May 2016 - Celebrity Reflection to Europe - Mediterranean
Four months ago, I asked a friend if she wanted to go on a "luxury" cruise to the Mediterranean with me. I had found a great deal on the Celebrity Reflection for a veranda stateroom departing out of Rome. I had done a lot of research including buying this same cruise/style cabin for my parents as a gift several years ago on the first Celebrity Solstice ship in this series. They loved it! Had great things to say about the ship including the room, food and customer service. So my friend looked it over and decided to go with it! Next, I started researching which cabin/veranda was the best option for the amount we wanted to spend. All I knew is that I wanted to be towards the middle of the ship. After speaking with an agent, we were up-sold stateroom 8226 because it had an AMAZING balcony, and was close to the middle. It was also very convenient to the ship's amenities without being on a busy floor. I found excellent reviews on this specific room and was even sent a photo of the balcony by the agent. It was booked and balance paid less than 2 weeks later.
I called customer service on several occasions before the cruise to ask questions like how much is unlimited WiFi? (I was told the price was $199, and it would be the same on board since we wanted to use our shipboard credit) I asked about someone separating the beds, and reconfirmed our room-8226 on several occasions. Everything was A-OK.
We arrived to the boat, received our keys, and went straight to our room only to find someone else's stuff in there. So we call the Butler over and ask what's going on. He confirms that yes, we have the both of you on our list for this room, let me check on it. He makes a call and we are told, oops you've been moved to another room. You need to go to guest relations. We do this, and I immediately let them know that A. we were never asked if we wanted to move, B. we were never notified C. we were not ok with the very front of the boat location of the new room because we are seasick prone people AND D. the balcony wasn't even close to comparable to what we had booked and paid extra for nearly 4 months in advance. When we asked when and why we were moved, we were told it was done 2 days ago for a "revenue" issue and we were picked at "random" to be moved. Not only was this highly offensive, but also extremely bad business! I know this is an extreme analogy but the concept is the same: Imagine you had purchased a home, and then 2 days before closing, the owner decides to sell it to someone else because the new buyer is willing to pay more!?!?!?
The next rebuttal they gave was that our new room was an "upgrade" and by upgrade they meant having access to a restaurant that essentially had the same menu as the main restaurant. Given the fact that neither of us had 0 interest in booking specialty restaurants, this was a completely useless benefit... I let them know right away that we were not happy at all, and we preferred to be moved back to our original room or something comparable, or be given a benefit on something we could actually use like unlimited WiFi (which we later found out was $299 on board the ship). We were willing to trade our useless restaurant privileges... They asked for time to resolve the issue, and told us we'd be notified within a few hours.
After being issued keys several times because none of them worked, we finally gain access to our "temporary" room only to find another couples welcome letter along with two different sets of coupons for benefits on the boat. So, we go back downstairs again, where we are told "no worries, this is your room. But neither set of coupons applies to you."
After several hours, nobody gets back to us about the room... So, we return to guest relations. They inform us that it's a full ship, they won't know until the morning if there were any no shows (complete lie) but they'll ask the people in our original room if they'd like to trade... Those people come by to look at our room and say "uh, no way." So the manager offers us 40 free minutes of Internet in exchange for what was taken from us. At this point, I get extremely angry and go off on the manager. She hangs-up the phone on me. So I go back downstairs with my friend. The manager reluctantly listens to our complaints about 40 min of free Internet not being acceptable for all the time, trouble and expense we've gone through... She proceeds to tell us she has no authority to make it better, but she'll try again to speak with her boss about making it right...
I speak with her boss the next day, and he tells me this actually happens often. He explains that it's a budget issue for him of what he can offer people like us that get booted from their room for similar situations, so ultimately we are only offered $175 shipboard credit which is less than the difference of what we paid for the upgraded balcony of the original room. It's not enough for 2 tours, 2 spa treatments or even the unlimited internet... So, the question becomes what's the point of booking and paying for a guaranteed stateroom in advance, if it's completely legal for them to sell your room to someone else who is willing to pay more! Not to mention, pricing for services which are subject to change during your cruise! All of this only after boarding the cruise, so nothing can be done about it at that point. Celebrity is a highly rated US based company folks... it's not like I bought some cruise package from a shady foreign cruise line... so buyer beware... be VERY aware!