I’ve always enjoyed viewing the Marx Brothers’ movies. One of my favorites is
Monkey Business, in which the four brothers are stowing away on a ship heading
It’s filled with enough laughs to have me crying.
contrast, too often when a complaint reaches my desk, there’s nothing to laugh
about and I’m unsure whether to cry or scream out in disbelief. Unlike the
exaggerations of the film, moreover, here’s one such case which appears to be
Let me present the details – along with some sage
Mr. and Mrs. Guileless (the names have been changed to protect
the guilty) purchased a cruise to Alaska, including flight tickets from Tel Aviv
and a rental car in Alaska.
They and their travel consultant elected to
set sail on the Princess Diamond and the princely sum of $6,816 was
Their flights were uneventful and at high noon, at the port of
Vancouver, they commenced boarding their cruise ship, leaving their luggage with
the ground crew. The ship set sail.
In their own words: “At 2:30 p.m. the
luggage started arriving [in passengers’ rooms].
At 3:30 p.m. we notified
the crew that our luggage had not arrived and they assured us that the luggage
would arrive within half an hour. At that time the rest of the passengers went
to have lunch, while we were waiting in our cabin for our luggage. At 4:30 p.m.
we approached the crew again and they told us to wait patiently for another
hour, but at 6 p.m, the luggage had still not arrived. Of course, during that
time we could not eat or enjoy any activity on the ship.”
interjection: Be it a hotel or a resort lodge, be it a deluxe cabin on a cruise
ship or a shack on the beach, one need never wait in one’s room to receive one’s
luggage. Trust me, management will find a way to put it in your room. But if you
need something from your luggage, then yes, there is no choice but to wait
patiently for it to arrive.
Back to our soon to be wrathful
“We then approached the crew again and were told that if
the luggage did not arrive within the hour, we would be given $100 to buy some
clothes and toiletries, and that the clothes we were wearing and had in our
carry-on baggage would be taken to be laundered.
“We were on a ship the
travel agent had recommended. We could not enjoy swimming or the Jacuzzi since
we did not have our swimming suits; we could not enjoy the gym since we didn’t
have our sneakers and sports clothes. We couldn’t even go to dinner without
proper clothing. In addition to all of this frustration at what we could not
enjoy, we were worried, upset and mainly afraid, since we did not have the
medications we use regularly; they were lost with the luggage. I have blood
pressure medications and inhalers that I have for my
Interjection No. 2: Never put your medications in your checked
luggage. Whether it’s a two-hour flight or, in this case, a 20-hour flight, your
medicine should remain with you at all times. Having a family member who suffers
from asthma, I could only imagine the fear she would have had if she had flown
20 hours knowing she had forgotten to take her inhaler with her. Security
requirements permit all medications to be taken on board; simply make sure you
have a clear and concise note from your doctor detailing your
Let’s continue with our passengers’ tale: “At this point we
were referred to Sophia from customer service who was very
She was aware of my distress, which included my crying
from fear that I would have an asthma attack without medications brought on by
stress. I was referred to the ship’s doctor, but she could only provide some
aspirin. She did agree to order the rest of my medication in the now very high
likelihood my medication would not arrive. She told me it would only arrive in
“Only at 9:30 p.m. were our clothes collected for washing,
and we missed the opening ceremony and the first evening’s dinner and dance. We
were promised that our laundered clothes would arrive at 7:30 a.m. the next
morning, but to our dismay they didn’t arrive until 10 a.m. and we were obliged
to eat a dull breakfast served in our cabin. Thus our second day started with
deep feelings of anger about the appalling service and treatment we were
receiving, and that day, too, we could not enjoy the different activities
offered on board due to our lack of appropriate clothing.”
goes on: “That evening at 8:30 p.m. was one of the highlights of the whole
cruise – dinner with the ship’s captain.
This was an evening we were
For the event one needs formal attire, so Sophia agreed
to provide us with a dress and a tuxedo. Suffice to say that by 7 p.m. the
tuxedo hadn’t arrived and we once again had to stay in our cabin and miss this
The third day was spent entirely in our room without
clothes (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) but that evening we were informed that our luggage had
sailed on another ship that departed Vancouver the very same day with us and
that we would get our luggage on the fourth day of the cruise.
supervisor was very apologetic and we made clear that we expected full
compensation for such an unfortunate chain of events and that our entire
vacation had been ruined.
We were granted an extra $350 to spend on the
ship. We felt this was an insult after all that we had endured but accepted
their meager gesture. Finally, on the fourth day of our seven-day cruise, our
“However, because of this very sloppy handling we are
asking for full compensation for the entire amount we paid. We hope very much
that we can settle this matter out of court.”
MY INITIAL reaction was to
encourage Mr. and Mrs. Guileless to contact Princess Cruise directly.
Their correspondence and financial request had been addressed to their travel
agent. Their bone of contention was that they had paid the travel consultant and
thus she was financially and legally obligated to make a full refund.
Princess Cruise’s credit it reacted quickly to their plea. It apologized
profusely, detailing exactly how the mistake occurred. It added: “Additionally,
although I realize that this situation was very unsettling for you, the ship’s
staff provided onboard compensation to you for the total amount of $550 in
consideration of your delayed luggage and various ship service failures with
regard to your laundry and tuxedo requests.”
Cruise tried to pass on its obligation by pointing out that the porters checking
the bags for delivery to the ship or ships are not Princess personnel, but
rather port personnel who are hired by the pier. It felt that the compensation
provided to the couple onboard was fair and equitable, and so stated:
“Therefore, we regret we are not able to honor your request for additional
compensation. I am sorry for any further disappointment this will
It must be noted, that Lorri Lanning, the customer relations
specialist who penned the response for Princess Cruise, was quite apologetic in
both her tone and her content. Yet not one penny more was proffered. The couple
remains unmoved. Adamant that their travel consultant is completely responsible
they, no doubt, will turn to the courts for satisfaction.
Their case will
rest on shaky ground. Most courts strive to avoid paying for emotional damages,
and $550 is not an insignificant amount. Still one would have expected an
additional offer of compensation from Princess Cruise if simply to placate the
I turn to you dear readers: Put yourself in a judge’s
shoes and let me know what you feel is an equitable amount, and who should pay
it. Nobody is in favor of this kind of monkey business; the question is how you
gauge a price, and where you place responsibility, for the emotional pain and
suffering.The writer is the CEO of Ziontours, Jerusalem. For
questions and comments e-mail him at email@example.com.