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RSSC Gangway Fiasco

Jan 2, 2020
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I was the actual agent for my mom and myself so this was a learning operation as well. Everything seemed to be going well until disembarkation. We thought everything was planned out until the end of the cruise. My mom needed transport up and down the gangway as she uses a cane. Getting on-board the ship, they took her and others right up the gangway to the security desk and she was able to check in, get on-board the ship, and use a wheelchair until settled in the dining area. Debark was a totally different situation. We both went to the desk and called to ensure that she'd have a wheelchair to go down to the lobby and that someone would meet her at the gangway to meander down. We were told to sit tight in our cabin. Well we sat, and sat, and called and called...we were literally the last 4 passengers waiting. We didn't wait until that morning to call, we checked two days before and then individually the day before. Finally when I called again, the desk says that the ship has a fire drill going on and there's no one to assist. Then we found out that the folks that do the transport couldn't traverse the bridge to bring anyone down. Someone was actually waiting at the bottom of the bridge that snakes around but said they couldn't come onto the bridge. Like we had 0 idea that would be the situation. We did discover that there were representatives from the cruise line waiting once we came down the bridge to pick our bags and exit. What's worse is we discovered not only could they not come onto the bridge, the bus for the transfer had been waiting all that time. No one on board cared enough or had the power to communicate with transport. By the time my mom got down, she was in no shape to board a bus that doesn't kneel. We ended up taking a cab to the airport. I don't know who makes the rules but there definitely isn't clear communication or clear communication and transparency for the traveler. She felt like well they got their money and were great up front but now we don't care how you get gone. It's not been the experience on this line or any other so perhaps it was just particular to the ship this time. She's been a regular on this line for quite a time namely because of the personal service and small ship size.

What's your desired resolution? 1. An apology would go a long way, she shouldn't have been promised transport and it not be delivered, told to wait, and then told oh those folks aren't allowed on the gangway when they clearly are allowed to bring people on and up to the security desk that's on-board the ship. Her first cruise on the Mariner and with RSSC in 2003 and 2009 was a down grade to the Oct 2019 experience. 2. Transport buses that kneel. While there are many outliers, I saw a demographic that could use those features as there were plenty of elders struggling to pull themselves on-board. 3. There should be a clear policy or approach so that all ends of the trip are in communication. It was unacceptable that an entire bus was made to wait or otherwise be inconvenienced. 4. The only claim we'd have would be taxi and tip. Our flight service and treatment on both ends of the airport were really decent. 5. Provide some sort of post cruise survey. We had a survey and mid-cruise survey but they're limiting the entire experience to just the ship as the survey closes out when you make that last swipe to get off the ship. 6. Consistent messaging and action. Vacation is end to end.

Date of transaction/travel date: 2019-10-21
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
21,109
20,969
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Are you a travel agent? Did you contact the special needs department when you booked the cruise so they put the need for a wheelchair in her reservation? There are only so many wheelchairs available on a ship and in an airport and those that have added the request on their reservations are the ones who get priority for the wheelchairs.

We have company contacts on top of our page and Regent is under cruise lines. Did you disembark the cruise in the US?

You should write to them and tell them what happened. Please read this and follow the information on writing exactly as it tells you to.
https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/
 
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Jan 2, 2020
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Yes a newbie agent. We travel once a year typically on a cruise and with RSSC so we always make the request with that limitation in mind. Even though I'm a new agent I'm not new to travel. The wheelchair was added everywhere I checked: the flights, the reservation, and the transfer. On our way from the airport, we were on a smaller transport that holds like 8 or so. The hotel room even had accommodation. I called directly to double check and I was surprised that info was already on the air reservation for our returns. Next day to leave the hotel and head to the cruise port, we had no one to contact that morning. No one was at the table in the hotel that was used for check-in the day before. There were passengers milling about but I didn't see anyone in typical RSSC attire to ask where we'd even go to get the transport. I had to go outside to find out that the bus was at the end of a very long driveway. However, once we got to the port terminal, someone was waiting with the wheelchair and they wheeled her all the way up the gangway to the desk on the deck where you swipe in initially. We were directed inside and not long after someone came and gave her a wheeled assist to the dining room. Yes this was a disembark in Miami. I'll read over the thread on resolving complaints so thanks for that suggestion.
 
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VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
3,440
4,182
113
the United States
This is my summary of your experience:
  • At embarkation, they took my mom and others up the gangway where she was able to check in, get on-board the ship, and use a wheelchair until settled in the dining area (we ordered this in our reservation)
  • Two days before debarkation from our latest RSSC cruise, we called to ensure that my mom would have a wheelchair to go down to the lobby
  • We were assured that and that someone would meet her at the gangway as well for assistance to the bottom and were told to sit tight in our cabin
  • After sitting for a long time and calling multiple times, we were literally the last 4 passengers waiting
  • During the final call, he desk said that the ship has a fire drill going on and there was no one to assist
  • Next we found out that the folks that do the transport couldn't traverse the bridge to bring anyone down
  • However, someone was actually waiting at the bottom of the bridge but said they couldn't come onto the bridge
  • Finally, the bus for the transfer was one that doesn't kneel, which she needed after the long ordeal, so we ended up taking a cab to the airport
  • This has not been our experience on this line or any other so perhaps it was just particular to the ship this time
You are asking for:
An apology​
A post cruise survey​
Better communication​
Transport buses that "kneel"​
Since you are not seeking monetary compensation, your requests seem both reasonable and simple. Speaking for myself, I think a well-crafted email to the RSSC contacts shown below would suffice. They might even offer a credit toward future cruises.

The one item I would not include is "No one on board cared enough or had the power to communicate with transport". This, I think, is unknowable.

Some do's and don'ts when writing
Do not attach files - their email system may discard your email before anyone reads it
Do not start with the CEO - begin at the lowest level in the company contacts shown here: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/regent-seven-seas/
Present a brief summary (list) and give each contact one (1) week to respond before escalating to the next level
 
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Jun 24, 2019
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Meaning no disrespect to our OP, someone has to be the last 4 passengers. When the cruise line is arranging for disembarkation of folks who need some mobility assistance, there's a mathematical certainty that someone will be last on that list. Other people on that list may have truthfully had an earlier flight or just gamed the system to get off earlier.
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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660
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I'm not familiar with RSSC, but when I was injured on a royal ship and needed a wheelchair off the ship they had a meeting location where everyone was to gather. Then they took you off in order. There were not many people working this detail. In fact wheelchairs returned before people that were pushing people off. I "cut the line" by my companion offering to push me so they gave us a chair. I believe Norwegian has a similar method, but haven't personally used it.

I find it odd that they wouldn't have had a central meeting place - it would take a lot of additional time to hunt everyone down in their cabins. In the future I would suggest clarifying the meeting point.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,039
9,725
113
San Francisco
Regarding the wheelchair request, I found this to be interesting and perhaps relevant:


"Regent Seven Seas does not provide wheelchairs or scooters for their guests and the wheelchairs that are on board are for emergency purposes only"
This is where I got side-tracked by our OP's story. If mom needs a chair to board/disembark the ship and to access the dining room, and cannot use the higher step of a regular bus ... how does she manage during the cruise? Why wouldn't she have brought a chair with her? Or was this a situation where she's not as strong as she has been on previous cruises but there's no way to know that until the trip begins?

The cold truth is that, in a situation like this, one should never sit and wait for help to arrive. The people who tell you that on the phone are not the people who will be taking care of you. You need to be in a position of visibility so the crew doesn't "forget you". I've always seen Regent as a top-shelf cruiseline, so I hope they are able to make this right.
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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660
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Regarding the wheelchair request, I found this to be interesting and perhaps relevant:


"Regent Seven Seas does not provide wheelchairs or scooters for their guests and the wheelchairs that are on board are for emergency purposes only"
Royal and Norwegian say that too, but still do assisted embark/disembark with wheelchairs. They don't want them holding up the line on the ramp. But they pretty much dump you out of the chair once you're on board to go back and pick someone else up with the chair.
 
Jan 2, 2020
12
3
3
51
Yes her navigation on the straights of the ship were fine with her cane. It's the through the airport, cruiseport and that crazy gangway situation. The wheeling to the dining room when we boarded just seemed to be something nice they were doing as people boarded and looked too winded to travel to another elevator to go up to that deck.
 
Jan 2, 2020
12
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Yes not as strong as previous. if they hadn't given instruction to wait in the cabin, we would've known to go elsewhere. We were following the instructions given in this case.
 
Jan 2, 2020
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You might be right. This was in Miami but I remember someone saying that terminal was due to be closed. Not sure if that was true or not. I just thought it was weird that they'd wheel someone up the gangplank and yes dump you fight at the desk. But not do the same getting off. There was no way to even know what there was someone waiting at the end of the gangway for us. I was really relieved but again there was not that communication between the points or communication with us as the passengers.
 
Jan 2, 2020
12
3
3
51
This is my summary of your experience:
  • At embarkation, they took my mom and others up the gangway where she was able to check in, get on-board the ship, and use a wheelchair until settled in the dining area (we ordered this in our reservation)
  • Two days before debarkation from our latest RSSC cruise, we called to ensure that my mom would have a wheelchair to go down to the lobby
  • We were assured that and that someone would meet her at the gangway as well for assistance to the bottom and were told to sit tight in our cabin
  • After sitting for a long time and calling multiple times, we were literally the last 4 passengers waiting
  • During the final call, he desk said that the ship has a fire drill going on and there was no one to assist
  • Next we found out that the folks that do the transport couldn't traverse the bridge to bring anyone down
  • However, someone was actually waiting at the bottom of the bridge but said they couldn't come onto the bridge
  • Finally, the bus for the transfer was one that doesn't kneel, which she needed after the long ordeal, so we ended up taking a cab to the airport
  • This has not been our experience on this line or any other so perhaps it was just particular to the ship this time
You are asking for:
An apology​
A post cruise survey​
Better communication​
Transport buses that "kneel"​
Since you are not seeking monetary compensation, your requests seem both reasonable and simple. Speaking for myself, I think a well-crafted email to the RSSC contacts shown below would suffice. They might even offer a credit toward future cruises.

The one item I would not include is "No one on board cared enough or had the power to communicate with transport". This, I think, unknowable.

Some do's and don'ts when writing
Do not attach files - their email system may discard your email before anyone reads it
Do not start with the CEO - begin at the lowest level in the company contacts shown here: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/regent-seven-seas/
Present a brief summary (list) and give each contact one (1) week to respond before escalating to the next level
Thanks for this summary!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
21,109
20,969
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
In the future, there are companies that do wheelchair rentals and can have them ready for you in your cabin on the ship if a wheelchair is needed for even part of your cruise. You might want to look into these companies in the future - it's the only way to guarantee you will have a wheelchair. You would be wheeling her so you aren't dependent on anyone else. As a travel agent that is something you should also be aware of for your clients.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
3,912
4,004
113
I am a Regent cruiser and sadly even the best run companies can have service failures. I agree with Neil in regards to arranging for a wheelchair or electric scooter to be delivered to your Mom on board. These companies service cruise ships large and small all over the world. An Electric Scooter might give your Mom some real freedom and pleasure to enjoy the ship while onboard rather than being exhausted getting from place to place. The cost of these services is very reasonable.
I hope you enjoyed your cruise aboard Mariner, she is my favorite Regent ship!
 
Last edited:
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Aug 29, 2015
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As an semi-regular wheelchair user and fairly regular cruiser, I’ve found that the start of of the cruise is always amazing. We arrive and there is someone available to push my chair (which I’m used to doing with my arms). We zip through registration and get an onboarding assist to lunch. I see lots of crew pushing people onto the ship, then coming back with an empty chair to push another person to the ship.

I’ve not sailed on Regent, but on the cruises I have taken, they have always had an issue with not enough chairs and pushers at disembarkation. They have had people meet in a central location, then taken them off one at a time. The issue is that the crew can only go so far before they have to hand off the chair to a shoreside person, and there are only a third or so of the shoreside people compared to crew.

My solution is to accept the crew help off the ship and down the ramp, then push myself the rest of the way. I’m used to it, but it is generally obvious that I’m the exception and most people get stuck waiting for shoreside assistance, keeping the available wheelchairs longer than expected.
If needing a wheelchair is becoming a fairly regular issue, it might be worth purchasing your own to take along, especially if you can push your mother. That way you have it when it is needed.
 
Jan 2, 2020
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In the future, there are companies that do wheelchair rentals and can have them ready for you in your cabin on the ship if a wheelchair is needed for even part of your cruise. You might want to look into these companies in the future - it's the only way to guarantee you will have a wheelchair. You would be wheeling her so you aren't dependent on anyone else. As a travel agent that is something you should also be aware of for your clients.
Thanks. I will check with her. The only issue she seems to have is navigating the uneven surfaces. The rest of the time she was able to go with a cane for support. Yes this was good training for this newbie.
 
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