Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Demand a Free Cruise!

I have been reading a thread on Cruise Critic about Seabourn cancelling a March 28, 2009 repositioning cruise from St. Thomas to Ft. Lauderdale. Seabourn - giving eight (8) months prior notice - has offered a 10% discount plus a $200 onboard credit. The Host chimes in immediately that the compensation sounds low and then someone declares the cancelled passenger should get a highly discounted or free cruise.

Does not providing the guest with possibly over $1,000 discount on a future cruise and a $200 onboard credit show enough concern by the line for it to have earned loyalty...or at least fend off scorn?

While I do agree that there should be some sort of compensation because the cruise was planned and, possibly, airfare was already purchased, but let's consider the normal person's "damages" worthy of compensation: Possibly a $100 air ticket change fee and some time finding an alternative cruise or vacation...and a bit of upset/disappointment at the cancellation. (Hotels, etc. can be cancelled with no penalty.)

Oh, there are the cries of the cruise line needs to promote loyalty and effectively only overcompensating someone will achieve that. There is, alas, a difference between earning loyalty and buying it. Trust me, buying it doesn't work.

Case in point: I was able to procure a group of six people a total refund plus free cruises due to a last minute issue with Seabourn. Imagine six (6) free cruises just so they could go a week later. Having pocketed the very significant sum of money, when it came time to pay for the next cruise: Cancelled. To be fair, there were understandable circumstances from the guests point of view, but Seabourn was out not only 6 fares and 6 free cruises, but 2 other fares on the guest cancelled cruise...and I was out as well; having to do far more work than expected and, obviously, making far less money.

The loyalty - when it comes to such things - almost always rests with the guest and not the company providing the services or product. For if the product or service is not in the guest's best interest, it simply is not going to be paid for. Loyalty would have the guest saying, "Gee, we got all of our money refunded, so Seabourn has effectively paid for our next cruise and then some. I am loyal to Seabourn and want to do right by it, so extenuating circumstances aside, I will take cruise rather than cancel it." To be fair, there are some that would take that approach, but they are far and few between. (Do it and see what a company like Seabourn will do for you...the ones that really show the loyalty!!!)

In the end, from my perspective, the "free cruise" demands are not about "loyalty". And it should not be about trying to extort something under the guise of loyalty. It should be about being treated fairly and respectfully...both ways.