Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
screen-gem

Beware AZ shore excursions that are not as advertised

Recommended Posts

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is terrible. Not only the change of tour itinerary, but the fact you raised a complaint on the ship twice and it was never followed up.  Actually, that second one is worse.  I’d be furious.  This is just really bad for a cruiseline that promotes the importance of destination immersion.  Are you going to follow it up on land?  I would.  

 

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They really do need to get a grip of this on Pursuit - there is the other thread about the cycling excursion as well.  I agree follow up but in my experience whilst follow up about hotel related activities is generally ell actioned, land discoveries is usually just a "noted we will learn for the future" or no response

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had an chaotic excursion in a Morocco port in March on Pursuit.  I was wondering who the shore excursion manager is.  The gentleman we dealt with said exactly the same thing, we had to track him down to get a response.  Zero empathy or people skills 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, excitedofharpenden said:

That is terrible. Not only the change of tour itinerary, but the fact you raised a complaint on the ship twice and it was never followed up.  Actually, that second one is worse.  I’d be furious.  This is just really bad for a cruiseline that promotes the importance of destination immersion.  Are you going to follow it up on land?  I would.  

 

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:

 

I note that Pursuit and Journey are both calling on
Dubrovnik several times in the months ahead. Has your tour operator been
instructed to ditch the bus tour and actually provide what you’ve
advertised? That’s an immediate intervention that can and should be made,
to the benefit of Customers on those cruises.

 

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...)

 

 

 

 

Edited by screen-gem

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally would email the Azamara LCV Ambassador to escalate this now. That reply is wholly unacceptable.  There must be some accountability.  If that proves fruitless well I guess you've tried all avenues and it shows they really don't give a damn. It is a shame when I read this sort of thing. 

 

Phil 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Screen-gem,

I will make sure this thread reaches the appropriate eyes!

I can't speak to why your shore excursion was changed last minute, something must have required it. And I do hope together we can get to the bottom of it all.

I can definitely apologize for our staff not getting back to you...not onboard nor ashore. That is not they way we do business, and as Phil writes it is a shame to read of this on a public forum. This tells me you've tried everything. I do apologize.

Would you share with us the booking number you sailed under on Pursuit Rome-Venice?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Hi Bonnie, 

 

What about the shore excursion listed by Azamara, which I had booked, for Gisborne NZ next Jan-Feb? This one is still in the Voyage Planner, despite the fact that it is an impossible activity to deliver as it is described and sold.

 

I already alerted you in June to the fact that the tour operator itself sent me an e-mail detailing why this tide-dependent activity was not possible for this port of call’s schedule:

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2673499-bonnie-nz-cruises-clarifications-can-you-check-into-this-please/

 

At least the wrong port of call listings are gone for our cruises, as is the “nocturnal” activity that was scheduled for 2 pm... so some progress is being made. Thank you for that - I am sure that if you had not brought it up, these missteps would have continued to be overlooked.

 

I know now to arrange something else to do that day in Gisborne; but what of the other guests who plan on enjoying this activity that they have booked and paid for on the Azamara website? Are the guests looking forward to doing a tide pool guided walk and stingray feeding be expected to be content with a bus ride and simple beach walk instead?? Are they expected to be bleating “baa baa” all the way... just like the bus load of guests in Dubrovnik, then given the explanation that if “your shore excursion was changed last minute, something must have required it”?

 

Why are ‘apologies-after-the-fact’ the acceptable method of compensating for a woefully inadequate land experiences/ shorex dept. in Miami - one that lacks adequate quality control mechanisms? Why can’t a corporate commitment be made, and adequate resources allocated, to improve this serious systemic weakness at Azamara?

 

Are the Miami-based problems (shorex, customer service, etc.) a product of “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” mentality at the level of RCCL, resulting in insufficient RCCL staffing dedicated to the Azamara product?

Edited by snowglobe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, screen-gem said:

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.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just back from Quest cruise.  The cruise was good with a few exceptions. Shore excursion staff does not care.  We took 3 ship tours. One was excellent. The other 2 were not good.  Contacted shore excursions staff and got a phonecall back the last full day of the cruise.  Maria said she was looking into it...and offered no explanation or apology for the poor quality.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s too late for those Azamara guests who have already been disappointed with their Azamara sponsored shore excursions and are now back home.

 

However, others with cruises to come can organise private tours. With google, email to clarify costs and inclusions, and on-line reviews of the tour company and specific tours, it’s not a difficult enterprise. 

 

Generally, they are less expensive than what’s offered by cruise ships, while including more because you’re in a much smaller, more mobile group.

 

Once you’ve found a tour you like, use the cruise critic roll call to find other participants (often 4 - 8). In my experience private tours usually have more inclusions, are cheaper (or more for the same price) and you share a more intimate experience with fellow cruisers.

 

Cruise ship excursions are preferable, in my mind, when you can’t find anything better/cheaper (I think in less tourist oriented places the cruise ship take up most of the local tour resources); or there’s a concern about time frame e.g. 4 hours tendered - tempts fate that something might go wrong on a private tour. But, if you’re docked somewhere all day and allow plenty of time to return to the ship; and the tour company gets good reviews, then there’s minimal risk.

 

You might still be disappointed from time to time but in my experience, smaller group, privately arranged tours are usually very good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to follow up on the benighted bicycling shore excursion thread, I thought everything that need to be said had been said.

No, I received a phone message to my stateroom saying that head of shore excursions wanted to discuss with me.  He would be available during his hours, posted in The Insider.

I located The Insider, and showed up next day.  Introduced myself with the message to the fellow at the desk.  He disappeared into a back office, from which first emerged Kristen, walking away and then head of excursions.  He invited me to take a seat, as he wanted to now hear “my side of the story.”

Good grief.  All I initially wanted was a reason for the cancellation of the excursion, that’s it.  Now, I was confronted with repeating the entire incident of, what I still would characterize as abject rudeness, a day later.  I did my best and, stumbling to a halt, just said straight out “why was the tour cancelled?  And why am I involved in a ‘two sides to the story’ scenario and why has this been escalated via Cruise Critic to Miami and now to this sit-down, and the subject staff person doesn’t have time to talk?”

As has been mentioned, it’s just crazy to have this spectrum swing of terrific shore excursions through to ‘it didn’t happen, wasn’t as advertised, and so what?’  To have Pursuit staff in full defensive posture from the get-go is most assuredly NOT what I’ve, experienced, nor expect, from Azamara.

 

screengem, I sincerely hope your suggestions are taken to heart re. Dubrovnik.  The walls could be so worthwhile, but when jammed with visitors they are nightmarish. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We did the Dubrovnik, Azamara "Bus-City" tour and enjoyed it. I wonder if the walking tour (only) was cancelled and blended into the Bus-City tour. This was handled badly. I only mention that it was a good tour (for us) because the bus was there when we arrived, it departed on schedule and there was no 'hurry'. Thanks for the advice, all around, in this topic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, AJCM said:

It’s too late for those Azamara guests who have already been disappointed with their Azamara sponsored shore excursions and are now back home.

 

However, others with cruises to come can organise private tours. With google, email to clarify costs and inclusions, and on-line reviews of the tour company and specific tours, it’s not a difficult enterprise. 

 

Generally, they are less expensive than what’s offered by cruise ships, while including more because you’re in a much smaller, more mobile group.

 

Once you’ve found a tour you like, use the cruise critic roll call to find other participants (often 4 - 8). In my experience private tours usually have more inclusions, are cheaper (or more for the same price) and you share a more intimate experience with fellow cruisers.

 

Cruise ship excursions are preferable, in my mind, when you can’t find anything better/cheaper (I think in less tourist oriented places the cruise ship take up most of the local tour resources); or there’s a concern about time frame e.g. 4 hours tendered - tempts fate that something might go wrong on a private tour. But, if you’re docked somewhere all day and allow plenty of time to return to the ship; and the tour company gets good reviews, then there’s minimal risk.

 

You might still be disappointed from time to time but in my experience, smaller group, privately arranged tours are usually very good.

 

Fair points. 

 

But when you have significant OBC, sometimes a shore excursion is a reasonable way to use it. 

 

It is unacceptable, that after a disappointing tour participants' concerns are not, at the minimum, acknowledged. I do recognize that,  after having spent some time standing in line at shore excursions desks, some cruisers can be exceptionally difficult to placate or serve. However, that is part of the game.

 

I have seen a number of excellent personnel working in shore excursions.

 

I have also have noticed and experienced that sometimes a certain "esprit de corps" develops amongst the staff, a spirit that treats the cruisers as outsiders who are not part of their culture.

 

It is not pleasant to be seen as some sort of antagonist to the staff. That simply escalates instead of defuses the issue.

 

 

Edited by nordski

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Ithikan said:

Just to follow up on the benighted bicycling shore excursion thread, I thought everything that need to be said had been said.

No, I received a phone message to my stateroom saying that head of shore excursions wanted to discuss with me.  He would be available during his hours, posted in The Insider.

I located The Insider, and showed up next day.  Introduced myself with the message to the fellow at the desk.  He disappeared into a back office, from which first emerged Kristen, walking away and then head of excursions.  He invited me to take a seat, as he wanted to now hear “my side of the story.”

Good grief.  All I initially wanted was a reason for the cancellation of the excursion, that’s it.  Now, I was confronted with repeating the entire incident of, what I still would characterize as abject rudeness, a day later.  I did my best and, stumbling to a halt, just said straight out “why was the tour cancelled?  And why am I involved in a ‘two sides to the story’ scenario and why has this been escalated via Cruise Critic to Miami and now to this sit-down, and the subject staff person doesn’t have time to talk?”

As has been mentioned, it’s just crazy to have this spectrum swing of terrific shore excursions through to ‘it didn’t happen, wasn’t as advertised, and so what?’  To have Pursuit staff in full defensive posture from the get-go is most assuredly NOT what I’ve, experienced, nor expect, from Azamara.

 

screengem, I sincerely hope your suggestions are taken to heart re. Dubrovnik.  The walls could be so worthwhile, but when jammed with visitors they are nightmarish. 

Might I just say that although I agree that your treatment and the whole debacle of your cancelled bicycle tour seems to have been handled very poorly indeed onboard, personally I don't think it is appropriate to name a specific employee on this forum. 

They cannot answer back and it may have major implications for their employment. 

 

 I do get that you feel upset and I'm sure the whole issue could have been handled in a much more professional manner onboard and surely training issues have been identified...perhaps even more so for the Guest Relations Manager! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, nordski said:

 

Fair points. 

 

But when you have significant OBC, sometimes a shore excursion is a reasonable way to use it. 

 

It is unacceptable, that after a disappointing tour participants' concerns are not, at the minimum, acknowledged. I do recognize that,  after having spent some time standing in line at shore excursions desks, some cruisers can be exceptionally difficult to placate or serve. However, that is part of the game.

 

I have seen a number of excellent personnel working in shore excursions.

 

I have also have noticed and experienced that sometimes a certain "esprit de corps" develops amongst the staff, a spirit that treats the cruisers as outsiders who are not part of their culture.

 

It is not pleasant to be seen as some sort of antagonist to the staff. That simply escalates instead of defuses the issue.

 

 

 

Disagree.  A bad shore excursion is a waste of limited port time even if it was free.  We did a cruise w Azamara and we "won" a shore excursion in a drawing.  My wife convinced me to take the free excursion instead of doing what we wanted to do.  The excursion was horrible and wasted my time in port.  If I have unused OBC, I usually find something in the store to buy.  I also have a short list of stuff that I can buy and sell to friends when I get home at a steeply discounted price.  Even if I get 50% of what I paid for it, I still make a bit of money if my cost is zero.

 

DON

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, donaldsc said:

 

Disagree.  A bad shore excursion is a waste of limited port time even if it was free.  We did a cruise w Azamara and we "won" a shore excursion in a drawing.  My wife convinced me to take the free excursion instead of doing what we wanted to do.  The excursion was horrible and wasted my time in port.  If I have unused OBC, I usually find something in the store to buy.  I also have a short list of stuff that I can buy and sell to friends when I get home at a steeply discounted price.  Even if I get 50% of what I paid for it, I still make a bit of money if my cost is zero.

 

DON

 

I have never experienced a “horrible” shore excursion so I’ll reserve judgement as to whether the OBC is better spent in the shops.

 

Although I know there is a certain poster on here who would severely chide me for not having my priorities straight concerning shopping 😄.

 

Generally we are predisposed to select “On Your Own” tours when available. and they have served us well.

 

But regardless of the value of the tour, the real issue seems to me to be customer service.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, nordski said:

 

Although I know there is a certain poster on here who would severely chide me for not having my priorities straight concerning shopping 😄.

Really? I have absolutely no idea who that could be! 😂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Lottie A said:

Really? I have absolutely no idea who that could be! 😂

 

In fact, there may well be a solid line of posters waiting to begin the well-deserved chastisement! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/12/2019 at 3:19 PM, excitedofharpenden said:

I personally would email the Azamara LCV Ambassador to escalate this now. That reply is wholly unacceptable.  There must be some accountability.  If that proves fruitless well I guess you've tried all avenues and it shows they really don't give a damn.

 

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, John E. Canuck said:

We did the Dubrovnik, Azamara "Bus-City" tour and enjoyed it. I wonder if the walking tour (only) was cancelled and blended into the Bus-City tour.

 

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.

 

 

DubrovnikBusTrip.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I simply do not understand why anyone ever does a ship's shore excursion. I can't think of a less interesting way to see any spot on the planet than to get jammed into a bus with forty other people, listen to a guide who recites by rote, and be subjected to the inevitable fellow passenger who keeps the rest of the bus waiting because  "I lost track of time."

 

Frequently private tours cost the same or even less when shared and even if they cost more it's worth every penny to have your own car and driver and be able to set your own agenda. And PLEASE no one tell me that if you do a ships excursion and it's late the ship will wait for you. Of the literally hundreds of private excursions I have done never once have I gotten back to the ship late. These guides know how to get you back in time. And when I do get back to the ship it's just me getting on, not a busfull of people.

 

JMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JMO is complete nonsense. Sorry. We can all do what we want, but please don't put down those who sometimes want to do a ship tour. It can be the answer for many who don't want to go private with a small group not even known to us. And frankly that isn't what is being discussed here.  

 

Phil 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, excitedofharpenden said:

JMO is complete nonsense. Sorry. We can all do what we want, but please don't put down those who sometimes want to do a ship tour. It can be the answer for many who don't want to go private with a small group not even known to us. And frankly that isn't what is being discussed here.  

 

Phil 

 

I agree with this. We did all ships tours on our Barcelona to Rome cruise on Quest last fall, and we enjoyed every one. The day trip to Cinque Terre was terrific as was a trip to a Tuscan winery. Most of our tours were 10-20 people or so. The day trip to Pisa/Florence was probably 25-30+ people total and not very in-depth in Florence, but we knew that going in and viewed it as a good preview of Florence for a future land visit. We had nice small group walking tours in Valencia (a bus ride from the port to the old city) and Ibiza as well. Our bus tour in Monte Carlo hit enough of the highlights in Eze, Nice, and Monaco to give us an overview of that area. All of our guides very very knowledgeable. So, as they say, YMMV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Destination Awards
      • Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo invites you to #CrewUpWithWomen
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...