Iceland & Fjords Cruise – 14 nights – Celebrity Eclipse
Sail date: 2013, July 6th.
We live in Vancouver, Canada, with a view to Burrard Inlet, where the ships cross during summer in order to dock at Canada Place or Ballantyne Pier. One evening while drinking wine and watching a ship depart I said to my husband: “How about going on a cruise?”.
At that point my preferred cruise line was Celebrity and as soon as my husband said “Let’s do it!” I went on the Internet to check itineraries and availabilities. We decided to go to a place where we haven’t been before, as it is always nice to get to know new cultures and landscapes. We chose Iceland and Norwegian Fjords.
Celebrity Eclipse would sail from South Hampton on July 6th (2013) so we bought our tickets like real “last minute tickets”. From the day we bought them to the sailing date we had less than one week! We had a small time frame to get ourselves organized regarding travel arrangements like air tickets, travel insurance, etc. I usually do this by myself (no agent involved). We travel a lot I have huge practice in organizing details within a short period of time.
I will write about South Hampton and the ports we visited in a future post. In this post I want to write about our customer experience regarding Celebrity Cruises.
Beautiful. Modern. Great. We had cruised the Mediterranean last year on board of Celebrity Equinox and the two vessels look like beautiful twin sisters.
As an Architect / Interior Designer I praise good taste and attention given to decor details. The classic and contemporary mix adopted by Celebrity’s interior designers is astonishingly beautiful and the art work selection is superb. I really love it.
All common areas were kept immaculately clean. Pools, public restaurants, glasses of panoramic elevators, etc. The only thing that was not properly cleaned, unfortunately, was our cabin!
The good part: Although our cabin was one of the less expensive in the ship, it was very comfortable and we had plenty of space.
The bad part:
- When we got access to our cabin the ice bucket was empty.
- The mineral water that should be on the tray wasn’t there. There was only the card stating that “this bottle” … blah blah blah … without any bottle.
- There was only one robe inside the cabinet. We had to call to ask for another one.
- The brown acrylic trail in the bathroom was covered with dust. It was possible to imagine for how long it had not be cleaned when we lifted the shampoo. Probably this cabin hasn’t being used for a long time? Anyway, I cleaned it myself, with the little towels provided. This is unacceptable.
- Our stateroom steward never replaced the shampoo. I had to call during two different opportunities in order to have it taken to our cabin.
- One day we had to do the same regarding toilet paper.
- Our cabin steward was so bad in her duties that one day she left cleaning product inside the shower!
They were two members attending our stateroom and I guess I saw the guy only twice. We always met the lady that was like “nice” with a super loudly “Good Morning how are you doing?” but we needed good service and not smiles. She usually talked her “Good Morning” so loudly to all guests that it was possible to hear her voice when she was at the corridor and we were still in our cabin. Completely opposite of the majority of all crew members with a shy smile and a polite low tone: “Good Morning Madam”. Not this lady who was always shouting from 50 feet away!
This crew member is probably “smart” as well. The day before the boxes that stores guest’s comments were placed at the common areas, the steward came to me with a clipboard in her hands asking if I could answer some questions regarding the cabin. I was leaving and said “Ah, everything is fine” (there was no point in telling her that she is the worst crew member on any ship I have been to) and I kept walking away. She said that she would need that I reply more questions and that she would need my full name as well. (????)
On the night before disembark I was eager waiting for my “customer card” so I could complain about the service and I got very surprised when we did not get one! My husband went to Customers Relations desk and the person there was also surprised that no comment card had been delivered to our cabin.
Putting two and two together I think the steward probably fills some (or many) of the forms of the staterooms served by her? That’s the only explanation I find for a very bad employee still working for the company. Probably, if this was our first cruise, we would not know about the Customer Satisfaction Forms and I would ignore that we had a channel to complain. Anyway, we got a card at the Relations Desk and I filled it properly regarding the terrible service we got.
Excellent, excellent, excellent. Excellent presentation and taste. Very creative, even being a cruise that lasts for two weeks, we never got bored. There was always something new to taste. We did not use any of the special restaurants. We had “open seat” and had never to wait.
Service at the restaurants: Excellent. Due to our “open seat” option we had different waiters along our trip. All of them were exceptionally attentive and friendly. One of the waiters was so good that he almost sold us a new cruise! Arnel is from the Philippines and when we told him that we dream to go there he gave a lot many informations about Celebrity cruising to Asia. He was so enthusiastic that we would have bought the Asian cruise while on board if we had not had a big problem at the ship. Please keep reading.
The entertainment director is a nice and enthusiastic guy. He is better then many cruise directors we had in the past.
Unfortunately, the shows were not good. In my opinion, there were only three good shows: “The Show” (don’t miss this one); Rafael (a great violinist) and the Magician (during a matinée). The worst show was one from Kimiko and her partner. It was really bad and pathetic, with many people leaving during the performance.
There were also “talk shows” where an “expert” presents a subject. The naturalist on board is a photographer and he is really (I mean r-e-a-l-l-y) boring. The guy is the kind of person who tells jokes that are more than twenty years old and he is the only one who laughs of them. This joke he told twice during the cruise: “when I am in a jungle I always carry a gun so I can shoot my companion’s leg and the bear don’t go after me”. ha ha ha (pathetic).
We also had an unpleasant moment when the ship was departing from Geilanger, a beautiful fjord, and this guy, the “expert conservationist” kept talking without stopping about animals, etc … but not the animals that we were seeing or that could be present there… He was like reading the Wikipedia and his voice was sounding from all sound speakers around the ship. It would have been much better to cruise this fjord listening to classical music coming from the speakers than listening to this guy reading the Wikipedia in a monotonous and boring tone.
We have travelled with Celebrity before (to Alaska, to the Mediterranean, …) and we felt really jealous when we met an English couple who told us that they have been invited to meet the Captain and visit the bridge. We said “Oh, awesome!” They told us that they also had a bottle of Champagne and wines at their stateroom; they also received their picture (the one taken at the entrance) for free, they got flowers and an invitation to visit the bridge! I said: “Wow, you are really v.i.p. with all this pampering, you probably have cruise with Celebrity dozens of times!” and they said “No! It’s our first time!”.
I feel happy for them because they were really nice (I love the British!) and were very happy with the experience, although I don’t understand why a company gives more attention / pampering to a new guest than another, specially if the “another” is someone who has a fidelity relationship with the company? Sorry to say but I felt very disappointed with Celebrity when I noticed they are not fair regarding customer’s experience as they don’t praise their loyal customers.
We went in only one excursion organized by Celebrity. The reason for that is: Although we carry Brazilian passports we haven’t been living in Brazil for a long time. Our address is not in Brazil, our credit card is not from Brazil and so on.
In this trip there were a big group from Brazil, and most of them weren’t polite guests. They did not know how to respect a queue or how to talk in a low tone of voice. That being said, we kept the longest distance possible. On the first / second day cruising we received in our cabin some invitations for sales shopping at Deck 4 and they were written in Portuguese. Afraid that Celebrity was mixing us with this group, I went to Customers Relations and told them: “Hello, please although we have Brazilian passports we don’t live there and we prefer to receive our newsletter in English”. Also, to play on the safe side, I told them that I had a booked a land excursion and that we wanted to be in the English speaking group, not with the Brazilians”. The guy said “Ok, Madam”, and that was it.
On the excursion day we went to the theatre to meet the other guests and the majority was from the UK with some Americans and a few Canadians. Great group, everyone really polite and friendly and the majority telling jokes on the bus about the bad behavior of the Brazilian guests on board (by the way I totally agree with the comments we heard on the bus). Funny thing was when someone asked us “Where are you from?” and we replied “We are from Canada” witch is the truth although we skipped the part “born in Brazil” . LOL
Anyway, when we returned from a lovely day sightseeing Akureyri (Iceland) we found an envelope in our cabin with instructions for the excursion in Portuguese and we would be in the Brazilian group!?! Fortunately we did not read this “instruction” before departing. So… what is the part that Celebrity did not understand? I had the trouble to go to Customer’s Relation to tell them that we did not want to be part of any activity regarding this Brazilian group and they were placing us there? Where they their guest’s preferences notes ? They don’t have my address on file? They don’t have my credit card details on file? So… why they mixed things like they did?
Anyway, afraid of being put on this group again by Celebrity, we decided not to take any other shore excursions. Bad for Celebrity that did not make money selling us more excursions and good for us that did a lot of excursions arranged locally that cost us exactly half price than the ones arranged by the ship.
The REALLY BAD thing: Customer Service / Customer Experience once more.
On July 13th the ship was docked at Faroe Islands.
At the time we returned to the ship I placed my bags to be scanned at the x-ray machine. While my bags where into the machine I was walking along the metal detector device that scans my body. While this was happening, a female crew member was talking and laughing out loudly with some male crew, and she was totally distracted. Next thing I saw while I was exiting the body scan was this female crew member squatting down and picking my bag on the floor!
I guess my blood went out of my body so shocked I was as inside the bag there was my camera!
I checked the camera and the lens was broken. Another crew member saw what had happened and told me to stay calm because the would call the supervisor.
In a few minutes the supervisor arrived and said that sometimes items fall to the sides of the conveyor belt (?) and that I should go to Customs Relations on Deck 3 to fill a form in order to be reimbursed. I did as instructed.
As soon as I got home I called the phone number printed on the form and I had to explain the whole event again. After hearing me the lady said that I should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining everything (again). I did as instructed and until this moment, more than three days passed, I did not receive a phone call or an email from them.. Customer support should be efficient. I stayed half of the trip without being able to take “real pictures”, thanks to Celebrity. This kind of trip is not one that you enjoy using a cellular camera, specially if you are into photography.