My wife and I have both reached the Elite Level with Princess Cruise Lines, in addition to having taken maybe a half dozen cruises with other lines. This cruise was our 17th on Princess, over a period of about 7 or 8 years. We felt that the new Princess program would follow through and recognize their most frequent passengers in some meaningful way, and we enjoyed traveling on their ships. Our cruise last February changed all that.
We had a series of unhappy experiences, starting with standing in the rain at the San Pedro cruise terminal for over 90 minutes before boarding. No Princess staff in sight and no umbrellas, ponchos, or anything to provide some relief. After about an hour and a half, with literally hundreds of people soaking wet and standing in the rain, someone realized that there was an empty terminal building that could be used for shelter, and we were all herded into it, only to spend the next hour in line just to get to Passport Control. The entire boarding experience was miserable.
When we made reservations for this trip we asked about (a) complimentary gratuities or (b) a beverage package and were told that we were not eligible because we got such a great fare. Once on board we talked with many other passengers only to find that many had the same rate and their gratuities had been included. We also found a group of passengers from the U.K. who had received an even better rate, plus their package included round trip airfare from London to Los Angeles as well as a two night stopover in Ls Vegas at a top hotel.
I understand promotional pricing and how it can be presented. But I felt deceived by Princess when they told me what a great deal I had and then gave many other passengers with the same rate a different (and better) deal. And some received a much, much better package.
There were a number of other incidents which I felt were cause for making Princess aware of how I felt. So I wrote a four page letter and sent it to them. I sent it by email first to our Princess travel consultant, who returned it to me immediately with a note that she could not open it and I should send it instead to the Customer Care department. So I sent it to the proper address and guess what the reaction was...……….radio silence! I waited for about 6 weeks and sent another note asking what was happening and again heard nothing.
If that is how Princess handles their best customers one wonders what they are doing for newer or less experienced passengers. There is a lot of competition in the cruise industry, and this overall experience has left me completely unhappy with Princess. We are now shopping for some other cruise line and left wondering how this could happen. We liked Princess, they seemed to like us, and we were happy. But when they ignored my legitimate issues and made not a single effort to reply I decide that this is their problem, not mine any longer.
So we will continue to cruise and I am certain that we can get comfortable with some other line. But it is shame for both my wife and me, and also for Princess. Incidentally, I am still on their mailing list for enticements for upcoming trips! Almost as if I had never written to them at all! Remember that old adage "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!"