Complaints: The right way and the wrong way to deal with problems while cruising

26 Jul

I’ve been cruising 2-3 times a year for many years now. I can honestly say I have never found a single thing to complain about. Maybe I’m very easy going? Or maybe it’s because there’s not been anything worth ruining my cruise over? Well, that’s not true. One time the chicken piccata served in the  main dining room was too eggy. Oh, and once the room steward forgot to give us the extra pillow I had requested when I booked the cruise.

If you browse through the Cruise Critic Forum or Facebook Pages for the major cruise lines, you’ll see plenty of people complain. Honestly, most of what they complain about is petty, and I’m fairly certain a fair share of them are miserable in their everyday life that are not happy unless they have something to rant about.

Every once in awhile something legit does come up. So what should you do when it happens to you?

If it’s in your cabin

  • The right way is to go to your room steward first. Is there a stain on the bedspread? Is ice missing from your bucket? Was the minibar not replenished? Not enough hangars? Politely ask your room steward to get you whatever it is that is missing or needs replacing.
  • The wrong way is to keep quiet until it becomes urgent and then get upset and withhold his gratuity because you don’t have a fresh towel the instant you need one.

If it’s in the dining room

  • The right way is to tell your waiter. If you don’t like how something tastes, send it back and get something else.
  • The wrong way is to sit there and stew about it (pun intended) then rant about it in your online review. If you don’t let someone know something is wrong, then how can they fix it? The waiter is not going to read your review so the only way he will know something is wrong is if you speak up when it actually happens.

If it’s about your bill

  • The right way is to keep track of your on board spending daily, and if you notice something out of whack go to the customer service desk immediately. Politely ask for them to review the bill and credit your account if it is truly a mistake. A common reason people get upset about their bill is that they forget there is a daily service charge (currently $12 per day per passenger on NCL) or they used their debit card (instead of a credit card) and now there is a hold on their checking account that takes several weeks to clear.
  • The wrong way is to wait until the last day and demand a full refund of your cruise. You will end up in a long line (making you even more upset) and you will not end up getting what you want. It’s simply not realistic to get a full refund.

Don’t nitpick – It’s not worth ruining your cruise by getting upset over something minor. Most complaints are about someone smoking on the balcony next to them, unruly kids, or the buffet line is long at breakfast. If you find yourself getting annoyed with something, stop and think whether it’s worth being upset about. You’re on vacation. RELAX! You cannot control other people, but you can control yourself and how you respond to the situation. Sure, it’s annoying if the cigarette smoke from your neighbor’s balcony is wafting into your space, but if smoke is going to bother you that much then look for a cruise bans smoking on the balcony. It’s also silly to get worked up if there are kids in the hot tub or playing games with the elevators. They have parents that are supposed to be watching them. It’s not the crew’s fault if parents do not do their job. If being around children upsets you so much that is will ruin your vacation then please find an adults-only cruise.

Could it be your own fault? – Did you get lazy about washing your hands and then find yourself sick a couple days later? Did you neglect to pack sunscreen and then get angry when it costs $20 a for a tiny bottle in the gift shop? Did you fail to keep track of time while at port and then missed the ship because you were late? Did you forget to put your phone in airplane mode and get zapped with a $500 phone bill? You are the one responsible. Don’t take it out on the crew because of your own mistakes or write a bad review because you were negligent.

Be Prepared – While I truly hope nothing tragic ever happens while you’re on your cruise, the reality is that accidents and illness can happen while on vacation. Be prepare by reading every word of your cruise contract (remember that long thing we are supposed to scroll through before clicking “I agree?”). Know your rights and what your responsibilities are. Also, please, PLEASE get Travel Insurance and a Passport. That way if you fall down the stairs, crash the rental scooter, miss the ship, or get sick you will not be left stranded or stuck with enormous medical bills.

Don’t use a debit card –  It’s important to use a CREDIT card and NOT a debit card. I’m being redundant, but I feel it’s worth repeating . Most cruises put an automatic hold on of a several hundred dollars on your card. It may take a few weeks for this to clear. Unless you are very wealthy, don’t want to mess with the funds in your checking account. Also, a credit card offers better protection against fraud. You can also appeal the charges with the credit card company if you truly feel you have been wronged. Debit cards rarely give you that option.

Wishing you a very enjoyable, safe, and healthy cruise!


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