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Everything posted by screen-gem

  1. It's a familiar tale. This webpage may be of help: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/azamara-club-cruises/
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Thanks for creating this new thread and seeding it with the recent posts about information sharing, data harvesting, personal privacy, etc.
  6. @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
  7. 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.
  8. Hi Bonnie, Love the new logo! Here's another little ToDo item for Carol's Marketing team.
  9. @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.
  10. This would be an ideal itinerary for an guest speaker from WWF. There's a rich selection of topics that a knowledgeable scientist could talk about: - how the Gulf Stream peters out as it flows north up the coast of Norway, meeting the frigid Arctic currents heading south. - the rapid warming of the Arctic, and resulting melting of sea ice and displacement of wildlife. - remarkable journey of an Arctic fox who was able to travel overland from Spitzbergen to Ellesmere Island in just 76 days. (seriously - it's an amazing story) But given the status of Azamara's partnership with WWF, that will never happen. It seems the relationship has been put in a rowboat and cast adrift. (See post #5 above). It's probably stuck in the Pacific Gyre somewhere. The AZ webpage about their much-hyped WWF program hasn't been updated since last year. It still lists WWF speakers for cruises last summer & fall (July through December 2018). No speakers at all listed for 2019. Getting back on the topic of this thread, that web page is another embarrassing example showcasing the 'Masters of Procrastination' in Miami. Bonnie, bless her soul, has pushed on this a number of times, to no avail.
  11. John E., That is not at all what happened. The two tour groups who were on the bus were both signed up for the Walk the Historic Walls excursion. No blending occurred. After walking through the Old Town from the tender, we boarded the bus just outside the Pile Gate. We immediately drove out of the city onto Hwy 8 which runs along the ridge above the city. Made one stop at a scenic overlook. Continued further east on the highway, turned around, and returned directly to the old town on the same route. Disembarked the bus. We then walked back through the Pile Gate and (finally) proceeded on to the wall. Sadly, by that time it was quite crowded, and the morning was half gone. If this bus diversion was expected to be a "Bus-City" tour, it would have been a huge waste of time (and money) for anyone who had signed up for such an excursion. The push-pin displayed on this Google Map will show you where the bus turned around, in the village of Čibača. It was perhaps an interesting drive to see a bit of rural Croatia, but not what was advertised.
  12. Phil, I did consider emailing the LCV office (I didn't know there was an "Ambassador"), but decided it would be a waste of time and bandwidth. It appears that the LCV team doesn't have the wherewithal to get their Newsletter mailed out reliably, witness lots of complaints on the lengthy thread pinned to the top of this board. Not their fault, of course. They are pushing on a rope that is insecurely tied to the AZ IT department. But if they don't have the corporate clout to get their own work product out the door to their target audience, I doubt they are in a position to influence the Shorex department. So why bother going down that road?
  13. Phil, Since you asked, I did follow it up, with an email to Miami nearly three weeks ago. I promptly got back this robo-reply: Hello from Royal Caribbean! Thank you for reaching out to us. My name is Jeffrey XXXXX and I am your dedicated Guest Experience team member and I look forward to assisting you. Please keep in mind that depending on your inquiry or concern my response time may vary. If at any point you need me immediately, please call me at (800) 256-6649.I will be in touch in 3 business days. I never heard from Jeffrey (whose last name I've redacted above, as he's just doing what he's paid to do). After waiting two weeks, I wrote to Jeffrey again, forwarding to him the robo-reply in which he promised a reply within 3 business days. That was five days ago. No response. I wouldn't be surprised if Jeffrey is blissfully unaware that he was committed to following up. Miami's much maligned back-office systems might have sent me the robo-reply but not actually routed anything to his inbox. At this point, there's really not much that Miami can do to make amends. An apology would be nice, though a bit late. They might send me a OBC voucher good on a future cruise, but I'd have to spend many thousands to use it. A refund to my credit card? LOL - that's not going to happen. What they should do is what I recommended in the email I sent them last month: However, my expectation that any meaningful action will take place is near-zero. Probably closer to the square root of minus-one (math majors will understand...)
  14. Last month we cruised around Italy on the Pursuit (Rome to Venice). Overall, it was quite pleasant: good food, calm seas, and the friendly & attentive staff we have come to expect on five previous weeks aboard the Journey. But the overall experience was marred by an AZ shore excursion that was not as advertised (and poorly executed). The "Walk the Historic Walls of Old Town" in Dubrovnik was advertised on the AZ website as a 3 3/4 hour walk around the walls surrounding the Old Town. Without so much as a by-your-leave, they added a 'panoramic' bus tour to start the excursion. After tendering ashore, we walked through the old town through the Pile Gate to the bus plaza, then stood around for ages waiting for a bus to arrive. And for a 2nd tour group to join us on the bus. It drove us way out of town. Made one stop at a scenic lookout overlooking the old town and Lokrum Island, then returned to the old city where we then made our way up the steep steps onto the wall. By this time, the wall was quite busy, it being Dubrovnik in the summer. As a result of the bus diversion, our walk around the wall was only 1:45, half of what was described in the write-up. The walk was quite rushed - the guide seemed to be on a forced march, probably trying to make up time from the delay waiting for the bus. Many of us couldn't hear the guide's commentary since the in-ear radio gadgets didn't have the range required. The little radios work fine if you're fairly close to the transmitter, but the reality of walking along the narrow walkway atop the wall is that the group got stretched out in a long line as people stopped to admire the views, take photos, or navigate around groups of other visitors. Upon return to the ship, I filled out the AZ Shore Excursion feedback form. Crickets. I sought out the manager of the shore excursion department and had a sit-down meeting to share with him our feedback: (a) the excursion was not as advertised and (b) what was provided was not well executed. He was completely dismissive of my concerns, and laid the responsibility off on the tour operator. I pointed out that the operator was not responsible for the inaccurate description published on the AZ website, nor in the printed Shorex booklet placed in the Pursuit cabins. I suggested that a partial refund might be in order (say, 50%, since the duration of the wall walk was half what was promised). He said he'd have to investigate and get back to me. I never heard from him. Later in the cruise, I followed up with his boss, the Manager of Onboard Marketing. He also said he'd look into it and get back to me. Never heard from him either. I don't know what annoys me more - the substandard excursion, or the total lack of follow-up from Azamara management. We don't normally take ship's excursions, and this experience is why not. Caveat Emptor.
  15. Been there, done that, but forgot to get the T-shirt. However, I did capture a time-lapse video sailing through the Geiranger Fjord. It's beautiful. GeirangerFjord_timelapse.mp4
  16. HGC, Thank you for posting photos of the interiors of City Hall. We were in Oslo a year ago prior to the Midnight Sun voyage on the Viking Star, but missed taking the tour of City Hall (in fact, we embarked from Bergen a year ago today). The friezes are splendid. Enjoy your adventure to the north. We had a great time. I hope Azamara has a "Kiss the Fish" ceremony.
  17. Another example is the schedule for their WWF speakers program. That web page has been out of date for six months. Yet another issue is that the descriptions of shore excursions may not correctly describe what is actually delivered. That happened to us on a recent Pursuit cruise. If you book and pay for an Azamara excursion, you may find that what is provided will not measure up. Caveat emptor.
  18. Based on our recent experience on the Pursuit, I would correct this to say "Shuttles are sometimes provided from port areas into local towns when not walkable". One of our stops was Giardini Naxos, Sicily. It's a port town, not far from Taormina which is the destination for this stop. Taormina is definitely not walkable from the port, unless you have hiking boots and lots of time (and stamina). Shuttles were not provided by Azamara. We were told that the influential Taxi Union was able to shut down shuttle services at the cruise terminal, to the benefit of the local taxi drivers. I don't know if this is applicable to all cruise lines calling on Taormina, or if Azamara decided not to make suitable 'arrangement$' in advance with the local authorities... We noticed a similar $ubstitution of transport $ervices at the next port, Siracusa. Half of the tender journeys were made by one of the ship's tenders, and half by a local boat. I was told that this was part of the arrangement$ made with the local authorities. The tender ride on the local boat was actually quite pleasant, with nice views of the harbor and old town.
  19. @BBMacLaird Bonnie, ☀️Happy Summer☀️! With the Summer Solstice just passed, we are now officially into the summer sailing season. I apologize for bringing this up again, but 2019 is now almost half over and your WWF page still lists last year's speakers. With no updates since last fall, it really looks like the program has been abandoned. Perhaps your colleagues in Miami decided to quietly shut it down, as they did with Azamara's much loved bicycle tours? I certainly hope not, but that's what the evidence suggests. Last month, you indicated that the reason for the stale website was that the web gurus had all been busy. Seven weeks later, I'm not sure that excuse holds much water. They've found time to post all sorts of 'general interest' content, such as "Mediterranean Movie Magic" and "Five Reasons Why Golf Cruises Make the Best Vacations". If the WWF programme is still alive and well, surely they can find some time to post the Speaker schedule for the rest of the year, if it exists. On the other hand, if there are no Speakers planned, I think it would be best to update the WWF webpage accordingly and indicate that the program is on hiatus. Otherwise, some might conclude that Azamara is simply indulging in some corporate greenwashing. I'm sure that's not the case, but perceptions have a funny way of becoming reality. I know your hands are tied in getting the website updated. You simply don't have enough starch on hand to stiffen the rope on which you're pushing. However, as suggested before, perhaps you can post the WWF Speaker schedule here (if it exists) and get the information out to your CC clientele. And if there is no schedule for future speakers, tell us. We'll understand. Have a great summer!
  20. @Host Grandma Cruising Another data point for your spreadsheet: - May 28, 2019 sailing of Azamara Pursuit (10 days). - cabin booked: DV2 - many months ago (shortly after booking), I submitted the request form under the 'old' upgrade system ($395USD/cabin), and received an acknowledgement back from Azamara. - in March, thanks to CC I learned the old program had been cancelled, replaced by the new bid-what-you-will system. Like others have reported here, attempts to submit a bid were refused ('you are not eligible', etc). After several emails back and forth with a "team leader" at AZ, the upgrade page suddenly came alive for me. - Mar 22: submitted bid of $200USD/pp (=$400 per cabin), essentially the same as what we would have paid under the old system. This bid was judged as "weak". - May 26 (2 days before sailing), AZ sent an email notifying that my bid was not successful. This was not a surprise. Unlike many who have posted on this forum, we are near the bottom of the priority list, having only sailed on AZ for a total of 5 weeks (plus one short Celebrity cruise). LCV level is Adventurer.
  21. You can click here, then fill in the left part of the form, "Register for Connections".
  22. @excitedofharpenden @Host Grandma Cruising and others who may chime in. Thanks for the tips on Sibenik.
  23. We'll be in Sibenik next month, off the Pursuit. What would you recommend we do/see during our short visit there? Thanks.
  24. I fear that "Steven" will be barred from sailing on Azamara, since he tried to stuff the ballot box with multiple responses. Perhaps they've taken the survey down temporarily while they corect the speeling misteakes, and add missing countries to the list.
  25. Is there a 2019 schedule? If it exists, perhaps you can post it here. That will take the pressure off your web gurus (who frankly, have had 4 months to get to it), and get the information out to your most valued clientele in a timely manner.
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