The on board comedian on our cruise, made a funny comment that some people travel 3000 miles to complain!
I, like the rest of the audience in the ships theatre enjoyed the joke.
However, people who travel 3000 miles or more and who spend a lot of money on a holiday, expect to get a trouble free experience from the holiday providers.
Our holiday started with a beautiful 2 nights stay in the Conrad Centennial hotel (Executive class) in Singapore. The quality of the surroundings, the wonderful food and friendly staff prepared our mood for our cruise.
We have over 12 years experience of cruising, averaging one or two each year. We normally travel in a modest balcony state room.
This time, however, as it would be our last long distant trip, (I am 83 years old) we chose to travel on the Celebrity Millennium 5* ship in Concierge class, which promised “an experience designed for the traveller who settles in nicely to veranda staterooms where little details make a big difference.” We were told that “the attention to detail will amaze you, even as you sleep on the perfect pillow you've selected from our pillow menu. If personalized Concierge service, priority check-in and early disembarkation appeal to you, Concierge Class is your clear choice.”
Our first concern about our cruise came to us in the form of a letter at our Singapore hotel . It stated that our embarkation would be delayed due to a serious outbreak of gastrointestinal illness amongst a number of passengers on board.
The blame for the outbreak was placed on some passengers and the Asian ports the ship visits. During our cruise, we were reminded daily by the Captain, as if we were children to wash our hands after going to the bathroom and not to shake hands with anyone! Salt and pepper and other condiments were removed from our tables at dinner and lunch. If we required them, we had to call an unfortunate waiter to apply the pepper and salt when required.
In spite of what I considered extreme measures, a number of guests on our cruise were smitten with what appeared to be gastroenteritis. Our waiter told us that about 20 passengers were suffering. An unusually large number of people who we befriended on the cruise, including my wife, ended up with flu like symptoms. On returning home, my wife needed medical treatment. We have never experienced anything like this is any of our previous cruise voyages.
On going aboard, as part of the Concierge class, I looked forward to “priority check-in and express luggage delivery“ as promised, especially because of my age and a condition known as Spinal Stenosis which I suffer from. Priority check-in on cruises with other companies, meant priority check in. In fact on this occasion, we were issued with ticket number 25, which meant that 24 large groups were ahead of us. A very nice young officer, who saw my plight after waiting in a queue for over 30 minutes, let my wife and I through.
After waiting in our room for our luggage, I got a call to report to Deck 1 as there was a ‘problem’ with my luggage. On reporting there, I found myself in the company of about 30 other very angry passengers. In my case, ’security’ had found a scissors in my luggage, which would have to be confiscated. I explained that I needed that particular scissors as I had problems with my toe nails. My appeal was ignored and I was told that scissors were not allowed as “there are some dangerous people around”. Was I likely to stab someone I wondered? In fact, if I so wished, I had the opportunity to stab lots of people as we had been provided with knives and forks in our room.
No one was available to take my luggage up to my room. As a result, I had to haul my 20 kilo luggage all the way to my state room on level 8.
The next obstacle to a relaxing and enjoyable holiday came in the form of a ‘contraption ‘ on the veranda of our state room. The information we had received from Celebrity prior to our arrival states that “Concierge Class staterooms each have a private balcony, and are located in the most desirable locations of each ship. You will find all in-room features of our standard Staterooms, but with high-end furnishings and lots of extra touches that make them a little bit special”
However our stateroom had a dirty and rusting contraption which is used, I presume, to paint and/or for washing the ship which was blocking a full quarter of our balcony.
When I reported the presence of this to a very helpful young Guest Relations Officer named Raul, I was told that it was in our contract that we should expect such. I am well experienced in cruise travel and I understand that there are often structural aspects to a ship which can limit viewing to some extent. However, this was, in my opinion an ugly and dirty feature which did not, in my opinion, reflect the statement from Celebrity of “an experience designed for the traveller who settles in nicely to veranda staterooms where little details make a big difference”
To add insult to injury, we were offered, as an alternative to our Concierge class stateroom, an ordinary veranda state room on the 7th level, although we had paid for Concierge class. We decided to decline the ‘generous‘ offer.
There were other minor annoyances which I would not expect to find in any cruise liner, especially on a so called 5* ship. The wash basin in our room was chipped and the lining of the curtains were stained.
As practicing Catholics, we were disappointed that there were no opportunities for religious services, while there were Jewish services each Friday.
In spite of the difficulties which were faced , my wife and I decided to leave them behind us and enjoy our holiday.
We had a happy two weeks. We made many new friends and we have many wonderful memories of our visits ashore in Singapore, Thailand , Vietnam and Hong Kong. We cannot speak too highly of the staff on board, especially our cabin staff and our waiter, who were most helpful and hardworking.
We look forward to many more cruises.
However none of them will be with Celebrity Cruises. Not in a million years!