It does not give me any pleasure in writing to inform you of a holiday which fell far short of what I expected.
Had my "gripe" been in one particular area, I would have found it easy to ignore, but alas this is not possible.
Prior to departure I found that the literature and itinery had to be pursued on more than one occasion, and it was my own enquiry through the internet that helped to alleviate this. This was a matter I took up with the travel agent directly.
What should concern you is:
• The lead up to the actual cruise was for the most part well handled, right up until we arrived on board ship. Unfortunately, I did find that Ketchikan was a port deleted, and a half day visit to Siskin was substituted.
• On board ship the daily running events were printed in a "Princess Patter" magazine. In the first issue of this, a full calendar of the trip was printed on page 2. Unfortunately, it was printed referring to Wednesday, July 19. Perhaps you will recall that Wednesday was in fact 18th. The lack of proof reading meant that the entire cruise had wrong day/dates according to the opening issue. When I tried to clarify this with the crew, I was scoldingly told that "the first day out is not Tuesday but Wednesday". Silly me.
• On the Wednesday (18/19) we went down for dinner dressed as required "Smart Casual". On arrival, I found that those who have sailed with you before, were in fact dressed "Formal" whilst 50% of the guests were dressed as we were. We dined self service.
• On the second Wednesday (25/26) the roles were reversed. This time those who had previously dressed casual made the effort, only to find that those who had previously dressed "formal" decided not to bother. Not satisfactory once more.
• Proof reading of the magazine caused further confusion in the theatre. On another occasion, the "Patter" gave a running order for the day and announced that the theatre show was due to start at 10pm. At the given time, the start was delayed as it was clear that the audience was still arriving. A guest who sat beside me could not understand why she had been so late. It transpired that the timetable announce a start of 10pm, while a "boxed" advert in the same "Patter" had announce a start time of 10.15pm. Again a proof reading shortcoming.
• Early on in the cruise, we were told that the ship had an engine failure, thus leaving us running on three of the four. Arrival times would be delayed accordingly. This was going to have a detrimental effect on excursions.
Having invested $1034 in these excursions I was bitterly disappointed, but then insulted by the paltry refund of $50 issued on the Captain's authority.
• We arrived four hours late in Victoria, BC. With an arrival of 7am and departure of 2pm, I had arranged to meet relatives there, but due to the delay I called to put them off. A number of passengers lobbied for a longer stay and the Captain's committee permitted a further 45 minutes. The end result was a stop of 3 ¾ hours instead of Seven Hours.
• On leaving Victoria, miraculously the erring engine had been repaired and the Captain had pleasure in announcing that we could now have a "Quick Cruise to Frisco". Obviously this would mean no delays for the new cruise starting. Really?
This was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish.
• On the final evening, we attended the "debriefing" in the theatre and were told that some of the times had been changed and that the notes to staterooms were wrong. We were assured that new notes would be delivered before morning. When this did not happen, the crew were contacted and we were given a "new note" which unfortunately contained the unaltered times.
• We were told that colour coded luggage labels would be delivered to the staterooms and we duly received "Green 1" labels. These were attached and the luggage removed on the night before disembarkation.
• The timetable instructed us to be in "Razzmatazz" lounge at 7am for customs procedures. This meant being up at 5.30am for breakfast.
• At 6.45am whilst still at sea, I looked from my balcony a watched the Pilot leap on board. No Customs?
• At 7am I attended "Razzmatazz" with many others and sat inside the lounge.
• At 7.20 am a uniformed officer of the crew entered and reported a change of time and put everyone out of the lounge to stand in line in the corridor.
• The Customs staff in fact did not attend till after to ship had tied up two hours later.
• At 9am everyone had to re-enter the "Razzmatazz" lounge to have the passports seen and then march back out another door into the previously mentioned corridor.
• At this point there were no crew/staff members on hand to inform anyone what the next procedure was.
• With little accurate information, a number of us made our way to the "Atrium" where we were confronted with a large number of experienced "Princess Cruisers" who were well versed enough to keep a close hold of their own cases and leave unaided. Their departure was greatly delayed even although the gangway, staff and card swipe machinery was all in place at 9am. We noted that two members of staff and two dancers were waiting to "swipe" everyone off.
• At 11am, four hours after assembling for customs, we were eventually allowed off and saw that our "Green 1" labelled cases were on the quay on the other side of a temporary barrier.
• Harbour staff, armed with clip boards, would not allow us to collect our cases, so we stood there and watched as the airport buses left without us.
• At noon we were grudgingly allowed to retrieve the cases and spoke to YOUR transport stewards/staff on quayside who confirmed that we had been given the wrong "GREEN 1" labels and should have been given "PINK".
• At this point we discovered that another two passengers were in a similar position re cases and buses. We were also told that there were apparently another thirteen passengers lost in the warehouse, all waiting to go to the airport.
• We were now left to hang around the diesel fumed area till the last of the airport buses returned with passengers joining the next cruise. At 1.30pm a bus arrived and this carried only we four passengers to the airport as the other thirteen were still missing. Perhaps they caught a yellow cab?
Many of the features on your cruise were very good, but to have them interspersed with chaotic disorganisation was extremely disappointing.
Various theories for engine failure went around the ship, mainly based on how we were able to depart on time, were then late for ports and excursions, and yet were able to start the next new cruise on time once more.
One common thread was voiced at disembarkation when it was clearly agreed that when the credit cards had been settled, the crew vanished like snow off a dyke.
The saving grace for the cruise was the staff that cleaned, catered for and entertained the guests.
Unfortunately, when you scratch the surface?