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screen-gem

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About screen-gem

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Canada
  • Interests
    cruising
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Azamara, Windstar
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Istanbul

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  1. Our current 'Swiss Alps' booking (river cruise next month) was made using substantial Viking travel vouchers they gave us following a screw-up on a previous cruise. Does anyone know from discussions with Viking if value of those vouchers will transfer over to a replacement booking in 2021 or 2022? If not, that would make the price of the future cruise significantly more expensive. Something else to consider.
  2. Viking notified us via email last night of an exception to their cancellation policy: "In view of this we are for the time being making a temporary exception to our cancellation policy so that you can be free to postpone your cruise at any time up until 24 hours before the planned departure, without incurring any cancellation fees. You will be issued a voucher for future travel valid for 24 months, which can be used on any Viking product (river, ocean or expedition). This temporary exception to our standard cancellation policy is applicable for all guests who currently have a reservation with Viking and for all new reservations made through April 30, 2020". It's signed by Richard Marnell, Executive Vice President.
  3. I agree -- I don't have any issue at all with more rigorous screening. It's an excellent thing to do to help keep passengers (and crew) safe. The problem with any health questionnaire is that customers have a huge disincentive to not be fulsome in their answers. If one has pre-paid thousands of dollars and spent many hours traveling to the embarkation pier, one won't be encouraged to self-report a minor cough or a scratchy throat when asked to fill in the questionnaire. In any event, I'd just like to know what process Viking will follow (and have been following in past seasons) with regard to onward arrangements with Viking that were already bought and paid for. We were on a Viking Star cruise a couple years ago that was stricken with norovirus, believed to be introduced by contaminated oysters at the Raw Bar one night. We spent an extra day docked at Bordeaux while the situation unfolded. For a couple of hours, the ship was quarantined by local port authorities and we were not permitted to get off. Fortunately, the quarantine was lifted pretty quickly, and we had an extra day to explore Bordeaux -- not a bad place for an unplanned layover:-)
  4. Viking should already have the answers. This is nothing new. Their existing embarkation procedure includes a health-screening questionnaire, though less rigorous than the new one just announced. Their existing cruise contract (with all the fine print that no-one ever reads:- ) gives them the right to refuse boarding if they so choose. So they must already have a policy in place that defines how they deal with the onward arrangements of Customers who were refused boarding. They might tweak the policy a bit for the upcoming river cruise season, but the starting point will be Viking's existing policy that's been in place for prior seasons.
  5. We're sailing (motoring?) on the Viking Hild from Zurich to Paris in April. If one 'fails' the screening at embarkation in Basel (perhaps due to a scratchy throat & cough following long overseas flight, or a slightly elevated temp, not due to coronavirus), does anyone know what happens? They have the unilateral right to deny boarding, and they might take a very conservative position given the growing threat of the virus. Having been denied boarding, will Viking also cancel the pre-paid hotel in Paris that's part of the Viking package at the end of the cruise? Will they cancel the post-cruise package that's been booked/paid for? Will they cancel the return air arrangements from CDG that were made through Viking Air?? I asked my TA, and she didn't know. Seems a reasonable question that Viking should be able to answer.
  6. Bonnie, Thanks for the update. Glad to see the wonderful WWF partnership hasn't faded to black. There's been silence for so long, I was afraid it had been cast adrift. The newly-refreshed world-wildlife-fund webpage says: "On select sailings, join a WWF speaker to learn about their conservation work and how it connects to the destinations you are visiting." It lists three South Africa sailings with WWF speakers, but they are not until 2021. Are there any voyages with speakers planned for 2020? That might tempt us to return to Azamara. (our next planned voyage is a river cruise - sadly, the AZ ships don't fit on the narrow rivers and locks in Europe:-) Best wishes for Winter season⛄️❆🌨🎄.
  7. It's a familiar tale. This webpage may be of help: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/azamara-club-cruises/
  8. Sincere thanks to @snowglobe for composing such an articulate and cogent summary. Having read the flurry of replies on this thread in the last couple of days, I was about to respond with something very similar, but there's not much more I could add. Several recent posts suggested creative ways by which direct contact might be made with Ms. Cabezas, without publishing my personal information that Bonnie repeatedly requested. Thanks to procter, NC&KY, HGC, and rallydave for those ideas. However, they are not necessary. I really have no compelling reason to personally communicate with the COO, and I'm sure she has better things to do with her executive day. I'm not seeking 'resolution' for the sub-standard excursion Azamara delivered in Dubrovnik, nor the repeated lack of promised follow-up. The intention of this thread was to make the broader CC community aware that they may not get what is advertised when they book an AZ shore excursion. It's abundantly clear from replies here that my experience is not an isolated case, and as snowglobe observes "many guests will also not get satisfaction with some of the current shore excursions being sold by Azamara in their Voyage Planners". It's also become evident that purchasing excursions from Azamara is really a matter of buyer beware. Ya pays your money and ya takes yer chances. My reason for tracking down and then citing Azamara's COO was to encourage Bonnie to bring this issue to the attention of the senior executive responsible. Not my issue with a misadvertised and poorly delivered shore excursion, but the systemic issues that have emerged in various replies here. I attempted to summarize in post #43 so Ms. Cabezas wouldn't have to read through a 4-page long CC thread. In a past life, I used to be a CxO. If the myriad customer-impacting issues that have surfaced here had been going on in my organization, I would have wanted to know about them. Frankly, I think the COO could spend a fruitful, perhaps eye-opening, half-hour reading through this thread, and another recent thread about the Masters of Procrastination. The latter highlights a number of areas where Azamara might also wish to focus some attention. As they now roll out their new Land Program, one hopes some meaningful improvements will be forthcoming. In the meantime, those considering Azamara shore excursions should take the published descriptions with grains of (sea) salt, be aware that they may not get what was advertised, and set their expectations accordingly.
  9. Bonnie, I did not post my booking number on this forum for reasons that were clearly articulated in other replies on this thread. I did not post my full name here as you requested for reasons that should be obvious. Your personnel in Miami could track me down if they so desired, and they don't need the booking number. There is sufficient information in this thread to do so. They just have to figure it out, and look at their own records. If they need to research what we booked and what we received, your colleagues may wish to read post #1 in this thread. I'll summarize. We booked the Walk the Historic Walls of Dubrovnik off the Pursuit last month. It was advertised on the AZ website as a 3 3/4 hour walk around the walls surrounding the Old Town. What we received was a walk around the walls that lasted less than half that. We got a bus trip that went well out of town that was not part of the description for the excursion. While on the wall walk, many of us couldn't hear the guide's commentary since the in-ear radio gadgets didn't have the range required to cope with the physical environment. That's what we received. What we didn't receive was any follow-up from on-board staff after providing both written and face-to-face feedback. I'd be more than happy to speak with the senior manager to discuss this further and provide some constructive feedback on how Azamara might do things better. You could post his/her name and email (or phone number) here and I will make contact. Quite frankly, clicking the /contact-us link you provided is a waste of time for everyone. Thanks for passing on my feedback up the COC. That's what I hoped you'd be able to do. I trust that it got to a suitably senior person in the Azamara management chain who will be able to address the systemic issues that are impacting Customer Sat.
  10. Alas, nothing from Azamara. The last contact was the robo-reply from the guest experience team last month that promised a follow-up within 3 business days. And of course Bonnie's request in post #46 that I publish my full name and booking number. I must say that I wasn't really expecting any meaningful followup. They've had three opportunities: I provided (1) immediate written feedback about the dud excursion on the Shorex Feedback form, (2) more detailed feedback in a face-to-face with the shorex manager, and then (3) comments on the post-cruise survey. If I were a fan of baseball, I'd probably observe "three strikes and you're out". But I'm not, so I won't. In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that the post-cruise survey did result in a reply. It was typical feel-good boilerplate bumf: 'Thank you for responding to the survey. We take all guest feedback seriously. Rest assured your comments will be forwarded to the appropriate department. We look forward to seeing you aboard again soon...'. Quite frankly, the reason for posting here in the first place was not to elicit a follow-up from AZ, but to alert the broader CC community that they may not get what is advertised when they purchase an Azamara excursion. I think it's better that Customers adjust their expectations in advance (sadly, downward), so as to not be disappointed if the experience does not live up to the promise. And Customers should also be aware that if they do end up with a sub-standard excursion, they really have no recourse. They bought it, they paid for it; if it wasn't what was in the description, tough luck. That was certainly our experience. Note that I wrote MAY not get what was advertised. To be sure, Azamara can and does deliver excellent shore excursions. On this cruise, we took a second AZ excursion and it was exactly what one would expect: it delivered what was in the description, the guide was great, and the logistics were well-managed. That should be the norm for a cruise line that positions itself as a top-tier premium player. On this voyage, we also took a number of independent (3rd party) tours and excursions, all of which I'd recommend. I can't say the same for the Azamara offerings. Bonnie stated that she'd make sure this thread "reaches the appropriate eyes". I hope she does so, and I hope it gets routed to the Office of the COO. The various follow-on replies posted here about poor shorex experiences, inadequate customer follow-up, and inaccurate (or impossible-to-deliver) shorex descriptions indicate there are some systemic issues that need to be addressed by Miami. Perhaps this thread will catalyze some executive attention, and an action plan to address them.
  11. Thanks for creating this new thread and seeding it with the recent posts about information sharing, data harvesting, personal privacy, etc.
  12. @Host Grandma Cruising HGC, In the last day or so, this thread has veered way off topic (Beware AZ Shore Excursions not as Advertised) into a discussion about posting booking numbers, email addresses, data mining, and the like. As Host/Moderator, do you have the wherewithal to start up a new thread on the topic and move the latest posts (#58-76) there? I think the topic of 'internet hygiene' is a very useful discussion, and perhaps is even worthy of a sticky given the realities of life on the internet these days. The off-topic 'detour' was triggered by post #46, in which Bonnie asked me to publish my full name and booking number from our recent cruise. I can well imagine a newcomer to CC, or someone with limited internet savvy, reading her request and concluding that posting such personal information is indeed an appropriate and proper way to interact with Azamara. Bonnie is a well-known personality on this forum -- she's an Azamara official, and has a formal corporate title. It's easy to see how someone reading her post ("I am awaiting your booking number...") might conclude that's how things are done around here, and lead people to post information they really shouldn't (for all the reasons mentioned in the latest posts). A thread devoted to 'best practices' would raise awareness of the inherent dangers of using public forums like CC, and give newcomers some ideas on how to protect their personal privacy (such as using a dedicated forum-only email address). Thanks (and thanks for being a Host) s-g
  13. Bonnie, You stated that I revealed full names of team members. “Names” - plural. “Members” - plural. Let’s examine that assertion. In post #1, I cited the shorex manager on Pursuit who promised to investigate and get back to me. (He never did). I did not mention his name. I described my follow-up interaction with his boss, who also said he’d get back to me, but didn’t. I did not mention his name. Subsequently, in post #5 I quoted an extract from an email received from Miami in response to an email I sent. I deliberately redacted the representative’s last name (XXXXX) so as to preserve his privacy. As for disclosing the identity of your Chief Operating Officer, her name is a matter of public record. Ms. Cabezas is one of the two** Named Officers at the top of Azamara’s executive team. (The other is Larry Pimentel, the Chief Executive Officer). Anyone on this forum, indeed anyone on the internet, can find the name of the COO in about 10 seconds. Here’s the Google search to do so: https://www.google.com/search?q=azamara+coo However, one need not consult with Google — her identity is publicly posted on the Azamara website. Go to the home page at www.azamara.com. Click the About link at the bottom, then click Our Leadership. That’s it — two clicks. The entire roster of the executive team is displayed, including the COO’s name, her photo, educational and work history, corporate responsibilities, even her place of residence and family status. So the notion that I’ve somehow disclosed sensitive personnel information is preposterous. You’ve asked that I publish my full name here. I respectfully decline. See posts #48, #49, & #59. Not to mention the Common Sense Guide to Using the Internet. If your colleagues in Miami wish to contact me, there is already sufficient information in my posts on this thread for them to connect with me. But frankly, I think Miami’s resources would be better applied to addressing the issues that have emerged in this thread. You said that you will "make sure this thread reaches the appropriate eyes" . I’ll repeat what I said before - the depth and breadth of what’s surfaced here should be of concern to the executive responsible (i.e., your COO). There are clearly some systemic issues that are negatively impacting Customer Sat. However, you know the inner workings of the Miami machine better than I do. If there is a more suitable person up the “COC” (Chain of Command) who will get things done, by all means send it to her/him. Perhaps not the entire thread (which is growing longer by the day). The summary that I collated in post #43 should be sufficient to convey the salient topics and indicate where more corporate attention is needed. ** Correction - it just occurred to me that Azamara has not two CxOs, but three. My mistake: I forgot about the well-known Chief Blogging Officer! Although you’re not listed along with the other CxOs, a search for “azamara cbo" has revealed your own webpage at azamara.com which is nice to see. It should be required reading by certain on-board staff who don't think you exist! I know I speak for many CC members when I say that we appreciate your efforts here answering questions and attempting to resolve Customer issues as best you can.
  14. Hi Bonnie, Love the new logo! Here's another little ToDo item for Carol's Marketing team.
  15. @BBMacLaird Bonnie, Thanks for responding. I appreciate that you took the time to offer an apology on behalf of your on-board and shoreside colleagues for whom Customer Satisfaction is apparently not a priority. You suggested that our Walk the Walls excursion was changed at the last minute. Frankly, I don’t think that’s what happened. When I met with the Pursuit’s Shorex manager to share my feedback, he said nothing of the sort. If there had been some last minute change, that would have been the time for him to explain that they’d had to make adjustments due to X, or Y, or Z. And apologized for it. And then apologized for failing to notify in advance the Customers who had purchased that excursion. But he did none of those things. Instead, he denied there was any problem. That was contradicted by the facts at hand, so he then shifted to deflecting responsibility to the tour operator. I was not impressed. You said you would make sure that this thread will reach the "appropriate eyes". I hope the these eyes include those of Carol Cabezas. As the Azamara executive responsible for Sales, Marketing, and Shipboard Operations, she is clearly the person with the responsibility to initiate the appropriate interventions. The outpouring of replies to this thread since I posted on Friday indicate that there are some systemic issues that need her attention. If I were in her shoes, I would certainly be troubled that the Shorex department is advertising inaccurate shore excursions that might mislead Customers and set false expectations. This issue goes beyond our experience in Dubrovnik. See for example the post by @snowglobe about a number of problematic descriptions for upcoming excursions in NZ, linked here. Ms Cabezas should be perplexed that some on-board managers are dismissive of Customer’s concerns and fail to follow up in a timely manner. Not just my experience, but here (“shore excursion staff does not care”) and here (“zero empathy or people skills”). And of course the Dubrovnik experience reported by @Ithikan ("abject rudeness"), linked here. I’m sure she was furious when she learned the Marketing department recently published a description of the Norwegian cruise that was mistakenly titled “SEE MORE OF ICELAND THAN EVER BEFORE” even though the itinerary didn’t go to Iceland. An improved focus on Quality Control is surely indicated. In case that gaffe didn’t come to her attention, it’s linked here. In addition to incorrect information on the website, it also suffers from out-of-date or missing material. If you bring this thread to her attention, you might point out the WWF speaker schedule webpage, which has not been updated since last fall. That oversight is surely something that can easily be corrected, assuming that the WWF program still exists. Finally, permit me to offer some related feedback from a customer perspective. As I mentioned in my original post here, three weeks ago I received an email from my “Dedicated Guest Experience team member”, promising a follow-up in 3 business days. The email was sent from a rccl.com email address. The first line said “Hello from Royal Caribbean”. The signature block said “Guest Experience Management, Royal Caribbean International”. While I don’t know much about marketing, I know that this is not the way to build a brand. Azamara is a small fish in a big pond, and it should be taking every opportunity to imprint its own brand whenever/wherever possible. This is all the more important given the new corporate initiative to rebrand the company (farewell Azamara Club Cruises), establish a new logo, and launch the new Land program. I would respectfully suggest that all correspondence to Azamara passengers, past and future, should come from an azamara.com address, and promote the Azamara brand, not RCI or RCCL. That's it. I hope the "appropriate eyes" that you put this thread in front of don't shoot the messenger. Deflect the blame to a concerned guest who hopes to sail on Azamara again in the future.
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