What To Do If ... - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

What To Do If ...

Twenty practical tips for a good cruise experience, and advice on what to do if you have a problem.

1 Your luggage does not arrive at the ship

If you booked as part of the cruise line’s air/sea package, the airline is responsible for locating your luggage and delivering it to the next port. If you arranged your own air transportation, it is wholly your problem. Always have easy-to-read name and address tags inside as well as outside your luggage. Keep track of claim documents, and give the airline a detailed itinerary and list of port agents.

2. You miss the ship

If you miss the ship’s departure at the port of embarkation, and you are traveling on an air/sea package, the airline will arrange to get you to the ship, possibly at the next port of call. If you are traveling ‘cruise-only,’ however, then you are responsible for flights, hotel stays, and transfers. If you arrive at the port just as your ship is pulling away, see the ship’s port agent immediately.


Passengers wait to rejoin their ship in Flåm, Norway.

Douglas Ward

If you miss the ship in a port of call, it is up to you to get back to the ship before its appointed sailing time, unless you are participating in a ship-organized shore excursion. Miss the ship and you’ll need to get to its next port at your own cost. Always take a copy of your passport with you, just in case.

Ships have also been known to leave port early because of impending inclement weather conditions or natural disasters. However, if you do miss your ship, the ship’s port agent should be close by to assist you. Always take the name and telephone contact details with you.

3. Your cabin is too small

Almost all cruise ship cabins are too small. When you book a cruise, you pay for a certain category and type of cabin, but you have little or no control over which one you actually get. Go to the reception desk as soon as possible and explain what is wrong with the cabin. If the ship is full, it may be difficult to change.

4. Your cabin has no air conditioning, it is noisy, or there are plumbing problems

If there is anything wrong in your cabin, or with your bathroom plumbing, tell your cabin steward immediately. If nothing gets better, complain at the reception desk. Some cabins, for example, are located above the ship’s laundry, generator, or galley; others may be above the disco. If the ship is full, it may be difficult to change.

5. You have noisy cabin neighbors

First, politely tell your neighbors that you can hear them brushing their hair as the cabin walls are so thin, and would they please not bang the drawers shut at 2am! If that does not work, complain to the hotel manager, and ask them to attend to the problem.

6. You have a problem with a crew member

Go to the ship’s hotel manager and explain the problem. Insist on a full written report of the incident, which must be entered into the ship’s daily log by the staff captain (deputy captain).

7. You have small children and the brochure implied that the ship has special programs for them, but when on board you find out it is not a year-round program

In this instance, either the brochure was misleading, or your travel agent did not know enough about the ship. If you have genuine cause for complaint, then see your travel agent when you get home. Most ships will try to accommodate your young ones, but they may not be covered by their insurance for looking after them throughout the day. Check thoroughly with your travel agent before you book.

8. You don’t like your dining room seating

Most large resort ships operate two seatings for dinner. When you book your cruise, you are asked whether you want the first or second seating. The line will make every attempt to please you. But if you want second seating and are given first seating, there may be little the restaurant manager can do if the ship is full.

9. You want a table for two and are put at a table for eight

See the restaurant manager and explain why you are not satisfied. A little gratuity should prove helpful.

10. You cannot communicate with your waiter

Dining room waiters might be of a nationality and language completely foreign to yours, with limited fluency in your particular language. This could prove frustrating for a whole cruise, especially if you need something out of the ordinary. See the restaurant manager, and tell him/her you want a waiter with whom you can communicate better.

11. The food is definitely not gourmet cuisine as portrayed in the brochure

If the food is not as described (for example, whole lobster in the brochure, but only cold lobster salad once during the cruise, or the ‘fresh squeezed’ orange juice on the breakfast menu is anything but), do inform the restaurant manager of the problem.

12. A large group has taken over the ship

Sometimes, large groups have pre-booked several public rooms for meetings - seemingly every hour on the hour in the rooms you want to use. Make your displeasure known to the hotel manager immediately, tell your travel agent, and write a follow-up letter to the line when you get home.

13. A port of call is deleted from the itinerary

If you only took the cruise because the ship goes to the place you have wanted to go for years, then read the fine print in the brochure before you book. A cruise line is under no obligation to perform the stated itinerary. For whatever reason - political unrest, weather, mechanical problems, no berth space, safety, etc. - the ship’s captain has the ultimate say.

14. You leave personal belongings on a tour bus

If, when you’re back on board your ship, you find you’ve left something on a tour bus, the first thing to do is tell the shore excursion staff. The tour operator ashore will then be contacted to see whether any items have been handed in to their office.

15. You are unwell aboard ship

There will be a qualified doctor (who generally operates as a concession) and medical facilities, including a small pharmacy. You will be well taken care of. Although there are charges for medical services, almost all cruise lines offer insurance packages that include medical coverage for most eventualities. It is wise to take out this insurance when you book.

16. The cruise line’s air arrangements have you flying from Los Angeles via Timbuktu to get to your cruise ship

Most cruise lines with low rates also use the cheapest air routing to get you to your ship. That could mean flights from a central hub. Be warned: you get what you pay for. Ask questions before you book.

17. You fly internationally to take a cruise

If your cruise is a long distance away from your home, then it usually makes good sense to fly to your cruise embarkation point and stay for at least a day or two before the cruise. You will be better rested and able to adjust to any time changes. You will step aboard your ship ready for a vacation. As a bonus, you will get to know the port of departure.

18. The ship’s laundry ruins your clothes

If any of your clothing is ruined or discolored by the ship’s laundry, first tell your cabin steward(ess), and then follow up by going to the reception (purser’s office) and getting it registered as a proper complaint. Take a copy of the complaint with you, so you can follow up when you get home. Unfortunately, you will probably find a disclaimer on the laundry list saying something to the effect that liability is limited to about $1 per item.

19. You have extra charges on your bill

Check your itemized bill carefully. Then go to the reception (purser’s office) and ask them to show you the charge slips. Finally, make sure you are given a copy of your bill after any modifications have been made.

20. You’re unhappy with your cruise experience

If your ship does not meet your specific lifestyle and interests, or delivers less well than the brochure promises, then let your travel agent and the cruise line know immediately. If your grievance is valid, many cruise lines will offer a credit toward a future cruise.