This is a long and sad story. But keep reading because it contains an important message especially for any senior citizens considering traveling with Princess Cruises
M y bride (of some 55+ years) and I have been traveling with Princess Cruises for 30 years. As so called "Elite Members" we have been loyal customers since the Spring of 1990. On 15 cruises we have taken family members with us and on 8 cruises we have taken our entire family including children, grand children and their spouses. For example last year at this time the 17 of us traveled on the Star Princess around Cape Horn from Santiago to Buenos Aires. Prior to this we have traveled with the family to, Mexican Revere, Asia, Europe, South America, the Panama Canal, and Alaska to mention a few.
On December 19,2019 we and 13 members of our family were scheduled to embark on the Star Princess for a 15 day round trip cruise from Los Angeles to Hawaii... We began our day with anxious anticipation. We were planning on celebrating my 84th birthday at sea. My Bride and I have been looking forward to this cruise as the highlight of our entire year. An opportunity to spend quality time with our family in the atmosphere of a cruise.
In the past we have taken our pass ports on Princess Cruises to foreign shores. Since this cruise is technically all within the USA with the exception of the final stop in Ensenada, (and we were not planning on going ashore at this port), I called Princess Cruises to see if we needed our passports. I mentioned we had a "Real Drivers License" from California and asked if this would do. In our conversation I got the impression our "Real Drivers License" would be sufficient. At no time during our conversation did the agent say we must have our passports in order to have the proper documentation to board the ship.
When we began the check in process on December 19th, and I presented my California "Real Drivers License" we were told unequivocally at the check-in counter, "You must have a valid passport physically in your possession or a certified birth certificate in order to board the ship." "You need something to verify your US citizenship." Needless to say we don't carry our birth certificated around with us.
What I don't understand is that if this is a cardinal rule why the agent I talked to on the phone didn't tell me straight out that passports were imperative and necessary for boarding.
We live in San Diego and there was no possible way we could go home or get someone to enter our home and bring our pass ports to us by the 4:00 pm sailing time. We asked if someone could get our passports and mail them to the ship in Hawaii, and the answer was No. Could someone get our passports, take a picture of them and send it to us. Answer No. Since we have been traveling with Princess for years we asked if there was something in the Princess record system that would verify that we are U. S citizens. Answer. No.
It was heart breaking to bid good bye to our entire family as they boarded the Star Princess without us, and as we struggled to get into the elevator with our luggage to return to the street level and to find our way back to San Diego. Thus we were totally alone for Christmas, and our entire family was away. A missed opportunity of a lifetime. We also had tickets to several events on the various islands (e g. The Hawaii Bowl on 12/24, etc.) Now these tickets were worthless, and this was all for not. In addition we had $1000 in cruise credits in our account. We asked if this cruise credit could to transferred to other members of our family since we are being denied boarding, and we were told "Absolutely No
We wrote a detailed letter to Princess explaining our situation and asking them for their consideration. We hoped that given the circumstances surrounding our situation.,( i. E the fact that we had been misinformed by the Princess agent on the telephone regarding our passports, our past cruise history and customer loyalty), Princess Cruises would brighten our Christmas by at least refunding our $5758. 00 cruise fare, or by giving us credit toward a future. Cruise, or by giving us any consideration what-so-ever they might be willing to offer
A week after our letter was sent we received a telephone call from Andy in Customer Relations. He was assigned to deliver the Princess response. Andy indicated that our letter which I had sent to Mrs. Jan Swartz President of Princess Cruises had been thoroughly and carefully reviewed at the executive level. He indicated that the higher-ups at Princess had taken into consideration our loyalty, our past cruises, our family cruises, and the fact that the Princess agent on the telephone had misinformed me about the need for passports. Andy said they had directed him to tell us that there was absolutely nothing they would care to do to offer any consideration to us what-so-ever. Andy confided in us by saying he was surprised at this response and that he too thought it was unfair given our circumstances.
I try to resist being contrary and critical. It's not my nature. I like to catch people "doing things right" and let them know about it. In this instance however I think Princess is being blatantly unfair and inhumane. If this is operationally how Princess defines their Customer Loyalty than I am shocked and dismayed.
Bottom Line:: Given what we have experienced it would seem that If anything major or out of the ordinary happens before or on a princess cruise or if you have any kind of misunderstanding with Princess don't expect any consideration what-so-ever, They seem to have a policy or a mechanism for getting around any situation or customer need.