This trip was part of my gift to my wife for her upcoming 40th birthday. Overall, our recent sailing experience was an incredible disappointment and there was an absolute lack of service recovery. There was a significant gap in the level ... Read More
This trip was part of my gift to my wife for her upcoming 40th birthday. Overall, our recent sailing experience was an incredible disappointment and there was an absolute lack of service recovery. There was a significant gap in the level of service promised, and paid for, compared to that received. The only consistent thing about the service received was its inconsistency. In fact, out of 3 sailings with Celebrity, only one exhibited the qualities, characteristics, and claims made by Celebrity's marketing (and this sailing was not it). No modern luxury lived onboard Celebrity Solstice.
While there were pockets of decent service, aside from the 2 exceptional examples noted, overall, the level was lackluster and unimpressive. Looking back, I fail to see why I paid for Concierge Class when we did not receive the stated benefits and amenities associated with that type of booking. We have sailed other lines with better service and that were less expensive.
During this entire process, we did not see a single Celebrity shoreside or ship representative until nearly boarding the ship and there was a photographer hawking boarding photos. The only people we came in contact with through this process were port personnel, security, and CBP – none of which had a vested interest in improving our vacation experience. Although, our experience with CBP was efficient and doing the best they could given the volume of passengers that day – contrary to the later finger-pointing from port and Celebrity personnel.
To quote another guest, "Embarkation was an unmitigated disaster." This, in my opinion set the tone and exemplified the lack of service and customer experience for the rest of the sailing. This was, undoubtedly, the worst embarkation experience I have ever experienced at Canada Place or any other port of embarkation. Looking back, the entire scenario was foreseeable, preventable, and unmitigated.
What is disheartening is that this was not the first time Celebrity used Canada Place as a port of call or port of embarkation. The facilities and its infrastructure are a known factor. Knowing 3 large ships would sail from that port, all scheduled within a 1-2 hour period of one another, Celebrity absolutely should not have told embarking guests to arrive at the port later – yet those were their instructions. It only backed up Celebrity's 3,000 boarding guests with another 6,000+ from the other 2 ships in port that day.
Upon arrival, we were told initially by port personnel the wait for security would be 30-45 minutes. Three hours later we were herded like cattle to the security screening for another 45-60 minute wait. Once past that point, there was another line with several hundred people awaiting US CBP clearance. Our only saving grace from that further delay was holding Global Entry/Nexus cards – which we had to ask to use. Once through CBP, there were further lines for checking in. After we were finally allowed to board, staff and the Captain’s apologies rang hollow. The fact that it took 5 days to acknowledge the embarkation fiasco in writing and that the $50 credit was noted as a “good will gesture,” only signaled Celebrity’s lack of planning, appreciation for the situation, and overall lack of concern for its guests’ experience.
My wife and I both worked in hospitality while in school and continue to be in service-oriented professions. In our prior and current professions, we would be, and are, accountable to do what we what’s possible to mitigate a problem and genuinely exhibit a sense that we care for the customer, and explain what we were doing to rectify the situation. In this instance:
• The initial e-mail warning passengers to delay arrival should have never been sent. This only created a larger bottleneck that port staff and CBP were unable to process. The communication should have encouraged Global Entry and Nexus card holders to bring their separate Global Entry/Nexus identity cards. This would have processed those passengers more quickly.
• Port personnel should have asked and directed Global Entry/Nexus holders to the appropriate lines.
• Passengers should have been segregated into different groups based on their immigration status to speed up security and CBP clearance.
• Ship or shoreside staff should have been allowed onsite in the various areas to address passenger concerns, inform them of what steps were being taken to expedite the process, and have more than water available for passengers during a 4+ hour wait. The lack of Celebrity personnel’s presence signaled a lack of appreciation for the situation and a lack of concern for your guests’ boarding experience.
• Snacks or some other accommodation for food should have been provided. While food might not have been available from the ship, Celebrity personnel should have been able to make arrangements for guests from shoreside venues.
• An immediate acknowledgment of the situation at sailing should have been issued in writing and an explanation that Celebrity did everything it could once the situation unfolded as it did, and what steps were taken.
As to the last point, I can only assume Celebrity failed to fully appreciate the magnitude of the situation given the delay in addressing it, the tone of a “good will” gesture, and lack of any ownership of the situation. Even if the port were mostly to blame for this event, Celebrity’s culpability was that there was the appearance of doing nothing to resolve it and then playing the “don’t blame me, it was them game.” In these situations, own it, acknowledge it, do what you can for your customer. Deal with the port behind the scenes and do not make your guests take the brunt of the failure. Further, Celebrity is the port’s customer. I fail to see how Celebrity had no ability to influence this situation.
Following embarkation, the rest of the service onboard seemed to follow a similar pattern. Generally, staff seemed disinterested, disorganized, and overwhelmed. Although service in the main dining room did improve slightly by the end of the sailing.
Water glasses went empty for long periods at a time. Servers would come and go without asking or offering to refill our glasses. Beverage service was spotty, and if you did not have a beverage package, you were largely ignored. During one meal service was so slow, I had to ask for an ordered bottle of wine to be left on the table so we could actually enjoy it with our meal.
In another example, at one of the pool bars, a female guest ordered a bottle of water before I ordered my beverage. The bar tender first served me and several other guests who arrived after me without serving the female guest who arrived first. I stopped and insisted the bar tender serve her before I left the bar to which the bar tender glared at me with contempt.
I did not realize I would be a carpenter on this vacation and have to cobble back together several drawers in our stateroom (and later fix soap dispensers in the spa). At embarkation, the stateroom attendant noticed there was no DND sign in our stateroom and promised to bring one. That did not happen until day 6 of our sailing. We tried to fashion paper ones to place into the key reader. Those were removed and DNDs broken not once, but twice.
During one meal, I asked for a cake I ordered to be brought to the dining room to share with the rest of the group we were sailing with. The maître d’ looked at me as though my request was beneath him and his staff. Needless to say, the cake nor an explanation, never arrived during supper.
In general, the only place where service levels were exceeded or met from a dining perspective, was in the specialty restaurants. Perhaps that was the goal? Make service so terrible that people will pay more for the service that should have been provided in the first place?
Our experience in the spa was disappointing and disgusting. Initially, we were impressed by a therapist named Nun. She was personable, friendly, outgoing, and appeared genuinely concerned with the guest experience. We explained the services we were interested in and the day. Nun indicated she was off that day, but that we should still ask for her as she wanted to provide my wife’s and my couples massage. She also explained what to expect the day of our treatment service and that we would be further shown around the spa facilities.
When booking the reservation 2 days later staff was disengaged, continuing other conversations among themselves, and failed to acknowledge our presence when we initially arrived. The person who made our reservation was aloof and near condescending. When we asked for Nun to be our masseuse, we were gruffly rebuffed and told she was not available. We pressed and asked for Nun again because of our initial positive interaction with her, and were abruptly told “no” (that should have been our clue to leave and not come back).
On the day of our massage, staff again was disengaged, continuing other conversations among themselves, and failed to acknowledge our presence when we arrived. Once checked in, we were pointed toward an open door and told changing rooms and robes were through “there.” There was no explanation of the facilities, introduction to other services or amenities, or generally, where we should go or what we should do.
Once in the respective locker rooms, we had to scrounge around to figure out the lockers. There were no clean shower shoes in the lockers. Once outside waiting like fools for someone to collect us, an attendant noticed our bare feet and provided disposable slippers used for pedicures.
Following our massage we were generally pointed back to the locker rooms. I tried to take a shower, but the covers on the soap and shampoo dispensers kept falling off. The third time that happened, I looked to my left and noticed a prior guest left a used body bandage – the type used for large open wounds. I promptly left, changed, and attempted to inform the attendant at the desk. The response was a flat, unconcerned, “I’ll send someone from housekeeping.” There was not a hint of acknowledgment for how unsanitary that was nor any concern for my overall experience in the spa that day.
In addressing our concerns onboard, the Guest Relations Manager noted that there was no record of any incident. Indeed there was not. If I had reported every incident each time it occurred during our sailing, I would have been camped out at the Guest Relations desk instead of trying to salvage a long-awaited vacation. These are simple, preventable concerns. The expectations could have and should have been easily met. Read Less