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  #1  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 10:05 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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My brother and his wife took a Crystal cruise on Harmony prior to her leaving the fleet. They did not have a positive experience and made detailed notes on their comment card.

When there was no response to specific issues, I suggested they write a follow up letter, which they did. No response again. I then found an email contact on this board which I provided to them. The email was sent and still there was no response.

I have a hard copy of their initial letter dated 5/12 /05 and would like to know if anyone can suggest an appropriate person to forward this to at Crystal. This couple cruises often and it was their first Crystal cruise. They are even more dismayed at the lack of response than with the cruise itself.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

CG
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  #2  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 10:25 AM
CruisinGerman CruisinGerman is offline
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Default I personally would like to see the letter posted here

In order to use Cruise Critic for the purpose for which it was established (i.e. not necessarily purely a fan club of the cruise line in question), I would like to see that letter posted here, along with a comment noting that Crystal has never answered them.

Kind regards,

Gunther and Uta
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  #3  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 10:40 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Default Ok, I will retype this on their behalf

"May 24, 2005

Crystal Cruises
Customer Service
2049 Century Park East, #1400
Los Angeles, CA 90067

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to inform you why my husband and I will NOT be booking this years's cruise on Crystal. We love to cruise and do so once or twice a year, choosing only the luxury lines as we prefer excellent food, service and accomodations. We have cruised many times on many lines, and our current favorite is Radisson.

For our very special 10th anniversary we planned a cruise on Crystal Harmony. We had always heard that Crystal was one of the best, so we did not hesitate in choosing your line for our special event. We booked a 12 night cruise to Alaska R/T SFO, departing on September 15th, 2004..

This was our third trip to Alaska and by far the worst. The staff was excellent and the food was quite good, but the ship was in a state of such disrepair that the entire experience was ruined. The carpets were filthy and many of the upholstered chairs were badly stained, but worst of all was the problem with waste disposal. Many areas of the ship smelled of sewage at all times. Imagine how unpleasant it was to come from dinner and and halve to walk through a sewer on the way back to your cabin!

I cannot tell you what a lasting impression this made. I filled out a comment card with details about the condition of the ship and the constant odors but, sadly, I never received a response from Crystal. Each time that I receive promotional materials from you, I am reminded of our substandard experience on our 10th anniversary celebration cruise. I am also reminded of of your complete lack of customer service, with no response to my comments.

We will continue to cruise as our preferred vacation, but I assure you that it will not be aboard Crystal.

Sincerely,

N. Donahue, MD"
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  #4  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 11:30 AM
CruisinGerman CruisinGerman is offline
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Default It appears that Crystal ran the Harmony down before removing it.....

Caviargal --

The Harmony at that point was on its last legs as a Crystal vessel before being transferred to another Japanese division of its parent company.

I think there are two issues here:

1. What happened on that particular voyage and ship -- perhaps some compensation or at least an apology would be in order. Even if the ship is at the end of its life, there is no excuse for a "six star" cruise line to offer such an experience -- unless the condition of the ship was forewarned and an ample discount offered because of such condition. Your description sadly reminds me of the QE2 in the years leading up to the deploymnet of the QM2. The brochures announced a glamorous cruise experience, but the reality was different because of the age of the ship. However, the Harmony is not the QE2 and is a much newer ship so there would be no excuse for that.

2. I have been on the Symphony and Serenity recently. While my wife and I prefer the smaller, more intimate experience together with open seating dining (our favorite line in this respect is Silversea), we have very much enjoyed our Crystal cruises and find a great may aspects of the Crystal experience which exceed Silversea. The Crystal ships are fantastaic. The Serenity is still brand-smacking new and the Symphony is going through a refurbishment very soon.

The point I am making is that I would hope that, once this apparent unfortunate incident gets resolved, I would hope that the people involved would give Crystal another chance. There are many criticisms to be given to Crystal (inadequate cabin size for a luxury line, etc.), but all in all it is a great experience and the condition of their ships is not one of the criticisms they usually receive at the present time.

Kind regards,

Gunther and Uta

Last edited by CruisinGerman; October 2nd, 2006 at 11:37 AM.
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  #5  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 11:36 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Thank you for your comments.

I can only say that since Crystal has ignored their three attempts to acknowledge any issues aboard this sailing, it is highly unlikely that anything will be done at this point in time.

My SIL has given up but my brother commented just the other day - after depositing an Oceania sailing to the Med in 2007 - that he is still bothered by their lack of response.

He knows I am still trying to decide between an RSSC and Crystal voyage in December for my honeymoon and commented that he would not sail with Crystal again. Since I believe that this situation was indeed based on the Harmony leaving the fleet and not being kept up to standards, I decided to forward my SIL's comments to Crystal personally.

Since we enjoy cruising with them and Crystal is on our list to try, it would be nice to have them open to that option.
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  #6  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 11:38 AM
robbi robbi is offline
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My husband and I were on the same cruise, our second on the Harmony, and we did not experience any problems, especially with unpleasant ordors. Our stateroom was on the 7th deck and was perfectly fine. As to the "condition" of the ship in general, perhaps due to the fact it was the last cruise before the relocation & planned renovation, Crystal may have thought it was not necessary to do any refurbishing. In any event, your letter should have received a timely response.

Robbi
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  #7  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 11:52 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Robbi, it is my opinion that people can have different experiences while on the same cruise. Standards differ as do expectations. Crystal sets an expectation of a 6 star experience and needs to deliver what they promise. In the opinion my brother and SIL, it missed the mark by a good margin.

If timing was the issue, a simple response to their concerns would have gone a long way towards building goodwill.

I was not aboard so have no personal viewpoint. My concern has only to do with the lack of response in three attempts to contact Crystal.

I am hopeful that someone on this board will have an address or email contact that will ultimately result in a professional response that is long overdue.
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  #8  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 12:23 PM
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Crystal should have responded with a nice note apologizing for the worn upholstery and sewer odors. They might have noted that the other Crystal ships are in better shape, that Crystal has an agressive refurb and maintenance program that is the standard-bearer for all cruise lines. While the Harmony had some system troubles and worn upholstery, it was probably the best condition 16-year-old cruise ship that has ever sailed.

That said, I also noticed the worn upholstery, and have experienced the bad smells on certain cruises, in certain areas (including the stateroom). It was never more than a day or two, and reflects the challenging reality of keeping a city afloat (when that city has the entire sewage and ventilation system in the same building.)

I can't imagine such minor inevitabilities of sailing spoiling my vacation, nor making me avoid that particular line. And a lack of special response to such petit and well-known problems mentioned on a comment card is no sin, although a lack of response to a personal letter after the fact is a true error, no matter how large or small the complaint.

Slap of the wrist for Crystal failing to reply, and roll of the eyes for the complainers to expect a dramatic reaction to such a minor and routine issue.
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Last edited by All too soon...; October 2nd, 2006 at 12:26 PM.
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  #9  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 12:44 PM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by All too soon...

I can't imagine such minor inevitabilities of sailing spoiling my vacation, nor making me avoid that particular line. And a lack of special response to such petit and well-known problems mentioned on a comment card is no sin, although a lack of response to a personal letter after the fact is a true error, no matter how large or small the complaint.

Slap of the wrist for Crystal failing to reply, and roll of the eyes for the complainers to expect a dramatic reaction to such a minor and routine issue.
I have read the same comments in regards to some of the X ships that are currently sailing in a state of disrepair. Some X fans have no problems with poor maintainance, saying that it does not affect their cruise. For me personally, there is absolutely no way I would cruise again on Mercury or Galaxy as those details are important to me.

While you may consider sewage smells, soiled carpets and stained upholstery "minor" and "routine", I do not think it is in keeping with a cruise line Crystal.

As someone who has not yet sailed with the line, I would most definitely not be willing to overlook these issues. And as a TA, I would not expect my clients to either.
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  #10  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 01:47 PM
Kissing Seahorses Kissing Seahorses is offline
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Default Crystal should always respond to written complaints.

I sailed the Harmony far closer to it's handover than your Brother and Sister in Law, (August 2005) and all I can say is that the Hotel Director must have taken quick action internally in response to their comment card because sailing nearly a year later, I would have given the ship an A- for condition, not perfect, but hardly the garbage scow they describe either.

It has never been my understanding that Crystal responds directly to the individual regarding comment cards, although I'm sure it happens from time to time, but rather addresses them internally onboard or at the corporate office in Los Angeles when warranted.

It has been my experience that complaint letters are best sent immediately following the experience,with cc's to the booking TA, when memories on all sides are fresh and reasons and causes can be more easily attributed. Eight months after the fact, the best you can really expect is a letter apologizing for their "perception" of the condition of the ship infact, a legal, non apology. I'm sure that wouldn't have really been acceptable to them either but I agree that at they should have received, at minimum, that courtesy. It is my opinion that all written complaints should be somehow responded to, no matter how late they are submitted.
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  #11  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caviargal
While you may consider sewage smells, soiled carpets and stained upholstery "minor" and "routine", I do not think it is in keeping with a cruise line Crystal.
Certainly, these issues can be more than minor if they are ongoing and chronic.

However, I recognize that carpets and furniture get soiled when there are 800 guests using them every day. What counts is how such inevitabilities are handled (both cleaning and replacement). Same for engineering system issues. Sewage systems do occasionally emit smells. The question is whether a phone call gets it resolved promptly.

But when our room smelled bad for a day or two, or an elevator lobby smelled bad for a few days, it did not ruin our cruise. We knew they knew about it, and were doing their best. And if we mentioned it on our comment card, we did not expect a response.

But even though we would not have written a letter, those who do ALWAYS deserve a response.
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  #12  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 02:10 PM
pvangordon pvangordon is offline
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Just to clarify, their cruise was in Sept 04, not 05, correct? So this happened over 2 years ago and was prior to Crystal even announcing that Harmony would leave the fleet, right? If that's the case, I don't think the excuse of the Harmony leaving justifies a slippage in service quality. However, I don't necessarily think the two are related here. Your brother and SIL probably just had one bad experience (I sailed the Harmony twice after their cruise date and had a terrific time on both cruises).

While I would agree with the others that such an experience is not the norm and would encourage your relatives (and you) to sail Crystal, the fact is that I probably would have felt the same in their shoes. I accept that bad experiences and poor customer service can happen, but the real test is how the company responds to it. If they respond satisfactorily, I usually commend them for it and will try them again. If they don't give me a reasonable response, then I won't try them again and will let others know about my experience (don't get me started talking about my recent issue with Virgin Atlantic!!!). My vacation dollars are precious to me, so I won't squander them on a company that I don't respect or that might give me a less than wonderful experience.

At this stage, I don't think your relatives will get an answer to their complaint, so why bother pushing it? There are better ways to spend their time and money.
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  #13  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 02:59 PM
Judith02 Judith02 is offline
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Have them write to the senior vice president for hotel services of Crystal, Mr. Thomas Mazloum TMazloum@crystalcruises.com. He regularly reads our posts and has helped to solve many problems. Include their email and telephone numbers. I would expect him to answer them and would be surprised if he did not. He appreciates feedback, not just flattering comments (although everyone likes to hear those).
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caviargal
I am hopeful that someone on this board will have an address or email contact that will ultimately result in a professional response that is long overdue.
Last year I had a customer service issue that wound up on the desk of Natalie Middleton. Unfortunately, I do not remember her job title, however we communicated via email until the matter was satisfactorily resolved. Assuming Ms Middleton is still with Crystal, and working in the same position as last year, I would think she would be an appropriate person for you to deal with considering the nature of my situation as well as yours. Good luck!
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 03:04 PM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judith02
Have them write to the senior vice president for hotel services of Crystal, Mr. Thomas Mazloum TMazloum@crystalcruises.com. He regularly reads our posts and has helped to solve many problems. Include their email and telephone numbers. I would expect him to answer them and would be surprised if he did not. He appreciates feedback, not just flattering comments (although everyone likes to hear those).
Judith, I just dug out my copy of the email my SIL sent after her letter did not elicit a response. It was sent to Mr. Mazloum at the address above.

I will choose to assume that he never received it and send along a copy myself with my comments.

Thank you.

CG
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  #16  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 03:09 PM
LoveDeck10 LoveDeck10 is offline
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Default Cruise After the "Bad Experience"

My husband and I sailed right after these folks and can tell you we didn't have any issues with the condition of the ship. My experience is you need to look long and hard to find something wrong with any of the ships.

Our cruise was the first one to Mexico after the Harmony spent the summer in Alaska. We did have serious issues with air conditioning on that cruise to the point of discomfort. Yes we were uncomfortable especially when we went to the Captain's Quarters for cocktails. Did I complain, no. After all, here we were on a great vacation on our favorite cruise line having cocktails with the Captain.

Would I have complained on another cruise line? Quite honestly, yes. We are so enamored with Crystal, the crew, the experience, etc. that we overlook issues that someone who is new to Crystal may not. So my words of encouragement to the couple who had a bad experience.... Give Crystal another chance.

Also, having been in customer service and satisfaction roles for many years, I encourage anyone having an issue to speak up immediately! It's too late to save the experience if you're on your way off the ship to go home!
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 03:27 PM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveDeck10

Would I have complained on another cruise line? Quite honestly, yes. We are so enamored with Crystal, the crew, the experience, etc. that we overlook issues that someone who is new to Crystal may not. So my words of encouragement to the couple who had a bad experience.... Give Crystal another chance.

Also, having been in customer service and satisfaction roles for many years, I encourage anyone having an issue to speak up immediately! It's too late to save the experience if you're on your way off the ship to go home!
Thank you for posting that, as it was the point I was trying to make. Those who have had positive and enjoyable experiences with particular cruise lines, hotels, etc., can certainly be more forgiving when things are not up to snuff.

When one is trying a line for the first time, expectations are based on a variety of factors including word of mouth, reviews, etc. Their comparison was mainly to Regent (then Radisson) on which they had cruised several times and very much enjoyed.

As the one whose advice led them to book with Crystal, I was disappointed in their experience. My SIL tells me they did indeed bring the sewage odor issue to the appropriate person onboard (knowing my SIL I am certain more than once) but nothing was done. Perhaps they could have been relocated to an area not having that particular problem.

Yes, they did wait too long after returning home, but my SIL is a heart surgeon and stays busy; I assume it was not high on her list, more accurately a thorn in her side that she eventually got around to dealing with, again at my suggestion.

I have sent off the email on their behalf and will sincerely hope this one elicits a response. Acknowledgement of the issues they experienced, along with a simple apology to the lack of response, is certainly better late than never.
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  #18  
Old October 2nd, 2006, 05:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveDeck10
Quite honestly, yes. We are so enamored with Crystal, the crew, the experience, etc. that we overlook issues that someone who is new to Crystal may not.
To be honest (and I admit it is a form of bias that colors my opinions here) I feel just the same way. I was positively nonplussed when they didn't have any foie gras on board Symphony hiis spring, due to poor availability in Buenos Aires.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 08:50 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEAV
Last year I had a customer service issue that wound up on the desk of Natalie Middleton. Unfortunately, I do not remember her job title, however we communicated via email until the matter was satisfactorily resolved. Assuming Ms Middleton is still with Crystal, and working in the same position as last year, I would think she would be an appropriate person for you to deal with considering the nature of my situation as well as yours. Good luck!
Since my email to Mr. Mazloum has not been acknowledged (sent Monday) I tried to send a copy to Ms. Middleton using the same format. It came back undeliverable. If you have the correct address, please post.

Thank you.

CG
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  #20  
Old October 9th, 2006, 11:33 PM
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My experience with their central guest relations office was less than positive and I believe the ground rules for this board prohibit naming anybody by name (if it is at all negative). I guess it is permitted if it is complementary. Why bother if all you get is a form letter back telling you how great Crystal is?

Having said that, we sailed Harmony in August 2004 and again in November 2005 and found no smell of sewage or anything like that. In November they were preparing for the changeover so some shops were closed but the ship seemed in pretty good shape appearancewise.

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