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excitedofharpenden

A suggestion on communication from Azamara during this uncomfortable time for everyone

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I realise that there may not be the answers available right now to allay everyone's questions and fears, but I see Bonnie, this board's Azamara Chief Blogging Officer being asked questions a number of times and she may respond piece meal to some of them. Any reply gets totally lost in all the threads here. 
 

I feel for Bonnie and absolutely don't mean any disrespect to her when I say her role here is totally out of its depth on this matter. What is needed is a thread started by someone with some authority, even if it's just to say we are listening to you and will revert when we can. 
 

Azamara has always prided itself here and elsewhere on the relationship it has had with its guests. We are family. Many of us here have had, in the past a wonderful relationship with the company and have acted in a very positive way from a PR perspective. So I really don't understand the silence. It's so disappointing and disrespectful. 
 

So someone in authority, start a thread which will need to begin with an apology for this silence and take it from there. When all this is over with you are going to need us. 
 

Phil 

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Great idea - perhaps also with the thread locked and then unlocked each time a post is made by that respected source.

 

Personally I am very disappointed by the latest statement which does not seem to recognise the stage the situation has reached in many countries.

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Posted (edited)

Yes Azamara...someone in authority in MIA needs to have a presence here to address our very valid concerns and questions. While we appreciate Bonnie’s efforts, she herself has said she does not have the knowledge or authority to pass on the required info. 
 

Does anyone really think any cruises to Italy will be taking place in April/May/June? 

Viking have acted swiftly and decisively and rightly deserve the praise and customer loyalty they are getting. Azamara have not. 

Edited by Lottie A

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This is an excellent thought but a suggestion of this nature should not come from a guest. Working from a crisis manual, used as a bible by leading corporations whenever an emergency situation occurs, a thread would have been activated on this site many days ago. Designated spokespeople would communicate updated statements on a regular basis and while the news they were imparting might be disappointing,the integrity of the company would be retained and guests would have the information they need to make informed decisions. It appears to me that RCCL do not have such a reference manual which as a communications professional I find unbelievable.

 

Reading Bonnie's last missive posted on another thread 30 minutes ago which is totally inadequate bearing in mind the ever worsening crisis, I fear Phil's idea is not going to be happening any time soon. 

 

This post is not intended to be disrespectful to Bonnie in any way. I'm sure she will pass on information to us when she is able

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I can only endorse what everyone else has said, I do not blame Bonnie in any way for the latest utterance, she is simply the mouthpiece, but that latest statement, in view of the rapidly declining situation treats us all like idiots. Azamara make out that they are doing what they are doing in the interest of health and safety, wrong, they are doing what they have to do because there is nowhere to go! For goodness sake Azamara wake up and smell the coffee!

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Excellent suggestion Phil.

 

It would be very good to see Azamara respond positively, as the Travel Advisory updated on 11 March does not appear to be substantially altered from that of 5 March, not reflecting changes in the world situation in the past week, still stating boarding will be denied to :

 

"Any person who has traveled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Italy, Iran, or South Korea, within 15 days of boarding."

  • Macao 10 cases all recovered
  • Hong Kong 130 cases, 77 recovered, no new cases

China, Italy, Iran and South Korea obviously should remain on this list, but . . . I thought there would have been additions :

  • Spain, 3059 cases, 782 new cases, 189 recovered
  • France, 2876 cases, 595 new cases, 12 recovered
  • Germany, 2745 cases, 779 new cases, 25 recovered

And at this stage, probably USA with 1573 cases, 272 new cases and 15 recovered.

 

Source : https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

For those unfamiliar with this site, new cases are those reported in the past 24 hours.

 

 

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Another day, another stonewall. 

It makes me so angry.  A cruiseline I loved, I championed, I went out on a limb for is treating it’s booked guests with such disregard compared to their competitors.  I am angry how these actions affect not only the guests, are irresponsible as they continue to encourage travel and importantly kick their hard working onboard crew in the teeth.  They longer term will be the ones who suffer the most.

 

Today, it’s clear they’ve also changed how they instruct their blogging officer to operate.  In the post Cruise with Confidence last week there was a commitment to get answers. When a poster chased for a follow up the response was call customer service. The only posts Bonnie now seems authorised to give are ones saying oh sorry you’ve cancelled your bookings.  
Maybe of course she’s going to be so busy saying that soon she’s been advised to free up her time and concentrate on that.

 

It is true the manual for communication in crisis management has been ignored. Social media is the most powerful tool, but it also requires skill when doing regular updates to not alienate readers.  A case in point is quoting an enhanced benefit or requirement as if it applies to all when it is geographically limited. Azamara has shown a woeful lack of skill. 

I expect my cruises to be cancelled, I would have hoped Azamara could even have been similar to the favoured new kid on the RCL block (Silverseas). It’s appalling at this stage they expect us only to accept a future cruise credit.  At the start of this crisis, I might have accepted that if they had offered it, but it came too late and with a vagueness and unknowns which remain unanswered.  I also no longer trust Azamara on pricing one inch so would expect to be a loser again then at rebooking. I am a shareholder, I know RCL finances are in a mess but I won’t be paying to help recover. 
 

I cancelled two cruises two weeks ago which had not reached payment stage, the remainder of my 2020 bookings in May will go and I for one won’t be rebooking.

 

Not even my love of the crew onboard and loyalty for them can encourage me to see them through this latest crisis as I did in the past. 


Your appalling approach to communication and failure to show any empathy here was the final straw Azamara. 

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It is very sad to read your post Ann as I know how much you have loved your Azamara cruises. Not only have you been a huge supporter of the cruise line you have also provided many of us with helpful and sound advice over the years.

 

i cannot disagree with any of your comments. The measure of a company is not how they behave when things are going swimmingly ( forgive the pun) but when they are faced with a challenging environment. Sadly Azamara's current response is both woeful and unacceptable.

 

My cruise in six weeks features three ports in Italy over four days as well as a disembarkation in Civitavecchia. A toddler could predict my cruise (and yours) will not go ahead but still Azamara prevaricates.

 

When this nightmare is over looks like we will both be looking for a new cruise line.

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Posted (edited)

Aza, when you’ve lost uktog, you’re in public relations disaster zone. Who in  the hell are your spin doctors? Sack them before their advice destroys you. If a couple of well known other cruise critic champions feel the same as uktog, remember to turn off the lights on the way out. Wake up before it’s too late (although it looks like that opportunity might have passed. FCC guarantees passengers through 2021 but watch out for 2022). Ah, the goodwill blown.

 

WHERE’S LARRY??????????????

Edited by AJCM
Error and more thought

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What I find really disappointing is how hollow this makes the “how important you are to our business” sound.  Agreed these are incredible times, but it’s obvious that those in Miami really don’t care at all about our business.  Many of us here have been the lifeblood of Azamara, but when the chips are down they have really let themselves down.  If I was honest, the writing has been on the wall for a while.  Such a shame. 

 

Phil

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9 minutes ago, excitedofharpenden said:

What I find really disappointing is how hollow this makes the “how important you are to our business” sound.  Agreed these are incredible times, but it’s obvious that those in Miami really don’t care at all about our business.  Many of us here have been the lifeblood of Azamara, but when the chips are down they have really let themselves down.  If I was honest, the writing has been on the wall for a while.  Such a shame. 

 

Phil

I couldn’t agree more, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. I well remember when Azamara decided to go “more inclusive”, many of us then were fearful of the direction our favourite line was going in. There have been many more changes along the way, some fairly minor, but added together, each one has taken something away. 
 

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3 minutes ago, Lindy028 said:

I couldn’t agree more, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. I well remember when Azamara decided to go “more inclusive”, many of us then were fearful of the direction our favourite line was going in. There have been many more changes along the way, some fairly minor, but added together, each one has taken something away. 
 

 

Exactly how I feel, the downhill slide started several years ago, I almost gave up on them a few times but persevered, currently I have no bookings and no plans for any in the future.

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This deafening silence from Azamara is extremely worrying.  Larry must be on a tight leash since he has not appeared here yet. Thinking that there will be no value in an FCC if the company does not excist anymore 😔

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I hope that the history of the R Ships is not about to strike again.

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Yes Phil re : writing on the wall

economies bit by bit - harpists gone, introduce art, specialty restaurants chipped away, production shows operation slashed (as opposed to just introducing new shows one at a time), LCV on board benefits scaled back, prices increased disproportionately, LCV upgrade benefit excised. Even chocolate removed from the coffee biscuits!! (Can’t get more first world problem or more stingy than that). Just a constant erosion of the overall experience. What has always saved Azamara has been the conviviality of the cruising experience - warm and apparently happy staff and congenial fellow cruisers, along with great destinations (which, admittedly, are offered by all competitors too). 
 

We’ve cruised on Azamara most of the time since we started because when we discovered them we loved it all. Because of the high quality of the staff, we’ve continued to have a great experience despite the criticisms above. I have to say though, that for the majority of cruise bookings there has been some hassle that has to be resolved through their on land operation. In recent times these issues have been resolved well, so credit for the improvement. The LCV ambassador has proven to be very helpful, in particular; both Sandra and her predecessor. Even so, I can live without the drama and frustration of having to deal with Azamara on land other than just paying them. 
 

They love to talk themselves up but really they have failed quite badly over the last 2-3 weeks. This world wide virus has escalated so quickly that the impacts have changed the landscape on a daily basis. Azamara seems to have been one of the slowest organisations at dealing with a rapidly evolving disaster. It’s well past time for them to start being proactive - bite the bullet and start being initiators - make some decisions on cruises which are obviously not going ahead and turn yourselves into industry leaders. Azamara’s current approach is losing supporters hand over fist and allowing competitors to become much more desirable.

 

I can’t believe that in response to genuine “detail” queries to Bonnie, you’ve told her to tell us to contact customer service. I’ve listened to Azamara’s dreadful phone wait music in Sydney far too many times already over the years (and don’t have great confidence that they have the authority to answer detail questions without escalation to US). If you can’t give info to Bonnie to answer details about your “Cruise with confidence” terms, get some key people together and come up with the answers.

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18 minutes ago, oddjob16 said:

This deafening silence from Azamara is extremely worrying.  Larry must be on a tight leash since he has not appeared here yet. Thinking that there will be no value in an FCC if the company does not excist anymore 😔

I would be very wary of accepting a FCC if you paid in cash for your cruise with any cruise company right now.

It is sadly quite likely that some of them may not be in business by the end of this year.

 

When the large travel company Thomas Cook recently ceased trading in the U.K. those customers that had paid for their holidays using any kind of voucher received no compensation. Only those customers who paid in cash did. So the FCC potentially may not be worth the paper it is printed on if a company ceased trading. 
 

 

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I am really sorry to be reading all these concerns about how Azamara are failing guests by their extremely poor (ie lack of) communication regarding the current Corona crisis.

For many years, Azamara was the only cruise line we sailed with. We were very loyal customers. We loved the size of the ships, the ambience and, most of all, the truly wonderful staff and officers, many of whom we got to know quite well. But over the last two years we jumped ship (as it were) and went to other lines like Silversea. That was not because of the on board experience but because of the predatory pricing policy that Azamara introduced, including the ridiculous different "classes" of verandah cabins. Last April, for example, Azamara and Silversea both offered round Japan cruises. We looked at the Azamara cruise but found it worked our much more expensive than the Silversea alternative. We thoroughly enjoyed the Silversea cruise. Basically, Azamara was charging at luxury line levels.

Despite that, we vowed that we would still consider Azamara, although we would always compare other offerings to see where the better value (not just monetary) lay.

Having read how all you good people are being treated now, we very much doubt that we consider Azamara again.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Lottie A said:

I would be very wary of accepting a FCC if you paid in cash for your cruise with any cruise company right now.

It is sadly quite likely that some of them may not be in business by the end of this year.

 

When the large travel company Thomas Cook recently ceased trading in the U.K. those customers that had paid for their holidays using any kind of voucher received no compensation. Only those customers who paid in cash did. So the FCC potentially may not be worth the paper it is printed on if a company ceased trading. 
 

 

 

A good point.

 

Personally, I wonder how much political capital governments will be willing to expend, if necessary, on propping up the cruise industry if matters really deteriorate.

 

Secondly, it is really interesting to me how the reputation of Viking has changed. In the distant past, when we sailed on river cruises and frequented that forum on CC, those choosing Viking were often viewed as the "rubes" in the marketplace, succumbing to colourful  ads on PBS 's Masterpiece Theatre. Their payment policy was regularly derided as necessary to maintain "cash flow" to prevent an imminent collapse.

We were those rubes.

 

Thus, as pointed out on this thread, fairly or unfairly reputations can dramatically change.

 

Thirdly, I think Viking and Disney have made the right choices in cancelling cruises. I believe Princess has done the same but that may be an issue of collapsing demand. As far as I know, Azamara is not alone in trying to maintain a schedule, Apparently Oceania's Riviera (an O ship) is now at sea with 400 passengers out of a possible complement of 1200. Because of these numbers, the specialty restaurants are open on a rotating basis. I'm not certain this will create the buoyant ambiance that cruisers would expect.

 

Fourthly, it is easy to see the corporate culture at work here. Larry P. has ceased being very active on social media for some time. I haven't seen any personal messages from Frank del Rio, who now heads Norwegian but who played a personal role in the creation of Oceania. In fact, other than Tostein Hagen , has any other executive stepped up publicly? Viking is a privately held company.

 

Fifthly, as Spursgirl has pointed out, on this issue the communications manual has been completely ignored. I shared this thread with a person close to me who is a Comms Officer and, regarding the policy  followed by RCI. and others, her comment was "Wow, this should never be happening".

 

For those still reading 🙂, I am not one of those who think the Azamara product has been eroding since we first sailed on Quest. Perhaps we are "rubes" again. In fact, I think the opposite has happened. But, referring back to my second point, reputations can change.

 

Finally, and no doubt this should have been my first point since it's actually the most important. I hope no one that I have encountered on this forum suffers anything worse than a loss of money. a loss of an experience or a loss of faith in their favourite brand.

 

May we all be posting somewhere on this board in a year's time,

 

 

 

 

Edited by nordski

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I have an Azamara cruise booked for May (which is actually a rebooking due to the issues with sailings to Cuba), and I don't feel the angst of some of the posters here. Yes, I would like some information. But I am not taking this personally because I am not a "family member" of Azamara. I am a customer, one of thousands who will have to be accommodated.

 

Just yesterday, my school sent out a series of four e-mails, most of which contradicted each other regarding whether we are closing or moving to online instruction. I'd rather the message be correct the first time.

 

I should add that I am posting fron a cruise ship, where all appears to be well and fortunately there is no gnashing of teeth as on some of the CC boards.

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I find this thread and all the contributing posts fascinating. Azamara have fallen so low in the eyes of so many dyed in the wool cruises that no matter what their eventual response is there is no going back . Ironically when I have criticised Azamara in the past many of you have come out to support them and it shows how shabbily Azamara  has taken them for granted that even they have had enough. I’am not sure where the end game takes us but reputation is difficult to maintain and even harder to restore.

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I agree, it's very noticeable that some of the die hard supporters are saying very little at the moment.

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20 minutes ago, hrhdhd said:

I have an Azamara cruise booked for May (which is actually a rebooking due to the issues with sailings to Cuba), and I don't feel the angst of some of the posters here. Yes, I would like some information. But I am not taking this personally because I am not a "family member" of Azamara. I am a customer, one of thousands who will have to be accommodated.

 

Just yesterday, my school sent out a series of four e-mails, most of which contradicted each other regarding whether we are closing or moving to online instruction. I'd rather the message be correct the first time.

 

I should add that I am posting fron a cruise ship, where all appears to be well and fortunately there is no gnashing of teeth as on some of the CC boards.

To be fair, your cruise is a little way out, our cruise was cancelled 7 days before sailing, despite most of us realising it was a no go for at least a week previously! There are people sailing on Quest on 28th of this month who know full well that cruise will not go ahead, also Singapore to Dubai in April, the silence from Azamara has been deafening.

I wish you fair winds and a calm sea on your cruise and Ihope all goes well for your May voyage, you may feel differently if they cancel days before your sailing.

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Like others posting here we haven’t felt any diminution of the Azamara product once onboard, but then maybe we haven’t been cruising with them as long as some others have. 
 We’re not personally concerned at present about cruise  cancellation whether by us, or by Azamara, as we haven’t a cruise booked until late October. Who knows what the situation will be then, so there’s little point in us worrying about it until late summer/early autumn.  We do, though, feel very sorry for those with cruises booked in the next few weeks who do not know whether the cruise will go ahead, and if it does, where it will start & finish and which (if any) ports it will go to. We know a couple from the UK who are now in New Zealand and expecting to embark on the Journey in Sydney for the Sydney to Singapore cruise. It seems ridiculous that Azamara seem still to be insisting that this cruise, which starts on March 24th, and the following Singapore to Dubai cruise, will still go ahead as advertised, given the number of ports now closed to cruise ships.

There certainly has been a very noticeable silence from Azamara senior management here and on other social media over the last few months, and especially since COVID-19 reared it’s head. It’s seems like any decisions made will be by Royal Caribbean management and will apply to all three brands - such decisions are long overdue as are communications from the company leaders. At present there doesn’t seem to be any leadership being shown in either decision making, or in top level communication with loyal customers

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51 minutes ago, Lindy028 said:

I wish you fair winds and a calm sea on your cruise and I hope all goes well for your May voyage, you may feel differently if they cancel days before your sailing.

 

Nah. It's just a cruise. 😊 There will be others.

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