June 15, 2009
I am writing to share a problem my husband and I experienced on our 6/15/09 sailing aboard the Celebrity Summit from Venice to Barcelona. We invested $11,998 on the cruise fare alone, opting to upgrade to one of the finest cabins on the ship for a very special occasion: our honeymoon. We never expected what was to follow.
6/15 - We immediately noticed a sewage odor coming from our balcony and felt ill before we even set sail (i.e., nausea, headache, dizziness). We blamed the dock and avoided the balcony.
6/16 - We wanted to enjoy sailing from Venice on our balcony, but the smell was unbearable. We hoped the air quality would improve as we sailed to Croatia.
6/17 - We went to the medical facility and were told there was at least an hour wait. We opted to visit a pharmacy in Croatia so as not to miss out on the port and compromise our trip any further. However, once we were off the ship, the air was fresh, and we started to feel better.
6/17 - Sailing from Croatia at over 20 knots, the foul odor onboard intensified, despite the strong breeze. At our expense, we e-mailed our agent at Prestige Travel for guidance, and called Guest Services. Guest Services did not respond, and the Hotel Manager was not available. We then stood at the Guest Services desk until the Hotel Manager, the Chief Engineer, the Chief Housekeeper and their assistants came to our cabin to assess the problem. They only acknowledged a "food odor," though it clearly smelled like a dirty toilet. The Chief Engineer suggested they "flush" the black water sewage system. In the interim, we were offered no reparations. Our room could not even be changed as the cruise was reportedly sold out.
6/18 - The sewage odor persisted, less so on our balcony, and more so in our cabin as well as the entire Deck 6 hallway. The cruise staff did not follow up with us, so we called the Hotel Manager again. It was maddening to have to spend any more of our honeymoon dealing with this. The Hotel Manager stated that while compensation would be in order, the nature and extent of that compensation would depend on how quickly the problem was resolved.
6/21 - The Hotel Manager offered us in writing 25% of the value of the cruise base price (i.e.., to compensate for 3 of the 12 days) to be issued as either a cruise credit towards a Celebrity Cruise with restrictions, or the same dollar value to be put towards our charges on our current cruise, with any balance being returned to the credit card provided upon embarkation. This would have been acceptable, except that the foul odor was worse than ever. We asked to reassess the situation towards the end of the cruise since the problem was clearly unresolved. However, as we disembarked, the problem remained unresolved.
A Celebrity Cruises representative in Miami who would only identify himself as "Victor" contacted me days later to extend the same offer. I felt the offer was unfair, so "Victor" agreed to contact me after the July 4th holiday to reach a mutually agreeable decision.
7/10 - "Victor" had not called back, so we called him. We were informed that he was not available and no other associate or supervisor could assist us. We left messages all week for his return call with associates who would only identify themselves as "Audrey" and "Pamela."
7/15 - "Victor" finally returned our call, and we informed him that we felt our cruise fare should be refunded, not just because we were deprived of the cabin experience we paid for, but because we spent our honeymoon inhaling sewage fumes and wasting time trying to solve a problem we did not create with cruise staff and representatives who have resisted every effort to right this wrong. "Victor" stated that refunds are never issued, so I immediately faxed him the original offer that was made in writing by the Hotel Manager. "Victor" stated he would call me back after discussing the matter with his superiors.
7/20 – "Victor" called to state that Celebrity Cruises could only offer 25% of the cruise fare as a cruise credit to be used by us alone over the next calendar year, excluding holidays. He further stated that the original offer from the hotel manager in writing only applied while were on the ship, despite the fact that this was never mentioned, in writing or otherwise, by any member of the cruise staff at any time.
We have shared this information with our travel agency and the following cruise ship executives, without any response to date: