Monday, December 3, 2007

Cruise around paradise turns to trip from hell...

Anita Dunham-Potter from MSNBC reports that "Eva and Harry Berger just wanted to relax and enjoy their Hawaiian cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of Aloha last May. It was their 39th wedding anniversary, so the Bergers splurged on a balcony stateroom. But Stateroom 9229 turned out to be the cabin from hell.
Soon after the Bergers boarded the ship, they discovered that the air conditioning was not working in their stateroom. The couple immediately contacted onboard personnel and asked to be moved to another stateroom. Unfortunately for the Bergers, the ship was sold out, but they were assured that their air conditioning unit would be fixed the following day. The anniversary couple spent a miserable first night aboard the Pride of Aloha in a hot and muggy stateroom.
The next day came and went, but no maintenance was performed. After another uncomfortable night, the Bergers decided they would rather spend their money in comfort somewhere else, so they told onboard managers that they wished to be let off the ship in Kauai and be given a full refund for the portion of the cruise not taken. The cruise line refused but did issue the couple a $200 shipboard credit — along with further assurances that the air conditioning would be fixed soon. The Bergers tried to make the best of an unpleasant situation.
The following day, after returning from a long day of shore excursions, the couple was greeted by the ship's engineering staff who informed them that their room was unavailable, as they were working on the air conditioning unit. The Bergers then camped out in their friends' stateroom, where they showered, changed and took a needed nap.
Despite the repairs, the air conditioning never worked properly, and though the crew repeatedly said the unit would undergo further repairs, those repairs never happened.
"We were miserable in our stateroom the entire time," says Harry Berger. "Conditions were deplorable."
In fact, the Pride of Aloha was experiencing similar difficulties in a number of staterooms in the vicinity of Stateroom 9229. An entire thread on the Web site Cruise Critic was dedicated to Pride of Aloha's air conditioning woes in May and June. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) says the problem has since been fixed.
The Bergers felt their $200 shipboard credit was hardly enough compensation for their discomfort and inconvenience, especially since the cruise cost more than $3,000. After the cruise, the couple wrote letters, sent e-mail and called the cruise line several times. After getting nowhere they contacted Tripso for help.
I spoke with AnneMarie Mathews, director of public relations for NCL, to see what the cruise line could do for the Bergers. She said that the Bergers' experience was unusual and that NCL wanted to make amends. In a letter to the Bergers, NCL apologized for the inconvenience and offered them a future cruise credit in the amount of $1,150 ($575 each).
"We hope that they will sail with us again," says Mathews.
The Bergers will probably do just that. They are pleased with NCL's offer and they hope to take a cruise next year in a less temperamental stateroom."

I still think that wasn't the best compensation for the couple and what they had to endure.


--Bamboo Blitz-- said...

That poor couple--and on their big anniversary too...It's so funny how the cruise line totally shot itself in the foot by breaking a cardinal rule of the service industry--the customer is always right. I mean all they had to do is comp the couple's cruise package in the beginning in order to make everyone happy and avoid all the bad press...Not the smartest business move!

The All Seeing Eye said...

You're so right, Bamboo Blitz. I don't think the cruise company did enough for its customers. And what they did had to be egged on from a reporter's phone call.