When booking this reservation, 11 months before sailing, I was asked if I would like to be put on a list for a possible upgrade. I said yes. I am a platinum member and therefore assumed the cruise line might be able to do something for me. The nearer my departure came, about 2 weeks out, I called and asked if an upgrade might be possible. I called again a week out, then just a few days out. I kept being told that an upgrade list was computer generated, and that ‘I might not know about an upgrade until departure. However, it appeared that an upgrade would be more than likely’. Checking the ship’s cabin availability, I could see that all sorts of rooms were still open and that the ship was not even near capacity.
Also, about two weeks out, it became necessary for me to explain my need for use of a transport assist chair. I was told that Princess did not offer this and that I should contact ‘Special needs at sea’. This organization explained that they did not have a contract in Yokohama and that I would have to pay a concierge fee of $50.00 for the research, whether or not a transport assist chair could be provided. In the end, I got my own transport assist chair and flew it from New York to Tokyo. Princess should not ‘recommend’ a company for services that cannot be promised.
At check in, it became clear that an upgrade had not been made and that I would need to ask about this onboard. Guest services wanted to know if I would be willing to pay for the upgrade. I said no. A little while later, I went back to guest service and asked to speak with the hotel general manager. What I was given was the supervisor of guest services – not at all the same person. I explained my situation and was told that they would not be able to offer an upgrade until they had E-mailed the corporate office – because of the time zone difference.
I went to the room and unpacked for two people. Two days later, I saw the front desk supervisor and said I had not heard back from him. He did some research and then contacted me to explain he had found a handicapped accessible room. I found it to be in a less convenient location and turned down this offer. Two more days had passed (in to day 4 now) and interacted with the front desk manger once again. He said he had still not heard back from the corporate office. (Shame on you, Princess.) A few hours went by and he called the room to say he could offer me a balcony stateroom at a pro-rated price. At this point, the cruise was essentially half over and I am offered an upgraded cabin at a prorated price? I do not think so.
While all of this negotiation was happening, getting my father into the dining room was a big concern. First, while the utility carts are in the hallway, the hallway itself becomes handicapped inaccessible. I was having to move these utility carts both morning and evening in order to get the chair from the room to the elevator. Once we got to the dining room, I discovered we had been placed at the back of the dining room with a table that required walking up a couple of steps. I was told I could report this concern to the maître d’ the following day during the afternoon. I explained that I wanted to talk with him immediately. He came to the table. I explained how this seating arrangement was just inappropriate. It took a day to be re-seated at a table near the front of the dining room – on the main level. (Princess knew of my need for any handicapped arrangements two weeks out.)
While trying to get my father from our cabin on to promenade deck on pretty much a daily basis, I saw a few behaviors of staff I thought were inappropriate. The first was watching a uniformed officer spending time on deck just texting on the phone, while I am trying to get my father indoors from the outdoor walkway. As cruisers know, the doors to promenade deck are heavy, and are raised thus requiring one person to hold the door and another to move the transport chair over the ‘rise’. It took a maintenance worker to come over to hold the door open for assistance while I pulled my father up and over the ‘rise’. In another situation, there were staff (identified by the Princess pins) love-making on promenade deck. I had to get them to loosen the lock of their lips to assist getting my father in another door. Furthermore, generally speaking, uniformed officers did not interact with passengers. They would move their way through the ship by looking ‘through’ the passengers.
So, in keeping with Princess’ advertising jingle, ‘Escape Completely’ this is exactly what I wanted to do – to get off the ship as quickly as possible. At the same time, it appears Princess is also looking to promote another advertising jingle, ‘Come Back New’. I don’t know why promotion of two advertisements is happening simultaneously, but this is happening. In response to the latter jingle, I want to say that this would suggest I left not so new. And I find that a little insulting. Princess needs a new advertising campaign altogether.
So, in summary let me say my experience suggests that Princess does not support/provide direct services for those handicapped passengers. Hallways can be handicapped inaccessible at various times of the day. Princess does not offer upgrades to loyalty members – even when sailing at about 70% capacity. Princess does not communicate directly with each other, including between home office and the ship itself. Princess does not promote public relations between officers and passengers while on board. Princess staff pass the buck from one employee to the next. Also, it appears that middle level management onboard have their hands tied to make and follow through with decisions. And finally, let’s say my experience suggests that Princess is more concerned about the almighty dollar and not so much about customer relations.