It was our first experience of a Princess cruise having previously cruised with NCL and Cunard and unfortunately we were severely let down. As it was our 12th wedding anniversary and we decided to celebrate in style and book the deluxe renewal of vows package through our travel agent. In the run up to the cruise we spent many hours planning what we should wear and we both bought new attire amounting to £500.00 including accessories, my husband bought a new suit and I bought a designer dress. We planned what to say to each other and told all our family and friends about the event.
On boarding the ship we went to our stateroom to eagerly read the letter about the vows as our whole holiday was planned around the ceremony. There was no letter or information about the event. I immediately contacted the front desk and the lady there put me through to the person in charge. He casually asked me a few questions such as did we have rings, were there any other guests? He told us to turn up on the 5th June at 5.pm but that there would be a letter delivered to our room explaining everything.
Two days passed and still no communication. We entered our cabin on the third day to discover there were two old second hand, grey shabby towelling robes on our bed; we were appalled as the package had stated we would get commemorative waffle robes to take home.
We returned to the front desk and showed the staff member the robes she did not apologise or explain why but kept saying we should have had a letter, she tried to contact the person in charge of the ceremony but he was out of his office so she said he would be in touch.
By now it was day four of the cruise, the day before the ceremony, and we were still no further forward, still no contact of any kind. As you can appreciate it caused us a great deal of unnecessary stress and impacted greatly on the enjoyment of our holiday. We both sat and discussed our experience so far and came to the sad decision that we no longer felt able to go through with the ceremony as it obviously meant little to Princess as a company. This was also re-in forced by reading the Princess Pattter which stated a ceremony for all Jewish passengers was to take place at the chapel at 5.15 pm on the same day! This would have allowed us 15 minutes in total with a bunch of people waiting to get in.
My husband went to cancel the ceremony on Thursday afternoon but was told he could not be reimbursed on board and would need to speak to Southhampton. I was too upset to attend this meeting but my husband reported back that the gentleman in charge just kept saying "It's not too late". He then made a ridiculous claim that the ceremony was a surprise! It certainly was no surprise to us and obviously he was clutching at straws to prevent us gaining a refund.
My husband returned the next day at 10. am and was put through to a person at Carnival UK who agreed to refund us the money and apologised on behalf of our experience. Sadly the staff responsible for the ceremony on the cruise failed to offer any apology and chose to sweep it under the carpet. We, however then had to endure a difficult day when we should have been celebrating our anniversary. Putting some balloons outside our cabin and bringing us a cake after our meal at Sabitinis were only there to remind us of how the day was ruined due to terrible customer care.
On another aspect of the cruise we felt the hard sell was always apparent something we had never experiened on a cruise holiday before. After a spa treatment I had to listen to the therapist repeatedly try to sell for five minutes, trying to sell me the products, even when I said no she persisted, it put me off returning for a treatment. The port and shopping talk was an excuse to get a captive audience in one place to buy their coupon book for $40.00 so we walked out. Everywhere you turned it was sign up for this or that and the announcements over the tanoy were equally hard sell "Buy bingo tickets" ! The t.v channels were constantly encouraging guests to sign up to one thing or another and part with their money.
On a positive the speciality restaurants were wonderful, service excellent as was the quality of food. The ports of call were good but i wish we had of done our own tours as theres were disappointing in one way or another.
Princess needs to reassess their customer care values and lose the hard sell. I will not be sailing with them again.