Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ship Happens, You See It Happening, You Step On The Ship Anyway And...

I am fascinated, and baffled, by what is now happening with the Regent Voyager and its passengers.  While Regent Seven Seas is encountering what can only be considered the "perfect storm" of logistical and public relations nightmares, there are some passengers who are demanding perfection...when they were given an "out" which would have avoided the entire situation.

For those unaware, the Regent Voyager was on its World Cruise and as it left Singapore it snagged a fishing net in one of its azipod propulsion units.  While it was hoped dislodging the net would fix the problem, it didn't.  Then it was hoped that replacing a seal would work and it didn't.  This left the Voyager with one of its pods disabled and its passengers in Dubai...which is a nice place to visit, but not a place you can undertake sophisticated ship repairs with any efficiency..nor a place with much capacity for flights back to the United States.

Regent then worked out a number of options for its World Cruise and segment guests; albeit none of them perfect.  (Perfect would have been the ship is fixed and the cruise continued unchanged.)  One of the options was to stay with the ship as it traveled to Rome on a substantially reduced port itinerary with a significant discount and other compensation. 

For the life of me I cannot understand why anyone who does not have a "go with the flow" approach to life would ever, ever, ever choose this option.  Well, let me correct that if someone, say Mark Conroy, President of Regent Seven Seas, was to tell me (as he tends to do about things) that all will be fine and you will have a great time as we have many things planned for you, then someone of a more structured constitution might be tempted to take this "great deal".  Even still, logic would have it that it was a fluid situation and that many things would change as more was arranged...knowing what was put together was done in literally a day and would need tweaking.

So now there are reports that some (not all) of the passengers are playing, "What can we complain about now?"  And there is an infamous Regent Cheerleader that has turned to posting nasty and unfounded rumors about repairs which have not even been undertaken possibly failing and that Prestige Cruise Holdings (Regent's parent company) might not have sufficient funds to make the repairs, provide compensation or operate properly.  I am well and truly baffled by the motivation of these people.  Remembering that I am a big critic of the Regent product from a luxury standpoint and a bigger critic of Mark Conroy, I find the aforementioned conduct inexcusable. 

I have it on good authority that Prestige Cruise Holdings is doing just fine (fine be relative considering the state of the economy).  There is no indication of financial troubles and, in fact, Regent took the opportunity to address some issues on the Regent Navigator in a brief wet-dock just the other day (after a charter).  This is not something a company would do if there was financial doom on the horizon.  (Compare Silversea deferring/canceling the upgrades to the Silver Cloud.)

Unless you know the actual defects in the pod and what the repairs are to be, you could not have even the slightest ability to determine what might or might not be accomplished in X number of days.  Nor would you know if there is a cushion built into the timing so as to avoid another cruise being missed; so a 10 day repair might be scheduled for 14 just to sync up with the next cruise.  There are also the different repair scenarios such as "We will try A and hopefully that will work.  If A doesn't do it, then we are ready to also do B, etc."  There is a methodology that needs to be followed with realism rather than optimism.  That IS the ship repair industry.  I know...I do this stuff.

Now, back on the ship, a few passengers tout the cries of some crew being dissatisfied with management and not being given the best options.  No kidding.  This is found on literally every ship, and when there is stress and a willing ear, the troublesome crew (actually engaging in misconduct worthy of their termination:  complaining to guests) have a field day gossiping.  So these few passengers exacerbate their less then good time by focusing on these negatives and then publishing them...I guess to "get back at Regent" because they opted to take a heavily discounted cruise which they knew would be less than perfect and their gamble that it would nonetheless be near-perfect did not pan out.

So the reasonably expected imperfect cruise is continuing and the options Regent has developed are not going to be perfect (and those that should be reasonably acceptable will be rejected out of emotion and vengeance rather than reasonably negotiated to something more aligned with their individual needs...remembering that if you are perceived as never going to be satisfied, there is no reason to do more).  But Regent will get over it and the passengers that do go with the flow will be relatively content if not happy.  And the disgruntled ones will remain disgruntled (lost causes).  Reports of "this is good and that is bad" is not going to be helpful to anyone...including the ones doing the reporting.

I say:  "Let Regent get the ship to Italy for the repairs and make them.  Then let's see where we are."  I would be content with essentially a transatlantic without the "Atlantic" with so many sea days.  If you don't believe me, read my experience on the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas last year when the entire cruise was disrupted by a hurricane:  A Hurricane Runs Through It...Almost.

A Day At Sea is Better Than a Day at Work!