The crew was truly Heroic as stated by ERNIEMCC. The next morning the seas were down and it was safe to tender us back to the ship. I feel my Guiligan's Island adventure is something cool to talk about with friends and family. I am also quick to commend the crew and tell everyone I can how responsible the cruise line acted. As for the attitude of the cruise line not wanting to cancel the island trip, all you have to do is read previous reviewsand you would see how many times this island is cancelled due to weather/high seas. We would not have been allowed to go if they did not feel thje weather reports were right and skies were going to clear up. Royal Caribbean has been tendering passengers to this island for 20 years without incident. I say hats off to Royal Caribbean, no accidents , no injuries. I'm looking forward to my next cruise with this line.
It is so easy to comment on what someone did wrong, but lets really look at what happened. If you have any experience with weather and what can and does happen out at sea its a real miracle this does not happen more. I've seen storms build over water ones that gave no clue. I've personally had the S**T scared out of me. I've watched several storms grow on the water one will head north one will head south. I've seen them turn away and Iíve seen them turn straight for you. There is no telling what's going to happen till it does. Just watch the evening news and see how accurate they are at predicting the weather, and that's over land. Believe me its much harder to predict weather over water. What should the captain have done this storm blew up from no where he had over 1400 people on the island and NO TIME to get them off SAFELY.(just imagine how long it would take to evac 1400 people and what would happen if panic set in.) The island may have been a bit uncomfortable but it was safe. Probably safer then being on the ship and 100s of time safer then being on a tender and I would only have to guess how much safer then trying to transfer from the tenders to the ship. You know the captain could just cancel the CocoCay stop every time there is a slight chance foul weather, Do you know how few times the ships would stop at coccocay? I believe that instead of criticizing the captain you should thank him for saving you life, because I really believe that if they would have tried to evac the island people would have died and that is the bottom line. I'm going on the Grandeur in January and It does my heart good to know that the same wonderful people who keep you all safe with be in charge of the safety of me and my family.
Well said, Tam... and quite to the point and accurate indeed. I suspect the "naysayers" would be complaining with equal fervor had the Island been skipped to begin with or had RCI tried to evacuate despite the weather. I find it hard to understand how some who claim to love cruising never miss an opportunity to knock the very lines that operate the ships they claim to love. The cruise lines and the guests are not adversaries, as some seem to hold... their interests, in most areas, are very much the same.
Ernie, Tam, Ziggy; You're absolutely right, and I am wrong. Royal Caribbean was not responsible in any way for stranding you on that island, (it was obviously an Act Of God and they were caught completely unaware), they are all heroes, and you were given a full refund and a free cruise simply because they are a magnanimous company that loves you and wants you to be happy.
Sarcasm is about as becoming as monday morning quarterbacking. I think that most people would agree that faced with a difficult situation, the captain and crew of the ship, and ultimately the cruiseline reacted as well as or better than might have been expected. Were the line as venal as some seem to think, their initial efforts to recompense the guests would have been far less generous and not as inclusive.
I don't want to downplay what the people stuck on that island went through but ....
You know what they say: The glass is either half empty or half full.
Until I see some evidence I'm not going to assume that Royal Caribbean did anything wrong. I choose to believe that they did everything that they possibly could, which is why there were no injuries, just cold, tired and probably smelly passengers. I was on that same ship in February and we were turned away from the island because of what they said were high seas, even though it looked rather calm to me. I didn't complain, just trusted that they knew what they were talking about. However, had the same thing happened to me and I was stranded, I would have considered what happened an adventure, something to tell my friends about when I got home. Yes, I would have been concerned being stuck on that island all night, but once I was back safe and sound ... what a story to talk about.
Second, it always bothers me when one, two or even 100 people speak for 1,400. No way did he talk to ALL those people, so no way can he say "The 1400 people who got stuck overnight on the island had much to say about it the next morning." He doesn''t qualify as a spokesman for anyone but himself or those he actually spoke to. Obviously, based on the perception of others on this subject right here, not everyone was bothered by what happened.
Third, keep in mind that as Royal Caribbean was bringing supplies to the ship that their people were putting their well-being at risk. Give them credit for coming back to provide some form of caring.
Last, here is absolutely no way I would have a single complaint on this issue if I got my current cruise for free and another free one to go with it. You end up with a unique adventure and two free cruises.
That being said, dreamweaver has a right to his opinion ... just as I have a right to disagree.
I can give you an example of RCI holding the ship for two hour when our plane and a couple of others were late coming into Miami due to bad weather. Seems to me that had they held to their "STRICT SCHEDULE" there would have been well over 200 passengers stranded in Miami.
The Explorer of the Seas held up nearly 4 hours in Cozumel last July to accomdate 4 passengers that missed the last shuttle back from Playa Del Rey.
No one that I talked to minded that we waited and all were happy to hear that the 4 made it back to the ship safely. I think people could easily imagine it happening to them and would appreciate the courtesy.
It also should be mentioned that that was the last stop before two sea days and arrival back at Miami. They may not have held the ship in Jamaica or Grand Cayman.
Nevertheless. I appreciate the way that RCL goes out of their way when neccessary to make sure their passengers get the best vacation experience possible.
Well, I am at least happy to see that RCI gave those effected by this SOMETHING!! in Sept. 1999, we were booked on the Splendour out of Boston for a New England and Canada cruise. But Hurricane Floyd was hitting Boston on embarkation day, predicted by all TV weather forecasts to go right up the coast into Canada. Six big cruise ships were in Boston harbor bound for the same approximate itinerary. Four had sense enough to cancel, refund, and send guests home. But the Spendour and the Carnival Triumph set out anyway. The next day, the Triumph almost overturned in the wind and rough seas. It returned to port, sent guests home, and refunded. But the Splendour sailed on through PREDICTED foul weather and missed 1/3 of the ports, and had a miserable cruise. Well, at least we got to see what cruising through a hurricane was like, and that is all we got. My letters to RCI asking for at least a refund of the port charges for the missed ports have gone unanswered to this day! I hope that all will understand that this was the last time we have set foot on an RCI ship.
Foul weather can happen without much warning. We have had cruises re-routed because of this before and since, with no complaint. But in our case, the Splendour sailed right into the predicted path of a major hurricane, with the predictable results, and no compensation for anyone. I'm happy to hear that RCI is at least compensating guests who are harmed by such things ---- at least now. But in our case, they lost some customers -- at least until they respond to our four year old letters!
Try writing them again. It is always possible that your original letter went astray. It seems unusual that if things were as bad as you portray, they didn't have more complaints and didn't offer some sort of compensation, even if only a discount on a future cruise. If they in fact didn't receive many other complaints, I think that they would have written you to that effect. Did your travel agent pursue this matter for you?
I've sailed RCL 6 times and just got off the Rhapsody in Oct. and I believe you. I can't understand how everyone can be so positive about RCL and make excuses. If I was left on that island in 40 mile an hour winds and rain and horrible weather with the cruise ship pulling out with no warning and not really knowing if it was coming back - I WOULD HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY UPSET! You guys might also think about the families that were split up. Many families have half the members go on shore and the other half decide to spend the day on the ship. That is not the case with me and hubby but can you imagine what you would be thinking if you are a husband pulling out into open water leaving your wife and maybe even your kids behind???? Tell me you would be praising RCL! HA! Can you imagine how scared the kids were? This was not good at all for RCL. In the time that that tender was set up for an hour while they strectched their legs RCL could have had a bunch of tenders line up and evacuate the island. What if my kids had gone on shore with another couple and I left on the ship and my kids were on the island????? Can you even come close to the imagining the panic???? Debbie
I am surprised that this thread keeps bobbing to the surface.
Happy Camper... the ship never left, leaving people to wonder whether it would return... I have no idea where you got that from. The ship was moored/anchored at Coco Cay from the morning of its arrival until its departure the next day.
You may be interested to note that the ship had a passenger complement of about 2,500 people... with some 1400 or so stranded for the night on the Island. I haven't counted, but you may have seen 3 or 4 posts complaining bitterly... that's it. I suspect that the more vociferous of those who were aboard the sailing and are complaining loudly may have ulterior motives... but that's just a guess!
We had a large group on the ship, including several families stranded on the Cay itself. All of our people were delighted with the full refund and the free cruise tendered too boot.
I don't want to start all over with this again, but... suffice to say that the Private Weather service forecasters engaged by RCI, the U.S Coast Guard and the U.S. Weather Service all (three of them) were unanimous in predicting that the conditions at Coco Cay would improve during the late morning and early afternoon... so the decision to disembark passengers at Coco Cay was correctly made with the information at hand at the time it was made. Again, with the exception of a few loud voices hereabouts, most people who were on board this sailing seem to be thrilled with RCI's response, with RCI's handling of the situation at Coco Cay... and with the lack of any serious injuries to the passengers and crew.