So What's Wrong With Seabourn Cruises?

An independent luxury travel agency owner in New Jersey continually takes shots at Regent Seven Seas Cruises on his blog and, to a lesser degree, other cruise lines that are NOT Seabourn.

While any travel agent is entitled to his or her opinion, why doesn't this agent blog about the recent issues on Seabourn Cruise Line?

Two particular incidents occurred on Seabourn Cruises that were not addressed on that agent’s cruise blog, but have been well documented: "Getting kicked off the ship" and "Getting soaked on the ship"


Getting Kicked Off the Ship

Anyone who has cruised before knows that muster station drill attendance is required.  After the Concordia disaster, all the cruise lines stepped up their awareness of these drills for the safety of their passengers.

Several months ago, an elderly couple, 90 and 84, were traveling on a Seabourn Cruise ship for three consecutive (back to back to back) voyages. Since each of those three cruises was considered a separate segment, Seabourn required all guests to attend each muster station drill before departure. On the first segment both the husband and the wife attended - all good so far.

On the second segment, the couple was escorted off the ship. Here is the shorter version of the details as was written in the Travel Weekly agent magazine.

The husband attended the second muster station drill but the wife did not. When the crew asked the husband where his wife was, he stated, "she's in the cabin because she is not feeling well." He also added that they had attended the muster drill during their first segment’s sailing. The crew replied that attendance at every drill was required; "not feeling well" was no excuse. 

In a statement, Seabourn confirmed that the couple was debarked after the wife refused to attend the second drill. "Mandatory attendance at the emergency drill conducted prior to every voyage is a strict company policy to ensure the safety of everyone onboard. No exceptions are permitted. A guest who is too ill to attend may attend a make-up drill when their health permits [emphasis added].” Yet a mere 15 minutes after the drill, hardly enough time for an elderly woman to feel well enough to attend a make-up drill, crew members appeared at the couple’s cabin door and ordered them to pack their bags. One hour after the drill, the couple stood on the pier with their luggage and watched the ship sail without them.

Passengers’ safety is paramount on a cruise ship, as it should be. I get that. But for a luxury cruise line like Seabourn that prides itself on superior, personalized passenger service, the mechanical, by-the-book reaction was, in my opinion, inexcusable.

 

Getting Soaked: Ports Missed, Cabins Drenched - and a Refund Denied

A reader wrote of her experience in Conde Nast Traveler July 2012.

           “I live in Australia, and am writing to you about a cruise line that you report on and rate, Seabourn. My daughter and I recently sailed on the Seabourn Spirit on two back-to-back Mediterranean cruises. We paid $8,000 per person for separate cabins – a total of $32,000 – more than the rates paid by passengers who had found last-minute deals in the United States.

             “On the first cruise, two ports, Valetta and Sorrento, were omitted because of bad weather. This was disappointing, but the crew promised that we would all be compensated. On the next cruise, the problems were more serious. On the second day, the ship encountered a storm. Our cabins had balconies, the doors to which proved not to be water-tight. The carpet became so wet that our pant legs got soaked. Such flooding had obviously happened before – the base of my nightstand was crumbling from water damage. We were assured that our cabins could be dried, but every day we returned to squelching carpets, and my daughter got a bad cold for the reminder of the trip. Conditions deteriorated so that we considered leaving.

             “Two days after the storm, the captain acknowledged the severity of our situation, apologized, and persuaded us to stay aboard. The carpets were still wet on the final day, however and, adding insult to injury, my daughter’s cabin had no hot water for the last three days.

             “Once home, I requested a refund from Seabourn, but we were offered only two $2,000 credits toward a future cruise, in compensation for the missed ports on the first cruise. Since I was not getting anywhere with guest relations, I wrote to the president of Seabourn, but he did not reply.

             “I can’t believe that this is the service of a luxury cruise line, especially one that frequently appears on your magazine’s “best of” lists.”

Seabourn eventually increased the compensation to this passenger and her daughter, but only after Conde Nast Traveler magazine’s ombudsman contacted the cruise line on their behalf. Again, Seabourn’s cold, textbook response belies its stated reputation as offering “intuitive, gracious service” by “thoughtful hosts, whose knack for anticipating what you might like borders on the clairvoyant.” (Seabourn, Seabourn Cruises, Retrieved June 28, 2012, www.seabourn.com)

 

If that New Jersey travel agent won’t blog about Seabourn’s shortcomings, I will.