by David Michel
November 2, 2005
This review is a letter written to the President of Celebrity Cruise Lines. Please note that the Line very generously gave us a future cruise certificate worth $75.00. How very generous of them.
December 4, 2005Mr. Daniel J. Hanrahan
President, Celebrity Cruises
1050 Caribbean Way
Miami, Fl 33132
Dear Mr. Hanrahan:
My name is David J. Michel. On December 2nd, 3rd, and 4th a friend and I had the distinct displeasure to sample your cruise line during a three day, two night cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale. We were on the Millennium, Embarking on 12/02/05 and Disembarking on 12/04/05. We were in Cabin 3088. The purpose of this letter is to make you personally aware of several observations regarding our much less than stellar cruise. I am an experienced traveler who has had past cruises with RCL, NCL and Carnival. I place our experience with Celebrity at the absolute bottom of our experiences. Although I will say the general appearance of your Ship was excellent and appeared to be very well maintained, however a ship does not a cruise make.
To try to present out our observations and complaints in a logical manner I will attempt to break them down by category:
We dropped off our luggage at Terminal 25 and then were directed to walk to Terminal 26. The original Check-in time scheduled for 3 pm, was moved to 4 pm due to the late arrival of Millennium due to a hurricane. (Beyond control of the cruise line) Passengers were called and advised that the departure time had changed, and that the two days at sea now included a port of call, Nassau. We were also advised that celebrity would include a buffet snack for passengers. The buffet turned out to be cold sandwiches and Luke warm hotdogs. (Not a good introduction to Celebrity) We arrived at 3:15 pm for check-in and after standing in line for three hours at 6:15 we were finally boarded. Now three hours standing in line is excessive. It was obvious that your check-in/boarding employees were frazzled. Your contract security people were doing the best job they could with having only two screening stations.
Dining room Concerns:
We found the dining experience to be poor. Both nights our waiter was surly, lacked personality, appeared tired and frazzled. The assistant waiter was upbeat and was trying hard. Food service was very, very slow. We had 9 PM sittings and generally it was after 11 pm by the time we were out of the dining room. The first night one hour passed from the time the salad (a wilted ceaser in a warm bowl) was served until the main course arrived. When the food finally arrived the main course was so over cooked it would have qualified as shoe leather. By this time we were so exhausted from our check-in experience that we just accepted it and assumed that the crew was also exhausted as were we. The second night proved to be no better. (Although the escargot was excellent) The beef again arrived vastly overcooked and was sent back. Service was so slow that at five minutes to eleven in order to make the show (excellent show) we left, never having received our dessert that was ordered 20 minutes earlier. At no time during either night did the Maitre d'or assistant Maitre d' appear at our table to inquire as to the quality of food and service. I rate the quality of food at the very bottom of my cruising and dining experience.
We were amazed at the generally less than professional attitude of some of the employees of your line. For example, service was slow, attitudes were poor. To provide you an example, we visited the Ice Cream station on deck ten. The male employee had run out of chocolate topping and refused to provide or get more. He said he would give chocolate soft serve but no chocolate topping for you. Several passengers found his attitude and lack of good communications just amazing, as did we.
Another waitress at the 10th floor fantail bar was slow, haute and seemed to project an attitude of non-caring. Additionally she seemed to be suffering from what appeared to be numerous lesions on her legs and arms. Perhaps she may have been better utilized at another location without so much visibility to your passengers.
Another example, a waitress complained to us about how bad the crew was treated: "The long hours and seven month contracts with no rest, and the poor quality of crew food if you are not an oriental." By the way we heard this on at least three occasions and generally from people of Slovak origins. Your Philippino employees were excellent with no complaints. We actually asked several Philippinos about their food and accommodations and they had no complaints and actually said the food was great. However the other complaints made us feel that we were exploiting these people.
I did observe interactions between what appeared to be service supervisors and employees on the food lines. I must say that the supervisors did not use good people management skills, openly and scowlingly correcting employees in public. This lack of basic supervisory skills may lie at the bottom of the attitude I saw from your people.
On both mornings of the cruise, on at least Deck 3, all bathrooms were not working due to a broken vacuum line to the toilet black water system. It is not acceptable that the engineering department allowed this problem to happen on two consecutive days. Generally one does not awake in the morning and perform a test flush of the system. The problem being in close quarters is that it takes no time to foul the entire cabin. Worst was searching the ship for a working toilet that is not already contaminated. Some of the Ships public restrooms stalls were locked.
Now for what I consider the final insult to my and my companion's senses: On the first morning, we left the cabin and just went into Nassau. Upon our return hours later we entered our cabin and became almost nauseous from the stink of un-flushed sewerage. One would think that after the system became operational, the hotel staff would have sent someone around to each cabin to flush the toilets, and spray deodorant through out the cabin. I complained to our cabin attendant who is from India and he exhibited absolutely no concern.
I had also attempted to call in a complaint on the cabin telephone, but the pick up of an incoming call is so slow that after 10 or 15 minutes of listening to your recording of how important my call is to the line, or something of that sort, I felt ignored and hung up.
Mr. Hanrahan, I must say that it is my experience that the numbers of concerns that I have enumerated certainly seem to indicate that someone in your organization appears to resting on their laurels. We were never polled or asked to report our experiences. This was my first trip on your line and in all honesty I can say that even my experience on Carnival was superior to your line. We arrived back with more Stress than on leaving.
We would like to compensated in some way or have our fare refunded, as we can find little or no value for the money paid. I am now planning my next cruise of a week or more on a line other than Celebrity X. I suggest that you take this letter quite seriously as a harbinger of where your company is headed. If you wish to speak personally, please do not hesitate to call me at the above telephone number.