Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Passenger Dissatisfaction

The Costa Europa cruise ship is a very unhappy place at the moment for its passengers. A long string of customer service failures has obliged the ship's management, presumably under instruction from Head Office, to offer all passengers a €300 rebate and €600 off a future cruise.

Passengers are almost universally up in arms at this poor offer since it is scarcely adequate compensation for the two week itinerary having been slashed from six ports of call to only three, with all destinations in Madagascar hacked from the schedule.

Whilst political problems in Madagascar have played a part the main cause of its removal from the schedule has been the chronic and unresolved engine problems that have severely cut the ship's maximum speed.

Passengers are angry that, even though the ship's management accepts full blame for its failings, the offer of compensation is so inadequate. Luckily, there are several lawyers amongst us and several have useful links to travel journalists in the UK.

Costa's Europa is a worn out vessel that should have been replaced some time ago. It's a very poor advertisement for the rest of their fleet. At the time of writing around 250 people of all nationalities have banded together to fight against Costa's intransigence. Watch this space for updates on Costa's further attempts to put a lid on this sorry affair and for the fightback by affected passengers.

Although I have taken cruise ship holidays before (and my wife even more often) we have never before been treated so disgracefully. Service throughout was universally poor, with meals in the main restaurant consistently being served barely luke warm, in spite of many complaints. Ten of the fourteen days were spent at sea, only one hour was spent in Reunion and FOUR ports of call were cut from the original schedule that was available when we booked the cruise.

A full refund seems entirely justified, particularly when one takes into account that everyone had significant air costs to travel to and from the start point in Mauritius. This will be the demand of us all when we return home and the full anger at our 'ruined cruise'* boils over.

* The captain himself used these words in a hostile public meeting