Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Regent Seven Seas Voyager - Cancelled Cruises, Frustration...and Idiots

I love the way people all become experts on anything dealing with anything...especially cruises.  The vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what goes into running a tender, no less a cruise ship or a cruise line.  Yet these folks, unfortunately, stir up innocent folks affected by the unfortunate issues with the Regent Seven Seas Voyager by making idiotic comments and pontificating facts which are nothing other than fantasy.

ENOUGH!

From my perspective (and I think I know a bit more about how things like this work) let me offer the following:

1.  It takes time to first identify the problem...and then formulate a probable solution.  "It don't work" is not the problem...it is a symptom of the problem.  Just like going to the doctor tests have to be run, possibilities eliminated and then a course of treatment prescribed.  The fact that the ship hit the drydock doesn't mean it is even hauled.  It means the dry dock is prepared and the ship is brought in, secured, and then it is first ready to be worked on.  That can take the better part of a day.  Then, after the ship systems are secured, the pod is first opened and the process begins.  Then, once the process begins the concepts of what parts may be needed, what are their availability (or do they need to be fabricated), etc. comes into play.  It takes days or longer; not hours.

2.  Giving quick and ultimately inaccurate information is worse than keeping your mouth shut until you know something!  In this world of needing instant gratification more and more, let's take a breath and think about this:  Regent has told everyone that the ship will be out of service until October 27, 2010.  You do not need to know when the toilet paper is running low or when it is being delivered...merely that it is there when you expect it or there will be an issue.  At this point, Regent saying X can result in complaints when X isn't the ultimate accurate answer and it, unfortunately, gives fodder to those that want to stir things up.  The fact that some want to speculate doesn't mean that speculating should be encouraged...or worse, engaged in.  I am confident that Regent will let people know if there is an issue that it believes will adversely impact the October 27th sailing.  Until it knows something it is keeping its mouth shut...and with good reason.

3.  Regent's "compensation" to the guests is unacceptable.  It is mind-boggling to me how compensation equal to nothing more than an invitation to spend more money with Regent (i.e. the $1,000 future cruise credit) can be seen as nothing other than "snow in winter".  Similarly, offering to fill otherwise unsold berths on close-in sailings (they would be empty anyway) but only if you waive any form of actual compensation is no better.  I do not run Regent and cannot tell you how or why this decision was made  (bean counters?).  What I can do is compare it to what its competition does.  What I do know is that if Seabourn is in an oversold situation, it provides voluntary guests willing to change plans not only return of the cruise fare, but a complimentary cruise along with some other benefits.  To me the Regent situation is worse...because the guests were already there and had no choice. I just don't get it.

4.  Travel insurance will be of little help.  Travel insurance provides for the return of your cruise fare under certain circumstances and a few other benefits.  Regent is already providing that, so spending time fighting for compensation from a third party travel insurer isn't going to net much.  The best argument may be along the lines of trip interruption coverage...but that may, in some policies, only pay to get you to your final port so you can fly home.  You cannot listen to general less-than-expert advice.

5.  Air Fares Are Not Worth Zero. There is much discussion about what the remainder of the airline tickets are worth and if the air, in its entirety, should be compensated.  From what I am hearing, the best thing to do is see Points 3 and 4 above. 

6.  Regent is Not Going to Pay Unrestricted Air Fares. As for Regent not arranging the most direct business class flights, the reason is obvious:  You can pay more than the cost of the cruise to get that seat, while it can cost 25% of that amount to have the guests chill in a nice hotel for a couple of days.  (It's not like there was something planned they have to get back to.)  It is an inconvenience during a stressful time, but it is economics not emotions that are involved here. 
In a few paragraphs over 20 pages of Cruise Critic, Luxury Cruise Talk and others rantings have been discussed and resolved to the extent they can be.  It really isn't that hard.

What is hard is how Regent Seven Seas Cruises can recover from the concerns over the failure-prone Voyager and the black-eye for its less than appropriate compensation to the inconvenienced...and worse..guests.