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Cruise cancelled with 4 days notice - Balmoral


Eglesbrech
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8 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

Well we have managed to (hopefully) make a silk purse out of a sows ear. Booked a suite in the Yacht Club on MSC and will be meandering down with stops to Soton taking in the sites on the way at various locations over a few days. This will be very much a ship based rather than location focused holiday to try out MSC which we have never been on before. There was precious little choice left so we were lucky to get this.


I don’t feel as if we have been looked after at all. I feel we have been told you are cancelled and tough luck if you can’t / don’t want to take the limited offer we have made and left to sort out any personal fallout (try cancelling restaurants and tours in French - mine is limited). As you say putting on a coach might have appealed to some folks and prompted them  to take up the offer.

 

A very small gesture would have made all the difference but it has not been forthcoming. In the long run it will probably cost them more in lost future bookings. 

 

Delighted to hear that you have something booked, and especially on the beautiful Virtuosa in Yacht Club.  She's a truly stunning ship.  Of the supplementary restaurants, the Hola! cantina £17 all you can eat is superb, and well worth the extra.   I've developed quite the addiction to the warm salted caramel sauce with the churros.

 

Have a fantastic time (which I'm sure you will) and hopefully Fred will do the right thing by their passengers.

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1 hour ago, showingdiva said:

 

Delighted to hear that you have something booked, and especially on the beautiful Virtuosa in Yacht Club.  She's a truly stunning ship.  Of the supplementary restaurants, the Hola! cantina £17 all you can eat is superb, and well worth the extra.   I've developed quite the addiction to the warm salted caramel sauce with the churros.

 

Have a fantastic time (which I'm sure you will) and hopefully Fred will do the right thing by their passengers.

Thanks for the food recommendation, I like churros.

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40 minutes ago, Eglesbrech said:

Thanks for the food recommendation, I like churros.

Which you can have with an ice cream taco chaser.

 

Formula 1 simulator is great fun, and quite addictive.    Other addictions include the various flavours of panna cotta (as one would expect on an Italian ship).   The Battle of Planets light show is mesmerising.

 

I will be up to see Balmoral sail past my window in the morning before I go off to meet Norwegian Dawn's passengers.

 

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Balmoral has disembarked all her passengers, and has just moved off the berth, accompanied by one of our local tugs, which she will need close by whilst she negotiates under the Queensferry Crossing, Forth Road Bridge and the Forth Bridge, and past the Hound Point oil terminal.

 

I won't take any photos.  People are rightly disappointed not to be sailing today.

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On 8/28/2022 at 10:25 AM, Eglesbrech said:

While I fully appreciate that Fred Olsen are not at fault for a technical problem (which are never completely avoidable) they have done themselves no service with regard to retaining customers

 

From personal experience there's seems to be something of a Jekyll & Hyde aspect to Fred/FOCLs. 

 

On the one hand there's the friendly, welcoming staff on board "Fred."  They recognise and greet returning cruisers, remember their names and treat them with kindness, generosity, warmth, care and consideration during the entire cruise as if they were respected, honoured and much-loved family members. Captains, officers, waiters, stewardesses, bar-staff and even deck crew are the people who earn, the almost mythical, "Fred" the accolades of "fantastic," "excellent," "first-class" and "couldn't be better." Until the pandemic, we cruised with "Fred" three or four times each year.

 

On the other hand... there's the FOCLs staff in Ipswich and the proof of the pudding with any cruise-line is how it reacts in challenging circumstances.

 

For instance... early in 2020 we booked a cruise on the Braemar... with a 'cooling off' period during which we could change our minds with no penalty. 

 

Within days the global pandemic was declared, the Braemar was turned away from La Romana in the Dominican Republic... the turn-around port at the end of the cruise. The Braemar was refused permission to land passengers at Willemstad, Curaçao, covid was confirmed on board and the Braemar was refused permission to turn-around in Barbados. It was eventually denied access to its flag port of Bermuda and eventually had to be refuelled, re-victualed, supplied with water, medicines and a new medical team at sea in the middle of the night. Only with the help of the Foreign Office and at a very substantial cost was the Braemar able to unload over 600 passengers in Cuba which offered humanitarian relief so that those poor people, many feeling unwell, could fly home after having been stranded at sea for 10 days. 

 

By this stage... we had certainly 'cooled off' and we contacted FOCLs in Ipswich to arrange for a refund of our deposit. The reaction of the staff at FOCLs in Ipswich to an aimable, pleasant request to take advantage of the cooling off period and have our deposit fully refunded due to the changing circumstances was to be awkward, difficult, condescending, distinctly unfriendly and very unhelpful. Only when we eventually and reluctantly explained that they would leave us no option except to send a 'letter before action' to  reclaim our deposit... did they eventually agree to a full refund... which they didn't transfer to our account until months later.

 

The staff at FOCLs did the company no service on that occasion either. Perhaps FOCLs staff in Ipswich should see passengers as 'stakeholders.' Afterall up to 2019 these 'stakeholders' gave FOCLs £200,000,000 a year between them, many sailed three or four times a year and were very good 'friends' who praised the ships and recommended 'Fred' to workmates, friends and family... we most certainly did. If FOCLs loses just one of Fred's loyal customers, they lose the cost several cruises a year, for year after year after year.

 

Perhaps there's a need for a re-focus in Ipswich... perhaps rather than worrying about silly little "bean-counting" things (like deciding that bottled water should not be included in the all-inclusive drinks package because FOCLs can make pennies in profit on every bottle) HQ staff should begin to ask what they did between 2009 and 2019 that resulted in the occupancy rate across the fleet to fall by about 20%.

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