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View Full Version : Would bad weather and canceled ports ruin your Asia cruise?


melissa@cruisecritic
December 4th, 2007, 05:51 PM
Cruise Critic Editor Carolyn Spencer Brown was onboard Sapphire Princess last week when due to two typhoons, the ship's captain was forced to cancel first the calls at both Vietnam ports and then at Taipei and Okinawa. After passengers began to revolt, Princess offered compensation in the manner of $250 per person onboard credit and a 50 percent discount on a future cruise.

In this week's From the Bridge (http://www.cruisecritic.com/features/articles.cfm?ID=591), Spencer Brown examines both sides of the coin. We want to know: If this were your cruise, what would you have expected from Princess? Please vote -- and be sure to post your opinion below.

ruthandjohn
December 4th, 2007, 07:21 PM
Although I would have been disappointed, and do agree Princess should have acted pre-emptively more quickly, it IS in the contract and things do happen beyond anyone's control, especially weather which should have been considered before booking. It WAS the Pacific typhoon season.

I fear the diehards were influenced by a Cunard "mutiny" a year ago when a damaged pod forced the 1st section of a world cruise (I think) to miss 2 ports to catch up to Rio on schedule. The captain/line first offered OBC and future cruise credit but the voyage had the misfortune to have several lawyers on board who held the line hostage and eventually won free cruises which I thought was the typical American false right of entitlement kicking in and, as you say, greed.

We have been weathered out of ports and although disappointed, we still get the best vacation per diem out there by being on a cruise ship. We look forward to them but that's not the only reason we cruise. After all, most cruise port days are overviews and for in depth culture immersion you need to get off the surface viewed via cruise ship and stay longer than 7AM to 5PM.

just my opinion
Ruth

PatsyAnne
December 4th, 2007, 07:31 PM
I do get tired of whining, even when I'm the whiner. I think most circumstances can be improved by clear and honest communication - something often missing during transportation problems (airlines, anyone?). We missed a port in Denmark on our cruise in 2004, and the captain's explanation (if we could get in, we couldn't get out) made sense to me. We had the same captain on a cruise this year, and he remembered the missed port, and said that some passengers had asked him why he hadn't "gone for it.":eek:

It would help if the crew had some onboard activities planned for situations like these, although I'm pretty happy with a good book and a sea to watch. Oh, and food.

Trish

windy12
December 4th, 2007, 07:32 PM
I agree that Princess should have acted sooner. In addition, I believe it is incumbent on every cruise line to have indoor activities available on short notice in the event of bad weather. Bad weather is something that every cruise line must experience from time to time and therefore, plans for indoor activities should always be established by each cruise line. I myself have experienced this problem on Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Sea where 2 ports were cancelled out of 4 and the crew and cruise line failed to come up with any alternative activities. In my situation, the cruise line offered no OBC or future cruise discount/credit to the passengers at all.

flamomo
December 4th, 2007, 08:32 PM
We were on a 14 day Southern Caribbean cruise on the Sea Princess in February of this year.We were scheduled to go to 9 ports, plus Princess Cays.
We ended up not being able to dock at Princess Cays, Dominica, Coracao, and Aruba (which was added when we couldn't dock in Curacao, and when we arrived there we could not dock there either). We were told that all the missed ports were due to sea conditions that the captain felt made it too risky to dock. The PAX did not observe evidence of rough sea conditions and the weather was great on all those days.
A large contingent of PAX met and decided that there should be compensation in the form of free cruises. Of course that did not come to pass, despite threats of suits against Princess. We did get shipboard credit, but nothing was offered in terms of a percentage off on a future cruise. And the onboard credit was nowhere near what was given to the Sapphire PAX.

bossieone
December 4th, 2007, 08:37 PM
Princess is certainly not responsible for weather problems but they do a poor job in providing details to passengers as to why a port is missed. I recently took a 19 day Panama Canal/Mexico cruise and we did not pull into Nicaragua and it took calling passenger services to find out why we did not and then they gave us a 50.00 credit for the missed port but we paid that much in port taxes so we did not really get a credit whatsoever. My experience with them is that the staff is generally great but their corporate office is a nightmare and they do treat passengers problems as if we are just a commodity. Corporate really needs to step up and stop treating passengers so poorly, I have taken 9 cruises with Princess and enjoy them but if there is an issue that needs corporate to resolve it suffice it to say that you might as well not ask because you will not get it. My husband and I have learned to enjoy the cruises and not complain because when you get in that frame of mind it ruins your trip and corporate will not help you out, I am not talking about needing extra towels or a problem in the cabin but rather compensating for missed ports, refunding port fees and the like. The crew is generally great to deal with.

mikemo
December 4th, 2007, 08:56 PM
Yet another reason to avoid this company.
M

mare s.
December 4th, 2007, 08:57 PM
we're on this same itinerary next year and I'd be very very unhappy if we missed so many ports. However, I can certainly understand the need to avoid a typhoon! 50% off a future cruise and the onboard credit sounds pretty good and is obviously more than Princess is legally obligated to do, but based on the news article about passengers "mutinying" I suspect that a little more sympathy and show of concern might have helped. The staff and crew are frustrated too and their inability to do something sometimes comes across as a "too bad" attitude.

Donyb
December 4th, 2007, 09:00 PM
We were on the 11/2 sailing of the Sapphire and had Nagasaki cancelled due to a medical emergency our first night out of Beijing. I was very disappointed but I tried to put myself in the shoes of the people who had to leave the ship for medical reasons. How disappointed they must have been!

That being said, I know how much money and time we spent planning our trip. If the weather had caused us to miss so many ports, I would have been wishing we had planned another time to travel and my frustratation might come out in a differnt way. However, since I was not on the cruise, I don't know if the passengers were kept informed as they should be and whether something was provided in place of what they missed. If Princess offered some type of compensation, I hope I would be gracious enough to accept it and realize that the natural elements weren't in their control.

I really don't know if I would have considered my Asian cruise ruined. I would hope there were enough other good things to make it worthwhile.

I see now that we were quite lucky with our weather. Perhaps Princess should plan these cruises at a differnt time of year.

Pixiescleo
December 4th, 2007, 10:35 PM
I can understand the passengers' disappointment when so many ports were cancelled. When we plan a trip, we try to include as many places to see and things to do as possible. But sometimes an alternate name for "weather" is "capricious". And if it's nastily capricious we sometimes feel cheated. That leads to frustration and anger which causes us to strike out at "discerned PTB", in this case Princess.

But that hurts us much more than it hurts those we're angry at. I'd be very reluctant to darken the memories I could still build on my dream cruise by concentrating on what I missed instead of what I experienced. IMHO, it's a case of a cup being half empty or half full.

Smiles

Marg

cgresq
December 5th, 2007, 01:27 AM
having experienced the same on Carnival's Conquests Cruise from Hell a few years ago with the same passenger mutiny, as sorry and sympathetic as I can be, I'm not , the whiners had a miserable time and my whole group kept things in perspective and had a great time, if you can't find something enjoyable on board you have problems worse than missing some ports and bad weather. Carnival it seems has always come thru with some form of compensation, they did with us. so fair winds and following seas. John

calval
December 5th, 2007, 01:29 AM
We were on a Celebrity Galaxy Alaska Cruise a number of years ago. It was awful and we had perfect weather. The employees were mad at Corporate RCI and took it out on the passengers. We even got things like paper plates and napkins in the main dining room at breakfast. We got nothing from Celebrity. Not even a we are sorry. Even a form letter would have been better than nothing. I totally will avoid Celebrity forever....

But we were on RCCL Western Carib cruise that had bad weather. RCCL was great to keep us informed. We skipped the ports that were the reason I booked the cruise and did some like Key West instead. We wound up having a blast in Key West even though I used to live at Miami and Key West was old stuff to me.

It is all in how the company respects the passengers and whether they treat you like a guest or a bother. Unfortunately, Celebrity was just being bothered by our group of 400. RCCL wanted us to have a nice trip even if it was totally changed.

It boils down to the same thing: communication. There would be less unhappiness (divorce, fights, wars, etc.) if we just communicate better.

We learned that you can enjoy yourselves and the companies can help you have a good time, and "no one" is at fault and no one has to lose money over it.

Great website. Thanks for keeping us informed!

Pilotearl
December 5th, 2007, 06:35 AM
Unfortunately, another "ostrich approach" (if we bury our heads in the sand, we won't see and have to acknowledge the problem) by a cruise line operator While I don't agree fully with the rowdy passengers, I still hold the management of Princess at fault for initially doing "nothing." Bad news does not get better with time.

Steamboatin
December 5th, 2007, 07:18 AM
You knew before you cruised that you were cruising during a bad weather potential month(s).

You are the one that selected the cruise.

No on forced you to cruise in a bad weather month.

Why should the cruise line be at fault?

You are the one that selected the cruise and the month of the cruise.

Rusty
December 5th, 2007, 07:32 AM
My wife and I were on the Princess Sapphire from 9/16-10/18 and the second part of the cruise visited the same ports as this one. We had some bad sea days, but never missed a port. BUT...
During our cruise we did experience what I'd call "LOI" on the part of senior staff of the Sapphire(Lack Of Information). During the cruise extremely long lines and very long waits ensued any time that passengers were going on the ship's excursions. Lines snaked around the ship, up and down stairs, with no organization of any sort. Many times there were dangerous situations on stairways, open decks(yes, the lines were that long), and again with no information or any type of organization to prevent these problems. The senior staff just gave excuses, blamed someone else, or many times just walked away from the situation. The senior staff was uncaring and unhelpful. This went on the entire cruise.
A simple solution would have been to give out as much information as possible to the passengers on these lines to avoid these dangerous conditions brought on because of lack of organization and planning.

Spikesgirl
December 5th, 2007, 08:15 AM
We did the SE Asia cruise on board the PP. We hit Typoon Kimy and ended up missing Korea, the only port I was really, really exicted about. The others were great, but I relaly wanted to see Korea. Guess which port we missed? Endd up staying two days in Hong Kong and some people really groused about that, much less having to deal with four missed ports and two typhoons.

I don't think that Princess should have to do anything except keep its passengers safe. Certainly that's more important than sailing into bad situations. If they want to offer compensations of some fashion, that's fine with me, but I neither expect or demand it.

Charlie

miptjc57
December 5th, 2007, 09:09 AM
The 50% off your next cruise was a nice gesture but what if you decide never to cruise Princess again? There should have been a choice.
When it comes to the onboard credits they gave of $250 pp, some countries charge the cruise line a fee per person. My question would be if the cruise line refunded the entire amount plus a little extra? I think a 20% refund would have made more sense.

golfy
December 5th, 2007, 09:11 AM
People grow up everybody always think they are intilted to more for nothing.
Read your contract for cruise ships and airlines,They are set up in favor of the carriers not you.However the Captain is responsible for the crew and passengers, to not put them in harms way,and not to dock with ruff seas
banging their multi million dollar ship into the docks.Maybe next trip you should speak to Mother Nature before you go,Or pay more and go on your
trip during the good seasons.You took the chance and lost.Stop crying

editor@cruisecritic
December 5th, 2007, 09:21 AM
Actually, officers were quite amazed at our bad luck with weather. Typhoon season runs roughly about the same time as our hurricane season in the Atlantic (June - November with the prime months falling in the August/September timeframe). A November typhoon is a totally rare occurence, one port official in Shanghai told me; two is fairly unprecedented. But yeah, "season is season" and you do take a risk.

Carolyn

Carolyn Spencer Brown
Editor-in-Chief
Cruise Critic

You knew before you cruised that you were cruising during a bad weather potential month(s).

You are the one that selected the cruise.

No on forced you to cruise in a bad weather month.

Why should the cruise line be at fault?

You are the one that selected the cruise and the month of the cruise.

Javadelcamp
December 5th, 2007, 09:28 AM
I'm not a mariner, so I don't question it when the Captain of a ship says that it is too dangerous to go ashore. The last thing that I want is to spend the last moments of my cruise wishing that we had all observed the muster drill instructions a little more closely!

I also understand that the cruise contract says that missed ports aren't the ship's fault when it is due to weather or "Acts of God". So in this case I wouldn't have expected any compensation, but I would have wished for it.

What would have killed me would be if the staff didn't layer in extra activities. We have sailed on Princess before and personally thought that the activities onboard were boring. That was o.k. though because at least we could go to the pool. Well if the pool was closed (as it was on Sapphire Princess), then I would be quite irritated without a bit more effort on the part of the staff to spice up the experience. Wonder if the Cruise Director took any flack afterwards?

Who knows...maybe if they had offered more to keep people active on those port-less and pool-less days then those seeds of "mutiny" would never have sprouted in so many people in the first place.

Java

caramelo
December 5th, 2007, 04:49 PM
Firstly I would like to congratulate Carolyn Spencer Brown on an excellent article, also covering the views from both side.

I did the same cruise on the 1st of October, and we were very lucky....there were typhoons all around but we seemed to always avoid them either arriving one day before or one day later, and we did have one rough night....but didnīt miss any ports. We were also very lucky, we had a super and very charismatic Captain Nick Bates who always kept us informed of everything and with a good sense of humour.

I have also been in contact with people living in Spain who were on your cruise with the 4 ports cut out of the itinery, and they have constantly posted their news and opinions. They in general have the opinion that the weather was bad luck and the ship has no obligation but were very happy with the first offer of the 250$ board credit and 50% discount off the future cruise.......and where they had all initially said they would never cruise again after their nightmare experience were suddenly all booking the next cruise with the 50% discount. They also said the most "loud mouthed ones" were the ones most booking the future cruises!!!

Those who cruise know the risk....they can have good luck or bad luck. But iis the same as normal holidaymakers who book a holiday in Spain for a weeks sun and it rains all week.....will the hotel pay them compensation???? One has to know the limits of a good compensation offer and accept it as "luck" as legally speaking their is no responsability.....and GREED FOR MORE!!!!

Again thanks for a great article Carolyn Spencer Brown

boatsmate
December 5th, 2007, 06:54 PM
I was on the Sensation a number of years ago (mid 90's) when she broke down in the middle of the night and some Passangers where telling stories (that where not true) and others where saying that the ship was in danger and and should not have sailed..... Etc. the crew didn't even know what happened over night.
THe Captain finally came on the ships intercom around 11 AM and told all the passengers what happened exactly, ( a computer that controls the ship had failed and they where operating on a back up system. ) the only problem was that the ship could not travel as fast and we would arrive in San Juan a day late, the ship was safe. the cruise director and the rest of the staff did a bang up job controling things even though there where peple who wanted to cause trouble. when we arrived in San Juan about 200 people got off the ship under carnivals dislike the trip program. a bunch of people called the Media and some even called the Coast Guard to complain that the ship was unsafe. ( the Coast Guard boarded us in St Criox and found the ship was fine) We where given free drinks credits, and even had a party for the debute of the carnival Destiny. we had a great party to welcome her to the fleet.we even got to stop in Nassua because we where early and the capt tried to give us a thrid port.

I had a great time even though some people tried to ruin it for the rest of us.


Capt Bill

editor@cruisecritic
December 6th, 2007, 04:00 AM
Hi, ruthandjohn. The QM2 mutiny was on our minds for a while on our trip! And we agree with you, too, that the line sent a message that could have been dangerous. The big difference there of course was that what happened was ultimately the ship's responsibility (it hit something underwater) whereas in this case -- it wasn't.

This is a great thread -- all your comments are fantastic and quite insightful. Thanks for posting.

Carolyn



Although I would have been disappointed, and do agree Princess should have acted pre-emptively more quickly, it IS in the contract and things do happen beyond anyone's control, especially weather which should have been considered before booking. It WAS the Pacific typhoon season.

I fear the diehards were influenced by a Cunard "mutiny" a year ago when a damaged pod forced the 1st section of a world cruise (I think) to miss 2 ports to catch up to Rio on schedule. The captain/line first offered OBC and future cruise credit but the voyage had the misfortune to have several lawyers on board who held the line hostage and eventually won free cruises which I thought was the typical American false right of entitlement kicking in and, as you say, greed.

We have been weathered out of ports and although disappointed, we still get the best vacation per diem out there by being on a cruise ship. We look forward to them but that's not the only reason we cruise. After all, most cruise port days are overviews and for in depth culture immersion you need to get off the surface viewed via cruise ship and stay longer than 7AM to 5PM.

just my opinion
Ruth

editor@cruisecritic
December 6th, 2007, 04:31 AM
I can't believe all the typhoons you had to deal with -- and you didn't get stuck in any, LOL! Definitely weather karma was not on our side.

Thanks, caramelo, for your comments....

Funny thing, the whole "mutiny" group, at least what I experienced of it, was so curious to me (and I'd written something to this effect in yesterday's virtual, then cut it out). My husband and me were in Shanghai's old town on our port day -- it's beautifully warm, the gardens were lovely, etc. etc. -- and we ran into one guy who was actively part of this group. And he's all pumped up, telling us all about the plans after his day ashore to go back and negotiate and in the meantime he's missing out on Shanghai! Could have cared less about what he was seeing. That seemed sad.

I had to debark at Shanghai (committments at work, alas) but my husband stayed on until the end in Beijing and he told me the same attitude applied during the next port call at Nagasaki, another beautiiful day, another continued obsession with the mutiny.


Carolyn

Firstly I would like to congratulate Carolyn Spencer Brown on an excellent article, also covering the views from both side.

I did the same cruise on the 1st of October, and we were very lucky....there were typhoons all around but we seemed to always avoid them either arriving one day before or one day later, and we did have one rough night....but didnīt miss any ports. We were also very lucky, we had a super and very charismatic Captain Nick Bates who always kept us informed of everything and with a good sense of humour.

I have also been in contact with people living in Spain who were on your cruise with the 4 ports cut out of the itinery, and they have constantly posted their news and opinions. They in general have the opinion that the weather was bad luck and the ship has no obligation but were very happy with the first offer of the 250$ board credit and 50% discount off the future cruise.......and where they had all initially said they would never cruise again after their nightmare experience were suddenly all booking the next cruise with the 50% discount. They also said the most "loud mouthed ones" were the ones most booking the future cruises!!!

Those who cruise know the risk....they can have good luck or bad luck. But iis the same as normal holidaymakers who book a holiday in Spain for a weeks sun and it rains all week.....will the hotel pay them compensation???? One has to know the limits of a good compensation offer and accept it as "luck" as legally speaking their is no responsability.....and GREED FOR MORE!!!!

Again thanks for a great article Carolyn Spencer Brown

palmtre2
December 6th, 2007, 08:15 AM
The most annoying and condescending thing a captain can do is keep the passengers in the dark, of course they don't have to disclose every little detail - they should state their reason for not docking.
While many unscheduled days at sea are an anomaly, I see no reason why a cruise line cannot come up with a procedure to use for such a case - providing a napkin folding class is ridiculous. Extra shows (need not be long) should be sitting on a back burner if needed. Movies kept on hold for these situations, a dinner dance with free cocktails and a captains speech (keeping up with the information is very important - if not the captain, another high ranking officer), added Trivia games, discounted Bingo - the list goes on and on and really doesn't cost as much as ill will.

kenevenpar
December 6th, 2007, 09:37 AM
It seems to me that the cruise line should have procedures in place to allow the Captain to offer OBC's and/or percentage discounts on future cruises. Good customer service would dictate that the line be proactive rather than reactive.

Secondly, I would imagine that the line could (or should) have some sort of weather insurance, which would mitigate the financial impact to the company of offering compensation. A large company would certainly be able to structure an insurance program that would make financial sense.

Third, the passangers who were demanding more compensation were being unreasonable. The line (belatedly) made what seems to me to be an extremely fair offer. We customers can not expect the line to be responsible for the weather; we can and should expect the line to be reasonable and to consider our misfortune at missing so many ports. On a recent HAL cruise, we missed a call at Half Moon Cay. The Captain kept us informed, and upon finally cancelling, he immediately advised us, had additional activities planned, and offered free champagne to all. That is proactive customer service.

Jerseygirl13
December 6th, 2007, 12:25 PM
Thank you Carolyn for writing that article so beautifully...it was the most hysterical read I've had all week. As a lifelong cruiser, I've had many bumps in the road...but the mental image of that guy marching up to the bridge demanding they look at his map...well I'm still laughing.....you made my day.
:)

sealover155
December 6th, 2007, 04:38 PM
My thanks also, Carolyn, for an insightful report. Most experienced cruisers have had to suffer the disappointment of a missed or delayed arrival into a port. The crazy and unpredicatable worldwide weather makes scheduling these trips even more challenging. We've certainly had our share of missed ports and I do regret that the Sapphire's passengers have spent lots of money only to miss important ports.

At the risk of being labeled a blaspheme, I'd suggest we all remember that to travel is to experience new adventures and to strive to enjoy the surprises at every turn. That being said, the key to happy passengers is of course, information communicated often and well. Even if the announcement said, "it's possible that a typhoon will affect our arrival into ____ tomorrow. We'll have an update at 8PM".

Personally, I think Princess has been overly generous in this instance. And, as for activities, on a 2 week Asian cruise, I'd hope to have enough books and games to entertain myself. Additional activities provided by the cruise line would be welcome, but not expected.

Mary Anne

831
December 6th, 2007, 05:07 PM
Sad situation for all, I'm glad I read your article and everyones feedback on the poll. I will avoid this cruise line for the overwhelming comments of poor communication and lack of planning (not only on this trip). I'm pretty new to cruising and have found Cruise Critic to be the best place to learn about what to expect and prepare for on a cruise. Thanks again.

cruise_lover
December 6th, 2007, 05:08 PM
There is just no pleasing some people. Princess was under no obligation to give these people anything and made a good gesture by giving them an OBC and 50% off the next cruise.

I spent two extra days at sea because of Hurricane Rita. I wonder how we would have felt if Carnival would have demanded all of us to pay for the two extra days at sea? Carnival in turn not only had to feed us for two extra days but entertain us as well. Then they had to offer the passengers coming on-board after us an incentive because these passengers lost 2 days from their schedule.

Cruise passengers has to realize that they are at the mercy of Mother Nature and I want to know that I have a captain at the helm who is thinking of my personal safety.

So for all you Captains out there who might be reading this:
THANK YOU!

toeknee
December 6th, 2007, 05:41 PM
Seems to me that communication and an alternate plan could have done much to alleviate the situation. I'm sure there was much traffic between the ship and head office but like with governments the issue was probably talked to death,and by the time a decision was made, they had a mutiny on their hands. This was an unusual number of ports missed, so Princess should have expected some kind of backlash, not that I agree with mutiny for one moment. When we were checking out this itinerary we were advised that it was not uncommon to miss both Vietnam ports in November due to typhoons, hence we decided to take an earlier sailing. It would be prudent of Princess to consider this for future November sailings...We've missed many ports of call over the years, the cruise lines have no controll of the weather and the fine print alludes to this however, lack of communication and a plan on Princess's part created a nighmare that could have been avoided.

Scotto97
December 6th, 2007, 05:55 PM
As a frequent Princess customer, I admit their customer focus is lacking in regards to informing passengers of delays/ports missed, ect. Also, most letters written to their Customer Relations department are answered with generic responses. I still choose Princess due to thier middle of the road pricing and upscale ship feel. But I certainly wish they made me feel more valuable. Showing they truely care about customers would improve their product 100%. It's a shame more effort isn't made in that department.

carduchi
December 6th, 2007, 07:03 PM
My husband and I were on the Regal Princess 31 day final voyage from L.A. to Sydney (Aug. 31 - Oct. 2/07. We unfortonately encountered rough seas and were not able to tender into Rarotonga. Then we had engine trouble and had to slow down from 20 knots to 6 knots and ended up being 5 hours late arriving in Auckland. The worst part was we were looking forward to the Fjordland scenic cruising in southern New Zealand but didn't experience that either. A severe storm with heavy winds and 15 metre waves which lasted two days prevented us from doing so. I asked other passengers just how bad it could get and was told that if it got any worse, the captain would order us to stay in our cabins for our own safety. We were not allowed to go outside on any decks. We did not even think of asking Princess for any onboard credit or refund. Yes, it was a bummer, but how can you blame them for unexpected weather delays. However, having said that, Princess does need to work on how to fill in the gaps when passengers are "stuck on board" for so many extra sea days. Somehow bingo twice a day got a little boring and way to expensive. Thats my 2 cents!
S & B
P.S. Wine and beer supplies were running very low way to early in the trip.

Druke I
December 6th, 2007, 07:06 PM
I think it was more than a fair offer; I think it was very good, perhaps bordering on over-generous.

I think the passenger had attempted to gain entry to the bridge should have been confined to his quarters, and put off the ship at the next port of call.

I also think the Captain was entirely within his right to threaten arrest of those so-called mutineers.

Those who were party to those actions should be quite relieved that they were not arrested!

R&RSC
December 6th, 2007, 08:40 PM
This says a lot about what we have become as a society. Whenever something does not go as planned, someone has to pay. Sure there were a lot of great places people could have gone and it could be considered a trip of a lifetime. It really is what you make of it though. If you dwell on the negative of any situation it always gets worse and you ruin a time/portion of your life that that you will never get back. But the question is who ruined it. In this instance it sounds as though the passengers that created the ruckus may have "ruined" other peoples cruise by their actions. Make the best of situations when they are presented because in this instance neither the passengers or the cruise line could change that environment. Make the best of it, enjoy Princess's first class service but most of all relax. There is nothing wrong with being disappointed. I would have been too. But don't expect everything in this life to be perfect, whether you pay for it or not.

griswalds
December 6th, 2007, 08:49 PM
IMO the cruiselines can't control the weather but they can communicate and that is where they often fall down. The Captain and CD should have been very proactive in the beginning. I do not favour OBC's as that can only add more booze the the mix.

The cruise line should have a contingency plan for such events but nothing replaces honest communications. Maybe more appearances by the Captain, maybe more ship tours of areas that we can't usually see, free movies on the TV. Get the crew out doing some PR. Usually more food related events helps as well....

We were stuck on one cruise at a port we didn't care for and then missed Grand Cayman. The Captain and CD explained the events well and offered some token freebies, we never thought twice about the issue as the weather conditions were obvious. People get restless on a ship if they are not kept informed or entertained.

On our last cruise (Golden) they were showing the movie The Titanic, combine that with the current weather forecast and that might have helped.

Griswalds

travel-to-go
December 6th, 2007, 09:35 PM
Communicate, communicate, Communicate.
This is true whether you are a company, couple, family, or club.
The more you make people feel like they are a part of the process, the more empowered they feel, the less likely they are to feel that life is controlling them, instead of the other way around!

I followed the QM2 through the pod incident last year (I had just gotten off and knew people on board, including the besieged commodore, who was doing his best, while dealing with the disappointment of such an incident in the waning months of his illustrious career)

I followed the Windjammer Fantome as she dropped her passengers in Belize, was denied the safety of that hurricane hole and tried to outrun the most damaging and oddly behaved (defying the predictions of five different Hurricane tracking systems) CAT 5 hurricane on record (Mitch). I spoke to those who had been on board, and those who knew crew still on board, even as I was traveling into that zone and got caught in the aftermath (flooding and tornadoes, power losses etc in the Florida Keys)

The trip before the Pod incident on QM2, we had to miss what was to be an inaugural port, that I was really looking forward to, Moins, Costa Rica. I spoke to crew and staff, and commiserated with them, especially having to put up with the rudeness and whining and finger-pointing of certain passengers (some crew were scheduled to end their contracts there or get their last chance at shopping before getting off in New York) The commodore attempted to work with the port authorities and it just was not safe with a ship of such deep draft and low tolerance for rough water. The currents were coming directly perpendicular to the pier, and could cause the ship to bottom out. It was not deemed to be safe.

The Commodore went so far as to attempt to tender in 7 miles south in Limon.
They put out the tender platform, set out one tender and found the waves were washing over the platform, certainly an unsafe situation. If someone had been hit by a wave or motion and fallen between the tender and the platform and been crushed, woe be unto the line who allowed that scenario to be possible. But all certain passengers could feel was "poor me" All I could think as I heard them was of the 34 souls who went down with the Fantome; The people in coastal Costa Rico whose livelihoods depend on our tourists dollars. I might not get to see the sloths that day, but they might not get to eat that night! And then I thought of the prospect of an extra day on the Marvelous Queen Mary 2 and getting to explore more of the ship, try some things I had not found time for, enjoy more of the wonderful foods, and meet more of her multinational passengers and crew and find out about another area, culture or part of the world or facet of life I had yet to experience!

The staff were so grateful to have a kind word said to them, and receive a little sympathy for what THEY were going through, that they took me into their confidence, and treated me like a true friend. In turn, that made me fell like, for that moment in time, maybe I was a better person for having experienced that and letting my kinder side see daylight.

In the end, the people who lost were those who went around feeling sorry for themselves, instead of making the best of a situation that no one had the power to change. Those people, who, as my Dad used to say to me when I was a little girl, "Walked around with their lower lip stuck out so far, they were liable to step on it." (Yeah, it always made me laugh, no matter how hard I tried to stay mad and pouting! Aren't dad's wonderful?)

I fully agree with sealover155. Isn't adventure and doing something "different" what cruise and ship travel is all about? Those who weather the squalls (pun intended) have the greatest tales to tell. And a newfound closeness with those who weathered it with them!

Go for the gusto! Wake up to LIFE! Enjoy it for all it's worth, even if it wasn't quite what you'd planned! Pout, get over it, and get on with it!

And shame on Princess for not making their passengers a part of the plan.


Maybe we can all take lessons from this one. Are you listening, cruiselines?
Are you listening, passengers?

Blue skies, and calm seas...or not! Whatever floats your boat!

Karie Parker

magictam
December 6th, 2007, 10:32 PM
Cruise Critic Editor Carolyn Spencer Brown was onboard Sapphire Princess last week when due to two typhoons, the ship's captain was forced to cancel first the calls at both Vietnam ports and then at Taipei and Okinawa. After passengers began to revolt, Princess offered compensation in the manner of $250 per person onboard credit and a 50 percent discount on a future cruise.

In this week's From the Bridge (http://www.cruisecritic.com/features/articles.cfm?ID=591), Spencer Brown examines both sides of the coin. We want to know: If this were your cruise, what would you have expected from Princess? Please vote -- and be sure to post your opinion below.


I voted that I would have expected nothing, since that's what the contract says. But I would have been very happy with 50% off future cruise and gladly accetped the $250 OBC.

I'm happy to see that Princess stepped up to the plate and saw the big picture; Customer Service.

pris993
December 6th, 2007, 10:42 PM
While this cruise may have had some unusal weather conditions, I do believe that passengers expect cruiselines to know what they are doing and to develop "realistic, doable itineraries". In some cases, cruiselines are so hungry for dollars they stretch the seasons and itineraries so that they are not realistic, which set everyone up for disappointment.

I was on a cruise out of Florida to San Juan a few years back, port times were totally unrealistic. Showed arrival around 1pm in the afternoon, we arrived about 5-6pm. When I said something to the crew, learned they never arrived at 1pm in the afternoon.

I see more and more transatlantic cruises earlier and later in the seasons becuase there are so many ships to fill.

If weather conditions are iffy, it is a shoulder season, share this information up front, so passengers can make informed decisions, especially on cruises costing many thousands of dollars.

Obviously, Princess could and should have done a better job in addressing the problems that develop asap. :)

alsas
December 6th, 2007, 10:53 PM
The problem of weather is common to all of us. We just have no place to go to complain. I feel having spent many years cruising, We must and are entitled to be informed. I have sailed with captains who believe this to be important and those who do not put the passengers first. It is an insult to treat people like children, and if you do they then act like children. Princess is not diffrent from any other cruise line. Carolyn you are amazing,keeping in mind your dual role. (also love your blogs). I vote for the corporate heads to allow us to be informed as their policy.We must understand the Captain is part of a very large corporation.Happy sailing Alsas

JamesEM
December 7th, 2007, 01:53 AM
I was on board a Carnival Cruise ship that had A/C problems a few years ago, and information was hard to come by. The short version - those that complained the most got the best compensation. In MHO, Carnival does not give out info freely, and is interested mainly in the bottom line!

deepnite10
December 7th, 2007, 02:09 AM
i can easily say that Prin. offer was equitable..yet i was nt one of those who paid out several thousand dollar s for a once in a life time cruise..

then for deceptive manner in which Prin. explain d the miss d port s of
call certainly need s to be address d in a manner of additional compensation..

if they knew there was going to be weather issue s that would impact
the cruise as it did..then i agree with the individual that said the ship
should have never sail d..

bha
December 7th, 2007, 04:44 AM
No, we didn't know that were cruising during a bad weather potential month(s)! September and October are the months you can expect this kind of wether but not November and December!

editor@cruisecritic
December 7th, 2007, 05:45 AM
Hi, Karie, love your note. One thing that truly stood out for me toward the end of my trip was how much those people who were directly involved on the front line (officers like the Captain, the passenger services director and the cruise director -- passengers knew this wasn't about the crew) really cared. It was obvious that they were just beyond upset at the series of circumstances.

One said to me that "how could passengers think we don't care?" and he was quite anguished about the whole thing. They made mistakes that I think were interpreted as arrogant and really weren't.

The only really embarrassing-to-Princess story I heard was from a passenger who was among hundreds who were unhappy that all of the Hong Kong night tours arrived at the tender terminal at the same time (11 p.m.) and so there were lines to board the tenders that were beyond ridiculous. It took some 2 hours for many of them to get back on board. And so this guy (who also is a Cruise Critic member) wanted to find out who he'd talk to to express his disappointment. The purser's desk -- which was frankly consistently deplorable on this cruise -- blew him off, told him to go to shore excursions. The shore excursion staffer blew him off too and now this gentle soul was getting furious. He asked to speak to the shore excursion director. Not available. Then please have her call me, he recalled. She doesn't call passengers, he was told. She finally deigned to chat with him and told him "tough luck" and turned on her heel and left.

But for the other seniors staffers, including the Captain, you could see the stress in their faces and it was for them a cruise they will never forget either.

One thing I'm constantly reminding myself and our team at Cruise Critic is that we work for our readers. Without you, we wouldn't be here. And I think cruise lines need to remind some of their people, whether onboard or in passenger relations in ashore, that their salaries are paid by the people who cruise. So they work for you, too.

Best,

Carolyn


Communicate, communicate, Communicate.
This is true whether you are a company, couple, family, or club.
The more you make people feel like they are a part of the process, the more empowered they feel, the less likely they are to feel that life is controlling them, instead of the other way around!

I followed the QM2 through the pod incident last year (I had just gotten off and knew people on board, including the besieged commodore, who was doing his best, while dealing with the disappointment of such an incident in the waning months of his illustrious career)

I followed the Windjammer Fantome as she dropped her passengers in Belize, was denied the safety of that hurricane hole and tried to outrun the most damaging and oddly behaved (defying the predictions of five different Hurricane tracking systems) CAT 5 hurricane on record (Mitch). I spoke to those who had been on board, and those who knew crew still on board, even as I was traveling into that zone and got caught in the aftermath (flooding and tornadoes, power losses etc in the Florida Keys)

The trip before the Pod incident on QM2, we had to miss what was to be an inaugural port, that I was really looking forward to, Moins, Costa Rica. I spoke to crew and staff, and commiserated with them, especially having to put up with the rudeness and whining and finger-pointing of certain passengers (some crew were scheduled to end their contracts there or get their last chance at shopping before getting off in New York) The commodore attempted to work with the port authorities and it just was not safe with a ship of such deep draft and low tolerance for rough water. The currents were coming directly perpendicular to the pier, and could cause the ship to bottom out. It was not deemed to be safe.

The Commodore went so far as to attempt to tender in 7 miles south in Limon.
They put out the tender platform, set out one tender and found the waves were washing over the platform, certainly an unsafe situation. If someone had been hit by a wave or motion and fallen between the tender and the platform and been crushed, woe be unto the line who allowed that scenario to be possible. But all certain passengers could feel was "poor me" All I could think as I heard them was of the 34 souls who went down with the Fantome; The people in coastal Costa Rico whose livelihoods depend on our tourists dollars. I might not get to see the sloths that day, but they might not get to eat that night! And then I thought of the prospect of an extra day on the Marvelous Queen Mary 2 and getting to explore more of the ship, try some things I had not found time for, enjoy more of the wonderful foods, and meet more of her multinational passengers and crew and find out about another area, culture or part of the world or facet of life I had yet to experience!

The staff were so grateful to have a kind word said to them, and receive a little sympathy for what THEY were going through, that they took me into their confidence, and treated me like a true friend. In turn, that made me fell like, for that moment in time, maybe I was a better person for having experienced that and letting my kinder side see daylight.

In the end, the people who lost were those who went around feeling sorry for themselves, instead of making the best of a situation that no one had the power to change. Those people, who, as my Dad used to say to me when I was a little girl, "Walked around with their lower lip stuck out so far, they were liable to step on it." (Yeah, it always made me laugh, no matter how hard I tried to stay mad and pouting! Aren't dad's wonderful?)

I fully agree with sealover155. Isn't adventure and doing something "different" what cruise and ship travel is all about? Those who weather the squalls (pun intended) have the greatest tales to tell. And a newfound closeness with those who weathered it with them!

Go for the gusto! Wake up to LIFE! Enjoy it for all it's worth, even if it wasn't quite what you'd planned! Pout, get over it, and get on with it!

And shame on Princess for not making their passengers a part of the plan.


Maybe we can all take lessons from this one. Are you listening, cruiselines?
Are you listening, passengers?

Blue skies, and calm seas...or not! Whatever floats your boat!

Karie Parker

jean s
December 7th, 2007, 07:27 AM
We've been on cruises where ports have been cancelled and I am always amazed at the reactions of anger from passengers. Hey folks, it's a safety issue! It is nice if the cruise line provideds some compensation but ultimately I don't want the cruise line to put my life at risk. I do agree however that Princess needs to have a plan of activities in place for unplanned at sea days. We have cruised on them a number of times and this is an area they need to revamp. Personally I can read, people watch and of course gamble in the casino.

Rusty
December 7th, 2007, 07:40 AM
Having read the reports of your Asia cruise, just a reminder to your readers: ALL of the free shuttles that you mention are NOT provided by Princess. They are provided by the local cities and in most cases are provided by the local "chamber of commerce"(stores, shops, etc.). They are very convenient and of course free. They do have enough buses(except at crunch times--just before the ship leaves port) and they run on a regular and frequent schedule. They are intended for independent travelers that like to do things on their own. A big thanks to those cities in Asia that provide this much needed service.

Just an additional note: Very rarely does Princess ever announce these free shuttles in advance. Sometimes they do make this information known AFTER the cruise excursion cancellation deadline has passed.

NAS-KARR
December 7th, 2007, 09:43 AM
Without getting "wordy" & after all the smoke clears I agree with the offered gesture........reluctantly. :(



CIAO,

geoherb
December 7th, 2007, 09:44 AM
Our cruise on the Sun Princess last Christmas had problems--something wrong with an engine, strong winds, and a request from the Coast Guard to help with a distress call from a plane. The best thing the captain did was keep everyone informed--although there was a little bit of an unexpected list when we changed course to answer the Coast Guard request.

We got to St. Thomas a few hours late, which ruined a lot of people's plans. When we received a letter from the captain saying each passenger was getting $100 OBC--that was way more than I anticipated.

curiouscat
December 7th, 2007, 10:24 AM
Carolyn

Again, wonderful article. It was timely for me cause I am planning a visit to Asia in "09. This only confirmed and reinforced our plans to do a land tour for this region. I've looked at the itineraries of each cruise line,and length of stay in each country, and only found one on Regent which of course is cost prohibitive for us. So our only conclusion for such "a trip of a lifetime" at such expense would to be do a land tour.

While I love cruising this is where I'm not willing to risk missing so much and not staying in ports overnite. I feel that to really get immersed into the culture of Asia a cruise would not suffice.

Oh, and I do think the compensation offered was sufficient but the lack of communication was their demise....

Thanks again and look forward to your next adventure.....:p

CuriousCat

PS was just on a X cruise to PNW and their lack of communication on Seattle immigration,embarkation and just about everything was miserable too.......

spikester
December 7th, 2007, 11:30 AM
I was on carnival a few years ago, and we missed the caymans due to rough seas. They offered us $100 OBC credit. I don't think the $250 was much in terms of missing 4 ports. I think they should have been a bit more generous with the credit and not bothered with the 50% off a future cruise.

As for the activities, they should plan better for things to do. My father and his wife went on a cruise on Princess from LA to Hawaii, and the weather to Hawaii was pretty poor, so you couldn't be outside. And there were hardly any indoor activities planned.

songanddance
December 7th, 2007, 11:37 AM
First let me thank Ms. Brown for the fine reviews of both Hong Kong and Shanghai. I will be on the QE2 for her final world cruise in just a few short weeks and the port data is very useful.

As to the Shaphire Princess cruise, I have never read such whining. First off, a ship such as the Shaphire Princess was not really built for typhoon type weather. It along with most all of the newer ships are simply floating hotels. So the captain has to lean way onto the side of caution when faced with bad weather. And there is only so far that he can take the ship away from the problem weather if he wishes to retain any schedule at all. Maybe it would be best for the line to simply not offer the venue when typhoons are possible but then passengers desiring such a venue would be up in arms.

I do agree that on-board reaction to these problems can be slow in coming but besides bringing the ship safely into harbor and keeping it a float when on the high seas, the captain has no control over credits, free booze, future crusies etc. Those are all corporate decisions made on shore. Anyone who has read any cruise line posts knows that on-shore people have a serious disconect with what happens on board any ship. Most corporations in most any industry do not react on a dime but take time to sort through the problem and act in THEIR best interst. Giving up some 2,500 half price future cruises and $500 - $1,000 OBC is a lot of money to just toss away in the name of public relations and it takes time to decide.

I my opinion, the cruising public (no change that to The Public at large) has come to expect way too much in the way of rewards for problems that the average business simply can not anticipate.

In the case of the Shaphire Princess, maybe the captain should have docked in the Vietnam ports and after losing a tender or two to the high waves and possibly a passenger or two, the rest of the passengers could have gotten their Vietnam fix. and why not try to sail a ten story building with very little depth below the water line through a typhoon and see how it takes a 70 foot wave broadside. I'll bet it would make any other type of entertainment held that day pale by comparison.

So long rant short finish. Get a life and stop the whining.

Monkeythyme
December 7th, 2007, 11:39 AM
I voted that the compensation offered was fair. Now, I would like to qualify that opinion. While fair, the deal would have been far better received had it been more timely. Considering that any TA can get you a 36% discount on this particular cruise, and more than 50% on most others, it was actually an offer of 22% at best if based on the advertised price.
As for my own self: While I will sadly admit I wasted the first sixty-three years of my life on land, I am now dedicated to making up for it.
A bad day at sea beats a good day in port.

ON cruiser
December 7th, 2007, 11:45 AM
Yikes, Carolyn, in your recent message above you describe consistent rudeness at the Purser's desk, isolated rudeness by the shore excursions staff, line ups of 2 hours plus at the tender area due to what must have been poor planning and mismanagement, yet you believe that senior management of the ship really were concerned? But, obviously not so concerned as to address the problems that are management's responsibility and are within management's control, whilst the weather clearly is not.

Your final comment, that all employees of (all) cruiselines need to remember "the customer" is well taken, and would apply to anyone in a service business.

As to the poll, in my view the OB credit and future cruise option was more than fair, but likely would not have to have been offered, or at a lesser amount, if communications from the outset had been improved. As another correspondent observed, making everyone--passengers & crew--feel that "we're all in this together" may have gained a lot of goodwill, as contrasted with the ostrich routine of ignoring the customers that generates badwill.

Just my opinion...

Monkeythyme
December 7th, 2007, 11:55 AM
[quote=songanddance;12591234] Anyone who has read any cruise line posts knows that on-shore people have a serious disconect with what happens on board any ship. Most corporations in most any industry do not react on a dime but take time to sort through the problem and act in THEIR best interst. Giving up some 2,500 half price future cruises and $500 - $1,000 OBC is a lot of money to just toss away in the name of public relations and it takes time to decide.

Point well made. BUT, why does corporate management have to react to a common problem as though it were a one-time event? Storms happen; always have, always will. Establish a policy, graduated for severity if necessary, and use it to respond promptly. As a career bean-counter, I would not be considered the sharpest tool in the shed for cutting through a customer relations problem, but even I can see that what works fastest is what is best for the company. But then I did have a side career in show business, and I learned there that a soft answer turneth away beer bottles.

jferretti01
December 7th, 2007, 01:11 PM
I know it is heart breaking when this like this happen but we all have to remember we can not control the weather. The safty of the passengers come first. You also have to remember that it is not captians choice as to what kind of refunds, credits, or compensation will be issued. They must go through the parent company for any decisions like that so it may take a few days to let the passengers know what they will receive. The cruise line do the best they can at the time but must be given time to decide what they can offer to the passengers. You should do your best to enjoy you vacation with what you have to deal with and the rest will workout for the best. Stop wanting everything for free, You still went to several wonderful places.

hammybee
December 7th, 2007, 01:32 PM
When we travel, we accept all the uncertainties associated with it and occasionally that means, all the best plans go astray, due to weather or unforeseen mechanical issues, beyond anyone's control.

Some people can embrase these uncertainties better than others. And some probably should just stay home, where they perceive they have more control.

I see a potential business opportunity to create an optional insurance policy to assign a dollar value to the risk of missed ports, due to events beyond the passengers' control, like weather, mechanical failure or local conditions.

grannynurse
December 7th, 2007, 01:42 PM
At the risk of sounding redundant, I agree that lack of communication was the trigger for the high rate of indignation. I also feel that princess, in the end, made a fair offer of compensation, which they were not obligated legally to do.
During 2 near-recent transatlantic voyages, 2003 and 2004, we ran into some nasty weather in the English Channel and the North Sea. We missed a total or 4 ports, and spent an extra day weathering in Amsterdam. HAL refunded us all port charges, gave free champagne, added onboard activities, and eliminated some of the formal nights. No one seemed unduly annoyed, and several embarking pax had to fly to Dublin to board as Harwhich was also canceled.
With this in mind, and recognizing our litigious and entitlement-minded society, I am less tolerant of the trouble makers than I am of the cruise lines initial poor communication, even though I think this added to the
fray.
Thanks Carolyn for your very balanced report.
GN

hammybee
December 7th, 2007, 01:51 PM
I have long wondered why mass marketed cruise lines do not do mandatory embarkation talks for all passengers to better manage passenger expectations, similar to that which is done in most schools.

Be upfront about cruise line policies, whatever they are relative to passenger behaviors, smoking, lounge chairs, tipping, attire and the endless uncertainties of travel, including but not limited to weather, mechanical issues and sickness. This is not rocket science. The wheel does not need to be reinvented on each cruise and handled in a panic mode.

Communicate upfront the consequences of passenger misbehavior and what compensation will or will not be forthcoming should the unexpected occur.

Failure to educate passengers reinforces passenger tantrums. Cause and effect.

houston77068
December 7th, 2007, 04:13 PM
:) I've been on cruises like this one before many times that had multiple port cancellations or itenararies changes and never expected or demanded compensation. That is just something that happens and you just can't let those things ruin your vacation, make the best of a bad situation. Cruise lines and the media have fed this expectation demand from cruisers, but the anger could be defused if the staff was better trained in customer relations and less restrained by the home office in making compromises. These big ships seem to have the effect of making crew and passengers like strangers.

sealover155
December 7th, 2007, 07:31 PM
We've traveled to Asia at least a dozen times, all on land trips. Yes, it does get under your skin! Favorite country, Thailand, by the way. But we've missed some places and are now considering a cruise that would stop at places in Japan and Vietnam that we've missed.

Although it took awhile for the ship to clear in various ports on Carolyn's trip, you should all know how tedious it is to clear customs in certain airports like Shanghai and Beijing. It's.....a.......royal.......pain. The worst experience was Shanghai's new airport 2 years ago.

But we adored Shanghai and can't wait to return. Carolyn, and others interested in this extraordinary city should read this riveting memoir, "Falling Leaves" by Adeline Yen Mah. It will give you an amazing glimpse into the last 60 years of history and the Chinese culture in general. And, you will not be able to put it down!

Mary Anne

editor@cruisecritic
December 7th, 2007, 10:12 PM
Yes, Rusty makes a good point; while I noted they were free I did not say who was paying. In our case I assume it was the ports. I know it was not Princess....

Frankly though it seems to me if the ports want the passenger traffic they need to make an effort, too....

Thanks, Rusty.

Carolyn



Having read the reports of your Asia cruise, just a reminder to your readers: ALL of the free shuttles that you mention are NOT provided by Princess. They are provided by the local cities and in most cases are provided by the local "chamber of commerce"(stores, shops, etc.). They are very convenient and of course free. They do have enough buses(except at crunch times--just before the ship leaves port) and they run on a regular and frequent schedule. They are intended for independent travelers that like to do things on their own. A big thanks to those cities in Asia that provide this much needed service.

Just an additional note: Very rarely does Princess ever announce these free shuttles in advance. Sometimes they do make this information known AFTER the cruise excursion cancellation deadline has passed.

editor@cruisecritic
December 7th, 2007, 10:16 PM
IMHO -- you hit the nail on the head.

Carolyn

I voted that the compensation offered was fair. Now, I would like to qualify that opinion. While fair, the deal would have been far better received had it been more timely. Considering that any TA can get you a 36% discount on this particular cruise, and more than 50% on most others, it was actually an offer of 22% at best if based on the advertised price.
As for my own self: While I will sadly admit I wasted the first sixty-three years of my life on land, I am now dedicated to making up for it.
A bad day at sea beats a good day in port.

curiouscat
December 8th, 2007, 01:20 PM
We've traveled to Asia at least a dozen times, all on land trips. Yes, it does get under your skin! Favorite country, Thailand, by the way. But we've missed some places and are now considering a cruise that would stop at places in Japan and Vietnam that we've missed.

Although it took awhile for the ship to clear in various ports on Carolyn's trip, you should all know how tedious it is to clear customs in certain airports like Shanghai and Beijing. It's.....a.......royal.......pain. The worst experience was Shanghai's new airport 2 years ago.

But we adored Shanghai and can't wait to return. Carolyn, and others interested in this extraordinary city should read this riveting memoir, "Falling Leaves" by Adeline Yen Mah. It will give you an amazing glimpse into the last 60 years of history and the Chinese culture in general. And, you will not be able to put it down!

Mary Anne


So for one's first and maybe only visit to Asia would you recommend land or sea.? I'v seen some land tours that start in Hong Kong, go to Vietnam w/ a couple of cities staying overnite and then on to Singapore.... What kind of land tours do you do??

I really want to see the city and stay for dinner and overnite... I thinking cruising is great but not every city is a "port" city that you can see in one day.

Thanks
CuriousCat

CathyK2
December 8th, 2007, 03:20 PM
We've been to Asia twice. Once for land and the second time by cruise with Princess. We too missed a port due to a typhoon. In our case, we were in Hong Kong at the time they told us about it and told us we would be spending the night in Hong Kong and missing our next port which was Pusan, Korea.

Since I had been to Hong Kong before but never to Korea, it wouldn't have been my first choice, but from those that had been on this itenary, they said if we had to miss a port from the Bangkok to Beijing itenary, we missed the right one.

I guess I will never know and I never heard anyone complaining since most just went out and enjoyed the night life of Hong Kong, making the best of it. The skyline is gorgeous at night, so I'm sure those that were there for the first time, loved it.

I never heard anything about any compensation on that cruise, but then again, it just didn't seem like it mattered that much to most people. Then again, it wasn't a port that most of us had looked forward to the most.

For us, we loved Thailand and Vietnam the most but the whole cruise was wonderful.

Cathy

sealover155
December 8th, 2007, 04:34 PM
So for one's first and maybe only visit to Asia would you recommend land or sea.? I'v seen some land tours that start in Hong Kong, go to Vietnam w/ a couple of cities staying overnite and then on to Singapore.... What kind of land tours do you do??

I really want to see the city and stay for dinner and overnite... I thinking cruising is great but not every city is a "port" city that you can see in one day.

Thanks
CuriousCat

We are very independent travelers and have never done a "tour" of any kind. But I believe that organized tours are an excellent option for many. I think the reason we love Asia is because we have seen parts of these countries in depth. We, do extensive research planning each trip so there are few surprises.

We generally stick to 2 countries to visit in a 10 day to 2 week time period. On our first trip we went to Japan and Hong Kong and took a day trip to Macaau and the New Territories. That was before it was possible to visit mainland China. Next was Thailand and as mentioned earlier, we fell in love with all things Thai. Over the last 5 years we've visited Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and the Golden Triangle (where we spent a day at a mahut training camp learning how to care for, communicate with and ride an elephant!).

China is a whole separate consideration. We've only been to Beijing and Shanghai. Most of the cultural experiences are in Beijing, most of the excitement and fun is in Shanghai, although, we adored the Museum of Urban Planning and the Shanghai Museum in Shanghai. I deeply regret that we were unable to visit Xian. Were I interested in China and had never been, I'd look into a tour that included all of these cities and a Yangtze River Cruise.

We adore cruises, in general, because it provides a quick overview of places that you can decide whether or not you want to return to and invest further money and time. And some countries are especially suited for cruise stops, such as Japan and Vietnam as you can easily visit the highlights without too long a bus trip in the morning.

In summary, I'd evaluate what countries are of the most interest and whether or not I'd be likely to make a return trip. If I chose a cruise, I'd probably try to spring for a smaller ship that can dock closer to the cities. The last time I was in Hong Kong, Seabourn was docked right next to the Star Ferry - prime real estate, to be sure!

Hope this helps,
Mary Anne

Pam in CA
December 8th, 2007, 04:59 PM
There's no way to predict that a typhoon, or typhoons will affect a cruise, even if it's typhoon season. People cruising the Caribbean in August, September and October take that into consideration. Should the cruiselines stop cruising the Caribbean "just in case" there's a hurricane or typhoon? Should passengers do their research and know that they're cruising during a hurricane or typhoon season? I don't think so for the former and think so for the latter. On our Golden cruise last February, it was too cold to even be in the covered pool area. The CD planned very few activities so that people milled around looking for something to do. Should we have been compensated because it was cold out and there was nothing to do? Ports are missed all the time due to weather, including ports in a row.

I'd be interested in knowing who the CD was on this cruise. A good CD can make all the difference. This is where I feel that a creative and properly trained CD (rather than one who can tell jokes, sing a song or put on a good morning show -- they're generally useless when it comes to really planning activities IMHO) can put together activities that will appeal to the passengers and keep them occupied.

Yes, I think Princess should have done more for the passengers right off the bat but that's where a good CD comes in. I've been on cruises with lots of sea days and have seen the difference. It doesn't take a huge budget -- just some creativity.

jakt
December 8th, 2007, 05:28 PM
Have never sailed with this line, but they can't be held responsible for the weather issue. The Pacific has a typhoon season, like it or not. And I would rather have a cruise line and captain make a decision in favour of safety than not.

Of course it is disappointing when you don't get to the places you think you are going -- but every ticket says that the internary may change.

That said, information, helpful advice, and some kind of compensation at the outset goes a long way. Most people are pretty sensible, and will react that way, even when disappointed.

Will be watching for the write-ups of the trip -- lived in Singapore for 3 years and enjoyed the write-up of that. I could smell and taste all my favourites during my read. Of course, you missed the REAL Raffles (I was there 1986-1989) with the REAL Long Bar -- open to the street to catch all the passing sights. It did have no air-conditioning, and most Americans did not like that bit of authencity. Thanks for bringing back a lot of wonderful memories.

Tarheelbelle
December 8th, 2007, 07:13 PM
50% off a future cruise is, in my opinion, more than generous, but I do think they could have done more on the cruise itself to make passengers more comfortable in the present [e.g. free drinks coupons; better communication.]

leecim
December 9th, 2007, 06:18 AM
Two typhoons, a person reported overboard, 4 missed ports, a mutiny by the passengers. How many cruisers can claim to have such fun on a cruise. My wife and I with friends were on this cruise and in the end it will be the highlight of all our cruises to date. Although there are certain things the cruise line can't control like the weather, the communication aspect of the problem was poorly handled by the staff, especailly in my opion the call at Keelung, The ship channel said we were docked when if you looked outside we were still at sea. Communciation, Communication was sorely lacking on this cruise. On the flight home the wife said " with all the problems it was the dream of a lifetime" Make lemonade from lemons and you enjoy life more.

10X
December 9th, 2007, 09:48 AM
Although I wasn't on this cruise, we have recently had the experiences of having Princess cancel two cruises on us. We booked a 31 day Sydney - San Francisco for 2008 on the Sun Princess. Princess cancelled the cruise but re-scheduled it for 2009 on the Dawn Princess. They have now cancelled the 2009 cruise and replaced it with a 35 day cruise, also on the Dawn Princess, with a poor (as far as we are concerned) itinerary. Our offer was also for 50% off the 35 day cruise (not any future cruise, but only the 35 day cruise). But it turns out that is not the deal that it sounds to be.

We had our travel agent price this and we found out that 50% off is on brochure prices only, which no one really pays anyway. The final price came out to be about $100 less than we originally were going to pay using our travel agent's best price.

As near as I can see, getting 50% off a future cruise really doesn't cost Princess anything and you take a hosing while thinking you got something good. The passengers on the Sapphire Princess are all thinking that 50% off really was a nice gesture while they really didn't get anything and Princess can smile all the way to the bank.

We have opted not to take the 35 day cruise. Why pay a regular travel agent's fare for a cruise itinerary that we don't like?

CamryMyst
December 10th, 2007, 01:52 AM
Oh yes, I forgot about the man overboard bit! The missed ports on the cruise were the main reason for selecting this itinerary as we have been to Shanghai, Nagasaki and Beijing on a prior Princess Asia Cruise. However, the situation was entirely out of Princess's hands and I am equally sure that attempts to make any of the missed porrs would have also resulted in complaints about the tenders, the weather, etc. I felt the captain was remiss in late or no communication, in making small offers of free drinks, internet or photos, but was amazed and satisfied with the shipboard credit and future cruise discount. I am Elite with Princess.

mrspunker
December 11th, 2007, 01:13 PM
This kind of stuff has happened to us also. I missed Normandy :( But all in all you have to make do. remember what we are there for. to have a great experience. It was a weather thing. Yes I think they should have compensated us. But .... It was a great cruise. It was my second on the Grand. Hey we love it. How about you ???:) Seriously thinking about a repositioning cruise next November from Rome to Ft. Lodi doawdie. any takers out there ?? 21 dayer

DonahCBrown
December 13th, 2007, 02:37 AM
We were on the Sapphire 10/17 and 11/2 sailings (Hi Nancy and Gene) and, as mentioned, missed Nagasaki on the 11/2 due to a medical emergency. This was communicated promptly and fully and the compensating overnight in Shanghai, in my opinion made up for the loss of a brief call in Nagasaki-although I might have felt differently had we not just been there.

The challenge of keeping 2700 disappointed and restive passengers entertained in inclement weather must have been enormous, and if Sammi Baker, the CD on both our cruises as well as the ill fated 11/18 sailing was reduced to napkin folding, you can rest assured that there was nothing else anyone could think of to suggest.

I'm frankly surprised at the reports of the Captain not communicating. That certainly wasn't the case on our two cruises, albeit only one with captain of the 11/18 cruise.

As far as the lack of good organization in crowd control and tender management, sadly, this is something that Princess does not excel at at the best of times. The management folks could take a lot of lessons from Disney I expect. I could have done a better job organizing the tender ticket operations myself, and on both our cruises, the temperature screening thing for the Okinawa stop was total chaos. Interestingly, though, it seems that this was unique to the Okinawan authorities, as the Nagasaki folks very sensibly did the screen at the gangway with no fuss or muss.

Buck passing between the Purser and the Tour desk was both unfortunate and unacceptable, but, given the general tenor of the cruise, possibly understandable among the junior crew members who may just not have either the experience or the maturity to handle the kind of emotion laden passengers that evidently were presenting at the desk. Senior staff should have been providing back up and certainly should have been empowered to make some decisions regarding grievances as presented.

With respect to the compensation package offered, I would have accepted it happily.

A J Theodore
December 13th, 2007, 06:11 PM
While Princess (really Carnival senior management in Florida) certainly could have handled this much more expeditiously, weather problems are a fact of life in cruising. What is far worse, in my opinion, is when the cruise line simply chooses to disregard an itinerary where there are no weather-related reasons. I was subjected to this in 2004 on the Radisson (now Regent) Voyager. The following, slightly edited, is from the review I posted of that cruise:
One of the reasons we selected this cruise is that the advertised itinerary for this trip, about 14 days from Singapore to Tokyo, actually two segments of the 2004 Circle Pacific Cruise, was exciting and enticing.
Radisson, however, chose to disregard the itinerary. One port (Hong Kong) was extended by a day, two port days were changed altogether, two port stops were shortened (one of them by about 12 hours and one by about 5), and one stop was eliminated altogether. (One additional port was missed because of bad weather.) There were no weather problems or terrorism concerns to justify any one of those unexplained changes.
While the schedule changes were bad enough, Radisson compounded the problem. Passenger questions/complaints about these changes were given short shrift by senior staff. As one senior official in the hotel department said when I asked what was going on with the constantly changing schedule, and this is a direct quote, “We can do whatever we want."
While we now know that several of the changes were decided by Radisson management days in advance (including changing of two port days), none of them were announced until the last minute. As a result, several passengers missed out on private sight-seeing. Personally, we missed the opportunity to see a former colleague and friend who only had one day available to see us.
We also now know that the ship was apparently physically unable to proceed at a speed that would allow it to make its ports at the scheduled time. Although a Radisson official says that this has been corrected in all subsequent schedules, it does not excuse that Radission advertised and sold a cruise that it could not provide (one of my lawyer friends even went so far at to say that this may amount to false advertising).
Passengers deserve the cruise paid for. When Radisson elected not to deliver that cruise, we deserved two things. First, we deserved prompt notification of the changes. Second, we deserved a clear and compelling explanation for divergence from the schedule or some form of restitution and/or apology. Radisson provided neither.
Unlike Princess, neither during the cruise nor afterward did Radisson offer any form of compensation. My requests (and those of my travel agent) were consistently rebuffed; I just don't know whether any other passengers received more favorable treatment.
Finally, it should be noted that Radisson/Regent, to this date, advertises that it will not change its itinerary except for weather or other circumstances beyond its control. It's cruise "contract," however, states that it may change its itinerary at any time and may do so without any reason. I can only guess what the lawyers may say about this.

vmboo
December 15th, 2007, 01:30 PM
Princess is most unaccomodating. Three years ago my husband I took a wedding cruise with about 20 in our party. We requested early dining (one person could not eat late). Although we booked one year in advance we were told it was booked up, and that the early dining could not be accomodated. Phone requests were rejected, I was even hung up on by a supervisor. We wrote to the President and got a turn down letter stating they could do anything for us, and quoting policy. Once on board, they did manage to give us a standing dinner time with their "flexible dining" option. However, their lack of customer service prior to the cruise I will never forget. They also did not even give us a bottle of champagne or any nice gesture, with consideration to our problems, the business we gave them (most people never cruised prior) and the fact we were getting married. So beware of this cruise line. They obviously do not value their customers.

Abby Ruth
December 16th, 2007, 03:39 PM
I think that the people who got so upset over what was out of the cruise line's control ruined the balance of the trip for themselves. I'm sure I would have been disappointed, but safety of the passengers and crew is the most important factor. Perhaps there could have been better information related to the passengers, but the cruise line was not obligated to do anything. It appears to me that a few misguided leaders among the passengers helped turn an unfortunate situation into an ugly situation.

editor@cruisecritic
December 18th, 2007, 11:05 PM
One of the hardest things about writing a virtual is that you only get a day at a time in a place -- Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok -- and it's intimidating to try to even capture a bit of the essence of the place. Thanks so much, JAKT, for your nice words re Singapore. They made my day!

No segue here, just reflecting on other posts on this thread: the passengers weren't upset that we missed a port or two. It was four in the first six...with not a quality response by the ship staffers. I thought the CD on my trip had great heart and great experience in the region -- but maybe did not have a good enough instinct about dealing with unexpected situations.

CSB


Have never sailed with this line, but they can't be held responsible for the weather issue. The Pacific has a typhoon season, like it or not. And I would rather have a cruise line and captain make a decision in favour of safety than not.

Of course it is disappointing when you don't get to the places you think you are going -- but every ticket says that the internary may change.

That said, information, helpful advice, and some kind of compensation at the outset goes a long way. Most people are pretty sensible, and will react that way, even when disappointed.

Will be watching for the write-ups of the trip -- lived in Singapore for 3 years and enjoyed the write-up of that. I could smell and taste all my favourites during my read. Of course, you missed the REAL Raffles (I was there 1986-1989) with the REAL Long Bar -- open to the street to catch all the passing sights. It did have no air-conditioning, and most Americans did not like that bit of authencity. Thanks for bringing back a lot of wonderful memories.

editor@cruisecritic
December 18th, 2007, 11:12 PM
I still vote for a sea visit...even if we missed some ports, I got to see Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai for the first time (and had a brief glimpse of Bangkok) and loved them all, would return in a Tokyo-minute (ha ha) but seriously, the trip was worth it for me. And I'll go back.

CSB



So for one's first and maybe only visit to Asia would you recommend land or sea.? I'v seen some land tours that start in Hong Kong, go to Vietnam w/ a couple of cities staying overnite and then on to Singapore.... What kind of land tours do you do??

I really want to see the city and stay for dinner and overnite... I thinking cruising is great but not every city is a "port" city that you can see in one day.

Thanks
CuriousCat

Monkeythyme
December 21st, 2007, 01:30 PM
[quote=Pam in MA;12602310]There's no way to predict that a typhoon, or typhoons will affect a cruise, even if it's typhoon season. People cruising the Caribbean in August, September and October take that into consideration. Should the cruise lines stop cruising the Caribbean "just in case" there's a hurricane or typhoon?

All they would have to do is threaten to cut off the Caribbean during hurricane season, and I would be on my knees promising to be a good boy. The downside is hurricanes, but the upside is calm seas and beautiful weather whenever no hurricane is present, which is about 95% of the time. So, it is a bit of a gamble, but what a payoff!!

NotAPirate
December 30th, 2007, 04:54 PM
I agree that what offered, though late coming, was fair, and that those who railed for more are the reason why we have frivalent lawsuits so prevalent nowadays (YOU were the one that put the HOT coffee between your legs while driving; YOU were the one that decided to climb upon the store shelves to reach the stock on top instead of getting an employee; YOU were the one that ate fast-food every meal of every day and now you're grossly obese...). Where's the personal responsibility that characterizes our grandparents and great-grandparents? Oh, that's right, we 'baby-boomers' and 'gen-Xers' have had just about everything handed to us, we're spoiled and petulant...

I voted that the compensation offered was fair. Now, I would like to qualify that opinion. While fair, the deal would have been far better received had it been more timely. Considering that any TA can get you a 36% discount on this particular cruise, and more than 50% on most others, it was actually an offer of 22% at best if based on the advertised price.
As for my own self: While I will sadly admit I wasted the first sixty-three years of my life on land, I am now dedicated to making up for it.
A bad day at sea beats a good day in port.

My wife used to work for a national travel agency, and even she can't see where you're coming up with these figures. Most agencies earn only between 10-16% commission from a cruise package (or most any packages, excluding airfare since airlines don't pay commission). So, somewhere there's some misinformation you've been given? Granted, a lengthy cruise like this (19+ days) would net even a modest commission per reservation (10% on, say, $6500 is about $500 {no commission on taxes...}), after overhead most agencies can't afford to give up more than 3-5%, and even that has to be cleared by uppers since it will eventually eat into the bottom-line.

Caveat emptor - if an agency (or company, for that matter) is telling you they can offer you a substantial discount of that size, call the provider directly. There's been plenty of times in the past where we've seen cruises offered for "GREAT ROCK-BOTTOM LAST MINUTE DEALS!" and we called Carnival and guess what?, it's the SAME price they're offering -OR- it's on a limited sailing sometime in the off-season for a bunkbed cabin...

r20312
January 2nd, 2008, 08:04 PM
I agree communication from Princess staff is a key. In September about 300 of us on Golden Princess experienced a 2 hour on board wait at 6 AM in Los Angeles for a customs inspection that never took place. No Princess staff were about; the Assistant Purser we sought out was very hostile and would not listen that the Customs folks never even showed up! We insisted she stop arguing with passengers that it was a Customs issue, get out from behind a desk to see for herself, and finally our mutiny was avoided by letting us disembark!

jroyalfuture
January 20th, 2008, 08:43 AM
We were not on this trip, but we had another situation on board the Sapphire without any consideration or even an apology from the captain or crew or staff. We were not at all pleased with the cruise director, Peter.

I think that the captain and cruise director both are responsible to keep one informed of unexpected situations that may occur. We are planning to avoid the Sapphire for our future cruises.

Judy & Jim Corey
Gainesville, Florida

editor@cruisecritic
April 8th, 2008, 10:27 PM
Just checking back in light of the recent Carnival "situation" -- and you make a good and valid point.....

Carolyn

Carolyn Spencer Brown
Editor
Cruise Critic

We were not on this trip, but we had another situation on board the Sapphire without any consideration or even an apology from the captain or crew or staff. We were not at all pleased with the cruise director, Peter.

I think that the captain and cruise director both are responsible to keep one informed of unexpected situations that may occur. We are planning to avoid the Sapphire for our future cruises.

Judy & Jim Corey
Gainesville, Florida

trooper 1
April 26th, 2008, 10:47 PM
Just checking back in light of the recent Carnival "situation" -- and you make a good and valid point.....
Carolyn
Carolyn Spencer Brown
Editor
Cruise Critic

We were on this cruise with you. To resummarize the whole mess. IMO. Princess had absolutely no control over the weather. Had the ship steamed full speed ahead ("Damn the typhoons") to the affected ports we might have been involved in a real sea disaster. However, the captain might (who knows?) have averted the so-called "rebellion" by answering a few questions: "Where are we?" "Why are here?" and, "Where are we going next?" These are some of the questions the "mutineers" were asking. The captain could. or should, have anticipated these in advance and taken some of the arrows out of their quivers. I personally think compensation was not the first thing on the mind of most of the people. Yes, we accepted the generous offer and have already used it for another cruise.