“Royal Caribbean should change its name to Pirates of the Caribbean”

majestyA word of warning to anyone taking a cruse: Don’t trust anyone with your valuables.

When a luggage porter took Jim Van Ness’s bag as he boarded Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas recently, he should have stopped him. “I didn’t intend to give my backpack with my cameras inside to the porters,” he told me. “But I laid it down to pick up my granddaughter and a porter grabbed it and off it went.”

Guess what happens next?

“When it got to the stateroom it was trashed,” he says. “The camera was packed inside a strong plastic case and inside a camera bag. Whatever they did had to be negligence. Total damage comes to about $350.”

Is the cruise line responsible?

Here’s Royal Caribbean’s disclaimer from its ticket contract (PDF):

Liability for Loss of or Damage to Baggage. Unless negligent, Carrier is neither responsible nor liable for any loss of or damage to Passenger’s property, whether contained in luggage or otherwise. Liability for loss of or damage to Passenger’s property in connection with any air or ground transportation shall be the sole responsibility of the provider of the service and in accordance with applicable limitations.

c. Limitation of Liability for Lost or Damaged Property. Notwithstanding any other provision of law or this Agreement, Carrier’s liability for loss or damage to property during the RCT Land Tour portion of a CruiseTour is limited to $300.00 per Passenger. Notwithstanding any other provision of law or this Agreement, Carrier’s liability for loss or damage to property for the cruise (or for the cruise only portion of a CruiseTour) is limited to $300.00 per Passenger, unless Passenger declares the true value of such property in writing and pays Carrier within 10 days of final payment for the cruise, a fee of five percent (5%) of the amount that such value exceeds $300.00. In such event, Carrier’s liability shall be limited to its true declared value, but not exceeding $5,000.

So Van Ness made a claim.

First thing your going to do, of course, is report it to the front desk. They will have you fill out a claim form and assure you that when you file it after the cruise you’ll get reimbursed.

They do this, I guess, so you don’t make a scene or they are clueless of what happens next.

After you arrive back in port you will file a claim. At first they will ignore it to see if you’ll forget and go away, so after a few months you call and ask about the claim status. You’ll be told that your claim has been denied for some ridiculous reason.

So now you write the customer service people. They pass the buck back to the pit bull in claims who is now very annoyed at your persistence.

Now you write Adam Goldstein, [Royal Caribbean’s CEO] and notify him of the injustice. He won’t answer.

So you send another letter certified, he turns the matter over to an executive representative.

His reply was too funny; he checks with the pit bull and writes, “We have thoroughly and satisfactorily addressed your previous inquiries.” In other words, we take what we can and give nothing back. Than he cracks me up with “we truly hope you will choose to sail with us again in the future.”

As comical as the letter was it wasn’t worth the $250 dollar camera they destroyed.

I guess it all comes down to how you define “negligent.” Royal Caribbean may define it as dropping a passenger’s luggage in the water; a passenger might feel that smashing a camera on the floor is plenty negligent. I tend to side with the passenger definition.

Van Ness is ticked off.

Royal Caribbean should change its name to Pirates of the Caribbean.

In the Curse of the Black Pearl, when Mr. Gibbs agrees to help Captain Jack Sparrow to recover the Black Pearl, Jack says to Mr. Gibbs, “Take what you can.”

To which Gibbs replies: “Give nothing back.”

There’s a lesson for all of us taking a cruise. Don’t let anyone near your valuables. If something happens to them, you have no one to blame but yourself.

(Photo: hbvk/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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