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Heaven2

Zuiderdam Customer Service

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I debated whether to post another message about our Zuiderdam back to back cruise. Do people really want to hear about the problems or has it become politically incorrect to expect good customer service ?

 

To introduce myself, I worked in the computer industry for twenty years as an operations manager for a national computer company. Our whole business depended on our customer service response. Any of the competitors could sell and install networks, but we had to have the added value factor or as IBM would say the "wow" factor. A customer with a downed network does not care about your companies internal problems, they just want it fixed. Quoting a litany of your problems to the customer just makes them more upset.

At times we had to expend extra time, money and certainly great customer service to make the situation correct. We lived by word of mouth. One unhappy customer doesn't seem like a problem, they can just go away. But who does this customer know ? With whom does he do business ? Can he write it up in his newsletter or a technical magazine ?

 

You may think that his problem is small and petty, but to him it is very, very important. The more that you downplay or ignore his problem, the bigger the situation becomes. You must put yourself in his position and " walk a mile in his shoes ".

 

If a Guest Relations Manager only makes the attempt to contact you by phone, it certainly gives one an impersonal feeling. After I posted on the Cruise Critics board, I came back to our cabin in less than 15 minutes to have my husband inform me that I had started a hornet's nest. A call from the Guest Relations Manager was received and I was to call her back to resolve this problem immediately as I had posted it on Cruise Critics. At this point, I was done with it. I did not call back. But is it not strange that they knew about my post in such a short time ? As for the bottle of wine that we did not feel was sufficent, it was still in our stateroom when we left the ship.

The cost of proper compensation must have been so difficult, that we believed they needed the cost of the bottle more than we did.

 

Now for those of you that are so willing to overlook staples in your food, etc. then I believe you are part of the problem that is causing poor customer service. You are a customer, you are not a free loader on a welfare ship. You are entitled to safe, clean food and accomodations. If you do not feel that some type of true concern be expressed by management, than you will continue to help customer service to slip for others. At what point will you stop being grateful for being allowed to pay for a cruise and not be injured,etc. ? When will you stop being happy to be lumped into a category that all customers are a bother, complainers and in particular American customers ?

 

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I refuse to be treated as less than an honored guest. Yes, honored for you are spending your money with that company when you could spend it with many others.

As a guest I am not going to identify with their management, I was paid to do that when I was management, now I am the customer. They will not thank me for taking the management side, they will only take advantage. That is not being bitter,that is just the reality of the business.

 

My option is to vote with my money and my feet. We have enjoyed 31 days of Holland cruises and many more with Celebrity. We now believe that we will "bump " it up a notch and try Crystal.

 

Now for the basics of the cruise.

 

1. Food ( except for stable ) was very good. We ate in the dining room, Lido and also had room service.

 

2. Our first cabin 6154 was very, very hot. When we had the same cabin on the "O " it was cool. They worked on the air conditioning but it did not seem to help. The last evening, it almost felt that the heat was turned on. Our second cabin 4005 was very cool. It was near the front of the ship, past the bridge. We never had to turn it down past halfway to have it be comfortable. Now we are not bothered by noise but there is lots of it when the ship is turning, coming into or out of the berth. Doesn't last long but it will give you an automatic wakeup call.

 

3. Our stewarts were great. Both responded to extra requests. ( we needed a foam mat for the bed, extra oranges in fruit basket, etc. ) We did give each of them some extra money later in the week. Call it what you want, if you like the crass word bribe, but we do not feel this way.

 

4. Entertainment. Joel Mason was great, we have seen him before. We watched five minutes of Danny Storts and left. The musical productions were okay but the sound system is turned up very, very high and the singing sounds shrill. Den West was on the second week. He is a multi-intrumentalist and singer. He was great. It is too bad that they did not have him give a concert in one of the smaller rooms during the week.

He was vastly under utilized. James Cielen , master Illusionist, is not only good but a very pleasant person. Both Den West and James Cielen would stop and talk to you whenever you saw them on the ship.

 

5. I had a pedicure and nail fill in the Spa. Very good technican. No problems there. I do wish that the prices on some of the services could be more reasonable. They also do a hard sales pitch on very expensive products.

 

6. Lido crew was very pleasant with the exception of the Lido Manager. This mainly stems from his attitude concerning our food staple problem. When possible the crew would carry your tray and find you a table.

 

7. The ship decor is strange. Could they have been trying for Art Deco ? Too much bright leather that looks like plastic or the Jetsons cartoon. The brass railings in the elevator are down to bare finish and scratched. Lots of wood railing are in need of varnish. But the poor wooden deck chairs that remind you of ships of the past, they are in such bad shape. On the Vollendam they were a rich dark color and the finish was smooth. Here the chairs on down to bare wood and the hardwear is green in spots. The chair arms come apart easily and if you don't watch it, you can get a nasty cut on your arm as I did. The wood arm flips up and your arm comes down on the metal part sticking up.

 

But the strangest thing is the floors in the hallways. I have never seen this before. You are walking along and encounter a deep dip, then later a high bump. These dips continue without warning on all the hallways ? I have no idea what is causing this but it can make you stumple if you are not careful.

 

8. Since I was on a back to back and changed cabins, I got a new plastic room card. Only one problem, they did not take my picture. So all week I carried my drivers license to show them. Not a biggie, but kind of strange to omit that standard procedure. You ask why not complain ? How often during your cruise do you want to have a problem with getting deck chairs for your cabin, metal in your food, it gets old folks and takes all the joy out of the cruise.

 

9. Ports were fine, we have been to all of them before. We did some water tours. The mini boats in St Thomas were just great. The sail away in Tortula was fun.

 

10. Shops on the ship could probably be more inventive but they had the standard stuff.

 

11. Internet expensive as usual, but it is optional. It does get cheaper in the week for those that need to check flights, hotels and family.

 

12. Never had our cabins verandas cleaned except on the last day as we waited to get off. I seem to remember Celebrity cleaning them everyday. Our second balcony had white paint flakes all over it for the week. Another woman I talked to mentioned that her balcony had the same problem and asked where were they painting ?

 

Yes, our second week was at a reduced price but over all we spent thousands to take this cruise. One of you said that a reduced price should result in reduced service/expectations. I don't remember one of my former customers telling me that a reduced network price would make it acceptable for the network not to work part of the time.

 

One thread is asking why is there such varying opinions about the Zui. I believe the ones that are so glowing are the people fortunate enough not to have any problem requiring management intervention.

I cannot speak about the Captain but for the rest of the upper management I encountered, they need training. Being in the business and becoming jaded about customers is not a good reason. Get out of the business if you have lost your good attitude. Better yet, supervise, teach, train and listen to the employees that report to you. If they are giving out incorrect information, not handling the customers diplomatically, then take action. And if it is you that is the problem, get some help !

 

To those of you that understand what I feel is a great decline in customer service, I believe we are great in numbers.

 

To those of you that will charge into the fray and defend bad customer service, I say wake up before there is no good customer service.

 

And no, flaming will not bother me, for I do not intend to continue the discussion. I have not come to this stance lightly but once here I do not intend to back down.

 

This has been a long post, but thank you for reading it.

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Please expand on your food staple/wine problem. I am sorry, but I cannot recall the details. Or, please direct me to the thread name where you posted originally.

 

Also, I do not ever defend poor customer service. We had problems with the front desk staff on Maasdam. No other real trouble anywhere else, but it was very disappointing. Amazing how quickly they attempted to take action when you posted here, isn't it?

 

thank you very much,

Scrumpy

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And no, flaming will not bother me, for I do not intend to continue the discussion.

 

Awh, shucks....I was looking forward to such a fun thread....what great potential....what a disappointment.icon9.gif Guess this thread will just die out...icon9.gif

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Well reasoned and stated in a clear, concise manner. I, too, was in a customer service industry. As I said in a post on your staple thread, it might help if some HAL execs trotted over to Nordstroms to learn about customer service.

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While I believe you did the right thing in complaining about finding a staple in your food, and I think posting it on this board for everybody to read was proper, I don't believe you are due any compensation. If someone had been injured then of course you would be due compensation or litigation.

 

If you believe it was deliberate on the part of a crew member or HAL, then please pursue it and let us know the outcome.

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First and foremost let me say this, as far as I am concerned there is never any excuse for poor customer service in any industry. In an industry such as the cruise industry where customer service is vital to the health of the business, poor customer service is especially disturbing.

 

HAL is a huge company that has been in the business of transporting people by ship for one reason or another for over 125 years. They have their own training school so that their employees are all, theoretically, trained in a consistant manner.

 

We all hear stories of how overworked the staff is. We all hear stories of ships being short staffed. I feel compassion for these people and I am willing to give them a break. However, people in supervisory positions do not get that break from me. I do give it to room and dining stewards.

 

Guest Relations Managers, Dining Room Managers, anyone with the word "Manager" in their title are required to treat their passengers as honored guests. It is their job to solve the problems that we as passengers encounter in a gracious, efficient manner with the least inconvience to the passenger. I truly believe that HAL depends on them to do this. That is their job.

 

As far as compensation, Heaven, I do not recall you asking for any sort of compensation. I did not read your original post. I do have one question. Did anyone ask you what they could have done for you that would have ameliorated your feelings and helped you recover from finding the staple? If the Guest Relations Manager had that information, he or she would have been able to provide you with something more desireable to you than a bottle of unwanted wine. I wonder if someone had responded to you in that way, if you would have been able to recover from your experience and been able to enjoy your cruise.

 

I do understand that people get frustrated. I understand people have bad days and feel overworked. However, that is not an excuse for treating your "clients" or "guests" or what ever you want to call them poorly. All of us who are professionals who interact with the public on a day to day basis know this. I do not think that Heaven is asking anything of the staff of HAL that any of us would ask of ourselves or any other service professional.

 

With that said, this is just my opinion. I have never been on a Vista class ship. I do not intend to sail on one. They are too large for me. I prefer smaller ships. I must say, I have not encountered rudeness or the feeling of being brushed off from any HAL employee. That is not to say I have never had a problem onboard a HAL ship. I have never had a problem getting my problem addressed and taken seriously. I have always received help and support. I do not know why. I am assertive. I am respectful as well. I am also firm and in tone, word and action make it very clear I expect my problems to be attended to. I have never expected or would expect compensation, except for something small given as a gracious gesture. I do not hesitiate in going directly to the Hotel Manager or Captain with my complaint. I do this by writing a letter and requesting a meeting at their earliest convience. I have never had a problem that was ignored.

 

Heaven, sorry your cruise was less enjoyable than it should have been. You definitly deserved to be treated like an Honored Guest. For me, that is a big part of what cruises are all about.

 

Linda

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If finding a staple in your food was worth a bottle of wine, what would a finger be worth?? icon12.gif

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I posted my cruise review on the Zui and I wrote to Seattle and Blah Blah Blah...The good it did? Give me $300.00 ship credit on a future cruise which I will not take on HAL. Customer service on this ship is slim to none. I did not get a staple in my food, my cabin's AC Unit caught fire, filled with smoke and two days later flooded with sewage. I was given the obligatory bottle of cheap wine and left it behind as well. This ship has such an odd energy to it...either it is a really good cruise for some or a really bad one...weird. If they would have just made it right I would have been interested in trying another HAL ship. I do so love to cruise... I just turned down going to Alaska with a group of friends b/c they wanted to sail HAL. I think they are now looking at Princess instead. I will not give HAL another nickle no matter how convenient the itinerary or how cheap the price.

 

I will say I've enjoyed the HAL CC, they are some of the wittiest bunch on the message boards and for that I guess I should thank HAL. Had I not come here to complain (yes I got my share of flames, but I don't mind) I would not have gotten to enjoy the wit and commentary.

 

I am now looking at Tahiti....I want to do the Tahitian Princess. I also would love to go to Bermuda and the Greek Islands. I didn't get to do the Radisson Diamond due to last minute wait list..so I still would like to try them. There are so many choices out there, HAL needs to keep their loyal customers happy and also hook the new ones if they want success in a huge industry.

 

My 2 cents which I usually leave in the "give a penny, take a penny" cup.

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Posting about a problem on Crusise Critic unfortunately may result in a prompt response, especially if the HM is one that reads the boards.

 

I don't know of any ship personnel who want to see negatives about their ship, service, food, etc. posted on this forum or any other.

 

That said, I also believe caution and judgement should be used when posting negative experiences... step back and make sure they are accurately and fairly portrayed without exaggeration or personal bias.

 

Many people read this forum and take postings like "horrific food" to heart. :)

 

The "horrific food" thread was posted a few weeks ago, the OP came back and said it wasn't really "horrific" - I think he was just going for "shock value" when he posted his review, which I think is a shame.

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Now for those of you that are so willing to overlook staples in your food, etc. then I believe you are part of the problem that is causing poor customer service. You are a customer, you are not a free loader on a welfare ship. You are entitled to safe, clean food and accomodations. If you do not feel that some type of true concern be expressed by management, than you will continue to help customer service to slip for others. At what point will you stop being grateful for being allowed to pay for a cruise and not be injured,etc. ? When will you stop being happy to be lumped into a category that all customers are a bother, complainers and in particular American customers ?

 

I am just curious here - what do you expect the Lido Manager to do about the staple? He apologized profusely - and it happens - not just on a cruise ship but EVERYWHERE food and beverage is served. What do you feel is adequate "compensation"? Frankly, I'd just be thrilled to have found it before I swallowed it... and before everyone starts sceaming, "but it's UNACCEPTABLE!" - it happens, no one did it on purpose, I can guarantee it.

 

While dining in a restaurant, I've found a hair or something similar on my plate, it certainly grosses me out, but I simply call the server over - point it out discreetly and have the plate removed. I don't expect to receive any "compensation" for it!

 

I guess the trend I see in our society today is - if something isn't 100% perfect, or completely up to your expectation - you deserve to be "compensated" for it - and this trend really bothers me. While extolling how "Customer Service" is lacking, why not start taking a look at "Customer Expectation" - HAL is supposed to 100% responsilble for everyone's good time, because they spent their hand earned money on a HAL cruise? It doesn't work that way - and it never really has. I think if anything, customers are becoming more and more demanding and less and less appreciative.

 

How many people go out of their way to acknowledge exemplary or good service? Or a positive attitude? I've been on a lot of HAL cruises and I can honestly tell you - very few. Most seem to be looking to find something to complain about.

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Some amount of personal bias is unavoidable. If someone is severely disappointed and has had a bad experience, they may not feel that they owe the cruise line anything other than their blunt version of events - with or without any extra effort at fairness. They may also have a lot of negative emotions that color their view and that too is understandable. I know that I purposely avoid certain stores now because of consistent poor service. If I had a public forum to air my grievances perhaps some of these places would get their acts together, too. If it is truly the case that it sometimes takes a negative public report to get action, then that may be a sad reflection on the specific cruise line's customer service skills. I don't think it's at all unfortunate that posting here results in a prompt response. I think whatever alerts management to potential problems is a positive thing. If it were me, I'd go to great lengths to make sure problems were properly handled so that there would be no need for negative public postings.

Scrumpy

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I do not see in either post where the Lido Manager apologized profusely. It seems to me that the Lido Manager's attitude was actually part of the problem. Where did you see that?

Scrumpy

I am just curious here - what do you expect the Lido Manager to do about the staple? He apologized profusely - and it happens - not just on a cruise ship but EVERYWHERE food and beverage is served. What do you feel is adequate "compensation"? Frankly, I'd just be thrilled to have found it before I swallowed it... and before everyone starts sceaming, "but it's UNACCEPTABLE!" - it happens, no one did it on purpose, I can guarantee it.

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It's never pleasant to find a foreign object in your food, but it is one of those weird "life happens" kind of things. I would have been immediately grateful that it was discovered before being swallowed. I would have respectfully alerted the Lido Manager about it. I would have expected no compensation of any kind. On balance with all of the other aspects of my cruise experience, this would have not figured largely in my opinion of the ship or it's staff, quality of food, etc. After all, no one "planted" a staple in my food on purpose, and I would assume they are just as horrified as I am about it.

 

Having said this, the OP indicated that she felt the Lido Manager did not believe her, and treated her in a rather rude way about the incident. THIS would have bothered me. Apparently the Lido Manager later sent the bottle of wine to the passengers' cabin with a note of apology. Although I would probably still feel rattled by his original response, I would have viewed this as a conciliatory gesture, and not expected anything further.

 

However, this incident, in combination with some other experiences in which the OP felt customer service was lacking, seems to have left a negative impression with the OP that HAL did not successfully overcome.

 

In general I am also bothered by the constant outcry for compensation, in some cases completely out of proportion (in my view) with the passenger grievance. In this case, I am still not clear whether the OP would only be satisfied with a monetary compensation, or whether there is some verbal or written response from HAL that would make her feel better about her experiences. Or perhaps it is too late altogether?

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I do not see in either post where the Lido Manager apologized profusely. It seems to me that the Lido Manager's attitude was actually part of the problem. Where did you see that?

Scrumpy

 

Scrumpy - You are correct. I confused the OP's thread with another similar thread - however, I still have the question... "What is adequate compensation?"

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For me, a sincere apology probably would have been fine. For the OP, I don't know. I think it's difficult, if not impossible, to overcome the initial negative reaction by the manager. I wouldn't have been thrilled with wine and a note after the fact. The immediate reaction - the doubt and skepticism - would have upset me greatly. Almost NOTHING is impossible in food service and that attitude is pretty disturbing.

Scrumpy

 

Scrumpy - You are correct. I confused the OP's thread with another similar thread - however, I still have the question... "What is adequate compensation?"

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It's never pleasant to find a foreign object in your food, but it is one of those weird "life happens" kind of things. I would have been immediately grateful that it was discovered before being swallowed. I would have respectfully alerted the Lido Manager about it. I would have expected no compensation of any kind. On balance with all of the other aspects of my cruise experience, this would have not figured largely in my opinion of the ship or it's staff, quality of food, etc. After all, no one "planted" a staple in my food on purpose, and I would assume they are just as horrified as I am about it.

 

Having said this, the OP indicated that she felt the Lido Manager did not believe her, and treated her in a rather rude way about the incident. THIS would have bothered me. Apparently the Lido Manager later sent the bottle of wine to the passengers' cabin with a note of apology. Although I would probably still feel rattled by his original response, I would have viewed this as a conciliatory gesture, and not expected anything further.

 

However, this incident, in combination with some other experiences in which the OP felt customer service was lacking, seems to have left a negative impression with the OP that HAL did not successfully overcome.

 

In general I am also bothered by the constant outcry for compensation, in some cases completely out of proportion (in my view) with the passenger grievance. In this case, I am still not clear whether the OP would only be satisfied with a monetary compensation, or whether there is some verbal or written response from HAL that would make her feel better about her experiences. Or perhaps it is too late altogether?

 

Stormy - Very well put - I agree with you. I think the OP's decision to "bump it up another notch" and try Crystal is a good one. I'd be curious to see how they compare it.

 

Again, I do not believe I defend bad customer service. I try not to let little things bother me, I smile and treat others the way I'd prefer being treated.

 

On our Volendam cruise a few weeks ago, all I heard was "unacceptable", "heads will roll in Seattle", blah, blah, blah about the problems with embarking in the commercial pier. While it was no fun for anyone, why let it bother so much? "Enjoy your vacation", I said, "if that is the worst thing that happened, the rest should be outstanding".

 

I also think a with a cruise, it's like many other things - you are going to get a lot more out of it if you focus on the positives rather than the negatives.

 

Having realistic vacation/travel expectations also helps, traveling in this day and age is much more stressful than it EVER used to be. :)

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Stormy - Very well put - I agree with you. I think the OP's decision to "bump it up another notch" and try Crystal is a good one. I'd be curious to see how they compare it.

 

Again, I do not believe I defend bad customer service. I try not to let little things bother me, I smile and treat others the way I'd prefer being treated.

 

On our Volendam cruise a few weeks ago, all I heard was "unacceptable", "heads will roll in Seattle", blah, blah, blah about the problems with embarking in the commercial pier. While it was no fun for anyone, why let it bother so much? "Enjoy your vacation", I said, "if that is the worst thing that happened, the rest should be outstanding".

 

I also think a with a cruise, it's like many other things - you are going to get a lot more out of it if you focus on the positives rather than the negatives.

 

Having realistic vacation/travel expectations also helps, traveling in this day and age is much more stressful than it EVER used to be. :)

 

I also find the comparisons between lines very interesting and helpful.

 

I am a customer service manager, so I always notice where it is being provided and where it is lacking. I also occasionally experience situations where the customer seems to be "looking" for a problem, inevitably finds one, and then cannot be satisfied with anything less than a ridiculously out-of-proportion amount of compensation.

 

I am not saying this is the case here; however, I cannot agree with you more that reasonable expectations and a positive attitude can largely impact a customer's experience.

 

A "problem" has to be pretty massive before it can completely overshadow my larger experience ...and in most cases a polite, sincere apology goes a lot further toward solving the problem in my mind than an offer of monetary compensation.

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I think one other element in this is that the OP has 31 days on HAL, so probably notice any downward trends in customer service. It is tough when our favorite places go downhill. You are so right about a polite, sincere apology. If it's a big problem and there's compensation along with that, great. It often is not at all necessary, though. There are always people who are out for all that they can get. The majority of us only want to be treated well and don't expect anything "extra" - sometimes we're even insulted that someone would think we could be "bought off" in the absence of a real apology.

Scrumpy

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I think one other element in this is that the OP has 31 days on HAL, so probably notice any downward trends in customer service. It is tough when our favorite places go downhill. You are so right about a polite, sincere apology. If it's a big problem and there's compensation along with that, great. It often is not at all necessary, though. There are always people who are out for all that they can get. The majority of us only want to be treated well and don't expect anything "extra" - sometimes we're even insulted that someone would think we could be "bought off" in the absence of a real apology.

Scrumpy

 

That's a good point, Scrumpy - if you are accustomed to a great experience, it can be very disappointing to see it decline ...and, yes, given a choice, I would prefer a sincere apology to the feeling of being "bought off."

 

I would personally consider a bottle of wine and a note of apology to be a more-than-adequate GESTURE; however, in this case, the OP seemed to find the attached note less than sincere.

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I think one other element in this is that the OP has 31 days on HAL, so probably notice any downward trends in customer service. It is tough when our favorite places go downhill. You are so right about a polite, sincere apology. If it's a big problem and there's compensation along with that, great. It often is not at all necessary, though. There are always people who are out for all that they can get. The majority of us only want to be treated well and don't expect anything "extra" - sometimes we're even insulted that someone would think we could be "bought off" in the absence of a real apology.

Scrumpy

 

Sorry, Scrumpy - but I have 103 days on HAL - and I don't think that is the issue. My first HAL cruise was in 1984, and things were ALOT different back then, but we've obviously been pleased with the HAL product, as we have 4 more future HAL cruises booked.

 

I think society as a whole has the expectation that if their immediate needs are not met, they are unhappy and deserve something to compensate. We have become much more self absorbed and more expectant of instant gratification than we used to be. One more reason, I say - to step back and look at things in the "big picture".

 

People harp the lack of customer service failing to realize that we as customers and consumers have so much higher expectations than we did even 7-8 years ago. I also think the wealth of information available via the internet (and boards like this) contribute to that.

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... I also think the wealth of information available via the internet (and boards like this) contribute to that.

 

ekerr19 -

 

glad you started a new thread related to this topic - interesting concept - looking forward to seeing opinions on this...

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I feel like I was just involved in a hit-and-run accident with the OP.;)

 

Why? The OP posted much of this from the ship - especially regarding "fair compensation" for the staple incident.

 

I happened to disagree with the OP regarding customer service - especially the statement that by accepting less in the way of customer service we are contributing to it's decline.

 

IMO, "decline" is all in the perception.

 

While I merely disagree with OP - I don't feel like I have been attacking her. She obviously a different opinion and I am trying to share my view.

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I feel like I was just involved in a hit-and-run accident with the OP.;)

 

Yes, I wish she would return to clarify if there is anything more HAL could do to alter her perception, or if it is too late for her ...and also to update her "big picture" perception of the cruise with a few days' added perspective.

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ekerr19 -

 

glad you started a new thread related to this topic - interesting concept - looking forward to seeing opinions on this...

 

I am looking forward to the responses too - this thread really got me thinking... I never really had such high expectations as I did after I found this site and started reading what some of the other experiences are - and trying to take all the posts wih a "grain of salt" is hard sometimes.

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