Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Squeaky Wheel


As the saying goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”  A client entered her cabin and liked what she saw - until she wanted to go onto the balcony. As you can see, both sides of the balcony door frame were ramped, but with one ramp clearly being too high.

“Florence” didn’t want to lose out on the balcony she paid for and looked forward to. She knew she needed to speak up. She first took digital photos which she could show to the ship’s Purser Desk. If the cruise line didn’t cooperate, we would have proof of the issue of an unusable balcony to bring to their customer service and access departments. If they did cooperate, she would still be able to show us the problem that had been in her cabin so we could follow up to be sure this was not a problem with the balconies in the rest of the ship’s accessible cabins. 

Then she spoke up. Knowing her for years, I’m sure she was kind, gentle--- and appropriately adamant. As you can see below, the balcony access was quickly fixed.

Florence came home happy with her vacation and, as always, thinking about the next cruise.  She also came home with these very helpful photos! Being very familiar with the cruise line and particular ship, I suspect that the problem with this accessible balcony was unique.  I imagine a ramp broke or was “borrowed” for another spot on the ship and a replacement ramp was made and brought in, but without attention to what most of us would claim to either be common sense or much thought.  We’ll follow up with the line to be sure it’s not a problem in other cabins.

So how do you deal with a problem you find on a ship? 

· Be clear about your complaint and what you expect.  Is there a problem you feel the ship has the capability of quickly resolving?  Or do you need to have a larger problem documented for a later complaint?

· Decide who you need to speak with.  If it’s a small cabin issue, your cabin steward may be able to assist you.  If your cabin steward can’t help or the problem does not involve your cabin, go to the Purser or Guest Relations Desk.  With few exceptions such as medical or shore excursions, Guest Relations is your next stop.  Ask to speak with the manager if necessary.  A few of the “department heads” are the Chief Housekeeper for cabins, Hotel Manager for most ship public areas and the Maitre ‘d for the restaurant if the Guest Relations staff cannot assist you sufficiently.

· Be kind and respectful. Explain the problem and what needs to be done for a resolution. Be sure to get the name and position of the person you speak with.

· If a follow-up letter is required after the cruise, explain the complaint, who whom you spoke to on the ship and what resolution you hope for. If you booked directly with the cruise line, send the letter to the appropriate department for the complaint. If you booked through a travel agency, forward the letter to the agency and ask that they follow up with the line. An accompanying letter from an agency and their relationship with the line may help obtain a better resolution.

It’s better to be a “squeaky wheel” than to unnecessarily compromise on your vacation or to ignore something that needs to be fixed for the next vacationer. Happy cruising!

- Connie & your Access Travel Team