December 22, 2002
My wife and I thought we were going on a great relaxing 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal. Oh were we wrong! I could not believe our ship was going to become the largest floating daycare/ uncontrollable group of children on the open seas. I think what bothered us most was that the ship gave the impression they had no idea about the number of children so we will not hire any extra people to handle the number of children. I probable should add that we had 535 children on board. I do not want to imply that all the parents and children were out of control, but the number was very large. I could probably spend several hours recapping all the incidents that were dealt with or not dealt with from not keeping diapered kids out of the whirlpools to the kids being completely without any parental control. The ship's response to controlling the situation was to put a short item in the daily cruise notes that the situation should be handled by the parents. Did they really think this would help? I know their response would be that we really tried. My point still remains that the ultimate control is with the cruise line since all had to sign the same rules of conduct agreement. This cruise line lost more future customers on this than they can even imagine. I know my wife and I will definitely look to other cruise lines. I think the worst part of this is the cruise staff that we dealt with from our cabin steward to the waiters to the wine steward was fantastic. The food was great. The service by all that we encountered we exceptional especially in the SS United States dining room. It is just a shame that the cruise line knowing they had this large group coming and they did nothing to control it. We did learn to deal with the pool situation but it basically meant we did use the pool after 11:30 in the morning, so you do learn to adapt to the situation but should I have had to do this?
The cruise line also needs to hire someone to improve embarkation and disembarkation so that they don't find two and three hour lines acceptable. I guess I do have to admit we had a good time within limits. Just one quick note to those that have read comments on Celebrity ships : They still cannot figure out how to keep people from sending someone out to reserve large numbers of deck chairs, in most cases where the individuals might not even get to pool for several hours. Then to make matters worse, they could not even control people having two chairs, obviously one in the sun and the other in the shade. How nice considering some were just happy to find one!
I believe the cruise line could have contacted people pre-cruise by email so we could have prepared for the situation we were going to have. Maybe others might not agree, but with the negative publicity the cruise line created this is not going to make it as how to improve your business!