What's Fair Compensation for Canceled Cruise Calls?

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#1
Boston, MA
1,075 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
In Mid March, a damaged thrust bearing impacted the 76,000-ton, 2,000-passenger Aurora's maximum cruising speed, prompting the P&O Cruises to cancel calls in Wellington, Napier, Bay of Islands, Moorea and Papeete. Passengers spent roughly six days docked in Auckland while the ship underwent repairs.

No question, missing that many ports on an expensive world cruise is a depressing prospect. But P&O compensated each Aurora passenger £500 for their troubles, plus provided a prorated refund equal to four days of their cruise fares. While the ship was stuck in Auckland, the line also offered free sightseeing tours, shuttle service to the downtown hotspots, and an open bar onboard.

We'd like to know: Is this fair? And what do you think is fair compensation for missed ports on a cruise? Share you experiences here!
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Dan Askin
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#2
Austin, TX
1,984 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
Pretty much every cruise line has some statement on the sailing contract that the schedule may change at any time so legally they do not need to do anything if this type of thing happens. Should they? Depends on if they want repeat business.
#5
Tucson, AZ or Zurich, CH
1,949 Posts
Joined May 2006
This is a tough one. I personally do not know all the details but this is a little more than missing a few hours in one port. How many passengers lost out on pre-paid independent tours? How many really missed a port they wanted to visit?

I have read many posts that people wrote “ship happens” no big deal. I got to think it was a big deal to the passengers that got stuck. So I don’t know what is fair. But I do know that P&O should offer something above and beyond what they have. Maybe a free 7-12 night cruise or something.

Just relieved I’m not in the middle of all this.
John
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#6
2,874 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Hello,

Sounds fair to me. A cruise ship is not a childrens nursery or a plantation and things will happen that may cause the cruise to be less than advertised. It seems to me that P and O did the best that they could under difficult circumstances.

Fred
#7
New Jersey
3,516 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
It's definitely a bummer when your ship misses ports. It's happened to me countless times. It's one of the reasons why, for instance, our piece on cruise weddings strongly advises caution when planning a ceremony in port -- if the ship has to skip the call for some reason, you lose out.

One of the risks involved with booking a pre-paid independent tour -- and thanks, John, for mentioning it -- is that you could lose your money if the ship has a problem. You may get no compensation. Know that, going in. If you book a ship tour, you'll get a full refund. But that's one of the reasons why ship tours are priced higher, typically, than independent ones. There's more "insurance".

Carolyn

Carolyn Spencer Brown
Editor in Chief
Cruise Critic

Originally posted by AZjohn
This is a tough one. I personally do not know all the details but this is a little more than missing a few hours in one port. How many passengers lost out on pre-paid independent tours? How many really missed a port they wanted to visit?

I have read many posts that people wrote “ship happens” no big deal. I got to think it was a big deal to the passengers that got stuck. So I don’t know what is fair. But I do know that P&O should offer something above and beyond what they have. Maybe a free 7-12 night cruise or something.

Just relieved I’m not in the middle of all this.
John
#8
Michigan/Ontario border
4,292 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Missing a couple ports in the Caribbean during hurricane season is something I could shrug off. On a 93 night world cruise, missing exotic ports in the South Pacific and the Antipodes is something else again.

Of course I don't fault P&O for the fact a mechanical problem happened. However, £500 ( $713 US) is less than 6% of the cruise fare paid, according to reports. About 23% of the itinerary was affected - again, according to news reports. Those numbers don't appear to add up, at least to me.

Since most world cruises are sold in sections, I think P&O might have offered a complementary 2010 world section to affected passengers.

I have absolutely no first hand knowledge of this situation. I haven't heard the reasoning or mathematics P&O applied to the situation, and might readily change my mind if that was eludicated.

However, to an outside observer, most of these problems seem to start with bad people skills on the part of the cruise company. When the unexpected and unpleasant happens, letting the pax know what's going on, being sympathetic, and presenting a public face that doesn't shout "What we're really worried about is being sued" seems to be key. Also, lowball compensation offers, as if this was an aggressive contract negotiation, don't help.

It's been observed by other posters on other boards that mechanical difficulties also occurred on Crystal and Regent world cruises, and no news stories have appeared about those incidents. Again, I have no personal knowledge if the compensation issue was handled better, whether luxury cruisers are more phlegmatic, or if some other factor is in play.
#9
Fredericksburg, va. USA
79,836 Posts
Joined May 2001
Most folks cruise for the cruising experience and the ship---I mean, if you were THAT interested in the ports, you'd just book a vacation directly there and actually spend time in that port, without the possiblity of missing it!
#10
Los Angeles
7,891 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
I've only missed one port on all of my cruises, so I'm not an expert by any means, but Princess only refunded us the port fees (or at least I'm guessing that's what the rfund of $25 was for). And yes, I was disappointed, as that was one reason I booked that cruise was to see Santorini & Mykonos. I met half of my objective.

I think the cruiseline has tried to be fair. The 500 pounds + the four days paid of the cruise fare, and gave free tours & shuttles to town, sounds reasonable.

While I know the disappointment, we take the chance "...that the cruiseline can change itinerary for mechanical problems, weather, OR FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER..." Seems to be a pretty standard phrase in most all the cruiselines contracts. Whether it has ever been challenged in court, I don't know, but we give them that right when we book passage.

I don't cruise for the ships, I cruise for the ports, so when a port is missed it can be devastating. Would I be satisfied if I were on your cruise, I can't really say. I'm glad I've never been in that situation. Hopefully everyone enjoyed the cruise before/after the problem.
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Eleanor
#12
New York State
2,652 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
After reading this thread I went looking for more information about this particular sailing and found that the ship in question has had continual problems since being launched in 2000. While I may not normally subscribe to the "bad luck" theory it's hard to overlook the problems that have occurred since the champaigne bottled failed to break while she was being christened

For this particular sailing I would expect the cruiseline should reimburse the passengers one half of their fares for this first segment of the world cruise. Some passengers will be getting off in San Franciso and others joining the cruise as it continues onto Southhampton. The cruiseline failed to provide a seaworth vehicle to those purchasing a cruise. That failure, is what caused the missed ports which the cruiseline should be responsible for. Yes, I know "should" and "are" aren't always the same thing but can't hurt to dream about a perfect world can it?

Normally I do firmly beleive that one signs a contract when purchasing a cruise that says that no ports are guarenteed so when a port is missed becasuse of weather or health emergencies there is no required compensation. When on a ship in the ocean things happen that are simply out of anyone's control. Safety of passengers always comes first and unfortunately ports get missed and/or changed due to weather and/or health emergencies of passengers. I do think that when this happens port fees should be reimbursed to passengers and while NOT required, it is GOOD customer service to offer passengers a gesture of understanding for their disappointment in the form of an OBC in the amount of say $50 pp. While certainly NOT a requirement the goodwill that a cruiseline can earn by offering this far outweights the amount of the OBC(remembering that an OBC of $50 will actually cost the cruiseline far far less than the 50 pp in terms of real dollars because of their markups)

I do beleive that a ships failure to perform which causes ports to be missed should be an entirely different story than weather issues that can not be controlled by a cruiseline. When a cruiseline fails to provide a seaworth vehicle they should be held responsible for missed ports. I think it needs to be a rembursed percent of cruisefare paid back to the passengers. I'll leave it to the math experts to determine the formula for determining the amount to be refunded.
#13
Las Vegas, NV
2,058 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by Dan Askin
But P&O compensated each Aurora passenger £500 for their troubles, plus provided a prorated refund equal to four days of their cruise fares. While the ship was stuck in Auckland, the line also offered free sightseeing tours, shuttle service to the downtown hotspots, and an open bar onboard.

We'd like to know: Is this fair? And what do you think is fair compensation for missed ports on a cruise? Share you experiences here!
I'm a few decades away from having the time and $$ to do an around the world or more than 30 day cruise. $750 +refund + free shuttles + free excursions + open bar + beaches like this:



I'd say all is forgiven.
#14
922 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Originally posted by AZjohn
How many passengers lost out on pre-paid independent tours? How many really missed a port they wanted to visit?
Thouse pre-paid tours can all add up so I can understand there frustration and belive they should have these refunded if they can provide docuements proving they will be out of pocket + £500.00 etc etc
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#15
Slough, UK
92 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
I sympathize with passengers on this world cruise. However, it is a fact that ships, like any mechanical device, can have malfunctions. This ship has a history for "bad luck" situations and I, personally, might have taken that into consideration before booking such a long cruise.

I fear it is impossible to placate everyone in this situation (should the apparent 600 who have complained receive bigger compensation than those who have not?) etc. etc.

A previous post mentioned repeat business which is a matter for the cruise line to judge. In this case I feel P&O have delivered a fair and appropriate compensatory service. Maybe I would not feel quite the same had I saved for 20 years to participate in this cruise - but I don't think that situation is likely to arise for me.

Final thought, I would much prefer to be stranded on a ship with propulsion problems than an aircraft!
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#16
Bristol, UK
1,296 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Compensation is like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. What is acceptable to one person is not to another, some want their pound of flesh. Although ports of call were missed, the cruise line still provided all meals and in addition gave money back and a free bar. On the face of it, imo that sounds a good deal, after all without those ports of call, the passengers may have spent less money at the shops in those ports
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Geoff & Sally
OVC is Oldland Village Club
#17
328 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I agree with some of the others - a refund of port taxes paid should be it.

You are on a ship, at sea. Sometimes things happen and you should realize that before you go.
#18
Raleigh, N.C.
11,215 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
We were late getting to St. Thomas on a Princess cruise and received $100 per person onboard credit. I thought it was more than generous. We did not get anything the time we skipped Princess Cays and went to Nassau instead.

The amount being offered by P&O also sounds generous. Credit for four days plus a chance to see Auckland.

As for prepaid tours, I wouldn't book any unless they offered a refund if the ship doesn't make it to that port. If people did book ones that are non-refundable, perhaps they can file a claim with their travel insurance to be reimbursed.
#19
San Francisco
1,712 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
The compensation seems way more than fair.

Several of the passengers left the ship in Aukland and then rejoined in San Francisco. Most of the passengers were from the UK and we all know they have excellent trip insurance and I am sure they were also compensated by the insurance company. perhaps some of you Brits can tell us more about the insurance you guys get.

I spoke with many of the passengers and crew when they were in SF and most of them made lemonade out of lemons and are still pretty loyal to P&O.

There were apparently 1175 people that were on the entire RTW cruise. That's a lot of folks and a lot of $$$ ( UK pounds, no symbol on this computer )

What a nice group of people, they would be welcome back to our city anytime (SFO)
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#20
toronto, ontario,canada
558 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
I certainly agree that the compensation paid was quite generous. I've missed ports a number of times due to weather and mechanical problems. Port fees have been refunded when weather was the problem. The best I've received is $100. when we missed 2 ports due to mechanical problems. I can certainly relate to the disappointment experienced on missing ports and I'm sure if you've paid big dollars for a RTW, you would be very upset. However, compared to my experience, I feel P&O did a good job this time.