In this post I’ll talk about my experience with Celebrity Cruises, their cancellation policy and customer service. The latter is what persuaded me, not to book a cruise with them again.
At the beginning of this year, Kathy and I knew we wanted to have another baby. We also knew that traveling would become much more “interesting” once the baby was born. So together with our dear friends, Yeni and Felipe, we decided to go on a cruise over Thanksgiving.
After we spent hours looking at various cruise lines, we decided to spend a little extra money and go with Celebrity Cruises. Celebrity offered the most complete package, including premium liquor. To accommodate the six of us, we booked a large suite for the adults and an adjacent room for our toddlers.
I won’t go into detail about the onboard experience and features of the rooms because that shall be subject of another post by our friend Yeni.
We finally booked the cruise in March, about three months before finding out that we were pregnant again. The baby’s due date was estimated to be March 1st, 2016, so Kathy would be in week 25/26 during the cruise and her OBGYN gave her the thumbs up to travel.
Guests who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy by the beginning of, or at any time during the cruise or Cruisetour can not sail.
The OK from her doctor led to a major mistake on our part. We did not check Celebrity’s policy in regard to pregnancy. Had we done that, we would have known that Celebrity does not allow any women on board, who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy. In other words, we could have cancelled the cruise in June and would have gotten our money back.
Only later did Kathy read about how other cruise lines do not allow pregnant women beyond 26 weeks onboard. We figured we’d be fine with 26 weeks but we took a closer look at Celebrity’s policies, just to find out that their cut off is at 24 weeks. We were shocked but knew it was our fault.
Those policies make sense – just imagine a premature delivery aboard a ship, with no proper equipment while being potentially far away from the next hospital.
Rules are Rules
We called both Celebrity and Expedia various times to ask if we could just postpone (not cancel) the cruise until after giving birth or sail earlier. Unfortunately Celebrity’s policies do not allow any changes to the booking without the very cancellation penalties that made that option so unattractive. Celebrity Cruises kindly suggested that we should have booked a travel insurance to deal with such eventualities. The funny thing is, we did have travel insurance but like most (or all?) travel insurances, it didn’t cover “normal” pregnancies. And since there was no medical emergency they would not reimburse us for the penalty Celebrity would have charged.
So our last hope was an appointment with Kathy’s OBGYN three days before our cruise. The goal was to get a letter stating that both Kathy and the baby were fit to travel and that there was no risk of premature delivery. Kathy is not very tall and Isabella, our first baby, was small in the womb. If this baby was on the smaller side too at week 25, the doctor may even adjust his due date.
Unfortunately, our world was turned upside down that day as you can read in a separate post. So going on a cruise was out of the question and now we did have a medical emergency that should be covered by our travel insurance.
Nevertheless, our friends, who fortunately decided to take the cruise, ended up with an oversized suite and an extra room they couldn’t use. So naturally they asked to at least return the smaller room nobody was using. But even though they explained the situation around our medical emergency, Celebrity Cruises declined to help them out in any way. No refund, no credit for a future cruise, no onboard credit – nothing.
On the other hand, despite strict cancellation policies in the airline industry, it took only a call to Delta Airlines to explain the situation. They immediately and without asking many questions, allowed me to cancel a total of 6 flights we had booked for the rest of the year. That’s customer service!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that we (the customer) are to blame for not making ourselves familiar with Celebrity’s policies before booking the cruise. But I don’t think declining help was in the best business interest of Celebrity Cruises.
We will do another cruise and our friends have done one almost every year. This was their first experience with Celebrity Cruises. Guess what? Neither of us will book again with Celebrity Cruises. So they lost 6 future customers over their inflexibility. Delta Airlines on the other hand has been and will be my airline of choice for years to come.
I’m looking forward to my friends review of their onboard experience – so stay tuned. I’ll link the post as soon as it’s online. Time is ticking Yeni!