Princess Cruises – The un-Love Boat

No-LoveMost of those that know me, know of my current experience with Princess Cruises. But for those that don’t let me start at the beginning. This will be a very personal post for me, so here goes.

At the beginning of this year, Russ and I were planning on taking our very first ever cruise as I was desperate for a vacation. Looking into cruises, which there are many, we decided to go with Princess Cruises as we both grew up watching the Love Boat back in the day and thought they had a very long and trusted reputation. We really wanted to go on a Caribbean cruise, a place where Russ has never gone before. As we were looking at flights to Miami and Fort Lauderdale during the Spring Break, we noticed that the cost to fly alone was far more expensive than the cruise itself, so we opted on going on the California Coastal cruise that left out of San Francisco – a much closer flight.

A week before we were to go on our cruise, Russ fell extremely ill, ill enough to be in ICU for over a week. Since I knew he wouldn’t get out of the hospital, nor would he be able to be on his own when he got home, I called Princess Cruises to cancel the cruise and see if they could provide us with a credit. Speaking with Janet from their customer relations, she said that since I didn’t purchase cancellation insurance (which I tried to the day after I booked from their site and couldn’t), she said she would talk to her management to see if they could credit it for me. That was all I had wanted, a chance to take the cruise another time when Russ was better. Janet was great, she actually went out of her way and we were able to get the credit after the hospital provided a letter to them about his hospitalization.

Three months later, Russ passed away.

Through an estate lawyer, 2 months later Princess transferred Russ portion of his credit to me. After the stress from Russ’ illness and eventual death, the lawyer’s advice – go ahead and take that cruise and enjoy it in Russ’ honour. So a couple of weeks after I called my best friend Marc, who has been an amazing friend throughout this whole ordeal of Russ’ illness, and we went to book that memorial cruise.

To mine and Marc’s surprise, I couldn’t use the full credit towards the cruise. You see since the credit was in my name, I couldn’t transfer any difference towards the second passenger. What is the difference you ask? A meer $389.

Princess policy is so strict that they wouldn’t even allow me to use that credit as an on-board credit to use to towards an excursion. For me to use the credit I would have to either book a cabin at a higher cost, which would mean my second passenger would have to spend more, or use the remaining for another booking on a cruise, but I would have to book by March 2015.

Every person that we spoke to at Princess didn’t care. They were not willing to budge, or considering the circumstances to show some heart, be the “Love Boat”. No, they would have nothing to do with it.

For those that interested in hearing more about this story, I’ll be appearing on CTV News on Wednesday night as part of Lynda Steele’s segment – Steele on Your Side. Lynda herself can’t understand why they wouldn’t let me just use the credit as an onboard credit and is surprised that Princess would not budge on their stance.

I can’t see myself using Princess Cruises ever again after their treatment. This has left such a bitter taste in me of the cruise industry as a whole and I don’t know if I will ever cruise in the future.

I will go on this cruise as this is the cruise that I will honour Russ for being the special man that he was. One that loved to travel, one that loved great food, one that valued friendship and showed me the true meaning of love.

UPDATE

Lynda Steele has published the article online and you can read the story on the Steele On Your Side site.

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