The Many Varieties Of Cruise Ship Experience

I was on a shuttle bus in Miami after a cruise and I heard another passenger describing the experience on her cell phone.

The cruise was terrible. The service was dreadful. There was a fire on board. Everyone who ate the lobster bisque got sick.

Which seemed odd because we thought the service was good. One night, a small fire was extinguished but we knew it only because a waiter translated an announcement over the intercom for us. It didn’t even interrupt our dinner. My husband ate the lobster bisque and didn’t get sick.

Which suggests that different people see travel experiences differently. Which brings us to Brenda and Gerald Moran of Cleveland, who have been banned from Royal Caribbean for complaining too much.

Brenda Moran contends that they were banned for writing negative reviews on Web forums, such as those on Royal Caribbean says the complaining, not the Web postings, were the issue.

The Morans filed a variety of complaints about five of the six cruises they’ve taken with Royal Caribbean, and accepted compensation to redress a few problems, a company spokesman told travel columnist Anita Dunham-Potter of In most cases, though, Royal Caribbean didn’t think there was a problem.

‘”Having concluded that we are unable to meet the expectations of the Morans, we have told them that they would be best served by sailing with another company.”

Well, ouch.

There’s clearly a new reality across the travel industry about customer complaints. Airlines that used to seek feedback in comment cards now seem determined to avoid it. Emails, letters and phone calls are more likely to go unanswered. The idea that the customer is always right is falling out of whatever favor it ever enoyed in the travel industry.

In the Morans’ case, which has created a bit of a buzz on cruise message boards, many people seem to believe the customers were wrong. Hard to know. But it’s not really my point.

There was a time when it probably wouldn’t have mattered whether the Morans were right or wrong. It would only have mattered that they were complaining. Cruise lines, resorts and airlines would bend over backward to resolve complaints in almost any case.

Did belligerent, overly demanding customers ruin that ethic? Or did business abandon it when money got tight?

I don’t know. You tell me.


One thought on “The Many Varieties Of Cruise Ship Experience

  1. Alex Stevens

    I have several friends who were managers at Nordstrom, which has always been a bastion of customer service.
    Even with liberal and generous return and “customer is always right” policies, they told me that there was a point for certain customers that came where they would simply do exactly what RC did in this case, almost word for word. They’d say “Clearly we are not meeting your needs, and it would be better if you shopped somewhere else.”
    This had nothing to do with negative reviews or blogs, simply the cost in time, effort and (in RC’s case) compensation in dealing with customers who are simply never going to be happy and go through the same circle over and over.
    There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of other cruise customers that have had the same experiences as the Morans on RC who didn’t cause that much grief for the line. Not that some of it wasn’t justified, but at some point the line figured enough was enough, especially considering the negative reviews.
    More generally, this is also just called “firing your customers”. There are a number of management gurus that suggest it when it’s just not worth it with them anymore. I don’t see the problem.


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