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Pearl Seas reduced itinerary

Discussion in 'Cruises' started by Peg, May 10, 2017.

  1. Peg

    Peg

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    In February of 2016 we committed to an 11 day Pearl Seas cruise to Cuba on the strength of their travel brochure that outlined 7 ports of call with land excursions in each port (all excursions were part of the price of the cruise). Pearl Seas began traveling to Cuba in January of 2017 and all of their Cuban cruises (8 total) stopped in only 4 ports. We were not notified of the real itinerary until 3 weeks before our April departure (their 8th cruise) well after our final payment was due and paid and it was too late to cancel and request a refund. We feel we were victims of a "bait and switch" and did not get the trip we paid for. We emailed and snail mailed Pearl Seas and recently received a letter from Pearl Seas Vice President, Paul E. Taiclet thanking us for our "feedback".

    We realize the cruise contract allows a cruise line to change an itinerary without notice, but this was not a "change"...every cruise they did was 4 stops only! And, their late notice of the actual itinerary deprived us of the opportunity to cancel our reservation.
     
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  2. VoR61

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    It would be helpful know how much they deviated from the 4 ports. If this is the correct link, they now stop at 6 ports:

    http://www.pearlseascruises.com/cruises/cuba-cultural-voyage/

    Ports of Call

    Havana
    Cienfuegos
    Trinidad
    Casilda
    El Cobre, Santiago
    Santiago de Cuba​

    You are also correct about changes at any time, which can be found here:

    http://www.pearlseascruises.com/terms/

    3. CHANGES IN ITINERARY:

    "PSC reserves the right to change, cancel or substitute any itinerary, vessel, port of call, schedule, tour, excursion or duration of voyage at any time and for any reason whatsoever without prior notice (including reducing or extending days of voyage or continuing or finishing a voyage via other means of transportation) and shall not be liable for any claim whatsoever by Passenger for such change, including, but not limited to, loss, compensation, or refund; except Passenger shall be entitled to (i) a pro rata refund, calculated on a per day basis, of fare actually paid less applicable fees and charges, if a Cruise is cancelled or terminates early, and (ii) a refund of deposit actually paid to PSC for a tour or excursion, if that tour or excursion is cancelled."​

    For General Inquiries they ask that you e-mail them at : inquiry@pearlseascruises.com

    All that said, there is little recourse when it comes to itinerary changes, This is the case with all cruise lines, and unfortunately you are mostly at their mercy.

    Only you can decide how much change will "ruin" the trip for you. And then you can email the above if you so choose, but if you do be brief, polite, and concise. Avoid emotion and be specific and reasonable in your request.
     
    #2
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  3. JVillegirl541

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    Peg according to several reports by passengers aboard the Pearl Seas Cuba sailings they docked two days in a couple ports in order to transport passengers to the Port Cities that the Cuban government denied permission to dock.

    The reports on these cruises are glowing and on Cruise Critic it's pretty unusual to get such a happy group.

    Pearl Seas Cuba 2017 Cruise...How was it?
    http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2447667

    Sounds like this was a great trip, sorry your expectations were not met.
     
    #3
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  4. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Cuba has been denying ship docking - they can and do do it on a whim, sometimes for no reason at all. It is quite possible the Cuban government was the ones who refused to allow the ship to port and it isn't the fault of the cruise line at all.

    Traveling to Cuba is not like traveling anywhere else because the government simply may decide that the ship can't go into port and they are stuck. From what Jville posted, it sounds like the cruise line tried to get folks to the ports they couldn't dock in.

    Did you speak to Customer Service on the ship about this while you were traveling?
     
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  5. VoR61

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    Is the lesson for travelers then to adjust their expectations according to the stability of the destination? Cuba is not yet used to visitors from the US I think ...
     
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  6. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Absolutely. I also think the cruise lines should be more clear to consumers about how the Cuban government works. They only allow a certain number of ships in ports each day. They seem to be allowing too many cruises now and this isn't the first time that I've seen this. This cruise apparently had quite a few stops in Cuba. There are some that I have seen that had one stop and couldn't dock and totally missed Cuba.
     
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  7. VoR61

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    And I think this applies around the world. If you're visiting South Korea or Japan now, be prepared to have your trip interrupted. Same for Europe and other areas when tensions are high, strikes are imminent, etc.

    And, of course, this highlights the benefit of travel insurance ...
     
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  8. JVillegirl541

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    In all fairness to the OP @Peg she is upset that the cruiseline apparently had multiple Cuba cruises and NONE of those cruises were able to dock at 2 or 3 of the Advertised ports and the cruise line waited until after final payment to relay this "KNOWN" itinerary change.

    This was briefly discussed on one or two of the posts in the link I posted. Those ports turned into Bus Excursions to the missed cities.

    I believe we all understand that Cuba is making these rules and ports are being denied but it appears Pearl Seas knew prior to the cruising season and certainly before @Peg's cruise and failed to disclose the changes.
     
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  9. VoR61

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    As I read through the link, two things seemed clear: Docking was day-today and perhaps hour-to-hour situation, and thus unpredictable to a certain extent. And, at least one poster described land excursions that took them to the ports in which they could not dock.

    So, until @Peg tells us what she missed, it's hard to offer much informed advice ...
     
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  10. JVillegirl541

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    It's too bad so few cruisers know about and take advantage of what a great resource Cruise Critic can be!
     
    #10
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
  11. jsn55

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    Peg, you can write a concise, polite letter to Pearl Seas stating your dissatisfaction and requesting compensation. Start with Customer Service, waiting a week for a response. You can then work your way up the executive list and hope for someone to explain to you what happened and offer some compensation.
     
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  12. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    I agree with jsn - write to them and express your dis-satisfaction that they should have informed you of this before final payment.

    And I think this applies around the world. If you're visiting South Korea or Japan now, be prepared to have your trip interrupted. Same for Europe and other areas when tensions are high, strikes are imminent, etc.

    And, of course, this highlights the benefit of travel insurance ...

    The cruise lines take care of this when you agree to travel by stating that they can change their itineraries. So it's there but never means anything until something causes a change in itinerary. If you are only going on a cruise for specific ports and would be unhappy if the ship didn't get in port - don't go on a cruise, go on a land vacation. There is never a guarantee that you will get into all the ports on any cruise.

    Travel insurance also doesn't cover a change in itinerary unless you have Cancel for any Reason insurance.

    Our writer paid a LOT of money for her cruise so I think she should pursue it with the cruise line.
     
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  13. Peg

    Peg

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    Our ports of call were to be: Havana, Maria La Gorda, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, Parque de Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt and Holquin. Pearl Seas began running their cruises in January of 2017 and never docked at Maria La Gorda, Parque de Nacional or Holquin. They knew in January that they wouldn't be stopping there but didn't tell us until 3 weeks before our April cruise date when it was too late to cancel our trip and still get a refund. The materials sent 3 weeks before our trip also explained that while we were in Cienfuegos we would visit "the famous Botanical Garden" and the next day would take a bus trip to Trinidad. Once on the boat we were told that it was an "either/or" as both the bus trip to Trinidad and the trip to the garden were scheduled for the same day and time. In addition, we were advised that the trip to Trinidad was not appropriate for anyone with mobility issues due to uneven walking surfaces, stairs without railings and lack of shade. They'd been making these stops since January but, again, didn't tell us until it was too late to cancel.
    We did email the Pearl Seas inquiry email address once we received the info about our real itinerary. They never replied. We also emailed the woman at Pearl Seas who forwarded us info about visas and asked her to pass our inquiry on to the proper party. Again no response. We had travel insurance but it didn't list change in itinerary as an appropriate reason for us to cancel and recover from them. Upon learning on the trip that Pearl Seas is owned by American Cruise Lines we emailed the president and Vice President with our inquiry and concern. After waiting one week for a response and not getting one we sent a letter by USP to the same executives. Within the last week we received what appeared to be a form letter saying "thanks for writing " ,and saying that they would share our concerns with the Cuban government. They have yet to offer an explanation as to why they delayed in telling us that 3 ports were being omitted.
     
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  14. VoR61

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    Thank you for the additional information. Given their "without prior notice" claim, your options seem to be limited. It appears that you completed a significant portion of the trip, albeit less than you had hoped.

    You have not yet stated what you want from them: a full refund, a partial refund, or a voucher for future travel? The first is highly unlikely, and the last is probably not something that would interest you.

    You appeals thus far have not been successful, so my thoughts are to reach out to one or both of the following:

    1. The State Attorney General for the state where their headquarters are located
    2. The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) offer help in dispute resolution. I have not used them and cannot speak to their abilities, but you can always try them.
    In doing do, you should provide irrefutable evidence that they knew in January (vs. a last minute change) and be very specific in your request for compensation. It is also vital that your communications are brief, polite, and respectful of their time and assistance.
     
    #14
  15. Peg

    Peg

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    Pearl Seas got us to Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago by boat and to Trinidad by bus. We were also supposed to go to Maria La Gorda, Parque de National Alejandro de Humboldt and Holguin. Those three ports were not offered by other cruise lines when we signed up and were of special interest to us. This was a pricey cruise but we decided it was worth it if we could see things that other cruises didn't. We are not "seasoned cruisers" and had no idea that ports would be changed for reasons other than weather, equipment or health issues.
    We spoke to one of the cruise directors while on the boat about the change in ports. She said they were told that it was the fault of the Cuban government but couldn't answer my question as to why we weren't notified earlier that Pearl Seas had not once stopped in the 3 ports mentioned above. She took my email address, told me she was emailing them for clarification and that she was sure that they would get back to me "right away". We have never had a response to any of our emails.
     
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  16. Peg

    Peg

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    Wish we'd known.
     
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  17. Peg

    Peg

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    We sent 2 short concise emails to Pearl Seas before the cruise asking for an explanation as to the change in itinerary and requesting a partial refund of the cruise price for the 3 ports and corresponding excursions that we would not be receiving. On this cruise the excursions were "included" so we felt we didn't get what we paid for. We did not get a response to our emails before we sailed. On the boat there were a lot of questions about the new itinerary and we were told "Cuban government" was the reason. They had no explanation for why we were not told until just 3 weeks before our departure although not a single Pearl Seas cruise to Cuba had yet to stop at Maria La Gorda, Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt or Holguin. One of the cruise directors offered to contact Pearl Seas for an explanation and took my email address for them to reply. Again, we never received an explanation. Finally, I emailed and then sent letters to the president and Vice President of American Cruise Lines (who apparently own Pearl Seas) asking for an explanation and a partial refund after the cruise. There was no response to our emails but we got back a general "thanks for your letter" and that they would share my concerns with the Cuban government. They offered a 20% discount on a future cruise which is what the cruise line was offering to everyone on the boat before our boat docked in Ft. Lauderdale.
    Incredibly poor customer service.
     
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  18. Peg

    Peg

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    Thank you for your suggestions!
     
    #18
  19. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    ADVOCATE ADVICE
    When booking travel, especially a cruise, always, always, always use a real travel agent, an experienced travel agent. Nobody reads those pages of fine print in the brochure ... but the travel agents do! There are so many perils in travelling that you just can't do your own bookings unless you're really experienced. I'm so sorry this happened to you.
     
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  20. Peg

    Peg

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    Thanks.
     
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