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How to Complain to a Cruise Line and Get Results

| August 20, 2010

A poll of our readers finds surprises in the most effective ways to get satisfaction for problems -- including financial compensation.

Step One -- Be Specific

Example: Skymaster Wrote: As you know, we've been doing Carnival almost exclusively for the last few years, and I usually book inside GTY. On our last cruise, (Glory) we once again booked inside GTY, and were assigned cabin R1456. That's the last cabin on the port side aft. I had a feeling it might not be the best in the world, but what the heck, you take the good with the not so good. It turned out to be great, EXCEPT when underway there was a constant groaning noise from machinery below us. It got worse the faster we sailed, but wasn't terrible IMO. While walking through the atrium, I decided to stop at the purser's desk and ask if there was another cabin available, and explained the slight problem. I wasn't nasty, or demanding, just inquiring. The very nice girl at the desk noted my Platinum status, and told me that we were sailing "full ship," but perhaps something could be done, and she'd let me know. I really didn't expect anything, but the next morning I got a nice note from the purser's desk, stating that they were aware of the problem, and were looking into possible solutions. The next morning, a note appeared under the door, stating that they were VERY sorry, but there simply wasn't any way to move us, but to make up for the inconvenience, they were posting a $380 credit to my sign-n-sail card. The lovely Mrs. Jones ran, not walked, to deck 5 to the shops, and needless to say we walked away with lots of goodies, and a very small sign-n-sail bill.

Step Two -- Stay Calm Almost everyone on our message boards had followed nearly the same steps. While they were onboard they calmly took their concern to the front desk and notified them of the problem. In some cases the onboard personnel took steps to try to solve the problem, and in some cases they could have done more. The one thing every successful complaint resolution had in common was that the complainers remained calm and polite throughout the entire process. They did not yell, demand immediate satisfaction and certainly never said, "I will never sail on this cruise line again!"

In fact, it was shown repeatedly that the most successful complaint resolutions came to guests who went out of their way to show appreciation to the staff onboard for their efforts to resolve the problem. We at CruiseMates understand the concept of ire. Sometimes you become understandably upset, and it shows in your manner and speech. We are not saying this is unjustified in every case. But our goal is to tell you the best way to get some compensation for your problem -- and getting upset and angry is not it.

Example: colorcrazie Wrote I always try to mix compliments in with any complaints. There is always something really wonderful to note and I like giving extra credit when it is due. Our waiter on this trip was the highlight, so I mentioned him by name and table number.

But I also was very specific about the problems. We received back a generous shipboard credit offer for our next Carnival cruise, which is in November -- enough for a couple of tours and still cover most of our tips. We are Platinum, so that may have helped.

Displays of Anger Rarely Work Displays of anger rarely help you get a resolution. Let's put the shoe on the other foot: If you worked for a company where you didn't make the rules or set the policies, you wouldn't like a guest holding you personally responsible for problems beyond your control. Even though a guest's anger may be justified, the person at passenger services did not create the problem. To get results, act like an adult who is only interested in results. An adult doesn't demand apologies or accept lip service. Accept their first apology graciously and respond with, "I truly appreciate your concern, now what can we do to resolve my problem?"

Your goal is to appear as a valued customer, not a chronic complainer who threatens to air dirty laundry until you get results. You are not angry, but you expected better based on your prior experience and the line's good reputation. Explain your complaint calmly.

Example: Trip Wrote My one letter of complaint got me a $300 certificate from Royal Caribbean.

Back in the 90's, brochures did not note obstructed cabins. I purchased what we thought was an outside cabin, so surprise, surprise, when we opened the door. We had a great cruise, but I decided to write to tell them I didn't get what I thought we were getting, and how would we have known, since it was not notated?

I prefaced my letter stating how much we enjoyed the Majesty, but this one thing disturbed me. The letter from RCI admitted this should be corrected; however, the next brochure was already printed, but rest assured, after that, all brochures would be clear on the matter. They included my voucher, and needless to say I was thrilled to death. I was also able to use this as a deposit as well, which I did. Kudo's to RCI!

Continue Article >> Establish Your Compensation Value (Part 3)

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