October 2014 - Costa Serena to Europe - Western Mediterranean
Warning!!! Do not book a cruise with Costa Cruises (which is owed by the Carnival Corporation).
In October 2014, I went on a 7 day Mediterranean cruise on the Costa Serena. While the trip itself was fine, my experience has been spoiled by Costa Cruises’ horrendous customer service.
Read the time-line below if you want the details but at the very least please trust me in saying that this company does not believe in customer service and I sincerely urge you to book your cruises elsewhere!
Given the circumstances, I have been extremely polite and patient…Please share with others so they don’t have to experience the same frustration and financial loss.
For those who are interested, here is a time line of the events…
Nov 3 - Severe storm on the Mediterranean sea. An announcement is made that the ship will not be stopping in the port near Rome as scheduled but continuing on to Naples and arriving around 2pm on Nov 4. Given those circumstances, it will be impossible for me to make my flight from Rome to Zurich at 2pm on Nov 4 so I go to the customer service desk. I ask if I can have internet access in my cabin so that I can change my flight. I am told that is not possible but if I can provide them with my travel itinerary, that they will take care of it and let me know in the morning what my new travel arrangements will be.
Nov 4 - I am informed that my new flight to Zurich will cost me $366 euros (which is about $550!). I am curious why I should have to pay for the new flight but the crew insists that the storm is not their fault and that they are therefore not responsible for compensating me in this situation. I am immediately billed for the cost of the flight and told that I can try calling the North American Costa offices to explain my situation when I return to Canada. I can’t fathom why I am being charged so much money for such a short flight but I have no choice but to pay before I can disembark and catch my flight.
Nov 10 - I am home from Europe and call the North American Costa office as directed. Their automated answering system directs me to send an email for any issues concerning past cruises. Their agents are only available for people calling to book new cruises.
I oblige and send an email requesting someone to call me as my situation is too complicated to fully explain in an email. I do not receive a response.
Nov 14 - I call Costa Cruise requesting this time to speak with an agent. I am told I need to send an email. I reply that I did send an email and received no response. They track down my email and tell me that the customer service agent will call me that afternoon. I do not receive a phone call. Instead I receive an email from customer service with a letter in response to my email which basically quotes their company policy of not offering any sort of compensation for missed travel arrangements regardless of the reason. None of this addresses the issue at hand that I was told that my travel arrangements would be ‘taken care of’ and had I known that I was going to be out of pocket for a new flight, I would have ‘taken care of’ the new arrangements myself.
I politely respond with an email requesting that the customer service agent call me so we can discuss the actual issue. Of course, I do not receive any response.
Nov 20 - I call Costa Cruise asking to speak with the customer service agent who is handling my situation. I am told ‘she doesn’t do phone calls.” I find it surprising that the customer service agent ‘doesn’t do phone calls’. I ask if there is someone else I need to speak with and I am told that no, she is the one in charge. So I politely insist to speak with her as it is just much easier to explain my situation over the phone than trying to send another email (to which I will likely get no response anyway). I am momentarily put on hold. Unfortunately, I am told that the customer service agent has laryngitis and is unable to speak with me at that moment. What are the chances?!? I am told she will call me back after the weekend on Monday Nov 24.
Nov 24 - Surprise! No phone call from Costa Cruises to address my situation.
Nov 25 - I call Costa Cruises and ask to speak to the agent. The phone system disconnects. Is this an accident?! I call back and I finally get to speak with the customer service agent (thankfully she has recovered from her laryngitis!) She basically explains that they are not willing to help me in any way because of their policy to not offer compensation for interrupted travel plans. I explain that the staff on board the ship said they would ‘take care of’ my new travel arrangements and by the time I realized I had to pay for a new flight, it was too late to make my own alternate arrangements - that they basically completely mishandled the situation. I am told that she will speak to her managers and call me back the following week.
The following week arrives…
Dec 1 - no phone call
Dec 2 - no phone call
Dec 3 - no phone call
Dec 4 - no phone call
Dec 5 - no phone call
I even give her a few more days…
Dec 8 - still no phone call.
In the meantime, I contact Swiss Air only to discover that my flight never got changed! Rather than changing my original flight (which would only have cost 65 euros), Costa simply booked me a new flight at the cost of 366 euros. It saddens me that they would treat a customer this way.
Dec 9 - I call Costa and I’m told that the customer service agent is at lunch but that I can leave her a voicemail which I do. She does not return my call. I guess she had a really long lunch that day.
Dec 10 - I call again and I am told she is not at her desk so I am again directed to her voicemail. She does not return my call.
Dec 11 - I receive another email from Costa Cruises stating that they are unable to offer me any sort of compensation. It concludes with “We hope you will consider us again in the future and look forward to welcoming you aboard.”
Somehow, I don’t think so…