Monday, April 19, 2010

How the Volcanic Ash Affects Royal Caribbean Ships

From the “Why Not?” Blog, Adam Goldstein, President and CEO Royal Caribbean Intl, addresses the volcanic ash situation that has snarled worldwide travel and how the cruise line is coping with the challenge.

Volcanic ash from Iceland has ascended over Europe and is affecting air travel to, from and within the region just as the new European cruise season is getting underway. This is proof that we had not yet seen “everything.” We are affected by the interaction of a still-erupting volcano and an uncertain wind and weather pattern. These factors are about as far beyond our control as is imaginable. As a result, we are dealing with this challenge on a day to day and even hour to hour basis. Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to board our ships before the ships must depart to maintain all or nearly all of their scheduled itineraries. While our primary focus is on the ships in Europe, there are also ships in the Caribbean and elsewhere that are expecting guests originating from Europe. We are hoping that the situation abates but working intensively on it while it persists.

This situation is obviously about far more than our issues or even the cruise industry’s issues. Besides airlines, it has implications for hotels, rental cars, trains, ferries, and every other element of travel and leisure. We need to take all of this into account.

As always, we protect our guests who have purchased air transportation through us. For example, guests who purchased air arrangements through Royal Caribbean and who were scheduled to travel on cruises departing on April 18th, and whose travel became impossible due to airport closures, will be provided a refund of their air fare and a Future Cruise Certificate in the amount of the cruise fare paid.

This situation presents much more complexity than what we usually face with downline protection for a limited number of guests. This bizarre set of circumstances is a powerful reminder of the benefits of purchasing travel insurance with trip cancellation protection. It’s impossible to generalize what coverage will be provided in this instance, but having coverage is very likely to be preferable to having no coverage.

While this is a “case of first impression” as the lawyers like to say, our key people know their roles and responsibilities in a situation and assume them seamlessly. Given the time difference between the US and Europe, the first conference call of each morning occurs at 5 a.m. Eastern time. We are obviously monitoring the progress of the cloud of debris as well as any pronouncements from national authorities about the implications of the situation on their airports and air flights. We discuss all of this by email and phone as a management team as each day unfolds and try to agree as quickly as possible on any information to post on our web site or issue in the form of a letter to our guests currently onboard.

Under the present strange circumstances we expect to deal with unforeseeable nuances every day. One issue that is more than a nuance is that our crew are affected as well, either not being able to go home or not being able to get to their ship. I’m sure we are far from alone in this.


MIchael said...

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I just put up this week…

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Feel free to check out the full blog post on my related blog
over at…

See you there,

DaisyEngland said...

Adam Goldstein. My husband and I cruised with RCL to Dubai and were disgusted with your cruise line. You dumped all passengers at Dubai with no accommodation, flight or money and sailed to Barcelona. You then offered a return flight date of 6 May which was completely unnacceptable. We had to pay for our own accommodation (booked by my sisters in the UK) and make our own travel arrangements to return home. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Thousands of passengers were left stranded. We booked a package holiday with you and were told by guest relations that they would help us. You did nothing. I will be sending you a list of invoices for reimbursement. Failing that I fully intend to sue you as do hundreds of other people. I hope you get what you deserve. You made my husband and I ill.

Carol Smith said...

We, like 'Daisy England' in the previous post received no assistance from RCI when we were disembarked at Venice amid the volcanic ash crisis, despite my Mother (82) being ill and in the Doctor's office for 2 hours that morning. We, like many others, had to pay for the taxi to the hotel, all accommodation, meals etc. and when I eventually managed to speak to someone in RCI by phone, I was told that we were not RCI's responsibility, and to check with the airline (despite having booked everything through RCI) as they were fully responsible for getting us home! There were no names taken and no contact made following disembarkation. We eventually endured a 43 hour bus/ferry/bus journey home from Venice to Scotland which was a nightmare. We, like most other travellers we spoke to following this cruise, will never book with RCI again. Shame on you! Carol, Kilmarnock.

Carol Smith said...

Like DaisyEngland we were disgusted by RCI's handling of their passengers during the volcanic ash crisis (Venice, 17 April, Splendour). They couldn't wait to disembark us, no announcement from the Captain at all, and after allocating hotels at the airport, made no attempt to keep us informed of plans to repatriate us. My Mother of 82 was ill before leaving the ship, and although we were Suite guests, no extra help was offered. I managed to phone RCI in England to be told that we 'were not their responsibility' despite us having booked everything through RCI including flights. They just washed their hands of us. We paid for all our meals, accommodation, taxis etc and eventually endured a 43 hour bus/ferry/bus trip from Venice to Scotland. Never again will we sail with RCI, and I know I speak for many passengers from our ship.

Anonymous said...

Mr Goldstein, I would like to add my note of disgust with the performance of RCI after being left stranded in Venice April 2010. OK the ash cloud was a problem but other cruise lines managed. RCI now owe me a significant sum of money as they did not deliver what was PAID for. RCI really need to get their act together.RCI =Untrustworthy Company in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

It seems there is a huge gap between the RCI marketing story and their actual customer care. We were on board the Brillaince in Dubai on 18th April. Dismayed passengers were trying to work out what to do whilst the entertainment staff continued with bingo and towel folding demos and assured passengers that they should GET OFF THE SHIP and they could make their hotel arrangements in the port terminal.
Those who chose to re board for a transit to Barcelona were charged premium fares (up to 4 times that of fellow passengers who had made the connection for the cruise)despite the ship being nearly empty as most passenger had been unable to fly to start the cruise. Very shoddy

strandedinparadisenot said...

I must wholeheartedly agree with all the sentiments expressed here. Those who got back on Brilliance of the seas held meetings with Guest Relations and asked questions on the price of the fare, the refund of the difference between the flights that Royal Carbbean would have had a refund for and the actual flights home from Barcelona. They made a lot more money out of a lot of peopl ewho had been on the first cruise and chose to stay on board. They did nothing proactively at all - no medical help, no internet, no on board credit, not internet, no phone calls, no laundry. All of these we had to try and fight for and when you have alrady paid at least twice as much as the people you are travelling with, it brings us all to the same conclusion - an absolutely appalling profiteering company. Especially when you see companies such as Princess providing another weeks accommodation free and then rearranging flights home, as soon as possible ( a week earlier than we managed to get home with RCI). caribbean. We all know which company we are going with next time. Feel free to post comments on