We were looking forward to our Christmas break aboard the Oceana ...we boarded on the 19th of December,and at first everything was fine!..Went to the Plaza for our first meal,although it was crowded,we expected this as everyone was rushing there for their lunch!
We were then allowed into our cabin..and that is were everything went downhill ... the balcony,which we had paid extra for was very small,and the floor was covered in white paint chippings,which had been left there,obviously after a rushed paint job..The handrail had been varnished and left tacky (although there was a note attached with some sellotape)
Bedding was very clean..(But we did have to ask for clean linen after a week)..Supposed to be changed every 3 days.The cabin steward later said the clean linen had not arrived!..that was rectified the same day,so must have arrived quickly after I asked for clean sheets!
The en-suite shower room was very small,you could hardly turn around in the shower cubicle ... Clean towels were provided when requested and always lots of hot water!
We chose not to eat at the plaza..always busy (More like a works canteen) opted for Café Jardin for breakfast and as we were on freedom dining, we ate at the Ligurian,every night. The food was excellent although not always plentiful and sometimes cold! The waiters work extremely hard (for little pay I might add!) One reviewer described it as a slave ship.and I am afraid have to agree!
On Christmas night, things went badly wrong! I awoke to hear water lapping around; I had heard this earlier in the week and it turned out to be rain and spray on the balcony. This was louder though so I thought perhaps my wife had left the balcony doors open and I got out to close it. I stepped out of bed and into above ankle deep water. I switched on the lights (something I realised immediately was a risky thing
to do!) and saw the whole cabin awash with water. More water poured in from under the bathroom with every roll of the ship. I opened the bathroom door and saw the problem. The toilets are similar to aircraft suction toilets - they suck away the waste and then fill the bowl with water. A fault had developed in our room where the refill mechanism had decided to go into over-drive and the toilet was overflowing
with gallons of water. I woke my wife and naturally, awaking to see our cabin swimming in water, she initially thought the worst, that the thought the ship was sinking!
I was frustrated to find there was no "emergency option" on the cabin phone and I had to go through a menu system to get through to reception! Anyway, I described the problem and someone appeared fairly quickly.
Amazingly, the guy knew what the problem was, he described with his hands what often happens to the valve system in the toilets, especially in rough weather. But it left me thinking, if they are so aware of what is wrong in such detail and if it happens often, why has it never been fixed?
They assured us we would be back to take us to another cabin. Half an our passed before someone finally arrived. We were asked to follow the person down the corridor, down two decks on the lift to our new cabin on C deck (to cabin C441), me dressed in my boxers and my wife in her nightie. We were asked to try to get some sleep and reassured someone would be round first thing in the morning to sort everything out.
Naturally, we didn't sleep well and we sat waiting for someone to return. No one arrived and when I called reception, I had to remind people who we were, where we were and what had happened. We had been forgotten.
The cabin staff appeared and I followed two of them to get some essentials; they said they would bring the rest of our stuff. So I went back to the old cabin to retrieve some of our clothes and toiletries. As there is not much room to store things like cases in the cabins, we had stored the cases and my travel guitar in its
case under the bed. These were all soaked. I managed to dry off the guitar and it appears okay, but it cannot have done it any good! The staff offered to dry out the cases and was a few items of clothing that were still in the cases, which they did.
This was the day we were supposed to get off the ship to explore Lisbon and the day turned out to be the nices day, weather-wise, of the whole cruise. Unfortunately, we had to miss that will all that was going on.
I all the above was not enough, the water had also destroyed my tablet computer, which had suffered water ingress and no longer works.
This is where the "fun" really started! I asked about getting the cost of my tablet computer covered. I was told I could have a £125 as a "goodwill gesture"! I pointed out to them that a goodwill gesture was what a company made when a problem occurred but they wanted to show there good customer service and then I turned down their offer. I was then asked if I would like to meet the "Accommodations Manager". I also pointed out to him that this was certainly not a situation where a "good will gesture" was appropriate! He appeared to be reeling by the fact I had not accepted his initial offer, but eventually came offered me £250.00 and also told me to claim on my travel insurance when I got home.
After much ado, he finally sent his "go between", the deck manager, who did most of the delivering of messages. He told me that the Accommodations Manager would like me to consider a better offer, but I would have to meet and sign a document.
During a subsequent meeting with the Accommodations Manager, he suggested I should accept a final offer of £400 for the replacement of the tablet; an approximately correct amount and, for our "inconvenience", a sum of £125 in the form of a voucher off our next P & O cruise. I had to point out to him that, considering the treatment we had received, it was extremely unlikely that we would consider a future cruise with P & O and therefore, the voucher held no value.
Finally, he contacted me again and said he was prepared to apply the £125 as credit to the current cruise account (as was the offer of the replacement value of the tablet), but said he could not give us cash for either. So, our only option was either to drink our selves senseless in the hope we managed to get maximum value for what we were offered, or to buy things we did not want from the on board, over-priced shops. So, not wishing to appear awkward, we opted for the latter.
Then came the sting in the tail! The Deck Manager appeared in our cabin and said he "hoped we were happy with the outcome" and asked if we would be happy to sign a form to that effect? If so, he would bring us the "mandate" as they called it for us to sign. When the mandate appeared, it made no mention of the damage caused, but simply described we had experienced a flood in our cabin. It further repeated that the payment to us was a "good will gesture", but much to our annoyance, actually told us we were, as part of the "agreement", prohibited from telling anyone about what had happened to us, under threat of prosecution for the full refund of all monies paid to us.
Naturally enough, we declined the offer as we did not wish to be silenced to allow us to warn other people of what to expect and hopefully to avoid others going through the same thing.
We are extremely unhappy with the way we were treated. We also lost part of our holiday; The only decent weather was when the ship docked in Lisbon and we had intended to explore Lisbon with friends. Instead, we spent the time putting stuff away in the replacement cabin and negotiating with the staff on the ship. Neither of which was very pleasant.
Following this incident, we also both contracted a strange flu-like illness from which we are still both suffering. No, obviously, it would be difficult to prove this was a direct result of us having to walk around
the cabin, flooded with sewage-contaminated water, but the possible connection is obvious. We are both currently on antibiotics for chest infections.
All of this was so unnecessary. It should have been very simple to put right, but as far as the Accommodations Manager was concerned, it was all about him ensuring he had made the experience a cheap as possible for P & O. When I talked to him about our whole experience and how it made us feel, he just stared at me. I may as well have been talking in Swahili.
At one point, I did ask at the reception desk if we could possibly speak to the Captain, but this was met with an amused and feigned look of surprise, as one would get if one had popped into the local church and asked to see the Pope. Apparently, one does not get to speak to the Captain, he is far too important.
Now, I can understand that the Captain would not want to meet routinely with passengers, but in view of what had happened, I would have thought it would have been appropriate for us to spend a few minutes with him outlining our distress. So, I guess either he doesn't want to know about such detail, or the rest of the crew ensure bad news never reaches him. Either way, it is a very sad state of affairs.
This was our first cruise of any kind and we feel, because of our experience, it will also be our last.
We have not been compensated - and I expect any compensation to come without strings; I would have thought a company the size of P & O would have done whatever it could to ensure no passenger leaves the ship thinking they had a bad experience or at least they they left feeling P & O had bent over backwards to mitigate the passenger's bad experiences.
Since getting home, I have emailed P & O customer services but received no reply as yet. I *did* get a call from the young lady who was our cruise advisor. She said it was just a courtesy call to see how the holiday went. Strangely, neither our friends nor other members of our family who were on the cruise with us received such a call. Anyway, I repeated the main point of the fiasco to her and she said she would talk to who ever was investigating.
Needless to say, we were very disappointed with the cruise, with the flood, the damage to my tablet computer and the wrecking of our holiday generally and especially with the attitude when we asked to things to be put right.
It does not appear to be possible to come back and edit this, so if the company finally respond, and I will leave any updates at http://www.sparksoft.net/pando along with a short video where you can view the water in our cabin.