March 2016 - Riviera to Caribbean
I just returned from a seven day trip on the Riviera under Captain Mario Sanguineti that I was only able to be on ship for three of the seven days.
My story begins last Saturday the 12th. I was traveling from Kansas City to Miami with my wife, two girls (11 and 15 years old) and we were meeting my oldest daughter who is a dancer on the ship since October. It was going to be a family reunion and a chance to see my daughter perform on stage.
After a cancelled flight on Saturday in KC, we were re- routed to Chicago for a Sunday morning flight to Miami. After a series of mishaps with the airlines, my two daughters and wife left on a flight to Miami and arrived in time to board the Riviera; I was not so lucky! A mechanical failure and then a later flight caused me to arrive in Miami at 5:30 pm on Sunday and it was clear I could not make this ship. All of this is NOT the fault of the company.
I called Oceania Cruises’ 800 phone number and explained my situation to a gentleman who then said that someone would be calling me to help. About 30 minutes later I spoke to a woman who I explained my situation to. I advised her that I would fly to Key West and meet the ship the next day. She said she would email the captain and let him know that I would meet the next day and that someone from her office would call me. I never received a phone call back.
I arrived at the ship at 7:30 AM and was greeted by a security guard on shore and he stated, “We have been expecting you”. I was greeted around 8 AM by one of the ship’s staff and he stated that they were working on my situation. I then sat at security and was eventually greeted by my family from the ship. Soon after, the representative from the ship said we would work this out because we were “family” since my daughter worked on the ship. Around 8:30 AM another officer from the ship greeted me and told me that the Captain would not allow me to board because of the Jones Act. I asked to have the Act explained to me and they, (both representatives from the ship), said I had two choice: board now and get off in Cozumel or fly to Honduras and meet the ship on Wednesday (2 days later!). Then, the two representatives, who were standing right next to each other, were now having a difference of opinion. One was saying I could board now and the other was saying I had to go to Honduras. Two people, standing right next to each other form the same ship had 2 separate opinions! I said I would choose to board in Key West. I was then asked to wait while they went back to the ship to talk with the Captain.
After waiting about a total of three hours, I was told that I could not board in Key West now because the Captain, for some reason, would not allow it. I asked for an explanation and was not given one and then asked to speak directly with the Captain; I was denied that request.
I had a small suit bag that I had brought with me that I wanted to give to my wife so she could store it on the ship for me. I also needed a fresh set of clothes that my wife had in my suite case located on the ship since I had been in the same clothes since Saturday night. I sat for about another hour at security to get my bag scanned and put on the ship; for some reason nobody was in any hurry to help the situation. Since I had time to kill while waiting on my bag situation, I called my attorney to see his position who then informed me to contact a Maritime attorney who was located in Key West. In speaking with a local attorney, he said he had never heard of anyone being treated like this and his research came to the conclusion that a $200 penalty (fee) would have to be paid by me and I would be allowed to enter the ship. He also was informed by a retired Captain from another cruise line; he was actually the Captain of Captains of this other cruise line and he also had never heard of anyone being denied access to a ship after they had missed the cruise in Miami. Thirdly, I spoke with the security company on the dock and they stated on numerous occasions that other cruise ships had similar situations of people missing a ship in Miami and they were allowed to board in Key West. Can you tell me why I was singled out and denied access?
Now, here is where I was completely screwed by the company!! I left Key West around 5 PM and had to drive to Miami to catch a flight to the capital city of Honduras (rated the 2nd most dangerous airport in the world). So after driving for three hours, I got a hotel and spent the night at the airport in Miami. I flew to Honduras on Tuesday and then had to hire a driver and drive nine hours to the port city in Trujillo to meet the ship which also brought a number of other events that I won’t mention at this point.
I arrived at the security check point at the port at 6:30 AM and was greeted by more news; they were not expecting me and I had to wait out in the heat until I was finally allowed to board the ship at 12:30 on Wednesday.
Can anyone from the company explain to me why I was treated this way and ruined the trip for not only myself but also my family?
BTW, I was greeted aboard the ship by a number of the guests whom I had never met who expressed their frustration at the ship and also apologized to me for having to go through this ordeal; I was never apologized to by any of the crew members! I actually confronted the captain on the final night of the cruise and asked him to explain his position; he just said I needed to contact customer service. For a cruise ship company who prides itself on being a “family” I must have been the stepchild that nobody wanted around. Is this how how they run their business????
I sent this letter to President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio and have not received a response.