Ever been left at pier? What was your experience reaching ship?

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Houston TX
88 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
My traveling friend and I were late reaching the pier in Copenhagen on #7218, Copenhagen-Stockholm due to weather in the States. This was
my 7th Crystal cruise and her 6th. First time this has happened. We arrived in Copenhagen rushed to pier and I mean rushed by taxi sans luggage which was to be sent to us in Arhus. We reached the pier just as the Symphony wa pushing away and we were stopped by a Crystal rep and told us the Capt would not wait. The rep at the airport was told he would wait. Taken back to the airport to get our luggage, we both had two large and one carry-on were taken to purchase tickets to Arhus and waited 3 hours for a 25 minute flight in beautiful weather. We had to wait 30 minutes for a taxi, even though we were told there would be some at the airport, and had to pay $100 for the fare to Arhus (not close to the airport). Crystal did reserve us rooms at the hotel and once the driver gave us our heavy luggage the onus was on us to get it inside as we were told there are no porters in Denmark. My friend checked us in as I dragged all the bags in one at a time. We were assigned rooms on the 3rd floor about a mile from the elevator (lucky there was one). While the rest of the guests on Crystal were enjoying a wonderful dinner, my friend and I had to settle for BurgerKing across fromt the hotel, we were told the kitchen closed at 10, a minute before we arrived. Too tired to walk a mile to open restaurant we settled for BK. Next morning we were at the port and watched as the ship came in 30 to 45 minutes ahead of schedule.
Were we wrong to be upset? We were told about 4 different stories as to why we were left behind, the worst was expected bad weather ahead (outright falsehood). Our TA now tells us she will book future travel overseas to arrive a day ahead. We already are booked on 0ct 24 Montreal to Miami for this year (our 3rd for 2007) but we had planned to book the North Cape trip for 2008 while on board but my friend was just too angry and now says she will not cruise Crystal at all next year or maybe not again. Luckily we both had insurance and will be reimbursed our expenses.
88,705 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Sorry to hear about you and your friend missing the ship.

I have never been late for the cruise ship. But, I have to tell you that we always arrive two to three days prior to the cruise. We do this for a variety of reasons. This includes getting over the jet lag, to taking time to see the city where the ship is leaving from or a nearby city and most importantly not risking missin the ship. With planes running at full capacity there is to much that can go wrong, particularly if you have a connection. And if your first flight is canceled there is less likelihood that you can get on another flight that day and if your first flight is delayed you run the risk of not getting on another connection that day. Further too many things can go wrong from weather, to computer glitches, to airport security issues causing a shutdown of the airport, to mechanical issues and the list goes on and on and on......

I know sometimes there are other commitments that can make it challenging to go in ahead of time but for all of the reasons I have mentioned we have always gone in ahead of time.

So, going forward, I would recommend going in ahead of time.

There are times that it is not possible for the ship to wait and there are lots of factors involved. Sometimes the captain has to make a decision that is in the best interest of the ship and the majority of passengers.

For what it is worth, when we left out of Copenhagen in the Fall of 2006, we were on Seabourn, and I remember that the Captain had to get us out of port quickly and we needed to move rapidly as there was a storm that he was trying to avoid. And, while he did fairly well, it was quite rough the first day out to sea.

When you arrived on the ship, did you followup to ask about the ship leaving before you arrived to see if you could get one straight story on this.

Again, all I can recommend to avoid this in the future is to always go in ahead of time which sounds like you will do the next time.

Boca Raton, Florida
6,793 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
Please still consider the North Cape/Arctic cruise. Lots of us will be on it and we'll look forward to meeting you. It was our favorite itinerary of all our Crystal cruises. Not to be missed. Poster Margie will be on your next cruise and was on this year's North Cape cruise. Ask her about it -- they enjoyed it also.

As for missing the ship, I agree the best policy is arriving a day early. We have never come close to that at embarkation day, but twice we have been on excursions that were way overdue. Probably because they were ship's excursions (I don't take all day ones from other companies because I am afraid of missing the ship if we are late), but not only did the ship wait for the motor coach but Marco, the shore excursion manager, was outside wiating for us.

Luckily your insurance will reinburse you. I am finding out that having insurance is worth the expense.

Houston TX
88 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Believe me while I can take things in stride my friend is the complete opposite, she was told by the captain himself that he misunderstood the time frame instead of 15 minutes he heard 50 minutes which I can understand, then he told her at another time that it would have cost Crystal $6000 to wait for us. Her answer to that was that they have lost more than that in future bookings as we always book A or B balconies and separate cabins so we pay single suplements. As to the real reason? I believe the misunderstanding in the time frame. Then the concierge made a big mistake telling her he would try to get us our extra expenses credited to our shipboard account which I now know is not the procedure, I will in the future also read the insurance policy. We used Crystal's flight arrangements which had us going from Houston to Chicago to Copenhagen. We eventually flew Air France from Houston to Paris to Copenhagen. Air France has two departures from Houston in the summer and had we known we could have taken the earlier flight and reached the ship in time. Yes I at least will make sure I arrive a day ahead of schedule. And I will continue to cruise Crystal because I love it but I probably will have to find another traveling companion unless I can bring her around.
P.S. We each received a beautiful flower arrangement from the head of the flight arrangements department.
Houston TX
88 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Thank you Judith you are very sweet and I will consider the North Cape trip.
I wish I had found this board years ago. My DH does not like to take long trips from home and I will not stay home, he has gained a reputation for coming with me and then departing halfway through the cruise. Therefore I know longer count on him for cruising.

Hope to meet all of you someday.
more or less in TX
10,419 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
that was out of Tampa Florida. Due to extremely bad weather, hurricanes, I never was able to catch up with the ship. I was locked in a van by HAL and watched the ship sale away.

I was taken to a Marriott Hotel and abandoned by HAL. All arrangements from that point were on my own and at my expense.

Thanks to the Weather Channel, I was able to determine that trying to catch up with the ship was pointless. I stayed in that hotel for 3 days and then flew home.

My husband and my late Mother-in-law were on the ship and were told I would be boarded or my husband would have gotten off.

We learned to always arrive at least one day early if not more.

HAL didn't reimburse me for the cost of the cruise nor did my travel insurance as my husband occupied the room and was charged as a SINGLE.

It was a hard lesson to learn, but we did so. My late Mother-in-law continued to travel on HAL.

The British have an expression for being left behind by one's own ship 'duffled'. It is a club I did not want to join.

As for a lack of porters in Denmark, you were told the truth at the hotel.
Los Angeles, CA, USA
3,209 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
Dear Toolgal,

Sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience. We always allow an extra day to arrive at our destination since anything can happen to a schedule due to weather, problems with aircraft, etc. We were flying to JFK from LAX and on to Heathrow for a cruise in August 2003. About an hour before we were to land in JFK, the pilot told us we were diverting to Dulles. He assured us it was not an act of terrorists, but NYC and some other cities were experiencing a power outage. When we landed in Dulles, everyone used cell phones to call friends or relatives to find out what was happening. We sat on the ground for several hours until someone at United operations in Chicago came up with a plan. They insisted that JFK was open and we were to be "dropped" at Newark airport to get to JFK on our own. That was the famous Blackout of 2003. We managed to get a bandit cab who drove through darken NYC to JFK where we slept on the floor with hundreds of other souls who managed to get there or were stuck. In the morning, I just wanted to return home since we had insurance, but there was no way to do so. We were most fortunate that United had a 777 on the ground, which had to get to Heathrow to pick up passengers and we were put on it. They had a small window of time and without electricity, we all managed to pull our bags down stairs to someone who hand wrote the baggage tickets and then they escorted us on the ground to the airplane. They weren't sure if there would be any food to feed us, but I luckily always travel with almonds, raisins and crackers. There was one person in first class, several of us in B.C. and about a 100 people in coach who were lucky enough to be stuck at JFK the night before. We heard a bang on the door where we were sitting and found out that the food had arrived. We got to the ship in Dover in plenty of time, but there were people who never made it and we heard later stories about people who couldn't get out of JFK for days.

Southern California
1,540 Posts
Joined May 2007
Not left myself, thank goodness. However, last Fall, we were having a rare dinner in port -- Livorno, Italy to be precise. I'm hooked on sailaways so about 8:45p my brother-in-law and I headed up to the Promenade Deck to watch final preparations for the ship's 9:00pm departure. We spied two deckhands sitting astride the gantry that operates the gangway, waiting for the "all clear" signal from the security team at the bottom of the gangway. We noticed the security fellows pacing a bit while talking with someone on their walkie-talkies. It was about 8:55p at this point.

Two or three more minutes passed. The gantry operators remained cool yet clearly poised to, you'll forgive the pun, swing into action. Then, from somewhere at the far edge of the port we watched a vehicle approaching the dock at a high speed, swerving to avoid pylons and security gates, while its horn honked insistently. The driver was finally stopped by a checkpoint but very quickly that gate flew open as well and, tires screeching, the car continued toward us, finally sliding to a halt at the very bottom of the gangway.

The rear doors of the taxicab swung open and out stepped two people laden with shopping bags. Their gait suggested that they may have been laden with a bit of the fruit of the vine as well. The security team hollered to them and the couple got the message. Up the gangway they scurried and as soon as they reached the top, my brother-in-law and I heard the gantry motor come on. The two security men raced up the gangway and the gantry arm pulled the long ramp up and on to the deck where it was secured. Moments later, the ship's claxons sounded and as Louis Armstrong's voice wafted out over the harbor Serenity, its last two passengers aboard, slid away from the dock.

We have pictures, of course, but they can't tell the full story!

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214 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Dear Toolgal,

I am sorry for your experience - it is all of our worst nightmares.

Once question as it is not clear from the prior posts - were you using Crystal's air package? Or did you make your own air arrangements?

Houston TX
88 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Crown Imperial,

We did use Crystal's air arrangements.

I failed to mention, we still had a wonderful time on the cruise, we always do. We even took the morning shore excursion we had booked and by staying overnight in the hotel we were rested and ready to go.
2,941 Posts
Joined Aug 2003
Originally posted by Toolgal
...the captain...told her at another time that it would have cost Crystal $6000 to wait for us. Her answer to that was that they have lost more than that in future bookings as we always book A or B balconies and separate cabins so we pay single suplements.
The question is, would you have paid the $6000 upcharge to have them wait?

I sympathize with your disappointment, but Crystal has to face the reality of port overstay charges, weather and keeping up the schedule expectations of 1000 other passengers.

Imagine what it can coast to have a ship go even a small percentage faster to make up 10 minutes of lost time. It's a lot of fuel for one or two disappointed guests.

Also, with all sympathy, the notion that everyone realizes that departure means departure, leads to far better compliance from passengers at port stops. If Crystal got lenient, they would have a lateness epidemic on their hands.

That said, I think that it would be nice if there is a way to levy a steep delay surcharge (optional) on late passengers that addresses the real costs to Crystal, deters lateness, and offers a more attractive alternative to late guests than flying to the next port.
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--"All too soon..."

19 and counting...
Houston TX
88 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
I totally agree with your last paragraph concerning late coming passengers especially from port stops.

In hindsight I definitely will arrive a day ahead for any future overseas cruises to avoid a repeat but until this happened I always trusted my TA to get us there on time.

Would I have paid the $6000 to wait for me, absolutely not, who would? If that was the true story, but I guess we will never know and now it really doesn't matter, I have learned my lesson.
San Dimas, California
459 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
I'm a little amazed by your experience because I have always been under the impression that one of the major reasons to use Crystal's air was because they were entirely responsible for getting you to the ship and picking up any expenses incurred if you happen to miss it and have to catch the ship at a later port. Is my understanding correct? And did Crystal reimburse you for taxi fares, meals, hotel throughout the time it took to finally join the cruise?
(And please do reconsider booking the Nord Capp cruise -- we were on it several years ago and have booked the one for 2008 which is going to be quite wonderful, I believe. Come join us!)
Houston TX
88 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Crystal in LA and my TA in Dallas got us on a flight out on Air France when we were originally scheduled on United to Chicago and SAS to Copenhagen. This we did not have to pay any extra. Getting to Arhus from Copenhagen was at our expense once we left the Crystal reps. They did make sure we purchased the correct flight tickets and booked our hotel for us but it was our responsiblity to pay. We were told to keep all of our receipts. It is the travel insurance which is to reimburse us after our TA fills out the forms and sends in our receipts.

I have always purchased the travel insurance and out of all the cruises I have taken about 15 in all it was the first time I have had to use it. So I recommend always purchasing it.

I did ask the Crystal rep what would have happened if I had been on a tight budget and did not have the funds to pay for my unexpected expenses and was told they would have found a way to pay for me.
4,546 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Originally posted by 2serendip
I'm a little amazed by your experience because I have always been under the impression that one of the major reasons to use Crystal's air was because they were entirely responsible for getting you to the ship and picking up any expenses incurred if you happen to miss it and have to catch the ship at a later port. Is my understanding correct? And did Crystal reimburse you for taxi fares, meals, hotel throughout the time it took to finally join the cruise?
If you read the terms of the contract (most people don't, including me and I'm a TA!) if you miss the sailing for any reason it is up to you, at your expense, to get to the next port of call to catch up with the ship. This is true regardless of how you purchase the air and is pretty common practice in the industry. Crystal actually provides a number to call for this express purpose at the bottom of your ticket.

We are intimately familiar with the process as it happened to us (though in less dramatic fashion than Toolgal) last February on S2 of the WC. Due to a weather delay in Toronto we knew before our plane even left the ground that we were going to miss our connection in NY and miss the ship. Long story short, we made all the arrangements to get to the first port (Puerto Montt) to catch the ship, but we were met every step of the way by Crystal's local ground personnel (even changing planes in Santiago!!) who made sure we got where we needed to be. They even arranged the overnight hotel in Puerto Montt, so I am surprised that Toolgal and her friend were left to fend for themselves. Toolgal, I would recommend you pursue that avenue with Crystal for future reference. Maybe we were lucky, but the way we were treated seems more in keeping with the "Crystal way" than the way you seemed to get "hung out to dry"!

One last thought on this. INSURANCE! The trip interruption/delay portion of our insurance covered all of our out-of-pocket expenses, plus the two nights of the cruise we missed. Toolgal, make sure you get reimbursed for that by your insurance carrier too. If you had trip interruption/delay coverage you should be reimbursed for the missed night.
146 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Here is a different experience. On the WC in 2006, the Serenity was set to depart, at 1 or 2 PM in the afternoon from Dubai. We kept waiting for the sail away to occur. About 45 minutes after departure time, we saw a cab and 2 people with shopping bags rushing to catch the ship. As soon as they were aboard, we pulled anchor and left. They were late ( I guess shopping) but the Dubai officials would not let the ship depart until all passangers were aboard and accounted for. All reports were that Captain was furious and let the two passaangers know that in the future if they were late he would pull off without them.
624 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
On July 4, 2002 we were scheduled to depart at 9:00 p.m. from San Francico. Part of the idea was to watch the fireworks as we were leaving the bay. Eariler in the day ,the Coast Guard informed Crystal that it would depart at 5:00 p.m. Unbelievably, Crystal managed to contact all guests (who were not already on board) and everyone was on board at departure - even though it was four hours early. We had two CG vessels escort us under the Golden Gate. Of course, this was a time when everyone was on high alert and the CG was taking no chances and it was very understandable.
920 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Last Spring in Puerto Vallarta, I think. Was relaxing in the Palm Court, waiting for departure when the intercom came on. Very unusual for Crystal! "Would Mrs. X please report to the purser's desk. Mrs. X, please report to the purser's desk." A few minutes later..."Mrs. X, please contact any ship's officer. Mrs. X, please contact any ship's officer." I went out on deck to watch the captain maneuver the ship around two other ships. We were about ten minutes past departure time. Then the intercom again, a little more urgency in the voice..."Mrs. X, please contact any member of the crew. Mrs. X, please contact any member of the crew!"

The captain, cruise director, and concierge were all talking just outside. The concierge had what looked like a list of names with all but one crossed off. After a short discussion, the captain gave the final order, the gangplank was lifted, and off we started. Luckily for Mrs. X, the harbor was quite crowded and we had to do quite a bit of maneuvering before we could start heading out to sea. Then we saw the pilot boat coming out, but the officers were talking excitedly. Mrs. X had somehow managed to get on the pilot boat! Strapped into a life jacket, she had to make the jump from the pilot boat onto the Serenity while we were still moving!

Quite the adventure! So glad it wasn't me!
88,705 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
I'll add a story. During the World Cruise earlier this year, about 20 minutes before the Serenity was due to leave port we heard a page for someone and only their first name was given. We heard this one a few more times during the course of the next 15 minutes or so and we just had this suspicion it was someone we actually new who is a member of the Crystal Staff. (I won't mention name or position here to protect the "innocent".) Anyway, later on that evening we saw that person and we said we you the one they were paging and the answer was yes. The crew member thought that the ship was leaving an hour later than it was and was actually at the dock having called home via cell phone and when looked up had a panic on their face as the ship was leaving. The crew member was able to get a hold of a pilot boat to take the person out to meet the ship having had the pilot radio our ship. The person had to climb out of the boat and up the ladder and into the ship. I can assure you that was a big lesson for the crew member and the crew member assured us that it was one that will never be forgotten. As you can imagine we and other crew members teased this crew member for the next several days.

Southeast US/Portugal
564 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
One more note. At the ports, agents, unions, and incoming traffic sometimes dictate as to when the ship has to leave the space. It is not only the Captain's decision all the time. He might be told to leave his port space. And yes, there would be additional fees for the workers staying on to untie a late leaving vessel.