A princess with bad plumbing – but is this enough of a refund?

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It’s not as if Princess didn’t care about the conditions in Andrew White’s cabin on a recent cruise. It acknowledged the problems and it did offer him something for the trouble.

But was it enough?

Yes, my friends, this is the weekly feature where you tell me — and the whole world — if a company offered a customer enough compensation. Sometimes it’s an easy call to make; sometimes not.

Today’s is not.

White’s cruise, which happened last December, got off to a terrible start.

“The plumbing system in my suite was leaking,” he says. Specifically, it was a leak from the bathroom into the carpet of the stateroom.

He explains,

On the first 2 1/2 days of the cruise I spent most of my time trying to get the matter resolved.

I made numerous trips to the customer service desk, where I was treated politely and told that somebody would come to my cabin ‘right away.’

Normally, I would wait an hour and, after nobody arrived, I would return to the Customer Service desk to once again be assured that somebody would be there ‘right away.’

Finally, Princess moved him to a different suite and he concluded his journey with no other problems.

At issue here isn’t just the leak (which was annoying) but the way White says he was jerked around by Princess. Trying to address the faulty plumbing took him away from his hard-earned vacation, and he wants the cruise line to make him whole.

White contacted our resolutions team and we advised him to put his grievance in writing.

In response, a Princess representative contacted him and offered to refund $700 of his cruise.

Not enough, he said.

“I offered to settle for 2.5/7 times $5,200, or $1,857.14,” he added. “I prorated the time lost trying to get the problem solved versus the length of the cruise times the total cost of the cruise.”


“Since the ship’s crew was unable to get things done on a timely basis, based on the schedule they communicated to me, I spent most of the time in the stateroom waiting for people or going to customer service to ask when somebody would be in my room,” he says.

To which Princess said: no.

So what are his rights? A look at the Princess contract reveals absolutely nothing. The conditions of staterooms are not addressed at all. As I read the contract (and bear in mind, I’m not a lawyer) Princess could have leaky pipes in every cabin and still comply with its legal obligations.

Where does that leave us? Actually, a partial cash refund is fairly generous, at least in my experience. Most cruise lines only offer a cruise credit or a discount off a future cruise.

But I can also appreciate White’s point. If he really spent a portion of two days waiting in his suite, then that’s kind of affected his vacation, wouldn’t you say?

I’m reluctant to get involved in this case unless you, dear readers, push back and tell me that Princess has done this customer wrong. I can see both sides of this one.

Did Princess offer Andrew White enough compensation?

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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 chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I say yes they did. Presumably he still ate while he was on board and was able to disembark on the ports of call. Splitting the $1800 difference seems fair.

  • Richard

    +1 (and, he slept in the room)

  • LFH0

    I have difficulty believing that Mr. White devoted all of 2-1/2 days to the resolution of the problem. I also assume that the leak did not cause any damage or was otherwise offensive, and constituted a mere inconvenience. With these caveats, the compensation offered appears to be within the range of reasonableness.

  • sdir

    I agree. My answer would be much different if this wasn’t a mere leak, but rather leaking sewage.

    Can anyone tell me, why would they wait two days to move him if another room was readily available? Is it because the cruise line felt they could resolve the issue? Or because this guy really made himself visible and complained loudly and often? Not that I blame him for the latter, I’d be upset too.

  • SnowWheet

    Was there a reason that he had to be in the room waiting for them to resolve the issue? Usually staff and crew have keys, and he could have left detailed instructions about the problem (although if it was bad enough to cause this sort of issue, it should have been readily apparent…)
    It just seems that OP is asking to be comped for self-imposed isolation.

  • Freehiker

    Exactly. If it leaks, tell them and move on. Go have fun and you’ll know if it was fixed when you come back. Nobody forced this guy to sit in his room, and I seriously doubt if he sat in there 24hrs a day for 2.5 days.

    Quit whining. I’m so tired of everyone thinking they are entitled to something if everything isn’t flawless.

  • BillCCC

    The cruise line offered him more than enough compensation. There is no indication that he suffered from anything more than a wet carpet in his stateroom. I am pleasantly surprised that they offered a refund and not a credit for a future cruise. Take the money and run.

  • Benjamin Barnett

    He got more than enough. Sometimes you just have to move on with your life.

  • DChamp56

    Kudos to Princess for giving a CASH refund!!!!
    Yes, he was compensated plenty. Case Closed.

  • sirwired

    He certainly deserves something; who knows what took so long. Every time I’ve called for Engineering to pay a visit on a cruise, somebody’s always been there in fifteen minutes or less.

    But as others have pointed out, why on earth did he feel obligated to sit in the room and wait for them to show up? They have keys to every door on the ship, and it’s not like they need him to point out the problem; I’m pretty sure it was obvious.

  • Raven_Altosk

    He deserves more, even if it’s cruise funny-money. They could’ve moved him immediately but chose to drag this out in the hopes that he’d go away.

  • John Baker

    Moved him to where? I’ve never known a cruise ship to sail with empty, serviceable suites. If they aren’t sold, the cruiseline is upgrading someone into the suite.

  • John Baker

    +1 Unless the cruise line told him he had to stay in the room. I also wonder how much time he spent waiting at customer service since Princess advertises that suite guests have a priority line to customer service.

  • VoR61

    If the problem became that intolerable, he could have asked to be moved (article does not specify whether or not he did) instead of waiting for repairs. That is Lodging 101 in my opinion.

    If he did not, his compensation is more than enough …


    The cash refund is more than enough. Since staff has access to the suite then he did not need to wait for them to show up. While Princess needed to make the repair, the endless hanging around in the suite was a decision the passenger made. The OP had choices once he made his complaint. Following up when Princess did nothing was certainly a good idea. But the choice to sit in his suite waiting for the repair was his decision and his alone. He should not be asking Princess to increase his compensation because he chose to sit around waiting for the repair to be made rather than enjoying his cruise.

  • Len Oxman

    Cash refund? Take it and run.

  • MarkKelling

    They did move him meaning there was at least one empty comparable suite on this cruise. So did they kick someone off the ship to put him there or did they not want to make the move until they had tried all other options?

  • Don Sleeper

    Why did he wait in his cabin?

  • Stuart Gustafson

    I agree with the people below. We’ve ALL been inconvenienced at some time — get on your life!

  • frostysnowman

    Don’t bother. The OP should be happy with the compensation already offered.

  • bigmanaz

    It doesn’t matter that the poor guy got to eat or sleep! The fact of the matter is that those days are lost as far as being part of his vacation. Considering that, He should be compensated in FULL for those days that were lost due to either lack of care or incompetence of the cruise line. THEY did not fulfill the implied contract of service therefore should be held responsible! And to me the tune of $5200 for 7 days, damn right it should all be perfect!

  • emanon256

    Good question, but I would be surprised if they said he had to wait in the room. Why not let him go about the cruise and Maintenance goes when they go? If I had to wait for 2 days and was told not to leave my room, I would want a bigger refund too.

  • Alex Stanley

    Unless they told him he had to wait for the repair people, there was no reason for him to stay in the stateroom.

  • emanon256

    I votes yes. And everyone else said what I am thinking, why did he have to wait around? If they told him he had to wait in his room the whole time, then I would change my vote, but I seriously doubt that. He should go about the cruise and let them deal with it.

    Two cruise stories two days in a row. Hmm…

  • Steven Scholnick

    When I had plumbing issues on one of my cruises, maintenance came to my lowly steerage cabin in less than 30 minutes. I highly doubt that he waited in his cabin for 2.5 days.

    $700 is more than generous from Princess.

  • naoma

    GOOD GRIEF. It is people like this person who “give a bad name” to service when
    necessary. He wanted the MOON and SOME STARS TOO. Give me a break!

  • SnowWheet

    He definitely deserves the compensation he received for being inconvenienced with malfunctioning plumbing (and he got it in CASH, which is amazing.) But unless the cruiseline specifically requested that he stay in his stateroom to wait, the lost time is on the OP.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Is there a reason he was tied to the room waiting for somebody to come fix it? Couldn’t he have went and enjoyed other parts of the ship and just checked back periodically to see if it had been fixed? Was he afraid of being robbed or something? Not getting why he had to be at the cabin waiting the whole time.

  • MarkKelling

    No where is it mentioned if the OP had any problems sleeping in the room at night or that he couldn’t use the bathroom, just that there was something leaking. Nothing belonging to the OP was damaged. He chose to stay in the room waiting for the repair person. Why would he do that? It’s not like at home where if you are not there the repair person goes on to the next appointment.

    Maybe the repair person did visit the cabin between one of the numerous times the OP reported the issue and when he got back to the cabin and was off looking for parts to fix the issue. Unless the OP gave the cruise line reason to ignore him, I find it nearly impossible to believe no one ever came to the cabin to attempt to fix the leak. Going to the service desk hourly seems a bit much to me.

    Be happy with what was offered.

  • Michelle B.

    It’s possible one of the suites became available during a port if an entertainer had been staying in it and then disembarked for good at a port. That happens sometimes.

  • ORguest

    Vacation time is something special (and rare, for some of us). I was impressed that he requested a refund only for the “lost” days, not the whole cruise, plus more for emotional distress. He should have been moved to another cabin on day one.

  • SnowWheet

    Vacation time is special for EVERYONE, but that doesn’t mean that the stars will suddenly align so that you are handed perfection. Or that you are owed a payoff when it doesn’t. Sometimes things happen and you have to make the best of it. Such is travel. It would appear that this is where the OP fell down a bit.
    Would I have been annoyed? Sure. But would I have sat in my room for two days? Of course not.

  • Lindabator

    He did not say they told him to stay in the room, I think he was just the kind of micro-manager to do so on his own – so his fault if he didn’t feel it could wait until they got to it. Easy enough to go about your business, and then go down for a quick check – no need to sit around the cabin.

  • Lindabator

    He may have done just that – they probably couldn’t make him happy unless they did move him.

  • Lindabator

    They may have just moved him because he whined so much — he seems like a real tool.

  • Lindabator

    It may not have been a comparable one, but they moved him anyway ’cause he was such a whiner.

  • Lindabator

    OH- great point!

  • Lindabator

    May not have been available at the time – as suggested above, if an entertainer is using it, then disembarks, then it may have been free, so they moved him.

  • Lindabator

    “Cause he’s a micro-manager???? Report it and go on your way – they have keys to all the staterooms, he didn’t need to wait to look over their shoulders as they worked. He got MORE than enough back.

  • Bill___A

    The purpose of a vacation is to relax, have a good time and to get rid of stress. They gave him more stress.
    Any comment from the cruise line as to why it took so long to address this problem?

  • Cybrsk8r

    Well, I kind of agree with what other have said here. He didn’t spend 2.5 whole days in his cabin, so $700 seems OK. But I also think Princess dropped the ball, too. If they had an open suite, they should have moved him at the first sign of a problem, just in case the problem could not be fixed during the cruise. There was no reason to jerk him around for two days.

  • LonnieC

    Oh, boohoo. Maybe Cruise should instead offer him a cruise credit of the $1857 he wants…. Certainly seems fair to offer him a real cash refund. Save your time and effort for someone who has truly been harmed. Walk away, Chris.

  • sunshipballoons

    Why did he wait in his suite? I’m sure the maintanance guy has a key.

  • IGoEverywhere

    Why did Andrew wait in his stateroom. Was he going to become the plumber’s assistant? Cash refund? Unheard of! Take it and run.
    Ships today generally are in 24 / 7 useage. They break, no matter what you pay for the cabin. It does not matter whether it is the poop cruise or Crystal, the reigning queen of ships, things happen. Carnival Corp. owns Princess and I suspect has cut back on it’s staff to increase profits. I little leak is no rush when you are making money. It is tough to spend that much money and have nobody care – they don’t!

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I thought as well he’s being whiny. Unless there was sewage in the room making it unusable, I don’t see the big deal. It’s not his property and it’s really in Princess’ interests to fix the problem, not his.

    As everyone knows: Most people don’t spend cruises in their stateroom. They go out to the shows, or the pool, casino, and of course the buffets. A single note to customer service should have been enough and then leave voicemail over the phone. I wouldn’t spend all day nagging customer service to fix the problem.

  • whatup12

    better question: why voluntarily sign up for a one-week floating jail?

  • Cybrsk8r

    He should have asked for Gopher or Isaac. I bet they wouldn’t have left him hanging.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Why would you stay in your cabin waiting for Maintenance? That’s just dumb. If he just wanted to “supervise the work”, that’s his problem. Just put away all your valuables and get on with your vacation. I would not have let the situation go beyond 24 hours; I’d insist on a move, annoying as it might be. Princess was generous.

  • Rebecca

    In addition, it appears he is asking for a prorated refund for whoever traveled with him. He doesn’t mention anyone waiting with him, so I assume you could at least cut his estimate in half based on that. I wonder also if his new cabin was an upgrade? That would be worth something too, seeing how small cabins are….

  • Mark Carrara

    It’s not like they needed him there to let the worker in. I think he was way too impatient. Every hour going to ask where was the repair person. That would get him put on the bottom of my list of things to fix.

  • AH

    if the plumbing from the bathroom was leaking and soaking the carpet to the point that i’d have to put on shoes in order to walk around the room, that would be highly annoying to me. and i certainly wouldn’t want to approach the bathroom door in the middle of the night and find i had wet feet!

  • Mel65

    That $5200 was almost certainly for both passengers, so HIS share of that was $2600. If he insists on pro-rating (idiotic, but whatever) then he should prorate HIS half, since apparently his companion was smart enough to enjoy the cruise instead of sitting around the stateroom fuming.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    If it were sewage, this would be an entirely different conversation :)

  • Carver Clark Farrow


    Nah. Julie

  • SierraRose 49

    Oh my gosh! He was offered $700 in CASH? That is generous. I won’t go into every mishap of the very first cruise we ever took. Problem after problem stretched out for 3 1/2 days on an 8-day cruise on HA. We planned this cruise for months, specifically taking time to choose the “perfect” cabin. We got bumped from that cabin (so it could be “treated”) to another one not as nice. And this little incident was the tip of the iceberg. Delayed boarding (norovirus outbreak on previous cruise), lost luggage, erroneous charges, dishes left all day in the cabin, a missed stop at Key West, rude employees, an on and on. And what did HA give us as compensation? A $10 bottle of wine. That was it? And yes, I wrote to HA expressing my HUGE disappointment. And what did I receive in return? NADA. ZERO. No reply whatsoever.

  • omgstfualready

    OP chose to sit and wait. They never instructed to do that or even indicated it was necessary. The value offered is fair. Had it been a requirement to wait I’d agree with the OP for sure.

  • Lindabator

    He gave HIMSELF his stress – all he had to do was report and check up, not sit around the room all day.

  • Lindabator

    It may NOT have been available the entire time, as it may have been used for the entertainer onboard, so they gave it to him later.

  • Bill___A

    Point taken, but why did it take them so long to fix it?

  • pauletteb

    He didn’t have to stay in the stateroom. I’m sure ship personnel would have been able to track him down. Besides, since he had explained the problem, he didn’t need to be in the room during repairs.

  • lvswhippets

    I have needed maintenance on a cruise also. i.e-shower wouldn’t drain & broken chair. But I sure didn’t stay & wait in my room & both taken care of effeceintly & in a timely manner. (It wasn’t Princess)

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    there was no reason to wait in his room. I would have given him a big fat $0 !!!

  • disqus_wK5MCy17IP

    If this were Holland America the obvious answer is that he stayed in the cabin because his finger was in the hole plugging the leak.

  • Silvia Cura

    I´ve worked for Princess for 7 years, though not in the Hotel department. I helped numerous times with Spanish & Portuguese speaking passengers and I´ve never heard that someone had to wait in their cabin to get a problem solved. Actually the cabin stewards have keys of the cabins assigned to them; to sort out this kind of deals. Regarding changing
    cabins sometimes Cruise Lines need a couple of days to confirm cancelations. Keep in mind that some passengers might not start the cruise at the same point but join in a couple of days later.

    Last but not least, how long was his cruise? If it was a 5 to 7 days cruise I understand he can still be annoyed but if we are talking about a 10 or more days hi still had lots of amazing days to enjoy. In the same way he was able to enjoy the rest of the amenities: food, entertainment, ports of calls and He received compensation in cash, something I´ve never heard of. So I would say No

  • http://www.inthelooptravel.com In The Loop Travel

    His logic would assume he ain’t no food on the ship and took no other amenities at all.