My best friend and I decided to have a girl's getaway by taking a short three day cruise on Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas out of Miami. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Issac was in effect before we ever left. Concerned about the storm and our safety, we called Royal Caribbean before leaving home and were assured that the ship would either 1)not leave and we would be reimbursed for all costs including our flights; or 2) be re-routed to avoid the storm. During this call, I specifically asked what would happen if we did not make it back to the port at the scheduled time on Monday. I was told that RCI would take measures to get me home by rescheduling my flight and covering any costs associated with doing so, and give me up to $500 for hotel and food costs incurred in connection with the late arrival. Based on this information, we arrived at the ship at our scheduled departure time.
Upon boarding we were told that we would not be going to their private island but instead we would be going straight to Nassau. We were completely fine with this and boarded this ship.
Once the ship was out of the port, it began to rock and sway to such a degree that the captain came over the loud speaker and told us we should hold on to the handrails while moving around the ship. If we only knew what was to come . . .
The entire time on the ship was spent with the ship struggling to steady itself. My friend and the fellow passengers we made friends with were extremely anxious regarding our safety. We were very concerned whether the ship could withstand the storm as we were clearly in the middle of it. Saturday night the boat shook and rocked with such force it was impossible for me to sleep. It also started moaning loudly, creaking and banging. The information from the captain showed we had left the Caribbean and gone out to the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to escape the storm, a storm that Royal Caribbean was well aware was in existence before it left the port in Miami.
Needless to say, we never docked at any port. Instead we spent our days at sea which would have been fine had we been safe. The bottom line is the storm was too forceful for this boat and we simply were not safe. The workers were trained to say that we were but upon further questioning would routinely admit that they had never encountered conditions like this before. (Except for one bartender who told me he had endured worse before in the 1970's - so basically it hadn't been this rough for the past 30+ years).
Once the captain finally admitted that we would not be going to any port nor would we be arriving in Miami on time, they opened up less than 10 phones in the lobby for the more than 2000 passengers to call their loved ones and their airlines. (It has since been determined that Carnival Cruise Lines opened up the phones in their passengers' staterooms.) It took hours to make calls and attitudes and tempers were high. During this time, RCI informed passengers it would be doing nothing to aid in rescheduling flights, it would not cover any costs associated with doing so and that there would be no compensation for hotels or food costs incurred in Miami due to our late arrival. This was in direct contrast from what I was told before boarding their ship. In my professional opinion as a lawyer, this misrepresentation constitutes a viable cause of action.
In the end, my problem with Royal Caribbean is that they more than proved their motto is profits over safety. I agree with their standard line that "they cannot control the weather" but I contend that they control their decisions regarding the weather. Similar to Royal Caribbean, the airline industry cannot control the weather; however, they cancelled over 500 flights during Tropical Storm Issac as a matter of safety. The airlines cannot control the weather either but they chose safety over profits.
We have contacted RCI regarding any retributions for what I described as spending $1,000 to be tortured and was given the same response as everyone else which, in summary, is "too bad suckers!"
If you are going to cruise, I would certainly choose a carrier other RCI.
PS. I wish I would have thought to video the actual conditions on the ship but unfortunately I did not. I hope that those of you who did will post them on youtube. I do have one video that I will post which shows the chaos of trying to get off the ship in Miami and all the passengers erupting in laughter when the captain said "[W]e hope you will sail with Royal Caribbean again soon."