JEWEL OF THE SEAS: THE
CURSE OF THE JEWEL
I have been on 7 different trips with Royal Caribbean.
Five have been on the Rhapsody, one on the Radiance (Alaska 2005),
and now the Jewel as well. Not once... repeat... not
once have I ever complained about the competence of
Oh sure, maybe we didn't get a boom box delivered on
time or maybe they didn't want us dancing late at night. There
will always be minor problems. But overall, the performance of
each RCCL Staff has always been exemplary.
That is, "exemplary" until now. Throughout the
week, the Jewel Staff made
big mistakes, small mistakes, stupid mistakes, and many needless
mistakes. They made every kind of mistake possible.
This is a long story. Hmm. Change
that to "very long". It includes three serious incidents - the
two Tender boat horrors and the Final Day Fiasco. It details
four less serious but still aggravating incidents - Cattle Call, the
Smoking Problem, the Shore Excursion line, and the Jigsaw Puzzle
Confrontation. The Tender problems made me so angry I wrote a
letter to the Jewel's administration. You will be interested
to learn how the Jewel Staff handled my complaints.
Something aboard the Jewel was wrong, very wrong. I wasn't the
only one to speculate the ship might be cursed. Decide for
INCIDENT ONE - CATTLE CALL (DAY ONE)
We were instructed
to arrive at the Jewel no earlier than 2 pm. We
arrived at 2 pm only to find several hundred passengers already
waiting in the cruise ship terminal. Between
us, Marla and I had six pieces of luggage - four suitcases and
two carry-ons. Instead of sending the porters to meet us, each
passenger was required to stand in line. This meant each time
the line moved, we had to shuffle six pieces of luggage forward, a
process that took 20 minutes.
Finally we reached the Porter Station. At this point,
they whisked our luggage away. Now we were sent inside the
building to a holding area for an additional 45 minute wait.
Eventually our particular group was called.
Now we were required to stand in a new line to check in. This
took another twenty minutes. We had already "checked in" using
online. However this extra effort didn't seem to give us any
Now compare this situation to our previous experience. One
month earlier we took another cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Rhapsody. We
had also checked in ahead of time online. It took us less than ten
minutes to board the Rhapsody.
Aboard the Jewel, this same process took an hour and a half.
These people were not even remotely equal to the Rhapsody at handling registration.
INCIDENT TWO - THE ABRUPT END TO THE
SHORE EXCURSION LINE (DAY ONE)
During the Cattle Call, there was a rumor floating around that some
of the favorite shore excursions were already sold out.
Consequently Marla and I were very concerned about getting signed up
as quickly as possible.
The moment we got to our room, we threw our stuff down on the bed
and raced to the Front Desk. When we got there at 4 pm, there
were three people working the desk and a line which snaked all the
way out the Centrum. Apparently we weren't the only ones who
had heard that rumor. Everybody in line seemed to be worried.
Marla looked at me and I looked at her. We were in for our
second long wait of the day. Sure enough, we stood there
for over an hour. We thought the ordeal was almost over when
suddenly a woman announced that the Shore Excursion Desk was now
closed. She said it was time for the Life Boat Drill and we
needed to proceed immediately. At this moment, there were only
two people still ahead of us.
We had just been dismissed.
I looked at the woman who made the announcement and asked her to
give us a number or put our names on a list for priority service
after the drill was over. She ignored what I said and told us
the Desk was closed and we needed to leave.
I wasn't going to accept that. This time I spoke loudly.
I said that we weren't going anywhere until they helped us. I
said there was no reason for them to treat us like that.
I was incredulous. This is a business that strives to provide
quality service. Behavior like this was way over the line.
I had never seen a Royal Caribbean employee act in this manner
before. Who on earth treats people like this?
had waited patiently for over an hour. We deserved to be have our
trips taken care of. I wasn't the only one who was mad.
Everyone was furious; I was just the loudest.
I guess they decided to shut me up. Immediately one of the
women at the Desk came running up to Marla. She handed Marla a
piece of paper. She said if Marla would give her the trips we
wanted to take and her room number, the woman would make sure we got
Later that night, we took the chance to check. The woman
had never done a thing about it. Her display of concern was just a
scam to shut me up.
INCIDENT THREE -
TENDER PROBLEMS AT
MARTHA'S VINEYARD (DAY TWO)
Martha's Vineyard was
our first stop on the trip. This lovely little island
represented our first look at fabled New England charm.
This was the day that Marla and I had planned to explore the entire
island. Martha's Vineyard really wasn't that big a place.
We were going to
rent a bike, visit the nearest town, have a beer, take the ferry
Chappaquiddick, get some ideas for some goofy story about the infamous accident
("we will cross that bridge when we come to it"), have some lunch, then amble back to the ship in the
late afternoon. It sounded like a fun plan.
The moment I got the day's itinerary, I frowned. When we
originally signed up, the RCCL website said Martha's Vineyard trip would last from 9 am
till 4 pm. Now I saw that time had been changed to 10 am.
One hour gone right there.
Marla and I were ready at
10 am. So was the rest of the ship. There were literally
hundreds of people in line ahead of us. What on earth was the
That's when I learned about Tender Boats.
Whenever a giant
cruise ship like the Jewel visits a small port, it is simply
too big to dock in shallow waters. Instead Tender Boats that
also serve as life boats are used to ferry passengers
back and forth.
There were four Tender Boats on the Jewel. There were 2,100
passengers. Just how did they expect to get two thousand
shore at the same time?
Making things worse, an announcement came out over the loud speaker that the
tender boats were experiencing rough, choppy water and the going was
slow. The Jewel announcer told us how lucky we were that the
operators were brave enough to go out in waters like these.
She added that other ships would probably not even try.
Well, how about that! Let's hear it for the boys!
This was an attempt to get our sympathy and win some extra patience.
I took her word for it. We thought the drivers were heroes for even trying. Since we
were cooped up in some hallway, we didn't know what the waters looked
like. Later I learned the truth.
waters weren't that rough. Look at the pictures. Big deal.
We sat on the steps waiting for the tender boats. And we sat.
And we sat. I wish I had taken a picture to give you an idea
of how frustrated the people were. At this point, I was
getting a hunch, but I hadn't quite figured out this was just the
beginning of one poor job on the Staff's part after another.
Finally after sitting on those steps for two and a half hours, it
was our turn to go to shore. Our free time had been
reduced from seven hours to 3 1/2 hours. I was furious over
the lost time. How were they going to give it back to me?
Nor were things any better on the way back. Marla and I
returned to Oak Bluffs after a much-abbreviated bike ride due to the
reduction in time. We were
greeted by a line that stretched eight hundred yards.
Naturally you say I must be exaggerating. Well, look at the
pictures. Once I saw
this line, I realized they were out of excuses. The sun was
shining, the sea was calm, and there was still a line. How
pathetic. So I whipped out my camera and snapped away.
I had a lot of time on my hands. Marla and I had rushed back
to Oak Bluffs to be there early at 3:30 pm like they suggested.
Once we were there and saw the line, we were really angry at ourselves for
taking them at their word.
We had skipped lunch only to find
a line that stretched half a mile! I truly regret my camera
was unable to take a wide angle picture of the line to prove just how absurd the
Even more absurd, the line kept growing! And growing...
While waiting in line, it dawned on me I had plenty of time to go
buy a tee-shirt and some postcards. So I told Marla I would be
back in ten minutes. Meanwhile the ten minutes became 30 minutes.
I poked my nose out of the store to make sure the line was still
there. When I got back, a boat was just pulling out. It turns out my
wife was aboard.
A couple friends told me that Marla had literally been forced on
that tender boat against her will. Marla complained that she was
waiting for her husband, but some Gestapo policeman pushed her on
the boat anyway. Add to that a thorough drenching she received
when another Jewel tender came too close and you can guess what kind of
mood Marla was in that afternoon when I caught up with her.
It was obvious to everyone that the tender drivers didn't have a
clue what they were doing. Besides the long delays due to the
alleged rough waters, one boat crashed into a pier and another
almost sunk Marla's boat in the near collision that left her soaked.
Speculation was that this might have been the first time these men
had ever driven these boats. Since the Jewel was making its
first New England cruise of the year, we wondered if these operators
were new to the task. After their poor performance today, we
definitely had the circumstantial evidence to draw this conclusion.
I was angry. I was also worried. Tomorrow was Acadia National
Park. I prayed they had learned from their mistakes today and
would have their act together for Acadia, the highlight of the trip.
By the way, if you are looking for silver lining in the dark clouds,
at least the
tender problems saved you from my
INCIDENT FOUR - THE
ACADIA NIGHTMARE (DAY THREE)
When Marla and I first considered taking this trip, we did so for
one specific reason - I had a lifelong desire to see Acadia. A
Texas boy doesn't get a lot of chances to see Maine. Today I was pretty
The initial manifest on the RCCL web site said:
Sept 26- Bar Harbor, Maine
7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Oh boy, ten and a
half hours at the island of my dreams! Sign me up!
This trip wasn't cheap. Transfers, air fare, hotel in Boston,
and the cost of the cruise were expensive. The price tag for
this trip started at $4,000 for 2 people. Plus the plane trip was close to
But in my mind it was all worth it for the chance
to see the misty isle of Acadia.
Marla and I had big plans. We were going to rent bikes, pack
some lunch and explore the island. Ten hours was plenty of
time to see many of the favorite spots at this legendary park
first-hand. Thunder Bay, here we come!
So take a quick guess how I felt when Royal Caribbean changed the
itinerary to read 10 AM - 6 PM. I had just lost
two and a half hours from my dream day. Mind you, they already
had my money when they made the switch. Therefore I had a chip
on my shoulder before the trip even started. Now with the
problems at Martha's Vineyard haunting me, I was very worried what
would go wrong next.
On the morning of of our visit to Acadia, Marla and I walked out on
our balcony to see the one of most beautiful islands in America.
The sight from our balcony was the same as the picture on the
right. The island was calling to me!
Marla and I made our way down to the Tender Boat area. As we
walked, the loudspeaker announced that one of the boats had just
suffered a terrible accident. Its propeller had gotten caught
in a lobster trap. The boat was temporarily out of commission.
Then we hit the line. It was even worse than the day before.
There were hundreds of people lining the halls and the stairway.
Every one of these people had a huge frown on their face.
Then we heard a rumor - a different tender boat had run aground in
the low waters near the pier. The engine was smoking due to
the effort the operator made to free the boat from the sandy ledge.
Now we were down to two tenders. A certain type of panic ran
through our minds over the futility of this situation.
Would they consider letting us swim to shore? Or row a boat?
One time is an incident. Two times is a coincidence. But
three times is a pattern. The Jewel Staff had screwed up in
both directions yesterday at Martha's. They had used up every
ounce of patience we had with yesterday's problems. We had no
patience left for today.
Get us off this damn ship!
Shouting matches broke out among the passengers and the members of
the crew assigned to keep us under control. Some very nasty words
were said. The people who were assigned to interact with us
compounded the problem by promising things that didn't come true.
"Just 15 more minutes and it will be your turn!"
"We are doing everything we can." Soon we lost
all confidence in their word. There was a breakdown in
respect. The Staff told people to move off the
stairs for their safety and the passengers told them to get lost.
Small battles broke out all morning long between the Staff that had no clue
what to do and the helpless passengers who were sick and tired of
waiting. The situation was very tense.
It seemed like the tender Operators didn't have a clue either.
These two accidents reinforced our skepticism from yesterday that
they were brand new at this task. Meanwhile people's anger
rose. The words got uglier and uglier with any RCCL Jewel
enough to be visible. One young woman left in tears.
Increasingly our only contact with the ship came via the loudspeaker
which constantly ordered us to stay off the steps and just be a
little bit more patient.
I know you are concerned, so I will allay your fears. I behaved
myself. I knew it wouldn't do a bit of good to take my anger
out on these people who had no control over the situation. I found a corner near my group of friends, pulled out
my hand-held computer chess game, sat down and stayed quiet.
Inside I was seething. All this work to get here and now this.
Did these people have any shame at all?
After two hours of waiting and worrying, finally it was our turn.
We got to the island at 12:30 pm. We didn't have time for any
real adventure, so we settled for a bus tour. What other
choice did we have?
The bus trip was nice, but it was incomplete. We spent 15
minutes on top of Mount Washington. Not enough time to
explore. We spent 15 minutes at a nature park. Not
enough time to explore. We spent 15 minutes at Thunder Bay.
Not enough time to explore. The whole trip was a tease - we
saw just enough to want to see more. We realized we had been
cheated out of a wonderful experience.
We returned to Bar Harbor around 4:30 pm. That didn't leave us
with much time to do anything else but buy a couple tee-shirts, then
get back in the line to return to the ship. The line today was
just as bad as it was in Martha's Vineyard a day earlier.
Actually it was longer.
Dan Bates, a member of our group, stood in the same line I did. Here is what
Dan had to
say about the line:
tender operation was obviously being run by a group who had no
idea what the were doing. We had a chance to watch several
tenders dock both at the ship and on
shore at Bar Harbor, and it was quite apparent there
was a lack of skill present. One tender went right past
the dock like he didn't know where he
was supposed to go, then had to back up to
get to the right spot.
This incompetence reminded me of the day
before when we were coming back from Martha's.
We had an extra long delay due to
rough waters, and there was a near-collision
with another tender resulting in many of the passengers getting
drenched by a large wave.
While waiting at Bar Harbor, I counted four Princess tenders for
every one RC tender that came to the
dock. Princess had no line at all. There
was a tender loading, and two waiting at all times."
I agree with what Dan
wrote about the Princess ship. While standing in line, I noticed a
curious phenomenon. There were actually two lines - one for
the Jewel and a parallel line for people getting back on the
Princess ship. I tried to talk to the Princess passengers to
understand why their ship was so much more effective, but it didn't
work. Their line moved so fast I couldn't get any information!
Two sentences and they were gone. Meanwhile we stood still.
At the time, I wondered how many Tenders the Princess had. Why
were they so much more successful at transporting their passengers?
On the way back to the ship, I took the time to count the number of
tenders the Jewel had. We were passed by Tender #10 and Tender
#12. Ahead of us another Tender was unloading. Including
our own Tender, there were 4 Tenders in operation. Was that
enough? Of course not.
Were any other boats hired to
help? None that I could see.
All I can say is the difference in the quality of performance
by the Princess ship and our own Jewel
was absolutely shocking. For the second day in a row, the
Jewel had failed to do its job. The morale of the passengers
was pathetic. We were furious at having our dreams smashed by
Acadia - The beautiful Misty
Isle of my dreams
As I returned to ship, I
Tender 12 passes us first.
That makes one. You can see these are small boats. Capacity was
listed at 120.
This one is Tender 10.
That makes two.
One Tender was ahead of us.
Here it is unloading.
That makes three. My own boat makes four.
Four tenders for
Now how much sense does that make?
The infamous Lobster Trap
that disabled one of the tenders.
INCIDENT FIVE - SMOKING
IN CABINS IS NOT PERMITTED.
OR IS IT? (DAY FOUR)
As long as I live, I will
never understand why people who smoke are so insensitive to the
distress of other people who are affected by their noxious fumes.
I do not care if someone smokes. It is their right and it is
their business. But why would they want someone else to
What angers non-smokers the most is that smokers seem to ignore just
how awful the effect of cigarette smoke is on other people.
I have a basketball buddy who told me an interesting story. He grew
up thinking he had respiratory problems. He coughed, he
sneezed, he wheezed, he got sick in his stomach, and he got
headaches. After he went away to college, all these
problems disappeared. That is how he figured it out. His parents
were smokers. They had nearly choked
him to death growing up with secondary smoke.
On Royal Caribbean, the rule is that smoking is not permitted in
cabins. It is a good rule. Otherwise the next occupants
who don't smoke would get sick from the fumes the following week.
On our trip, one of our couples was unlucky enough to get stuck in a cabin
next to someone who ignored the rules. Sure enough, day and
night, smoke would seep through invisible openings and leave our
couple gagging for breath.
One day they asked me what to do. I suggested they ask for
another room. I don't know why, I just figured that was the
simplest solution. So they went to the front desk to explain their
problem. Sure enough, rather than simply enforce the rule by
confronting the people in the neighboring room, the front desk
told our couple they would find them another room. So they
packed up their bags and moved.
Now how do you think the next occupants of the room with the illegal
smoker are going to feel the following week? The Staff
took the easy way out. Just move the complainers somewhere
else and shut them up. And if next week's people are
miserable, so what?
This is the designated smoking room at a company.
not real. It is an optical illusion.
The ceiling was painted by a company with
very odd sense of humor.
INCIDENT SIX - YOU CAN'T DO THAT PUZZLE HERE!
(DAY AT SEA)
Putting together Jigsaw Puzzles is a tradition on SSQQ Cruise Trips.
It is a perfect "group activity" that can involve several
Here in the picture on the left, you can see me working a
puzzle with my sister-in-law Roz
(in black) plus my friends Gay and MG Anseman. This picture was
taken on the 2004 Mardi
I had a confrontation with a dining room supervisor over
a jigsaw puzzle that left me shaking my head. This problem paled
in comparison to the magnitude of the Tender problems. But
this incident and others like it goes a long way towards explaining why the passengers disliked
the crew so much. The ongoing tension between the two groups was clear to anyone who
Jigsaw Puzzles are a marvelous way to spend a few hours in the
morning or afternoon. While putting puzzles
together, you can chat and learn all sorts of things about each
other. Furthermore, lots of people can play. Even
better, they can come and go as they please.
Putting together Jigsaw Puzzles isn't for everyone, but for those people
who do enjoy puzzles, it is a perfect morning's entertainment.
I used the beautiful artwork of
to promote interest in our New England Trip. Jane Wooster Scott is an incredibly
talented artist who loves to paint New England landscapes.
fell in love with her artwork long ago. Many hours of putting her
puzzles together had a special effect on me - I fell in love with New
England before I had ever seen it with my own eyes. I put examples of her art up on my web site to promote interest
in both her artwork and my trip to New England. In
addition, I promised to work a couple of her puzzles during the
However I did not realize how busy this trip was.
We were in port 6 days of 7.
Our only opportunity to work a puzzle was our single day at sea.
have learned the best place to put our puzzles together is the
Windjammer Cafe. The Windjammer is the perfect spot for this activity. The light is good, the tables are large,
plus at some point practically everyone in our group wanders
in for breakfast. That's when they spot me with my puzzle. Some stop by for just a second,
some watch for a while, while others decide to sit down and help.
I got started about 9 AM. The place was practically deserted.
Right from the start I had a hunch that someone might say something about my taking up a
table. Consequently I kept my puzzle under control and took up
only two seats out of six at the table.
At 9:45 the place got pretty busy. That is when one of the managers came
over to me. He asked me to move my puzzle elsewhere. I had
expected this would happen. Till now, I had not met one
friendly person on the staff (other than the people working for
tips). At every turn, my interaction with members of the Staff had been
stiff and formal bordering on "cold". Why
should I expect things would be any better here?
As politely as possible, I explained that I was the leader of a
group. This puzzle was a tradition with my group from previous
cruises. I added that several people would be joining me shortly.
Not surprisingly, the man could not have cared less. He explained to
me that people would need this seat for their meals. I
knew his point was valid.
However there were more than a hundred tables in this room plus
there was another dining room . People would not go hungry if
I did not move.
I told him that I intended to stay. I added that if anyone wanted to sit here, they were welcome
to do so.
This was not an acceptable answer. He asked me again to
I was taken aback at how insistent he was. There are some
battles that aren't worth winning. This fight over two seats was
one of them. I said that I would not
leave. I told him for the second time that I had friends coming and that I
them this was where I would be. If I moved, then they would
not know where to find me.
Now I decided to play my trump card. I explained to the
gentleman that the supervisors on the Rhapsody not only allowed me
to use a table for my puzzles, many of their waiters enjoyed coming
by to put in a piece or two. I added that some of his own
Jewel waiters had stopped by to help earlier.
At this, the man threw up his hands and left in a huff.
I understood where the man was coming from. The place was
getting crowded. Soon two ladies
from the Bahamas came by looking for a place to eat. I smiled
at them. They immediately asked if they could sit at my table. Of
course! After they finished eating, both ladies started
to help me with the puzzle. The 3 of us were soon joined by various
members of my group. As I hoped, our group had a great time
finishing the puzzle.
I wish I did not have to defy the supervisor who came to confront
me. I understood why he coveted my table, but I secretly hoped
he would notice the six people at my table having a great time and
realize where I had been coming from. There was no other place
on the ship that would suffice.
Anyone with proper customer service instincts should have recognized
that the damage to his dining room was minor compared to good will
generated by a group activity such as this. All morning long
people stopped to smile at our work and kibitz.
Today's Windjammer confrontation plus the memory of the Shore
Excursion Desk and other smaller incidents weighed
heavily in my thoughts. I could not figure out why the staff on the Jewel was so consistently tense and unbending
compared to my experiences on the Rhapsody where they were so eager
to please. It made no sense.
Was there anyone on this ship who understood that people on other Royal Caribbean ships
go out of their way to be helpful?
There had been a few
grouchy people on other trips. For example, on the previous
Rhapsody trip a photographer refused to move his light stand even
though it cut our dance floor in half. And I remember another
puzzle incident where some woman made us leave her area as she
arrived for work.
But those were two isolated incidents on different trips. By contrast,
the entire staff aboard the Jewel was low on patience.
Throughout the week, the passenger-staff relationship was a cold
one. The crew seemed to be just as angry at the passengers as
we were at them.
To be quite frank, I
blamed it on the Tender Problem. Someone on this ship was
responsible for ruining the two most important days on this trip.
But no one stepped forward to admit their failure nor did anyone
take the trouble to apologize. They pretended like there was
Consequently a lot of passengers carried a big grudge. I'm
sure we took our anger out on a lot of people who had nothing to do
with the Tender problems because the people who were responsible
stayed invisible. Today's stupid puzzle skirmish was a prime
example of displaced anger.
Angry passengers took their anger out on the wrong people who turned
around and took their anger out at passengers who couldn't possibly
realize the hostility had nothing to do with them.
In retrospect, I am positive I would have handled today's
confrontation much better if I wasn't so angry inside to begin with.
I know I was short with the man because I was furious at the ship in
I believe there was a glaring lack of talented leadership on this
Staff. An air of tension permeated this entire trip because no
one had the sense or the courage to step up and do something to
defuse it. As a result, the crew was forced to absorb the
anger of the passengers for mistakes they were not responsible for.
No wonder everyone was grouchy. Angry ripples from the
Tender incidents had affected everyone on this ship.
INCIDENT SEVEN - I WRITE A LETTER (DAY FOUR)
On Day Four, Marla and I
walked around Halifax. I was pretty much in a fog. As
the day passed, I was preoccupied with the Tender problems.
I realized I
was still furious about how poorly the Jewel Staff had handled
Martha's Vineyard and Bar Harbor/Acadia. I wasn't just mad for
myself. As the group leader, I felt a responsibility for our
guests on the trip. I felt a need to stand up for them.
Most of all though I was disappointed in Royal Caribbean.
There didn't seem to be any sense on this ship that they had done
something wrong. Two thousand people had come on board in
hopes of seeing a part of the world that was new to many of them.
They had paid money for the cruise under the assumption that Royal
Caribbean would do their job. Many people were horrified to
see their visits to Martha's Vineyard and Acadia sliced in half.
For many people, the Acadia
visit was the most important day of the trip. Sad but true,
due to the tendering problems some people completely missed
their excursions that day! A prime example would be Jerry
Boldra and Barbara Sherwood from our group. Through no fault
of their own, they got to shore so late in the day that their bus
was long gone (despite promises on the Jewel to the contrary).
There was absolutely nothing left for them do but eat lunch and come
back on board.
Jerry and Barbara had traveled 2,000 miles and paid $2,000 apiece
only to see the biggest day of the trip spoiled by errors and poor
planning. So what if one tender ran ashore and another tender
hit a lobster trap? All that did was make a bad
Four tenders could never have gotten the job done anyway!
The Jewel of the Sea Staff should have been mortified to hear
reports that their bitter rival Princess Cruise Line had totally
outperformed them at Acadia.
Yet there was no apology forthcoming. There was no
acknowledgement that mistakes had been made. Did anyone in the
ship's administration even grasp that both days had been largely
ruined by the Tender mistakes?
Let me say something here. I wasn't just angry. I was hurt.
That's right - I was hurt. I was disappointed in a company
that until now had always earned my respect. Up to this point,
I thought Royal Caribbean was special. The Royal Caribbean
that I knew was the kind of company that went overboard to take care
of its customers.
UPON A TIME
As I boarded the Jewel, six previous trips had led me to the opinion
that Royal Caribbean was indeed an excellent company. One
incident in particular always stayed with me - a looming disaster in
2004 that was rescued due to some hard work and a man with some
Back in February 2004, Marla and I witnessed a brilliant public
relations effort on the part of Royal Caribbean. Due to an
unfortunate accident in the Mississippi River, it seemed apparent
Gras Trip would be completely ruined. Our ship
was forced to dock 100 miles away, but Royal Caribbean came up with
a fleet of buses to take us into New Orleans nevertheless.
Furthermore, Captain Charles Teige waged a gutsy campaign to cheer
up his passengers. Showing a lot of guts, Captain put himself
front and center with "Meet the Captain" sessions. Captain
Tiege made the effort to personally talk to as many passengers as
possible about the problem and explain the steps he was taking to
make the trip work anyway. Believe it or not, Captain Charles
rescued the trip in grand fashion... with a lot of support from
Once we got to New Orleans, we had a fabulous time. Not only
that, but RCCL authorized an additional $100 shipboard credit to
thank us for our patience. It was a very nice gesture.
If you read my trip write-up, you will find that the entire group
had a great time after all. Thanks to
the extra effort on the part of Captain Teige and Royal Caribbean,
this trip still remains today as Marla's and my favorite cruise
Now fast-forward to the New England trip. There was no blip on
the radar regarding damage control. For all I could see, it
was business as usual. They had an entire ship of angry
passengers, but nothing was being done to reach out to them.
Therefore this Jewel 2006 trip put a huge stain on my opinion of
Royal Caribbean. The saying One rotten apple spoils the
barrel continued to rattle around in my brain like a mantra.
How could the company fail to realize how poorly the Staff on this
ship was performing?
The tender problems had ruined the two most important stops on the
trip, but the ship's Staff pretended like nothing was wrong!
Was this a Ship of Fools? Was there anyone in charge who had a
brain and a heart? It sure didn't seem like it.
The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I could not
let this go. I decided to
write a letter. One way or the other, I wanted to meet the
people who were in charge and see what they had to say.
INCIDENT SEVEN continued -
YOUR LETTER MAY HAVE
A COMPUTER VIRUS (DAY FIVE)
I had brought my laptop. I got up early and
started typing in the early morning. I finished typing up my letter
just as the sun was rising on Day Five. I transferred a copy
of my letter to
a Floppy Disk I had brought along with my laptop. It wasn't
like I had access to a printer. The disk was the easiest way to
share my letter with the Jewel administration.
That morning we had a dance lesson scheduled before going into St
John, New Brunswick, later on in the day. On board the Jewel, we were
assigned a Group Representative. For this trip, a lady named
Tracy was in charge of looking out for whatever we needed.
On this particular morning, we needed a boom box to play our CDs on
for the dance class. Tracy was reliable as always. I put
on some music and told my class to warm up. I asked Marla to
start the class if I wasn't back in time. Then I asked Tracy if I
could speak privately with her. A look of worry instantly
crossed her face. After a moment's hesitated, she nodded permission.
As we went out in the hall, she seemed very concerned about what I
was about to say. If anything, she seemed "tense".
There's that word again.
Once in the hall, Tracy took control of the conversation. She
asked, "What is this about?"
I cut to the chase by
bringing up the issue of the tendering problems.
Before I could say another word, Tracy cut me off. "That
wasn't our fault! We had two accidents!" Tracy continued
to defend her ship's performance vehemently. I was taken aback
by her emotion. Something was obviously going on behind the
scenes after all for her to get this worked up. I had not said
a word and she was already into a well-rehearsed speech.
I wasn't in the best of moods on this subject either. I knew
Tracy was not high enough in management to make any decisions, so
there was no point in taking a discussion between us any further. I told her I
disagreed with her, but I respected her opinion nonetheless.
Then I pulled the floppy disk out of my pocket and handed it to her.
Tracy actually flinched
when I gave the disk to her. Keeping it in her open hand where
both of us could see it, she asked suspiciously, "What is this?"
I told her it was a letter I had written addressed to the Captain
and to the Hotel Director.
Tracy asked, "What is this about?"
I answered that I had written a letter about the same concerns I had just
spoken with her about.
Tracy immediately handed the disk back to me. She said, "We
are not allowed to accept things like this from guests. This
might contain a computer virus. I am sorry."
I was astonished. "Tracy, there is no danger. If you are worried,
all you have to do is run a virus scan on the document before you
open it. In addition, you have my word of honor this disk has
"Absolutely not. I cannot accept this."
As I took back the disk, I was angry. I limited my response to
"Fine. Have it your way." I turned my back and stomped off to
dance class. I was incredulous at Tracy's position. She
was so tense that she had handled this situation as awkwardly as
In fact, she figured that out on the spot.
Tracy came running
after me and asked permission to have the disk. I gave it back
to her. Tracy said she would handle it and get back to me.
As she walked away, I shook my head. Tracy had just
uttered one of the dumbest remarks I had ever heard. I should
have been insulted, but in reality I felt sorry for
her. Something or someone on this ship was making
INCIDENT SEVEN continued
TO THE SHIP'S ADMINISTRATION
(Editor's Note: Tracy did indeed pass on my letter.
Before you start reading, let me explain that much of what you will
read has already been covered earlier in this article.
Therefore, if you get the impression that I am repeating
myself, now you know why. On the other hand, this has
been a long story. The letter should help bring the
issues into better focus. )
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Mr. Sayed, Hotel Director
Jewel of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International
I am writing to discuss the
“Tender” difficulties of Sunday at Martha’s Vineyard and
Monday at Bar Harbor.
My wife, Marla Archer, and I
run SSQQ Dance Studio. It is the largest social dance
studio in Houston, Texas. This year we are on pace to have
in the vicinity of 14,000 customers. I say this not to
boast, but rather to suggest these people are all potential
future Royal Caribbean customers.
Marla and I
organize cruise trips through our dance
studio. For this cruise aboard the Jewel, we
are the leaders of a group of 38 guests.
With a nod to the Seventh
Voyage of Sinbad, this is our seventh trip with RCCL. It
hasn’t been a lucky #7 so far, but
there is still time.
You know first-hand the
tendering problems on this trip so forgive me for repeating
many details you are already aware of.
The Martha’s Vineyard Trip
was originally advertised as a 7-hour visit from 9 am to 4
pm. Due to the tendering problems that day, I would
estimate the time I spent waiting in line at 4 hours. My
wife and I had two and a half hours at best to enjoy the
island. I have since discovered that our experience was
typical of the day.
My wife and I were shocked
at the extent of the problem. We decided that everyone has
a right to a bad day and leave it at that.
HARBOR/ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
When there is weak
performance, most people work hard to ensure the problems
don’t recur. So imagine the dismay when we discovered the
nightmare of Martha’s Vineyard was repeated the following
day at Bar Harbor, only worse.
Acadia National Park was the
highlight of the trip for many of the people in our group.
By placing tantalizing pictures of Acadia on our web site,
we succeeded in capturing the fancy of Texans who wanted to
see the beauties of a part of the world – New England – that
was previously foreign to many of us.
In other words, Acadia sold our trip.
After this kind of
anticipation, imagine the disappointment when a trip
advertised as an eight-hour adventure at one of our nation’s
true paradises was reduced to at best 3 hours. That said,
Acadia was every bit as beautiful as promised. However the
3 brief tantalizing hours of joy were greatly diminished by
the 4 hours of standing in line while we meditated on
precious moments lost.
Everyone in our group had
problems, but I wish to share one story in particular with
Jerry and Barbara, two
members of our group, originally met at our dance studio.
They took dance lessons together at our studio for six
months during their courtship and recently became engaged.
They booked this trip specifically to celebrate their
In particular, your
scheduled visit to Acadia was the major reason they wished
to come on this trip.
On the day of the Bar Harbor
visit, Jerry and Barbara booked a 1:30 pm excursion. They
were directed to wait at Coral Theater at 10 am. After what
seemed an interminable wait, finally they were called to
board their tender around noon. Sorry to say, Jerry and
Barbara were definitely not the only people trying
desperately to get ashore. The tender filled rapidly. Now
four people were unable to get on the boat. Jerry and
Barbara were two of these four people. Your staff reassured
them repeatedly that their tour would wait for them.
At 2 pm,
Jerry and Barbara finally
reached shore. Their tour had long since left. No other
tour was available. So much for the
empty promises of your staff.
Barbara never reached Acadia
National Park. Instead they had a bittersweet dinner in Bar
Harbor followed by an hour wait in line to get back to the
Jerry and Barbara were given
a refund, but they didn’t want their money back. They
already had lots of money or they could not have afforded
this trip in the first place. What they wanted was to
receive the experience they had dreamed of. They freed up
time from their busy jobs and paid several thousands of
dollars for the cruise plus airfare and hotel
accommodations. Then they endured hours of tremendous travel
headaches trying to achieve their dream of visiting Acadia.
This trip was deeply important to them. But now the only
memory they have is a trip ruined by your woefully
inadequate tendering process.
If I were in your shoes, my
heart would be heavy upon hearing this story. Surely you
have not become so jaded by bingo, casino, and drink tabs
that you have forgotten you are supposed to be in the
business of making travel dreams come true.
Marla and I booked a Mardi
Gras Trip in 2004 that was initially met with disaster. A
shipwreck at the mouth of the Mississippi forced the closing
of the river till all bodies were recovered. The RCCL
Rhapsody was not permitted to dock in New Orleans. Instead
the ship re-routed to Gulfport, Mississippi. The
disappointment in our group was rampant. Our dreams of
attending Mardi Gras were seriously jeopardized.
RCCL mobilized a fleet of
buses. Captain Charles Teige
personally met with many of the passengers to allay their
concerns. In addition to organizing the massive bus
caravan, he authorized a shipboard credit of $100 for each
A crisis was averted. We
were able to enjoy Mardi Gras after all. This became our
favorite trip of all.
Upon my return to Houston, I
wrote about Captain Tiege’s efforts to save the trip on my
web site. By chance, a friend of his ran across the story a
few months later and shared it with him.
To my surprise, on our
Wedding Voyage later that same year, Captain Tiege realized
who we were and invited us to the ship’s bridge. He said he
wished to personally thank us for our support and kind
Today I see parallels
between that trip and this. Our experience of the headline
stop of the 2004 Mardi Gras trip
was damaged, but not completely ruined.
Extra effort on the part of your company rescued that trip
from the jaws of disaster.
Our experience to the headline stop of this trip - Acadia -
was also damaged as well as was the trip to Martha's
Vineyard. Unfortunately, there is no way you can
rescue those two ports now. The damage is done.
We paid for a service – two trips to two famous
destinations - that was definitely not delivered to our
question is - how will you compensate us for our two losses?
Therefore the ending to the
story I will write about this Jewel of the Seas trip hangs
in the balance.
You are facing a public
relations disaster on par with the Mardi Gras trip. In
fact, your position is much
worse. At least that time the problems were created by an
incident over which the Rhapsody had no control. You don’t
have that luxury here.
In the situation of the
tendering problems, the perception among the passengers is
that the Jewel of the Seas was directly responsible for
ruining two consecutive port trips. Sorry to be blunt, but
it was an abysmal performance.
I have no doubt you have had
your share of bad luck, but unfortunately you expended all
your “patience” credit at Martha’s Vineyard. There was none
left the next day. Therefore the fiasco of Bar Harbor was
inexcusable in the mind of every passenger I have spoken to.
Complicating the perception
of the Bar Harbor delays was the Princess comparison.
During our hour and a half
wait to get back to the Jewel of the Seas, we were placed
side by side with Princess passengers. Conversation with
these people was difficult since they were constantly being
whisked away to their own ship. However in the brief time
we were able to talk, we ascertained the average wait time
for tendering was between 10 and 15 minutes aboard the
Princess. This looks pretty bad when compared to our 1 ½ to
2 hours wait time both ways.
Not surprisingly, the talk
at dinner that night included suggestions to try a new
company for our next trip.
Based on what I heard, I
predict that unless you defuse the anger the tendering
problems have created, you face a mutiny. Your customers
will retaliate in the only way they have available – they
will switch cruise lines and give the other guys a chance.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM
Fortunately, you still have
time to correct the problem if you choose to. However, I
don’t think you realize just how serious the problem is and
how little has been done so far to alleviate the tension.
Gentlemen, the only
suggested response has been some vague offer of free drinks
on Friday afternoon plus some credits on various
This is a weak and deeply
insufficient answer. I implore you to reconsider.
You have hurt and bitter
customers who have spent a lot of money and traveled
thousands of miles to see places they have wanted to see
their entire lives only to feel cheated.
That is exactly how they
feel: Cheated. And since then, nothing has been done to
make them feel appreciated. Right now, the whole lot of
them is ready to jump ship.
An hour of free drinks will
never mend these broken fences. These are proud people who
require respect and consideration, not alcohol. I am sorry
to say this, but I believe this token effort borders on
What you want is for these
people to give you another chance. You have to reach their
heart, not give them a chance to get drunk on the house.
Please come to your senses and find a way to show your
passengers that you care about them.
No one likes threats and I
certainly don’t enjoy making them. I would much rather
negotiate. That said, there are realistic consequences to
be faced in the absence of positive efforts to compensate
passengers for what they perceive as a serious loss.
I can only speak for my own
group, but as it stands today, these people are so upset
they are saying they will never book another cruise with
RCCL. I have been around long enough to realize that in
time they will forget and forgive, but for the short term
Marla and I would have no choice but to switch to other
cruise lines at least for next year’s trips.
I have great respect for
Royal Caribbean and I have stood up for you before on
several occasions, but this is one mistake I simply cannot
cover for you. People will forgive an honest mistake if you
say you are sorry and make more than a token effort to make
amends. But so far, I have seen nothing along those lines.
Marla and I will not gamble
our own reputations. If I am going to help you repair the
damage, you must help me.
I recommend an immediate
$100 shipboard credit as the simplest remedy. If you can do
better than that, then more power to you. I realize this is
a bitter pill, but this is exactly what worked for Captain
Tiege in the Mississippi disaster. Plus a public appearance
on the part of your Captain at some event wouldn’t hurt at
Please do not underestimate
the extent of the damage. I can only speak for my own
group, but heed my warning that the morale is terrible. The
general attitude is, “I just want to get the trip over with
and go home.”
This is not how you want
this trip to end, I am sure. Please help.
In case you thought maybe the Jewel was having an off-week,
forget it. The Problems you read about in my story are not
new to the Jewel of the Sea.
While I was writing this article, I tried to refresh my
memory on the size of the Jewel's Tender boats. I
typed these three words into Google: "tender capacity
jewel". I was immediately taken to a
the Internet. As I read, my eyes grew large.
Glenn's story sounded like a carbon copy of my own
criticisms. I will share some excerpts from his
review of a previous Jewel of the Seas Cruise:
One: "Our trip definitely started on a sour
note. We arrived at the dock at Port Everglades a little
earlier than planned; the place was utter chaos. It
seemed that the ship was still off-loading passengers
while trying to take in new ones. Either way, it took a
number of requests from several different people to find
out where we should go and what should be done with our
bags. Worse, when we finally did get a porter to take
our two suitcases, he began pointedly grubbing for a tip
despite the huge sign over his shoulder saying that the
porters are salaried and don't receive gratuities.
After a 90-minute wait, we were finally allowed to go to
Excerpt Two: "Expect to wait in your share of
lines on this ship. None of our waits were too long, but
it was a bit exhausting to have to constantly stand
around for things like an elevator, a tender ticket or
to simply get into dinner."
Excerpt Three: "The ship offers more casual
dining in the Windjammer Cafe, which also serves
breakfast and lunch. Snacks are available at most
hours at the Solarium Cafe, including delicious,
made-to-order crepes. My only gripe here is that the server that we
encountered there each time was uncharacteristically
Excerpt Four: "Last was Grand Cayman.
I'd say the low
point of our trip occurred here with our tender ride
over to the main port city of Georgetown. Not only was
there a prolonged wait to get on the tender, but the
docking procedure at the pier in Georgetown was one of
the most unsettling moments of my life. Our tender
driver had an obviously hard time getting into his
docking area and managed to actually slam our tender
into the one behind it. One of the workers trying to tie
the tender off came within inches of being crushed; and
all this happened within inches of me. Scary."
Read this story on the Internet
INCIDENT SEVEN continued - MARLA AND I MEET
WITH THE HOTEL DIRECTOR (DAY SEVEN)
It took a couple days for my letter to be relayed to corporate
office in Miami and for their response to get back to the Jewel.
To her credit, Tracy regained her poise. She left two messages
a day on the phone to keep us appraised of the developments.
On Saturday, our final day at sea, Marla and I received a request to
meet with Nibu Sayed, the Hotel Director. There was another
gentleman present at our meeting, but he only took notes.
As I sat down, I realized I had seen Mr. Sayed once before.
While I was waiting for one of the tenders to Martha's Vineyard, I
made an open comment about problems getting the elderly onto the
tender. A man standing next to me responded to my comment with
a well-expressed observation of his own. I would tell you what
he said, but I can't remember. I guessed he was probably on
the Jewel Staff and that he seemed shrewd. Our meeting today
would serve to let me know that my first impression had been
I remember only three things from our fifteen minute meeting.
(Perhaps in the future I should take notes too.)
I remember that
Mr. Sayed was vague on the issue of compensation. No
commitment was made, but the illusion that my group might someday
receive compensation was kept alive. I decided my earlier
impression ("shrewd") had been accurate. However I
did accomplish one thing. At my request, Mr. Sayed made a nice
gesture. He authorized a special dinner for Jerry and Barbara
to repay them for their terrible experience at Bar Harbor.
It didn't take long for me to realize there was no real purpose to this meeting.
If forced to guess, it was a
schmooze session designed to calm down a hothead. Marla and I
got to feel important enough to merit an audience with a powerful
Once I realized no actual business would be conducted, I decided to
ask a question that had been burning a hole in my brain.
I asked Mr. Sayed to help me out with a math problem I had been
wrestling with. He said he would be glad to help, so I
asked Mr. Sayed a series of questions.
1. Are there indeed only four tenders on the Jewel? Yes.
2. Are there any other boats that supplement the tenders?
3. Is the capacity of the ship 2,100? Yes.
4. Is the capacity of the Tenders 120 passengers? Yes.
5. Does each Tender trip average about 40 minutes? Yes.
Side Note: The 40 minute Estimate: 10 minutes to load, 10 minutes to
drive to the dock, 10
minutes to unload, 10 minutes back to the ship.
Interestingly, a month after my meeting with Mr. Sayed, I
discovered the ship's daily newsletter said the trip to shore
would take 20 minutes, not 10 as I estimated at the time.
If the ship's note is correct, then the turnaround would become
60 minutes, not 40 minutes. "3 and a half hours" would balloon to 5 hours.
My experience, however, was that the ride was closer to ten
minutes. Furthermore, considering Tender capacity is really 120, not
100, I think with 4 Tenders on a good day they can get things done in three
hours one way, three hours the other way.
The important thing to note here is that even without the problems
like Lobster Traps, rough waters, and hidden shoals, the wait would
have still been 3 HOURS LONG for some people. The problems
simply made it worse - Instead of 3 hours, Barbara and Jerry had to
wait FOUR HOURS.
After I finished my
first series of questions, I paused for a moment. I was taken
aback when I noticed Mr. Sayed was smiling at me. I got the impression
that he was enjoying this. He seemed amused by my
I asked him if he would permit me to take this a little further. He
nodded for me to go ahead.
Simplifying things a bit, let's say there are
2,000 passengers who wanted to get to shore. To make division
easier, let's say the
Tenders only hold 100 people. That means there would have to be
20 trips means each of the four Tenders will make 5 trips.
5 trips times 40 minutes means 200 minutes. 3 and a half hours.
That is just for the morning. In the afternoon you have to do it all
over again. 3 and a half hours TWICE = 7 hours. In
other words, the Tender boats spend the entire day going back and
forth until the job is done.
I asked Mr. Sayed if my math was
correct. He said yes.
I asked Mr. Sayed if this meant that some passengers would have to
wait 3 and a half hours before getting to shore. He
nodded this was correct.
For my final question, I asked him if this was acceptable.
He nodded yes.
I could barely believe what I had just heard. I was so amazed at his
candor, I was too stunned to take this any further. I was
flabbergasted at the implications of what he had said. I had
to get out of there.
Marla and I thanked him for
his time and left.
OPINION, 3.5 HOURS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE
After the meeting, I
thought about what Mr. Sayed had told me. For starters, I
appreciated his straight answers. One Internet story had labeled him the
"Invisible Man", but I thought he was upfront on this sensitive issue.
I did not like what he said, but I also did not wish to argue with Mr. Sayed.
In hindsight, I probably should have confronted him. I should
have told him that 3 1/2 hours of waiting
is NOT acceptable.
If tendering starts at 10 am, someone is going to have to wait till
1:30 in the afternoon to get off the ship at Acadia! Ask
yourself this question - would you sign up for a trip to Acadia if
you knew you might be the one to wait till 1:30 to get on the
island? Would you invest $2,000 and fly 2,000 miles for
the chance to
sit in some lounge for three hours on your visit to Acadia?
Do you remember Tracy's defense about all the problems they had to
overcome - rough seas at Martha's, grounded on a shoal and
caught in a lobster trap at Acadia? Yes, those unexpected
problems made things much worse. But even in perfect
conditions, I think the
4 tenders were nowhere near adequate to get the job done.
Obviously everyone in my group liked the Princess
Style better -
whisked to shore, whisked back to the ship. I think Royal
Caribbean would be well-served to reassess their position on this
RICK ARE SECOND
Another issue I was
concerned about was the practice of giving Tender priority to
passengers who had signed up for an excursion.
Why did this make them more important than my wife and me?
Time and time again, I heard
the Jewel Staff hammer home the point that people with excursions
deserved priority so they wouldn't miss their trip. (A
lot of good that did Jerry and Barbara at Acadia.)
I was not comfortable with that position. What about my trip?
Why is their trip more special? It felt like a shakedown game.
you wanna get to shore fast? Hey, I got a deal for you! If you want to get to shore
pronto, just take one of our
terrific excursions! You can go to the front of the line
and we'll get you there in no time!"
I didn't pay $2,000 and fly 2,000
miles to be treated like a second-class
One thing people can't stand is watching someone else cut in
line. On this trip, that's exactly how it felt to see
the "Excursion People" go first. Just because I preferred to rent a bicycle on shore over a bird watching tour
should not give the Staff the right to send me to the back of the
But on the other hand, if the Jewel had whisked me to shore as fast as
the Princess ship carried its passengers, I probably would not have
even cared that I was told to go to the back of the line.
ACTION - WHERE IS THE CAPTAIN?
letter to the ship's administration, I pointed out an appearance by
Captain Thore Thorolvsen
might go a long way towards defusing all the anger and frustration
created by the Tender problems. To my knowledge, the Captain
never made a single appearance.
His lack of effort stood in sharp contrast to the noble job
put in by
Captain Charles Teige on the 2004 Mardi Gras trip. Tiege had announced over
the intercom that he was going to have a meeting to discuss the
problems. This move took a lot of courage because he knew
he was going to face a lot of heat. Sad to say, he was correct.
During that meeting, a group of travel agents hammered him viciously
upside and down. They said docking in Mississippi was not
acceptable. They wanted a free trip to make up for the
delay and disappointment (none of which was the Rhapsody's fault).
listened patiently to every complaint. To his credit, he never lost
his temper. In the end, his hard work paid off. People
started to calm down and this became a very successful trip despite
the unfortunate inconvenience.
Now that I think of
it, the two-way bus trip to New Orleans cost me four hours. We
are starting to talk about Acadia and Martha numbers, yes? But
I was so happy, I didn't even notice it. That is the power of
Captain Charles' magnificent intervention. Somebody
In stark contrast, Captain Thore never made an
appearance. He never addressed the issue over
the intercom. Nor did one letter dealing with the problem
appear on our bed at night. Nothing.
Well, excuse me, now
that I think about it, there was one rather peculiar gesture.
On Friday (the next to last day of the trip) for one hour during our day at sea, waiters appeared out of the blue
offer free drinks. They were supposed to tell the passengers
this was a goodwill gesture to make up for problems earlier in the
You know what? I thought the
whole idea was an insult.
Oh my, how thoughtful! We were cheated out of half a day at
Martha's and half a day at Acadia - two places many of us would
never be able to see again in our lives - but a couple free drinks
is going to make it OK! Brilliant!
I don't know why the some of the Staff were rude and why the Tender
crew was incompetent, but my business sense points to a lack of
I think the Captain owed his crew an apology. During this week of trouble, the Captain simply
stayed out of sight and used his crew as a human shield so he
wouldn't have to suffer.
He could have used his presence like
Captain Charles did to take pressure off of his crew. And
don't think it didn't occur to him - I suggested it in my letter.
Maybe he didn't bother to read it.
Instead, he left his helpless Staff on the front line to fend off the
arrows fired in anger by 2,000 passengers.
INCIDENT EIGHT - THE FINAL DAY FIASCO (DAY EIGHT)
After my meeting with Mr.
Sayed, I fell into a really bad mood. This man had looked me in the
eye and indicated that a three hour wait for some passengers was
perfectly acceptable. What business school did he go to?
Now I just wanted to get off this ship as fast as I could.
As I packed, I
realized I was deeply worried about our final day. For our
trip back to Houston, Marla had decided to gamble. She booked
a 10:30 am flight from Boston to Houston. I was sweating
because we had no margin for error on a ship that was famous for
We had registered for the Express Walk-Off. This is a
service for people who are willing to carry all their luggage off
the ship. Considering we had six pieces of luggage between us,
this was an ambitious project. Marla was pretty skeptical until I
pointed out the luggage had wheels. It wouldn't be easy, but
she would try.
We were determined not to miss our flight, but knew the odds
were long. We needed to get to Logan Airport early.
the departure point for flights involved in 9-11. The security
since then had greatly improved which was good, but it meant the lines were slower. Marla wanted to get there two hours ahead of time
like they recommended. With that in mind, we got up at 6 am
the final day. We hoped to be first in line or pretty close to
Skipping breakfast, we were in the Centrum lobby by
I found an ideal spot right next to the exit door on the Centrum
level. Immigration should not be a problem since they
had already checked our passports in the morning of Day Six when we docked
We were set to go. Or should I say
hoped we were set to
go. I couldn't shake my bad feeling about this.
My paranoia was
well-founded. The first problem
developed at 7:15 am. A Jewel officer came up to me and said
I would have to move. He was very abrupt, but I wasn't going
to give in. I asked why I had to move. He told me because
this area was reserved for people with walkers and wheelchairs.
I was upset. The room had practically filled up, but no one
appeared to need my spot. I told
the man I had been in this spot for 30 minutes and I needed it to
get off the ship fast to catch an early flight. He said that wasn't his problem. I would have to move.
Now I was getting angry. I pointed out there had been staff
here the entire time. Why hadn't anyone said something to me
earlier so I could have moved to another spot? Now there was
no place to go!
I pointed out that all the other good locations were now been
occupied by other people. I was carrying six pieces of
luggage. There was no place in sight where I could store six
pieces of luggage and still be close to the door.
The guy got in my face and said, "Mister, I don't care. Move
your luggage now or I will call security."
I should have appealed to another officer. But it didn't
look like a battle I was going to win. So I gave up and moved.
I was so mad. Plus I could see I had made an enemy.
I made a quick decision - Marla and I would split up. Marla
relocated not far from our original spot. She ended up
directly under the green stairs (about where that orange and white
painting is in the picture at the right). For my new spot, I moved my
luggage to the very top of the green stairs. I figured once
the line got moving, I would simply rush down the stairs and get in
line. I had a plan. Once I established my position in
line, Marla could join me without having to hurry.
It was now 7:45 am. From my spot on the green stairs, I could
there was no sign of passengers being allowed to leave. I was
getting angry again.... actually I stayed angry the whole trip so I
must have been getting "angrier".
The reason I was angry is that my friend Nick Mullet had used
Express Walk-Off from the Rhapsody last month and he was off the
ship by 7:45 am. Can't these people do anything right?
A certain thought crossed my mind several times
on this trip about how slow they were. Not one time was the Jewel Staff even remotely
close to the Rhapsody curve when it came to moving people from Point A to
Point B. Why did they always have to take so long?
Lines, lines, lines!
From my vantage point, I could see that all the effort Marla and I
had used getting to the Centrum early had been a complete and utter waste of
time. The place had become a zoo! There were now hundreds of
people between me and the exit. I blamed the jerk who made me
move for my predicament.
The Centrum floor was stuffed with wheelchairs and walkers. My
floor at the top of the Green Stairs was stuffed. And from
where I was sitting I could see every level above me was also
crowded with people who wanted to get off this ship.
It was 8 am when I realized that something was wrong. People
should be getting off by now. But there wasn't even a hint in the
air that they were close to letting people off. Marla called
me on the cell phone from her spot one floor below. She asked me if I knew
anything. I was in the dark. What about her?
Marla was closer to the action. She said there was a rumor
going around that Immigration would not clear the ship. She
was starting to get very worried. It was our plan to be off
the ship by 8:30 at the latest. Things weren't looking very good.
They were about to get worse.
At 8:15 am, my nemesis from earlier approached me at the top of the
steps. Mr. Authority Man told me I would have to move again. I stood up and looked
at him. I said he knew I had been here sitting for an hour
because he saw where I moved after my first eviction. Now what
He said his supervisor didn't want anyone blocking the top of the
stairs in case of a problem.
That's when I lost my temper. I raised my voice and said, "Are you
completely out of your mind? You have an entire floor of
handicapped people jammed elbow to elbow downstairs and you're
worried about someone sitting on your staircase!?"
The man replied, "I'm not going to argue with you. I told you to
move. Now do it."
I didn't believe a word he said about his 'supervisor',
but I was scared to argue any further. This guy wasn't just a
jerk, he was a big jerk and now I was dangerously close to losing
my self-control. I decided I had better
join Marla before I went over the edge completely and exploded.
The fastest way to get to Marla was to go straight
down the Forbidden Staircase. Boom, I was down the green stairs before
Authority Man could react. Of course he hollered at me
that I wasn't allowed to do that, but too bad, I was already down.
What was he going to do me? Make me walk back up and do it the
right way? Or find where I was and make me move again?
Now that Marla and I were together again, I could see how worried
she was. She told me she didn't think we were going to make
our plane. Her fears preyed on my mind. I felt virtually helpless to do anything about it.
That's when I had an idea. I had heard that Platinum Members
(5 trips or more) were sometimes given priority treatment.
Maybe they were allowed to get off the ship before anyone else. Marla agreed it was worth a try. After all, we were now
Platinum Members; why not see if there was an advantage we didn't
know about? At this point we needed an edge.
So I took the elevator to the Viking Crown Lounge at the top of the
ship. I entered the room where the Elite were getting VIP treatment. I was instantly
thrilled to be there! I saw steaming pots of coffee and the
yummiest donuts in the universe. Fighting off my guilt that
Marla was down there starving and lonely, I told myself she would
want me to eat. Three donuts quickly entered my body.
My basic needs met, I turned my attention to the room. It was
pretty crowded. Obviously the Elite hadn't snuck out the door
either. Still, while I was here, I had to investigate.
So I approached a junior Staff officer named Jeff who was overseeing
the activities in the lounge.
I asked Jeff if it was true that Platinum and Diamond members
got off the ship before anyone else. He shook his head and
said that was not the case. The Express Walk-Off people got
off the ship first. I groaned.
I asked Jeff if he knew what the hold-up was. He answered that
being stuck up here in the tower kept him from getting the inside
scoop. He had no idea what the problem was.
Jeff paused for a moment, then added, "The way things have gone this
week, I think this ship must have a curse on it."
A curse? Had I heard him right?
Suddenly Jeff had my complete attention. Jeff had just become
the first staff member the entire week to talk to me like I
was a fellow human being, not a passenger from hell.
"What do you mean, Jeff?"
"I mean nothing goes right on this ship. Half the Staff is trying to get off this ship. People
are requesting transfers right and left. Me too. This
ship is a tough place to work."
I was astonished at the man's candor. I wanted to hear more,
so I said, "It seems to me that the Staff is just as angry at the
passengers as the passengers are at the Staff."
"No kidding. Staff morale has hit rock bottom. They
are so sick of getting screamed at by passengers they just want to
get off this ship as fast as they can. One lady cried for an
entire afternoon after some jerk started cursing at her over the Bar
Harbor problems. It wasn't her fault, but she was in the line
of fire and the guy let her have it."
I nodded in sympathy. I told Jeff I had seen some of the passengers
get pretty ugly that day. Their patience had disappeared after
Martha's Vineyard and they were frantic to get to see Acadia.
"Yeah, I know. It is just a bad situation all the way around.
I can't imagine what the surveys will say. This week's surveys are
going to kill us!"
"What surveys? I didn't get a survey."
"The surveys are our biggest problem. The Jewel Staff has been
getting the lowest ratings in the company now for over a year.
We just can't seem to turn it around. Guess what? The
other night they threw us a party. Wednesday night they
reserved the Viking Crown Lounge for the Staff and got us drunk. I've
never seen that before. They figured if they got us drunk,
somehow we might cheer up. What a great morale booster!"
I smiled. I reminded Jeff they played the same trick on the
passengers on Friday with an hour of free drinks. He laughed
at that. "I wonder what management program teaches that!"
Just then my cell phone rang. It was Marla. She had to
go to the restroom; would I mind coming back to watch the luggage?
I told her of course I would come back, but I immediately regretted
that the phone call had put an end to this conversation just when it
was getting interesting.
Maybe this ship did have a curse
on it. You had my vote!
I wanted to hear Jeff's theories on where the
problems started, but my chance to get the inside story was gone.
The phone call had broken the mood. I said my goodbyes and headed
for the elevator.
When I reached the Centrum at 8:45, I saw an officer so I asked
what the problem was. She told me that Immigration would not
release the ship for some reason. She added that she didn't
slightest idea what had gone wrong.
She just wished they would let the people go home. Amen.
After Marla returned, she told me a bizarre story. It seems
while I was gone,
there was a nasty argument in the Centrum between two staff members.
A female staff member was giving people permission to set up shop in
the Centrum. Then a man came along and told them they
had to leave. They protested, saying they had permission.
The male Staff member said this area was reserved for the
handicapped. They would have to go. That's when someone went to
fetch the woman staff member.
Now the woman and the man got into an argument right in front of
everyone. The man stood his ground and the woman left in a
huff. I frowned. This story sounded familiar. I
asked Marla to point out the tough guy. Sure enough, it was
Authority Man throwing his weight around again. I guess with
me out of the picture upstairs, he had to find someone else to kick
ESCAPE FROM THE JEWEL
I discussed a secret
plan with Marla. We were hiding under the Green Staircase.
From this vantage point, we could make a beeline for the Rope
Barrier (see the red arrow marked "Escape Route"). Our only
other choice was to move to the right through the sea of
wall-to-wall wheel chairs with our six pieces of luggage and get in
line in the Check-Out Hallway.
At 9 am, they announced that the Express Walk-Off people could now
Marla and I moved like we were shot out of a cannon. We
knew we were taking a chance. I had decided to try to bypass
the two hundred people ahead of us by taking an illegal short cut.
My trick worked. Well, it almost worked. We got to within five feet of the checkout station only to
be stopped by a rope barrier with a guard
The guard told me we could NOT cross this barrier. We would
have to go around the long way.
The guard pointed to the wheelchairs in the Centrum. He
said we would have to go through their area and come back around to
hallway. Marla and I looked at the mob in the wheel chairs.
With 6 suitcases, there was no way we could wheel our luggage
through that congested area. Nor did we have the strength to
carry 6 suitcases. We were in trouble.
I looked the guard in the eye. I said, "Sir,
we are trying to catch a 10:30 plane. It would be very difficult
to get our luggage through that crowd. The people are too close
together. I could never wheel the stuff through. And if I
carried it, I might stumble and hurt someone. Would you please let us
leave our luggage in this spot? Without the luggage, we can
walk around. Then we will pick it up after we clear the
The man looked long and hard at me.
I had just asked him to break the rules and look the other way.
I held my breath.
He couldn't make up his mind. This obviously wasn't easy for him.
Something was bothering him. My immediate guess was that
something weird had been going down this morning with the
Immigration people. I gathered there was some kind of 9/11
paranoia in the air. Did he think I was some terrorist trying
to pull a fast one?
I had to do something. I asked Marla to show him our
tickets. That broke the ice.
He relaxed and said okay. Maybe it was the pitiful expression
on Marla's face that made the difference. He said I could
leave the six pieces of luggage next to him. I was really
grateful. He had just given us a fighting chance to catch the
plane after all.
Marla and I frantically clawed our way through the mob. It took us ten
minutes to to make a complete circle back to exact same area we had just left.
Except this time
we came from the "correct" direction down the hallway. Now that we were in
right place, it took us all of 15 seconds to be cleared.
That's right. 15 seconds. They took our sea passes and
went click click.
I ran over to the luggage. Just as I
was poised to make our getaway, disaster hit. Authority Man spotted me
reaching under the rope to claim my
luggage. I saw a huge frown cross his face when he saw it was
My heart sank into my stomach. Uh oh, this was big trouble.
Sure enough, Authority Man ran over and started barking at me.
He said I absolutely could not pull
my luggage under the barrier. I would have to carry it the
long way around,
a task I estimated at 30 minutes. Now I was in a jam.
I pointed to the guard. "This man gave me permission to leave
my luggage in this spot. He said this would be okay."
I was worried I had put the guard in a bad spot, but it was my
Authority Man turned his angry gaze to Guard. Authority
Man glared at Guard. Guard glared back at Authority Man. It
was Alien vs Predator. My fate hung in the balance.
Authority Man barked at the Guard, "We were given specific orders to
prevent people from leaving through this area. You know that.
What do you think you're doing?"
I figured that was the end of it, but to my surprise Guard decided to
stand up for me. "I gave them permission. They need to
catch a plane. Let them go."
Authority Man was
momentarily speechless. He was stunned that the Guard was
I wasn't going to wait for Authority Man to recover. While he glared
hate darts at the guard, I pulled all six pieces of luggage under
the rope with super-human strength. I got the big ones on their
wheels, stacked the smaller ones on top, handed one stack to
Marla, and threw the two carry-ons over each shoulder. The two
of us raced to the door. Amazing what adrenaline can do.
There were cops standing everywhere. One word from Authority
Man and we would be toast. I was still really worried.
Out the door.... we escaped! I didn't look back.
I were hiding in the dark area behind the Green Staircase in the upper
right corner of this picture.
me how Marla and I were going to drag 6
suitcases thru this area. I was too busy to take a picture
at Crunch Time, but this area was twice as dense!
picture was taken an hour before they started letting people off.
Here there was a corridor, but it was long gone by the time they finally
got done to business.
In hindsight, I am crestfallen to admit my aggressive
behavior was unnecessary. Two other couples from our group
made the same flight without resorting to any shenanigans that I
know of. But, as they say, hindsight is 20-20.
I pushed as hard as I did because I was dealing with the unknown.
I did not know how long it would take to get to the airport. I
did not know how long the airport security lines were. I did
not know how far ahead you had to get there to check your luggage.
Most of all, I had no idea how quickly the Jewel Staff would get us
off the ship. The week's events led me to believe the worst.
Furthermore I was still burning over the treatment given to one of
the nicest couples on the trip at Acadia. Jerry and Barbara
had learned the hard way it didn't pay to be cooperative. On
their day at Acadia, they took the Jewel Staff at their word that
their excursion would wait for them. They stayed behind while
others in the group went ahead of them. This decent gesture on
their part cost them another hour of waiting. Making matters worse,
they missed their tour in the process. Yeah, the tour the
staff had promised would wait for them. Yes, they got their
money back, but who cares? Barbara and Jerry were cheated out
of a wonderful experience. Never had the cynical words 'nice
guys finish last' rung more true.
All Saturday flights to Houston were completely booked that day. If
Marla and I were going to miss our plane, it might not be till
Sunday that we could find another opening. We had a new dance
semester starting on Sunday at 4 pm. I could not afford to take a
I try to be a kind and respectful person in my dealings with my
fellow man. That said, I am well aware there is a dog eat dog
side to me as well. I try to keep it hidden, but today I felt
like I was forced to behave like a jerk to get my way. I was
not at all happy to see my dark side on display, but I had lost all
hope in the "Nice Guy" approach.
I don't think I was alone either. That is what this week did
to a lot of passengers - it created tremendous hostility - and that
included people on the Jewel staff as well. Mr. Authority Man
would be a prime example. Throughout the morning, the tension
between the passengers and the Staff assigned to "handle us" was
unbelievable. There were many very unhappy people.
Wherever I went or Marla went, words of complaint, anger, and
bitterness could be heard on the lips of every passenger.
Therefore, as the day began, my disrespect of the Jewel's crew based
on the week's activities led me to assume that whatever might go
wrong would go wrong. Therefore I refused to sit back and helplessly
cross my fingers for luck. I intended to try as hard as I
could to make that flight.
The ridiculous events of
that morning proved my bad attitude was completely justified.
Other than the guard who risked his job to help Marla and me with
the Rope Trick, I did not see one example where the Jewel Staff made any moves to
make a bad situation any better. Pandemonium ruled the day.
POSTSCRIPT - A
MEDITATION ON SERVICE
As we sat in the airport, I
told Marla about my talk with Jeff and how he told me the Jewel Crew
had the worst ratings in the entire fleet. After this
morning's ordeal, I was in the mood to fill out that survey. So I asked
Marla if we had
gotten a survey. She said no. She added that we had
gotten one on the Rhapsody trip, but she hadn't noticed one this
Slowly but surely some of our companions joined us. George and
Risa were on the same flight. So were Dan and Judy. Dan said
he had gotten a survey, but threw it away in disgust. George said he did
not get one.
Marla immediately came up with a Conspiracy Theory. She wouldn't be surprised if they limited the number of surveys
handed out to try and minimize the bad reports. She couldn't
see them giving a survey to me, that's for sure!
I smiled as best I could. That was my first laugh of the day. I was so beaten down by this trip,
Marla might just be right about the surveys.
When Jeff had told me they were the worst-rated Staff in the fleet, I
believed every word he said.
Across the board, the Jewel
to be the most unhappy bunch of people I have ever met. They even
fought amongst themselves.
In a way, I felt sorry for them. It had to be tough working
with passengers like me who argued with them. Confrontation is
tough on everybody.
But you already know why I argued with them - I had decided standing
up for myself was the only choice I had. Furthermore I don't
think I was being unreasonable. I was fighting to catch a
plane and, other than the guard who risked his job, they did nothing
to help one single bit.
The crew seemed
oblivious to the number one axiom in
the Service Industry - The customer is always right.
I have to say the Crew had a chip on their shoulder from Day One.
They created a climate of animosity right from the start with
incidents like the Cattle Call and the Shore Excursion Shut-Down. Then came the
dreadful Tender nightmares. This cruise not only got off on a bad foot,
it was completely doomed after the Tender mishaps because no one
stepped up to correct the mistakes.
I would be curious to know what went on behind the scenes to
contribute to all these problems. Why did so many Staff
members want to jump boat and transfer out? Why was morale so
For answers, I think I would start by looking for the missing
Captain. Other than a couple perfunctory appearances where he
told the same old jokes and bragged about how big the new ships
were, he was invisible the entire trip.
I hate pointing fingers at a man I never met, but I am convinced
that his continued absence was a terrible mistake.
Thoughts - The Curse of the Jewel
Is too much knowledge a bad thing? Does Ignorance
really lead to Bliss?
Some members of our group told me they had a marvelous time.
For example, Leeane Parkinson told me she loved the trip.
However, this was only her second cruise. Somehow I
think people are much more accepting of the problems when
they don't have other examples to compare with. How do
you appreciate 'sweet' if you haven't met 'sour'?
Speaking of 'sour', you might be surprised to discover my
previous write-ups were not filled with sour grapes.
If anything, they were full of praise. I have long
been an admirer of Royal Caribbean. Why else would
Marla and I stay with this company to the exclusion of other
lines? Repeat business is a powerful sign of approval.
Before this trip, my six previous trips had given me the
impression that RCCL had combed the earth to find one
talented staff person after another. I always was
amazed by the intelligence and social grace of the people I
dealt with. If you don't believe me, here is
proof from my write-up of the 2002 Rhapsody Trip.
staff was attentive, which included
the many people who did not work directly for tips. I
got the impression that RCCL had combed the planet to
find the most talented people from every country to work
on this ship. The crew from top to bottom was
intelligent, alert, and very personable. I loved to talk
to them about their home countries and noticed how
consistently excellent their English was.
Punctuality and responsibility were top-notch. The
attention to details everywhere was commendable. For
example, I forgot my tuxedo studs. For the very fair
price of $5, I was given a set to use for Formal Night
and it was delivered in 5 minutes. The cruise ran with
the precision of a Swiss watch. The staff people I met
were smart and socially gifted.
Overall the Rhapsody was a wonderful ship with a
marvelous staff. I was deeply impressed by the
excellence of this ship and its cruise line. They have a
lot to be proud of. (
Read for yourself
That said, now
experience worked against on the Jewel. My harsh criticism of the Jewel crew was
affected by my
understanding of how much better other RCCL crews had
performed in past trips.
Was this ship cursed?
If you think 'Voodoo', no, of course not.
But it did suffer from the Curse of Poor Management.
Things constantly went wrong. Front and center were the Twin
Tender Disasters. I am sure if you asked Tracy or Mr. Sayed or
the Missing Captain, they would lay the blame on the Tender delays
on rough seas and the accidents. But that is nonsense.
If anything, they used the
rough seas and the two accidents to disguise the true failure: There
were simply not
The coincidence of Princess situation in Acadia put the
Jewel in the worst light possible. It was impossible
to overlook the Princess ship ferrying its passengers back and forth at
a brisk clip. The contrast made the Jewel operation
look completely incompetent. The shocking image of the
standing still while the Princess people were virtually
sprinting to their tenders can
never be forgotten.
If Mr. Sayed and his company believe their
performance was acceptable,
they are out of their minds. The passengers on this trip
had every right to be furious. The Tender Problems poisoned
the entire trip by creating negative energy that was never dealt
came to a head during the Final Day Fiasco.
You have no idea how much venom was expressed by one passenger after
another. The room had turned vicious.
Again, I am sure if you asked Tracy or Mr. Sayed or the Missing
Captain, they would lay the blame on the Immigration people.
But at what point do you stop making excuses and take responsibility
for running a Bad Ship?
You have to ask
yourself, how long can RCCL executives continue to look the other
way? The problems on this trip were just the tip of the
iceberg. How can RCCL overlook an entire year of
underperforming every crew in the Fleet?
strongest condemnation of the Administration concerns their galling
insensitivity towards the people they were supposed to serve.
Mr. Sayed, the Hotel Director, looked me in the eye and told me he
was satisfied that 4 tenders could do the job.
How on earth does Mr.
Sayed condone a built-in THREE HOUR WAIT? No one would tolerate that
kind of wait if told the truth ahead of time. For someone like me who was
dying to get to shore, the two hours I waited was an eternity,
but a 3 hour wait would have left me apoplectic. And if I had been
in Jerry and Barbara's shoes - a four hour wait - I would have been
tempted to push someone overboard. Maybe the Captain was
indeed smart to stay out of sight.
No one in the Jewel
Administration ever apologized.
seemed to care. No one ever publicly acknowledged any
concern whatsoever for our
Jewel Administration came away looking like the Miserable Misers of Misery
for pretending nothing was wrong after the Tender Disasters. I
believe they wanted to avoid admitting responsibility to avoid
issues of compensation. No other explanation makes any sense.
My business sense tells me they believe they saved a coin or two in the short term, but
in the long run, I bet their decision will backfire. According to the passengers I overheard complaining in the Centrum
during the Final Day Fiasco, there would be a lot of customers
jumping ship to other lines in the future. For that matter,
after this trip, Marla refused to have anything to do with RCCL in
This trip was the
worst public relations disaster I have ever witnessed.
The Final Word
I would like for
you to read a letter.
If you remember, as I wrote this story I ran across another
story on the Internet filled with comments about the Jewel that seemed
amazingly similar to my
I was curious to know what the man who had written the
review would think of my own story. So I emailed him.
I asked him to read my story. Here is his response
(the highlights are mine):
From: Glenn P
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006 9:38 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: your Jewel writeup on the Internet
Dear Mr. Archer:
First, I'm flattered that you chose to use excerpts from my
report and don't mind in the least that you did so. Thank
you for letting me know that I was being quoted and for
sharing your experience.
Second, my heart goes out to you for what turned out to
obviously be a disaster of a vacation. Even if you had
sugar-coated all the events of the trip, it's clear that the
staff of the Jewel (and, in turn, RCCL) let you down in just
about every way. It's seems they've totally lost touch
with the fact that they are a service industry... their
purpose is to serve, not make excuses and make a lot of
money in the process.
To give you just a little bit of background about me, I put
myself through college (and subsequently saved money for my
first home) by waiting tables. I take great pride in the
fact that, in the day, I was an excellent waiter. It taught
me incredible lessons on how people should be treated,
well as the delicate art of not being run over by an angry
customer with unrealistic expectations.
That said, I don't believe for a second that your expectations were
unrealistic. Further, your complaints were handled horribly.
RCCL should be ashamed.
What really breaks my heart is that all this occurred on
your trip to New England. I live in Connecticut (an hour
outside of New York City) and grew up in the central region
of the state, which is chockfull of classic New England
towns. Likewise, my life has been filled with trips around
the region. True, some of us Yankees can be a little gruff
and stoic, but I feel that the area is one of the most
beautiful in the US. I'm crestfallen that you really didn't
get a chance to get a true taste of New England on your
Again, please my condolences for your lousy treatment on the
Jewel and my kudos on a very well-written response. If I can
provide any further information whatsoever, please do not
hesitate to contact me. I truly hope that you make it back
to our neck of the woods sometime soon!
SO WHAT AM I
GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
First I am
going to let my fellow travelers review this article and
comment on it. I told the story as accurately as I
could, but I admit I based some of my assumptions on
limited knowledge. Perhaps other members of the trip
have more information to share.
After I get their feedback, in January I will send a
letter to Royal Caribbean. I will steer them to this web
page and let them read the whole story for themselves.
If I were in upper management, I would want to know how bad
things are on this ship. I will ask them to address
the issues I brought up in this story.
If they respond - and I hope they do - I will then print
Royal Caribbean's response in [This Space].
It is my hope that someone in Corporate Office will try to
mend fences. However, if the space above remains
untouched, assume that no response was ever offered.
Mara and I are at a crossroads. We don't know which is
the true face of this company.
If I hear from the "Royal Caribbean" that we did business
with at Mardi Gras 2004, then Marla and I will book another
cruise with them.
However, if the Royal Caribbean response parallels the
attitude of the Miserable Misers of Misery aboard the Jewel,
it is time to give some of the other fine Cruise Lines a
Your comments would be appreciated.
Rick Archer, December 2006
SO WHAT DID RICK REALLY THINK ABOUT
From: TFW Computers
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2007 7:57 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: New England Cruise
Rick, I read your articles on the New England cruise
Wow! Pretty bad!! Glad I didn't go.
No matter how great the destination is, a ship can
sure ruin one's vacation.... I was mad just reading
Very well written. Gary T. Richardson
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2007 12:02 PM
To: TFW Computers
Subject: RE: New England Cruise
It is a misconception to think I
did not enjoy this trip.
Actually, this was an incredible trip.
Salem Village, Boston, Martha's Vineyard, Acadia,
the Titanic Museum, the crazy water ride in St John,
plus the beauty of New Hampshire on the last day - I
am very glad we went.
That said, I do intend to
share my thoughts with RCCL at some time in the near
For the moment, they are
already paying for the poor
performance of their staff - we deliberately
avoided RCCL to go with NCL for Hawaii which, by the
way, is certain to become
the largest non-Caribbean trip we have ever taken.
Plus Marla is
considering using Carnival for the late summer
Caribbean trip. (Update: Marla
did go with Carnival. See
Carnival Conquest in September 2007).
Royal Caribbean's vaunted reputation for Nordic
efficiency took a Titanic size hit on this trip.
The image of the Princess people practically
galloping to their tender versus the stationary
Jewel line that snaked up the hill at Acadia is a
sight I hope I never have to see again.
Nevertheless, of the ten cruises SSQQ has taken so
far, I would rate this as my third favorite trip
behind Mardi Gras 2004 and Alaska 2005. The
destinations on this trip were incredible.
Although the Jewel's problems diminished my
pleasure, I will treasure my memories of this trip
SSQQ Dance Studio