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Royal Caribbean Ovation Cruise 13 February


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Feeling disheartened and upset by the actions of RCI today.

My family flew up from Melbourne to join Ovation for a 9 night cruise.  When my son and family checked in they were taken up to level 2 to be told they can no longer join the cruise, as it was decided this morning to change the itinerary which meant 3 sea days and RCI policy is no under 12 months can cruise.  We were not made aware of this until we checked in after flying into Sydney this morning.  RCI have offered full refund, (which goes without saying) putting them up at a hotel for the night, before they can fly home tomorrow.  They need to organise own flights.  To say the rest of the family are devastated is an understatement.  The ship is staying in Sydney tonight and at this time we could be anchored in the harbour until midnight tomorrow.  Just really bad form by RCI as there were numerous other families impacted by this decision as well. 

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That's a shame. I am sure they have not taken this decision likely. Nothing is guaranteed when cruising really, other than a great time. Unfortunately there is a bit of cyclone out on the Coral Sea, making the next 24 hours unpleasant and possibly unsafe. I would guess that this is why RC have made this decision. I believe Brisbane is being missed, which extends the sea days to three? Customs will not be available to process people on and off, thus they cannot board even for the 36 hrs in Sydney, I would think. TBH, I would not cruise with very young children as they do add another level of complications/limitations. Hopefully another will be booked for another time.

Edited by ELep
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That's terrible. 

 

RCL are in the business of providing great holiday experiences, and in this they've failed badly. The onus is on them to come up with a solution given they took the booking and set the expectation all that time for a fantastic holiday, all up to boarding time. Giving a refund is the bare minimum by law, but it isn't acceptable in any sort of good business sense. The failure/change was on their side, so they needed to deliver what they contracted, instead of just breaking the contract with no care... too bad, so sad.

 

That's the difference between a decent company, and one that just does the bare minimum by law. 

 

There are certainly decent solutions available. Given it's their own internal policy, they could:

a) waive it in this circumstance,

b) compensate/mitigate for whatever the issue is they are concerned about .e.g sign a waiver, put an extra resource on, or 

c) show integrity and e.g. if it was the first 3 days, fly them on to the first port, put them up there until the ship arrives then continue on from there (or vice versa if last three days, or wherever the 3 days are).

 

But that would be the actions of a company having integrity and trying to actually deliver what they promise, instead of a company just wanting to make as much money as possible.

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6 hours ago, The_Big_M said:

That's terrible. 

 

RCL are in the business of providing great holiday experiences, and in this they've failed badly. The onus is on them to come up with a solution given they took the booking and set the expectation all that time for a fantastic holiday, all up to boarding time. Giving a refund is the bare minimum by law, but it isn't acceptable in any sort of good business sense. The failure/change was on their side, so they needed to deliver what they contracted, instead of just breaking the contract with no care... too bad, so sad.

 

That's the difference between a decent company, and one that just does the bare minimum by law. 

 

There are certainly decent solutions available. Given it's their own internal policy, they could:

a) waive it in this circumstance,

b) compensate/mitigate for whatever the issue is they are concerned about .e.g sign a waiver, put an extra resource on, or 

c) show integrity and e.g. if it was the first 3 days, fly them on to the first port, put them up there until the ship arrives then continue on from there (or vice versa if last three days, or wherever the 3 days are).

 

But that would be the actions of a company having integrity and trying to actually deliver what they promise, instead of a company just wanting to make as much money as possible.

RC have met their contract. They cannot guarantee any port and they have refunded the money because they can no longer assist this family due to the age of the very young traveler. I am assuming several fares have been refunded here. I would say that most cruise companies would do something very similar, given these slightly unusual circumstances.

 

I am guessing the only possible option here would be Option C. Next port is either Port Vila or Mystery Island. Port Villa is a slight option for boarding but Mystery Is would not be. Both of these ports will be a few days off yet. Given the port issues in the SP with several islands closed and cyclone season, it's possible that RC would not want to say with certainty that this trip will definitely get to those ports yet.  So the family could end up in Port Villa in four days time, waiting for a ship that will not end up being able to dock there. Perhaps these options were offered, we don't know from the OP. 

 

Options 1, the exclusion on babies is there for a reason, so Option 2 not valid. 

 

Hopefully the family have been able to make another plan to use up their current allocated holiday time.  Holiday makers in Asia are on the scramble doing this and will be for several weeks yet. If it were me I would possibly take the refunded money and then hope on a plane somewhere within 3 hours and enjoy a land based holiday, before flying home to Melbourne. Fiji, Vanuatu, NZ, Tassie etc. But I don't know the OP family situation. 

 

It would be very disappointing for this family, and something not considered until you travel with very young children. For other cruisers on this trip, a bonus 24 hours on Sydney Harbor and missing Brisbane is an absolute win. IMO

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Unfortunate situation for all concerned, and caused by extraordinary, but not unique circumstances. I recall a similar issue a few (?) years ago, also out of Sydney, also related to weather which resulted in an itinerary change meaning over the specified maximum number of consecutive sea days meant some guests couldn't travel. I can't remember which cruise-line it was.

 

As has been posted elsewhere on CC, all cruise-line published criteria are the same in this regard, so it's not a RC thing.

 

Anyway, the rules are there, based on some established criteria & unfortunately they need to be applied strictly, as varying would lead to legal challenges if something was to go wrong - modern world we live in, and there are many bush lawyers out there, including on this board 🙂 . In this case it seems the first sea day will be within Sydney Harbour, which could be interpreted perhaps as not a 'sea day' as such, but no-one at the pier is going to make that call. 

 

Anyway, no winners in this, except perhaps for the big corporation bashers 😮

 

 

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too late to edit above.

Just looked at the revised itinerary. The 3 consecutive days at sea doesn't relate to the Sydney Harbour day today & then the 2 days to Noumea, but the 3 sea days on the return from Mystery Island to Sydney. So no wiggle room for RC to 'make an exception' or indeed fly them to Noumea to join the cruise, as it is the end part of the cruise that's outside the rules.

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I feel sorry for your family and others that were impacted, but don't really think RCL had any other option.  They were forced to change the itinerary at the last minute (which I imagine would be a logistical nightmare) because of the weather conditions. They probably came up with the best solution that would affect the least amount of people.

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3 hours ago, ELep said:

RC have met their contract. They cannot guarantee any port and they have refunded the money because they can no longer assist this family due to the age of the very young traveler. I am assuming several fares have been refunded here. I would say that most cruise companies would do something very similar, given these slightly unusual circumstances.

 

I am guessing the only possible option here would be Option C. Next port is either Port Vila or Mystery Island. Port Villa is a slight option for boarding but Mystery Is would not be. Both of these ports will be a few days off yet. Given the port issues in the SP with several islands closed and cyclone season, it's possible that RC would not want to say with certainty that this trip will definitely get to those ports yet.  So the family could end up in Port Villa in four days time, waiting for a ship that will not end up being able to dock there. Perhaps these options were offered, we don't know from the OP. 

 

Options 1, the exclusion on babies is there for a reason, so Option 2 not valid. 

 

Hopefully the family have been able to make another plan to use up their current allocated holiday time.  Holiday makers in Asia are on the scramble doing this and will be for several weeks yet. If it were me I would possibly take the refunded money and then hope on a plane somewhere within 3 hours and enjoy a land based holiday, before flying home to Melbourne. Fiji, Vanuatu, NZ, Tassie etc. But I don't know the OP family situation. 

 

It would be very disappointing for this family, and something not considered until you travel with very young children. For other cruisers on this trip, a bonus 24 hours on Sydney Harbor and missing Brisbane is an absolute win. IMO

 

I already pointed out, as did the OP, that they met their contract, as the bare minimum. 

 

However, people don't do business just for the sake of meeting a contract, so the rest disregards what their business is.

 

Option 1 is still valid, and discretionary acts may be taken in multiple situations and even here if say a delay was to occur en-route. Without knowing the basis, option 2 is also still on the table. As for option 3, I daresay if it was offered it would have been mentioned.

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Regarding the updated itinerary details, it certainly would have been possible to fly as per the initial suggestion, just the other way.

 

Further, they would have been able to track along the coast for two of those days coming back, so it would have also been easy to waive the requirements themselves for the last change, knowing that worst case they would be very close to land and emergency facilities as well. It's not like a transatlantic/transpacific, out of helicopter range and nowhere near any facilities, which is where that requirement came from.

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I just want to convey my thanks for the compassion shown by you all, as understandably  it has been a very stressful 24 hours for our family.  My son and his family have now flown back to Melbourne, and we leave Sydney on Ovation at 4pm today.  

My whole reason for posting was to maybe save others from the terrible disappointment we have gone through.  The lack of comms from RCI is unbelievable, we first were made aware of the change to the itinerary when my son was checking in at the Port.

We were well aware of the 3 day policy so chose this cruise because it had only one 2 days at sea  and the remainder days were only 1 sea day.  RCI have now decided that we will be stopping at Noumea followed the next day to Mystery Island and then 3 sea days back to Sydney, a day between Noumea and Mystery would have avoided the situation our family found themselves in.

A lesson learnt the hard way, never ever cruise with children under the age of 12 months, and would definitely be advising anyone in future just don’t risk it, not worth the heart ache of leaving half your family on the dock.

Our TA is contacting RCI to ascertain whether any further compensation to my son could be forthcoming.  

Once again, I thank everyone for your support.

We will now try and make the most out of this cruise, especially for my grand daughter and family here with us.

Vicki 

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46 minutes ago, Kangakid said:

 

Once again, I thank everyone for your support.

We will now try and make the most out of this cruise, especially for my grand daughter and family here with us.

Vicki 

Thanks for coming back & letting us know the latest. It is an unfortunate happening & gives an excuse for another family (all of them) cruise in the future. Enjoy!

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13 hours ago, mr walker said:

too late to edit above.

Just looked at the revised itinerary. The 3 consecutive days at sea doesn't relate to the Sydney Harbour day today & then the 2 days to Noumea, but the 3 sea days on the return from Mystery Island to Sydney. So no wiggle room for RC to 'make an exception' or indeed fly them to Noumea to join the cruise, as it is the end part of the cruise that's outside the rules.

Three days at the end = not able to join the cruise for the remainder. I assumed three days at the start since BNE was dropped. But yes, it at the end no chance. I guess this is one reason why cruise companies try to limit sea days to two in a row. With several ports closed in the SP at the moment, there is even less options available for ships when changing itineraries. I imagine what happened to this family would not happen too often. This must have been very very disappointing.

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