No help in reaching ship

This item appears on page 24 of the November 2009 issue.

The following lists a series of events that occurred when my two friends and I were scheduled to leave Sacramento, California, on Jan. 15, 2009, and go to Buenos Aires one day prior to boarding the Star Princess for a cruise to Antarctica.

The 16-day cruise “Antarctica and South America,” Jan. 17-Feb. 2, left from Argentina and included stops at Montevideo, Uruguay; the Falkland Islands; Ushuaia, Argentina, and Punta Arenas, Chile. We were to cruise the Antarctic Peninsula for several days as well as Cape Horn, the Beagle Channel and the Strait of Magellan.

Our flight arrangements, booked through the line’s Princess Air program, included a flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles followed by a flight from LA to BA. Unfortunately, our flight to LA was canceled.

We called Princess Cruises’ En Route Desk immediately, as directed by their printed “Cruise Answer Book.” We advised them that we were going to miss our scheduled LAN Airlines flight to Buenos Aires and thought we would be on the next day’s flight instead.

The domestic airline told us they had booked us on the next day’s LAN flight (they even gave us a flight certificate), but when we arrived at the ticket counter in LA the next day, four hours before flight time, we were advised that there were no seats available and the only way to get to BA was to fly first class.

We again called the En Route Desk expecting to receive some assistance in getting to the ship. We also called our travel agent and she spoke with Princess. No help was provided in any way.

We flew first class on Jan. 16, at our expense, arrived in BA and were transported to the ship in time for sailing on Jan 17. The fee for that transport was $55, which we had to pay even though we had already paid a transfer fee in our precruise package booked with Princess.

The issue is the inference from Princess that the En Route Desk is where a passenger would expect a little direction about getting to the ship, but in our case no help was provided. Both my friend and I recall the person answering the call saying, “En Route Assistance Desk.”

When we wrote Princess a letter advising them of our concerns, I received a reply from Carol Brubaker, Executive Representative, Customer Relations, dated March 27, which included the following: “Your comments regarding the lack of service from our En-Route Assistance Desk are of concern to me.

“Please understand that the responsibility of the En-Route Assistance Desk is primarily to keep shipboard personnel informed of passengers that are encountering flight- or weather-related problems while en route to their ship or Princess-booked hotel package. In such cases, when passengers call this desk, our representatives will record any revised travel information into the passenger’s booking record and alert shipboard personnel and/or ground staff accordingly.

“It should be clarified that our representatives cannot assist with new flight arrangements… and we advise as such in our Cruise Answer Book…”

Because Princess uses the motto “Escape Completely,” one would think that air arrangements booked through Princess Air, as ours were, would include some concern about whether passengers get to the ship or not. However, in the case of flight problems, no direction or assistance is given by Princess Cruises. Quite frankly, we were shocked by their lack of concern both before and after the cruise.


Folsom, CA

ITN sent a copy of Ms. Hendrickson’s letter to Princess Cruises (24305 Town Center Dr., Santa Clarita, CA 91355) and received no reply.