March 21st 2008

Princess Cruises is in trouble- a recap of preventable problems

Star Princess is a troubled boat. An open letter/multiple blog posting to the CEO of Princess Linesmistake

Travel arrangements:
From start to finish disorganization around travel arrangements is normal. Princess’s inability to arrange airline assignments continues and was validated by the serious cruisers on board. Evidently they just don’t care about things such as spouses sitting together on lengthy flights despite the arrangements being booked 3-5 months ahead and paid for well in advance.

Embarkation continues to be a major challenge. As an example, in 30 deg plus, high humidity weather, platinum and elite passengers are forced to wait hours while staff fruitlessly search for boarding cards and other assorted documentation on the Buenos Aires dock. Disembarkation is another nightmare albeit a “gong show” in trying to get passengers to the airport. When queried, on board staff say it’s all to do with being in a South American port and decry any control over the situation, yet other cruise lines out of Buenos Aires seem to handle the situation very well.

Novo Virus:
We found out while we were on the ship that the previous cruise had severe problems with novo virus. Despite our best efforts to protect ourselves we and numerous experienced cruisers contracted the dreaded virus. The virus weakened many peoples’ resistance so that when they recovered, they fairly quickly contracted a severe cold/flu that was running rampant throughout the boat. The flu spared no one, entertainers and staff alike.

The boat doesn’t appear to be properly cleaned. Other passengers complained of boarding the boat and finding dirty sheets on their bed. Certainly we saw that as we were disembarking, despite the tremendous amount of illness that had been on the boat, no methods were being employed differently to ensure it was clean enough for passengers arriving that very afternoon for the next voyage.

Due Diligence
Passengers sign a document prior to boarding that they have not been ill for two days. Yet we met people from the UK who boarded the boat while they were sick and had been so for 2 weeks. There is no effort made to ensure that people boarding the boat are healthy which just exacerbates the problems that this boat was having. One would expect extra efforts which were non evident.

The smoking arrangements on this ship are obviously not well thought through. For example, in all the areas where there is dancing, the smoking area is right beside it even though there is lots of room to move smoking well away from the dance floor. The ventilation arrangements appear sporadic in these smoking areas as well. This is evidently a corporate policy.

We were astonished to find that even though the ship was embarking from Buenos Aires all food was sourced from LA. Argentina is famous for the world’s best organic beef, pork and lamb and yet we had no chance of enjoying it. There was no abilityl for the menus to reflect the local cuisine. For example, there was no Argentinian wines on board. This is evidently a corporate policy. We were lucky that a new Exec Chef came on board when we did and we did notice that after about three days the food taste etc dramatically improved from mediocre to good.

The staff on board overall are extremely helpful, friendly and very service oriented. It seems in these situations their hands are tied by corporate policies. These policies must be reflecting a continuing shrinking of resources and penny-pinching attitude from head office.

This experience has certainly soured us at looking at any other Princess offerings. The preventable problems of this cruise was a source of major disappointment. Thank goodness I sold my stock in this company.

Antarctica was a fantastic experience.

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