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Nov 26, 2017
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#1
Hello everyone!

I was hoping we can gain some insight on how to handle a situation with Princess Cruises (owned by Carnival). I'm posting on behalf of my parents, who were taking our whole family on a cruise to celebrate my dad's retirement and their 43rd wedding anniversary. Less than 48 hours before we were set to sail, we were notified by Princess that there was a norovirus outbreak on the voyage right before us. The CDC requires that it be reported when 2% of the ship's passengers fall ill; this particular voyage had 6%. Long story short, since we were traveling with 2 seniors and a one-year-old in our party, we contacted Princess to try and get a credit cruise. We were denied and told that we would lose all of our money.

My mom sent the following letter to the CEO of Princess Cruises (explaining this situation in much greater detail):
______________________________________
Dear Ms. Swartz and Mr. Donald:

It is with regret that I find myself having to write this letter. At this moment, I had planned to be in flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to board the Princess Crown to experience a Caribbean adventure with my husband, married daughters, son-in –law, and two grandsons. The seven of us, since early June, had been looking forward to a well-deserved fun filled family vacation. We were going to celebrate our forty-third wedding anniversary and my husband’s retirement.

Less than forty-eight hours before our departure, we all received an email from Princess Cruise Line informing us of a delayed departure. That in itself would not have been reason for alarm, except that the reason given was that the Princess Crown needed to undergo a sanitation procedure due to a wave of gastrointestinal infections on its previous sailing. We were immediately alarmed for several reasons: 1) Upon some investigative research, we discovered that this was NOT the first incident of a norovirus outbreak occurring on this ship. Searched customer reviews alerted us of the possibility of falling ill and the unsanitary conditions found on the Crown (See attachments); 2) My one year old grandson has not received all his immunizations due to his age and the possibility of his immune system being compromised was cause for alarm; 3) The pre-boarding health advisory link warned of the need to hand wash “before eating, drinking, or smoking.” How can we keep a one year old, who puts everything in his mouth, safe under these conditions? Also, having to be cautious to avoid a possible infection, would have created such a restrictive environment that it would have prohibited us from fully enjoying our vacation; 4) My husband and I are senior citizens, and due to age, our immune systems are not what they used to be.

I immediately called our booking agent, cruises.com, and was told that any cancellations would have to be handled by Princess Cruise Line. I called Princess at once and was relegated from person to person. There was Dale, who forwarded me to Mary, who forwarded me to Lisa Black, who refused to even speak with me. Their response was the same-no refund or cancellation, which was totally unacceptable to me. This letter is a result of my unproductive interchanges with your customer relation folks. Their responses ranged from sympathetic to a complete disregard for their customers’ health and safety.

I believe that my family and I were forced to cancel this cruise NOT through any desire or cause on our part, but from the inaction of your cruise line to address this problem on the Crown. I am also attaching some historic information from a U.S. News report and customer satisfaction reviews. This is the information that I had at hand when choosing not to sail as planned. I am asking for a full refund of the cruise fare. I am also attaching a copy of the most recent norovirus outbreak (which represent the cruise previous to ours) on the Crown Princess as noted on the Center for Disease Control’s website. My daughters have chosen to take this injustice on your part to social media. Princess needs to do the right thing for my family who has sailed both on Carnival and Princess so many times that we are considered to be “gold” member customers.

Also, my family and I are “out” over $2400 for airline costs from American Airlines that represent the fare that would have taken the seven of us from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As you can see, this was quite an investment and a huge potential loss for our family. I appreciate your addressing this matter in a way that represents fairness, awards customer loyalty, and shows a conscionable mindset on the part of Princess Cruise Lines.

___________________________________________________

My mom sent the letter as certified mail and confirmed its receipt.

In addition, my husband and I have a successful YouTube channel and social media following, so we posted the following video to our channel:

After posting the video, attempting contact via social media, and sending the letter, my mother was contacted by Princess. She was informed that Princess is unwilling to help us or listen to our concerns. So we posted a follow-up video detailing that exchange:

So that's where we are today! I would very much like to rectify this for my parents' sake-- they worked too hard their entire lives (my dad for over 50 years, my mom over 30 years) and they don't deserve to be treated in this manner. They have been on 15-20 cruises, so we assumed they would be treated respectfully since they're experienced cruisers. The complete lack of empathy and the dismissive customer service reps have made this an awful experience for our family. Any help would be much appreciated.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#2
This is extremely long - Did you buy Travel
Insurance?

The sanitation done to the ship was to prevent anyone from getting sick that would be traveling on your cruise.

Our usual advice is to use our company contacts and start a letter writing campaign. You’ve already gone to the top- you have not heard from them directly? Have you tried their email address? Using postal mail is not the most effective way they communicate anymore.

Posting on YouTube doesn’t really help the situation. That should be a last resort after you have gone as far as you can.
 
Apr 10, 2017
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#3
I agree with Neil regarding the YouTube video. I believe it could hurt your cause more than it could help.

How long was the cruise delayed? Was the delay going to be so long as to keep you and your family from going at all? Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships are nothing new and be glad Princess was taking steps to prevent one on the next sailing. Did you purchase a separate travel insurance policy? If not, was a credit card used to pay for the cruise? If so see if there are any trip interruption/cancellation benefits associated with it.
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#4
@Bowlingotter Show I'm thinking you maybe out of options...
The purpose of sanitizing / decontaminating the ship was to make it safe for the next cruise. The sanitation recommendations they gave you are ones that have been posted on every cruise I've taken for the last few years. Furthermore, I don't think you'll find a ship of any size that hasn't had a noro outbreak at some point. It's just too contagious, too common and too many people lie to get on ships when sick.

End results is that you chose, you weren't forced, to cancel your cruise. You needed someone to make an exception for you. By going straight to the top, you denied a whole bunch of people the opportunity to say yes. By then trying the social media shaming route, you disincentivised them from helping since, after all, they were under no obligation to help.

As far as travel insurance, I don't know of any policies that cover opting not to travel because of norovirus on a ship (instead of being sick yourself).

Good luck
 
Nov 20, 2015
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#6
There was no Norovirus outbreak reported on your ship. Did the email from the cruise line actually state that it was present or was this an assumption on your part?

The gastroenteritis outbreak on the Crown Princess was caused by toxins from a bacterium called Clostridium perfringens, according to the CDC report.
C. perfringens gastroenteritis is caused by contaminated foods that are inadequately cooked/reheated foods(commonly known as food poisoning)
The distinction is important because it is not contagious. Once the bad food is removed and the food prep areas are cleaned per CDC guidelines, the risk of illness goes away.

Thus, it would have been safe to take the cruise, unless they brought more contaminated food on board(very unlikely)

https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/surv/outbreak/2017/Crown_Princess_10-25.html
 
Nov 26, 2017
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#8
There was no mention of Norovirus in the initial email sent from the cruise line a day before the trip -- it only mentioned "gastrointestinal illness." The CDC report either didn't exist at the time or wasn't linked on the email sent by Princess Cruises. We moved to the Norovirus assumption as any search results related to Princess Cruises and illness inevitably led us to that conclusion, and without any additional details to go on, we made our decision based on that. Repeated calls made to the cruise line certainly didn't make any attempt to deny that Norovirus was the cause at the time.

The above letter that was sent to Ms. Swartz and Mr. Donald (as well as the video) was only sent after repeated calls to a number of representatives proved unhelpful. We were under the impression that this meant that we weren't going "straight to the top" while being denied customer service -- we continued until supervisors refused to speak with us. We weren't aware of this forum at the time. A call was indeed received in response to the letter acknowledging it but the rep who called proceeded to accuse us of being careless for planning to bring a 1-year-old on a plane.

There was no travel insurance purchased for this trip, but we believe this to be irrelevant as it wouldn't have fallen under any travel insurance policy I'm aware of.

What would you suggest would be the next step at this time?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,260
12,443
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
There was no mention of Norovirus in the initial email sent from the cruise line a day before the trip -- it only mentioned "gastrointestinal illness." The CDC report either didn't exist at the time or wasn't linked on the email sent by Princess Cruises. We moved to the Norovirus assumption as any search results related to Princess Cruises and illness inevitably led us to that conclusion, and without any additional details to go on, we made our decision based on that. Repeated calls made to the cruise line certainly didn't make any attempt to deny that Norovirus was the cause at the time.

The above letter that was sent to Ms. Swartz and Mr. Donald (as well as the video) was only sent after repeated calls to a number of representatives proved unhelpful. We were under the impression that this meant that we weren't going "straight to the top" while being denied customer service -- we continued until supervisors refused to speak with us. We weren't aware of this forum at the time. A call was indeed received in response to the letter acknowledging it but the rep who called proceeded to accuse us of being careless for planning to bring a 1-year-old on a plane.

There was no travel insurance purchased for this trip, but we believe this to be irrelevant as it wouldn't have fallen under any travel insurance policy I'm aware of.

What would you suggest would be the next step at this time?
There was no mention of Norovirus in the initial email sent from the cruise line a day before the trip -- it only mentioned "gastrointestinal illness."

I don't think there is anything you can do. You unfortunately misunderstood what you received and made an incorrect assumption and didn't show up based on that. That isn't the cruise lines fault. They didn't do anything wrong.

They may have tried to work with you to possibly apply some of your money to another cruise but if you trashed them on Social Media you might have ruined any chance you had of them wanting to assist you. And from the responses you have received - that is what is sounds like.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#10
Why is the OP surprised that the cruise company denied any consideration? Within the first three minutes of the first video the husband says that the email was about Norovirus.
The post here claims it was norovirus.

CCGormand has shown it was not norovirus it was the meat born bacteria. Common at buffets and cafeterias and not contagious.

And then finally the OP admits to just assuming that it was norovirus.

If one is going to social media shame at least have the facts correct. This borders on social media defamation.

And boarding was delayed for an hour or so the video claims.

No one was forced to cancel the trip. It was done out of panic and ignorance.

I have never taken a cruise and never will.
But to demand empathy after jumping to conclusions and inaccurately characterizing the situation is asking too much.

After being slammed in two long videos (I only watched the first 3 minutes of the first one and it is what over 20 minutes?) there is no incentive for the company to make a goodwill gesture.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,478
6,535
113
San Francisco
#11
There was no mention of Norovirus in the initial email sent from the cruise line a day before the trip -- it only mentioned "gastrointestinal illness." The CDC report either didn't exist at the time or wasn't linked on the email sent by Princess Cruises. We moved to the Norovirus assumption as any search results related to Princess Cruises and illness inevitably led us to that conclusion, and without any additional details to go on, we made our decision based on that. Repeated calls made to the cruise line certainly didn't make any attempt to deny that Norovirus was the cause at the time.

The above letter that was sent to Ms. Swartz and Mr. Donald (as well as the video) was only sent after repeated calls to a number of representatives proved unhelpful. We were under the impression that this meant that we weren't going "straight to the top" while being denied customer service -- we continued until supervisors refused to speak with us. We weren't aware of this forum at the time. A call was indeed received in response to the letter acknowledging it but the rep who called proceeded to accuse us of being careless for planning to bring a 1-year-old on a plane.

There was no travel insurance purchased for this trip, but we believe this to be irrelevant as it wouldn't have fallen under any travel insurance policy I'm aware of.

What would you suggest would be the next step at this time?
This is a real shame. Can you get all the garbage off social media? You might have a chance of preserving some of your money towards a future cruise. Then you all could take up a collection and send your parents on a nice cruise this winter. There's a reason cruisers are urged to use a travel agent before booking ... a good agent would have saved this situation immediately by coming up with the facts and some good advice. I am so sorry that this happened.
 
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