You have been planning this cruise for months. You did the research, found the online daily schedules, created your spreadsheets, booked your excursions. You are all set. Now you can sit back and relax as you have done all the heavy lifting.
But then, when you are in your comfort zone, it happens. The cruise line has changed something. Perhaps it is cancelling a shore excursion, or altering your dining reservation, or “upgrading your cabin” to a less desirable location. Whatever the case, the cruise line has thrown a monkey wrench into your plans.
And, they have done this to you with little time to spare. What should you do?
When earlier this year, Celebrity cancelled our most anticipated shore excursion on our upcoming Alaskan cruise less than three weeks prior to departure (meanwhile we had booked this excursion 5+ months ago), the first gut reaction was to drive down to Celebrity Cruise headquarters and let them have it. When cooler heads prevailed, we knew that to get things resolved we were going to have to be smarter than that.
So, here are our three calm and collected ways to handle the situation if you should run into such game changers on any of your future cruises.
1. Give the Cruise Line a Call
The first reaction to a change in your pre-cruise planner is perhaps to yell and scream. Just Breathe.
Whether you receive an email or notice a change to something that was planned on your online account, you should pick up the phone and call the cruise line. Sometimes you are provided with an email or online contact form that you can complete to file a claim. Don’t waste your time, who reads those things anyway?
Just don’t call anyone though, be particular in who you call. When our pre-cruise reservation was cancelled, we received an email and were told to call a number that was different than the typical 800 number on Celebrity Cruise’s website.
When we called that number, we were put in touch with a support staff member who could directly handle the request. This allowed us to bypass the multiple layers of transfers that might occur if you go to the company’s website. Read the communication, or small print, and be sure to get to the right department who can provide you with some relief.
2. Go Straight to the Source
When a pre-cruise change occurs, even if you are directed to the right department, you are often going to be speaking with a very nice, but over worked and under valued customer service representative. She is the cruise company’s first line of defense against the irate customer.
Do give this person the benefit of the doubt, but at the first sign that this person cannot provide you with the answers or resolutions you are seeking, it is time to level up.
Politely, ask to speak to either a different department or supervisor. Only do this after it is clear that the first person you are speaking with cannot assist you. Believe me, I worked in a call center for years in college and the last person I wanted to help was the person who started yelling and screaming at me demanding a supervisor as soon as I said, “Hello”.
It is possible the customer service representative can help, but sometimes he/she cannot. Such was the case when we inquired about the cancellation of our shore excursion in Juneau. When I asked for a supervisor, I was transferred rather effortlessly to the resolutions department.
3. Bring it to the People
Even speaking to a supervisor or a different department may get you nowhere. If you are not having success getting the answers or resolutions you need, it is time to, peacefully, take it to the people.
Thankfully, the internet has brought about a whole new way of protesting. And it is called, social media. Yes, the double edge sword of people complaining everywhere on the internet, is companies are hyper vigilant about people posting negative feedback about them on social media sites. A tweet, thoughtfully constructed Facebook post, or a comment on a forum may be all you need to get the cruise lines to stand up and take you seriously. Or…you could do all three.
After I was told that there was nothing they could do about our cancelled excursion and that the most comparable excursion only had 1 spot available, I was not happy with that result. I was told they would look into the matter but that I should book just that one spot for now, and they would call me back tomorrow. Mind you, I had not received a refund for the hefty price of the first excursion yet but they already wanted me to book a 2nd excursion that my wife might not even be able to join me on. I did so reluctantly but then went to social media. After a tweet, a Facebook post on the Celebrity wall, and a few messages on the largest cruise forum, I had a few Celebrity representatives contact me via social media almost immediately trying to resolve the problem.
So the next morning, I received a call, at exactly the time I was supposed to, from the same resolutions staff member stating she spoke with the director who was able to get 2 spots on the “sold out” excursion, even though it was questionable the night before.
Leave it to the visibility of social media to shine a light on things. By investing a bit of time, we were able to get our pre-cruise hiccup resolved. We were able to book a very comparable excursion, for actually a lesser cost, and can tell you it was worth it! A helicopter ride to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau should be on everyone’s bucket list!
You can’t always get the cruise companies to rectify every problem that occurs, but if you have a similar situation happen to you, it is worth giving it a fighting chance!
How do you handle when your extensive pre-cruise planning does not go off as scheduled? Drop us an anchor to let us know how you have gotten the cruise lines to reconcile issues with you.