June 2015 - Celebrity Equinox to Europe - Mediterranean
Never again. We have one RCCL cruise booked for OCT2016 but we have decided that, based on our poor experience on Equinox, that will be our last cruise ever. Equinox has taught even our frequent cruiser kids that cruising is not for them. A simple service failure is easy to forgive. Stuff happens. But a strategic decision made by a high-level Celebrity manager in Miami is no accident. So putting a &@#!&$ late-night band in the atrium is a loud and clear message to the market that "Nobody sleeps on Celebrity." That should be their new marketing tagline. The advertisements could say, "Are you someone who goes on vacation to get rejuvinated? Nobody sleeps on Celebrity." Or the ad could say, "Are you a family with children? Nobody sleeps on Celebrity." One more option, "Do you like to explore new places while full of energy and focus? Nobody sleeps on Celebrity." That tagline is versatile, although too long, so most people will abbreviate it to, simply, #CelebritySucks. Or maybe #WhatIdiotPutsALateNightBandInTheAtrium. We have cruised a lot, on several cruise lines. So we always take special care to work with our travel agent to choose a quiet cabin. We watch out for noisy venues above or below. We thought our Equinox cabin was perfectly located. But neither we nor our travel agent anticipated that a high-level Celebrity manager in Miami would approve a $&*@#$ late-night band in the atrium where it would efficiently prevent sleep for every cabin on every level. A string quartet until 9pm? Sure. But a &*#$@# late-night band until 11pm or even techno DJ until midnight? That is definitely a message that Celebrity doesn't want families onboard. Celebrity doesn't want busy, hard-working people who now want to relax. Celebrity doesn't want adventurous people who want to explore the ports well-rested.
The late-night music and thumping bass was actually louder inside our 6th floor cabin that you'd have the volume turned up in there if you actually wanted to listen, let alone if you wanted to sleep. Not just a faint distant band, but right outside our door, until midnight almost every night. At the Guest Services desk in the atrium the passengers would lean over and put their mouths next to the crew's ears to shout what they needed help with. I asked one crew, while I was there exchanging some leftover Turkish money, "Doesn't the loud band make it hard to do business here?" She said, "What???" No joke.
"Nobody sleeps on Celebrity." Message received. As a long-time customer of Celebrity I promise to help them spread their new tagline everywhere on social media, on cruise forums, and with everyone who asks me for travel advice. I only wish someone had told me about the &#@$*& late-night band in the atrium before I booked this trip. It took Equinox to help me understand that I am not Celebrity's target market. Never again. "Nobody sleeps on Celebrity."
PS: During my cruise itself I submitted this to Captain's Club online (using my expensive onboard internet minutes) and got an automated email back from Celebrity saying they'd contact me. They never did (and haven't yet). However, throughout the cruise I kept getting voice messages from the Captain's Club rep onboard inviting us to the social things, encouraging future cruise, etc. I was blown away that they are so disconnected as a company that a passenger currently onboard isn't immediately responded to so things don't stew and get worse. Other customer-focused companies have whole departments following Twitter and Facebook posts searching for complaints so they can nip problems in the bud. Apparently not Celebrity/RCCL, who didn't ever follow up. Book elsewhere, folks. Or plan to be a physical wreck after a week of no sleep.
UPDATE: Got a call 06JUL (which was 13 days after I sent the complaint to their frequent cruiser program's Contact Us) from a low-level customer service agent in Kansas. She was very nice. asked me to repeat everything I had written, and said she would look further into it. I'm not holding my breath. I asked and she confirmed that she was responding specifically to my Facebook post, not to my emails to the frequent cruiser group. Apparently the Captain's Club is a dead-letter office. If you want a response, you have to go public on Facebook. Makes no sense, but neither does a late night band in the atrium.
UPDATE 09JUL: My CruiseLine post got tweeted out by a travel blog today. And, right on cue, Celebrity calls me again today after the travel blog tweeted my complaint. Coincidence?
Sadly, the response--however politely and professionally stated--was that Celebrity has a detailed specification for which bands, hours, locations, and even decibel levels, and what I experienced was likely within those specifications. So they are sorry I'm unhappy but not sorry they chose those specifications. I closed the call with just one thought: It would seem that the cabin would be the last and most valuable bit of control a passenger would have, so whatever Celebrity does outside the cabin is their choice, but whatever the passenger does inside is his choice. By putting a late-night band in the atrium, they took away my cabin. On a cruise ship, that leaves a passenger nowhere to run. Dumb choice for any service organization, but especially a self-described luxury brand.
Anyway, I'm sure by now Celebrity is done with my complaining. And I accomplished no change. Lose-lose.