Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hypothetically speaking

Imagine this hypothetical letter, received ten days before Europa's departure:

Dear Customer X,

We regret to inform you that due to various operating difficulties, the itinerary for the 'Jewels of the Indian Ocean' cruise will be severely truncated. You will not be visiting Mayotte under any circumstances, and given that we've rarely called anywhere in Madagascar on the previous three or four cruises we don't expect to be able to call there either. Additionally, your call at RĂ©union will be cut from over nine hours to less than two.

Please also be advised that, instead of ten days ashore and four days at sea, as advertised, due to the above-mentioned operating difficulties you'll be spending ten days at sea and only four ashore.

Naturally, we regret these changes enormously but have no wish to be anything other than completely frank with our valued customers. Recognising that the cruise that you booked can now in no way be delivered we are making you an offer of a reduction of €300 per person on this cruise plus a further €600 against the cost of a future cruise.

However, we also recognise that you might instead prefer to cancel your cruise altogether and receive a full refund, including air fares, no matter whether you booked it through Costa or through any of our affiliates. If you choose this option we undertake to fully refund you within fourteen days.

Yours etc etc.

This is of course a hypothetical letter.

My wife and I spent several thousand Euros booking this cruise and for us the highlight was to be to see lemurs in Madagascar. If the cruise hadn't featured Madagascar we wouldn't have booked it in the first place, and if on being told we wouldn't get there at all we'd then been given the opportunity to cancel we'd have taken it immediately. Visiting Madagascar was the central purpose of this cruise, as far as we were concerned.

Could we book another holiday that'd get us to Madagascar for €300? I don't think so. Would we re-book with Costa in the hope of perhaps getting there next time? Hardly. For these reasons alone Costa's interim compensation in no way makes up for what we lost.

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