Barbara Loffler had so much fun on her 10th anniversary Princess cruise that she and her husband decided to book their 20th anniversary vacation on the Love Boat, too. But it will probably be their last.
The Lofflers phoned Princess to reserve their South America cruise and were assigned a “personal” travel planner who they claim gave them assurances about their itinerary that proved to be untrue. Now they’re stuck with a bill for two extra nights at a hotel and ground transfers, which has more than doubled the cost of their vacation.
Did Princess do them wrong, or did the Lofflers do this to themselves? And can their cruise be saved?
Barbara Loffler made the initial reservation by calling Princess directly. She was transferred to Jeff, one of the cruise line’s personal travel planners. The couple booked a flight from nearby Washington to Santiago, Chile, which would arrive the evening before the ship departed.
“I asked about arrangements for that evening and he told me that Princess would take care of it,” she remembers.
But the Lofflers aren’t experienced travelers, so after finishing the reservation, they began to think about their itinerary. They live on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, a three-hour drive from Dulles. They’d need to drive to Washington the evening before their flight in order to arrive at the airport on time. So she called Princess back to explain her concern.
They would not be responsible to provide us with accommodations.
At first, I thought would mean our having to sleep in the airport in Chile overnight, until I was told that our flight was going into Santiago and the ship is sailing from Valparaiso — a 90 mile trip!
Jeff never mentioned this, nor did he offer transfers from the airport to the ship.
I was told that Jeff is no longer employed by Princess and my requests for some sort of remediation have fallen on many deaf ears, including those of supervisory personnel.
So now what?
The Lofflers sent an appeal directly to the CEO of Princess Cruises, asking his company to review their itinerary. It hasn’t responded.
I don’t think Princess should cover their room in Washington, but if Princess agreed to take care of their accommodations in Santiago, it should. But these would have been part of the itinerary that Jeff sent to the couple when they made their reservation, which means they should have said something in September, when they made their reservation — not in December, just a few weeks before they are scheduled to depart for Chile.
I’m more concerned with the way Princess seems to be handling the Lofflers’ case. Their letter has apparently been ignored. Their phone calls appear to be dismissed.
At the very least, Princess should review the recorded phone conversation between Jeff and the Lofflers to find out what he really said.
What do you think? Should the Lofflers just pay for the two nights at a hotel and ground transfers and be done with it? Or does Princess owe them anything?
A poll of more than 800 readers suggested I should mediate the case.
I’ll see what I can do.
(Photo: steamboats or g/Flickr Creative Commons)