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Old January 2nd, 2005, 09:01 PM
Richard Milazzo
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Default Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

I had a very bad experience with Royal Caribbean and missed my Cruise. I had booked a Western Caribbean cruise on the Rhapsody that departed Galveston on the Dec. 26th. I booked directly with Royal Caribbean and had them take care of the air. I could have booked the air cheaper myself but I always thought that when the cruise line took care of air it was their responsibility to get you to the ship. I also bought trip insurance from Royal Caribbean.

We arrived at Buffalo airport to find our flight on Delta was really a Comair flight to Atlanta and it had been canceled. They had notified Royal Caribbean the day before. Royal Caribbean did not bother to notify us of the cancellation. If they had, we could have tried to make alternate arrangements, even if we had to drive though the night to make the Atlanta connection. We tried to make alternate arrangements to fly out of Buffalo to get to any hub, but everything was booked up because of the Comair shut down.

We called Royal Caribbean and advised them of our situation. We asked if they could try to get us a flight out of a major airport that we could drive to and still get us to Galveston. Sandra from operations told me that it wasnít Royal Caribbeanís responsibility to check other airports. I was shocked with the apathetic, if not mean attitude she had. She had time to argue with me, at length, but later told her supervisor that she was too busy to check on other flights. I was also advised that we could not pick up the cruise at the first port of Key West.

When we got back home we tried to salvage our vacation by booking another cruse on the Royal Caribbean web site for the following day. We just had enough time to drive to Miami so we called customer service to advise them of our alternate plans. Customer service advised us that they could not authorize the transfer of our monies paid to the new ship and they would have the executive office call with a decision. When the executive office finally called it was five hours later, too late to drive to Miami.

I was then advised that there would be no refund of the cruise and they took no responsibility for all the errors they made with our flight. They said as a customer courtesy they would give us a credit for another cruise but it was only good for a year and couldnít be used on Celebrity their sister company. Our schedule does not permit us to go on another cruise this year. After arguing at length with Jason Maltais of the executive office he said if I donít take their offer by the following Monday Jan 3rd he would withdraw the offer. They also said the trip insurance did not apply because we never started the trip.

We have taken six cruises on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. I am shocked and appalled at the attitude of customer service and the hostile strong arm tactics of the executive office. If you were like me and thought if you booked air fare through Royal Caribbean and got their insurance, you were protected, think again. If you think customer service would be helpful if thing went wrong, youíre in for a surprise.

Rich Milazzo
hohl@adelphia.net
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Old January 2nd, 2005, 10:02 PM
Ron Ron is offline
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

I am sorry to hear about what sounds like total disregard and a lack of respect for your predicament by RCCL. I have been on several cruises and have been lucky to have never been in your situation. I would be steamed and ready to stick a cruise up someones windpipe. Hopefully you can get something better worked out with them.
Some " customer service " people don't even know what the words mean.
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Old January 2nd, 2005, 10:26 PM
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

Richard,
Sorry to hear about your situation. Hopefully you can speak to Jason's supervisor tomorrow during regular business hours.

This is another reason and example why we never buy our travel insurance with the cruise company we are sailing.

Good Luck!

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Old January 3rd, 2005, 01:28 AM
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

Rich...

When we saw the debacle of ComAir and US Air over the holiday we knew there would be many cruise passengers stuck missing their cruise. It was inevitable.

As you sadly learned, it's a myth that the cruise line will be responsible for your arrival if you book your air with them. If you read your documents there is no statement to that effect anywhere.

I'm not familiar with RCI's insurance policy, because we always purchase 3rd party insurance, but I would read the insurance policy. Cancelled flights should certainly be an insurable cause. I'd think that's your best bet to getting your money back.

Though it probably doesn't seem like it now, with all the anger and disappointment of missing your much anticipated vacation, the offer of a credit for another cruise to be used within a year is somewhat reasonable by them. Only because "contractually" they aren't even obligated to do that.

Perhaps you could book now for the same week next year, and try and plan vacation time to match up.

I know it's not always possible for people, but situations such as this are why I recommend people always get into the port city at least 1 day before their scheduled cruise, and always buy third party insurance.

Again.. sorry to hear your holiday cruise got turned into such a disappointment, and I would look further to see if your insurance in fact does cover this.

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Old January 3rd, 2005, 07:10 AM
Jamiegunter
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

That really sucks. Your insurance should cover it. We always use a travel agent at AAA, buy there insurance. I know I have read ours and it covers cancelled flights. THat person doesnt know what he is talking about. The insurance is suppose to cover things like deaths in your immediate family, etc etc.. Hope you get your money back. We are leaving the the EOS on the 30th of this month. I hate that your vacation was ruined.
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Old January 3rd, 2005, 10:14 AM
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

I'm so sorry to hear about your vacation. A friend of mine got caught by ComAir also but was close enough to manage an allnight drive to get there. Fortunately they had planned to get to the port a day early, so they used that time instead to drive to the port.

Kuki's comment are spot on! I strongly recommend everyone to read the "fine print" on the web sites for the cruiseline you are booking with AND the fine print in your cruise documents. I was amazed at how little liability the cruiselines assume (e.g. flights, ports, luggage, excursions, etc.).

As Kuki said "Cancelled flights should certainly be an insurable cause". It's hard to imagine that's not covered, UNLESS, you only insured the cruise and not the total vacation.

Also, "get into the port city at least 1 day before their scheduled cruise, and always buy third party insurance". This is excellent advice. Another nice thing about trip insurance is that it may cover you should you need to be medivac-ed off of a ship. Most health insurance will not cover this.

The key is to know what the liability of the carriers are and then fill in the holes you're uncomfortable with. Cruises are a great vacation, but I've been surprised at how little they are required to cover if something goes wrong. However, I have found out they are pretty generous...but they won't cover all of your losses.
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Old January 3rd, 2005, 03:11 PM
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

S o what good is the extra insurance through the cruiseline?. What is the best ins to get? Other than illness, cancelled flights seem the worst you can face--hence the need for ins..Doesn't The airline have some responsibility here/? The whole things sounds like a nightmare-- feel so sorry for you. We had a huge hassle getting home yesterday from Fla via Southwest..delays, bad equipment...very stressful--finally arrived home at 1:30 am but were due at about 10. And just as the first flight was cancelled all the restaurants at the airport closed..Hope you r TA can intervene if you have one & get something more for you.
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Old January 3rd, 2005, 04:05 PM
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

Wow! You sure opened my eyes. I always thought if we booked airfare with the cruiseline that they would do everything possible to get you to the ship. You usually can find cheaper airfare on your own but I thought sometimes it was to your advantage to book with them. Does anyone know the advantage of booking air with the cruiseline? Maybe I should always book my own from now on.

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Old January 3rd, 2005, 06:11 PM
big apple
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Default Re: Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

My advice is go the day before and look for good fare which in most cases will be better than cruise if you do your homework.Look at the hotels they use for pre and post cruises and you will see what Imean.
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Old January 6th, 2005, 08:29 AM
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

Wow-that is so awful. Oddly enough this was the first time we decided to drive to the port vs fly and it looks like it paid off! We were on the Mariner 12/26 and they were several people caught in a similar situation. We departed late because we were waiting on a group of 50 who had flight problems. Then, in our first port (Nassau) we ended up leaving an hour late because we were waiting on another group of people that were coming on board. Seems their flights were cancelled due to the airline situation and the weather and RCI flew them to Nassau to make the trip. My dad made the comment-thats why it pays to use RCI air rsvps, etc. I guess in your case, it didnt. Sadly, had you been in a large group, you probably wouldve gotten on board in Key West. Im surprised the insurance didnt pay off as well. I hope things can get resolved for you soon.

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Old January 6th, 2005, 09:10 AM
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

At the other end of the spectrum, we were on a late flight into Barcelona from JFK where a huge storm front had battered the East coast. The airline bypassed their stop in Lisbon to get us to Barcelona in time. Not sure how many of us were on that cruise but you can bet it was alot for the airline to do that for the cruise company.
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Old January 6th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

If you paid for the cruise with a credt card, let them dispute it for services not rendered. I think you are protected by your credit card company. If you did pay by credit card and paid for the cruise and the air to Royal Caribbean, you need to write your credit card company and state that you would like a credit issued on your card for services not rendered. Make sure you still have the tickets that they sent you as the credit card company will want all documents. It will then be Royal Caribbean's turn to show that they provided those services. I thin you will finfd that your credit card company will be most helpful.
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Old January 6th, 2005, 04:49 PM
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

Wow, I booked my air with DCL just for that reason even though it is about twice the price as booking it myself. Maybe I'll think about that again.

Anyone got recomendations on a third party company?

Richard, keep us posted.
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Old January 9th, 2005, 09:36 PM
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Default Re: Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

Thanks again for your posts and emails of support. I have been very busy with work and havenít been able to keep up with the board. There is still no word from Royal Caribbean, I have emailed and written Mr. Williams with a letter explaining what happened to me and how I was treated by Royal Caribbean. I am hoping that he resolves this matter amicably as I still hope to be a Royal Caribbean/ Celebrity customer. I am also contacting Royal Caribbean through some other means, thanks to the help of members of this board.

I am not blaming Royal Caribbean for the canceled flight. I do find them negligent for not notifying me when Comair called them with the cancellation the afternoon before (or at least giving Delta my phone number if they where not manning the phones). I also blame them for not helping me get a flight out of a nearby airport when time was critical and not getting back to me in time to transfer to another cruise.

As to not taking the credit, my job does not allow me much flexibility on vacations, I have to be responsible to my customers at critical times or I go out of business. This vacation was coordinated with my son who is away at his last year in college, that opportunity is probably lost now.

Some of you who suggested suing Royal Caribbean, and although I have spoken to my attorney that would be a last resort. I have had enough dealings with attorneys and the courts on civil matters, to know that this is not a step to take lightly. I am working with the insurance company and the credit card company, but I have nothing to report.

Delta/Comair has been totally different than Royal Caribbean to deal with. I called them up and explained the situation. They had already refunded the ticket price to Royal Caribbean, but still offered me a generous voucher, and on Friday I came home to a basket of flowers and a note of apology. Now thatís customer service.

Thanks again, especially those of you who provided helpful information. Iíll keep you posted.

Rich Milazzo
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Old January 19th, 2005, 04:56 PM
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Default Nightmare with Royal Caribbean, RESOLVED

I have come to a settlement with Royal Caribbean. They have refunded my air fare and port charges. The rest is as follows:

ē a 100% future cruise credit (he was entitled to 75% future cruise credit under his insurance policy)
ē that expires in 2 years (these typically expire in one year)
ē and is good for either Royal Caribbean or Celebrity (these are typically single-branded and only usable on the other brand if the original brand does not offer a specific itinerary)

I also received a call from the supervisor of guest flight operations apologizing for the way I was treated and advising me the employee that I dealt with had been reprimanded.

This is not the refund I had requested, but I feel it is a fair resolution. Although I attacked this problem from many sides I think that Christopher Elliott the Ombudsman from National Geographic Traveler had the most impact.

What have I learned: Arrive the day before if at all possible, use a travel agent, check your flight eight hours before not just 24 hours before and buy travel insurance and air fare from a third party (at least they will have your phone number).

Thank you to everyone who helped. I am looking for a new Cruise on Celebrity and would like to hear what you felt your best cruise has been. We have gone to Eastern and Southern Caribbean, Alaska and Bermuda.

Thanks again,
Rich Milazzo
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Old January 21st, 2005, 12:06 AM
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Default Re: Nightmare with Royal Caribbean

Rich...

Thanks for reporting back. Glad Chris Elliott was able to help you get compensated in an acceptable manner.

You learned, some tough and aggravating lessons. It had to be the pits to live through.

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