Peter, We recently took a cruise on the Celebrity Century. When we first checked into our cabin, we noticed a strong cigarette smell, despite the fact that Celebrity’s own Web site states that smoking is not allowed in staterooms. We immediately notified the customer service desk, because we are both highly allergic to cigarette smoke, and we began suffering adverse reactions.
It took forever to get someone to clean our room, even after repeated requests, which it seemed that no one was logging anywhere. We were told that we could not switch to a different stateroom, because the cruise was fully booked. However, several members of our own group had not shown up, so we knew there were free berths. During the trip, we constantly had to take medicine to get through the day, and we had to avoid our own room most of the time. Not only was our enjoyment of the trip totally ruined, but after we got home, my wife’s sinus problems became so bad that she needed medical care and lost work time as a result.
I have attempted to communicate our dissatisfaction to both the travel agency that booked us and the cruise line. Celebrity offered us a 10-percent discount on another cruise in the next 12 months. We are not happy with this, because we do not ever want to cruise with Celebrity again, nor can we afford to, with the economy the way it is. We’d rather have a refund of at least part of the cost of the cruise. Can you help us?
I contacted Celebrity on your behalf to find out if they would deviate from their normal policy of giving credit for a future cruise, instead of a refund. I was also curious to find out exactly what their policy is on smoking in staterooms, and how they normally handle onboard customer complaints.
Janelle Ballentino, executive guest specialist with Celebrity, told me that smoking was allowed in Celebrity’s staterooms until November 2008 but is no longer permitted in either staterooms or balconies. However, the previous guest in your stateroom may have violated the new rules, which would explain why it smelled of smoke. Ballentino also said that the “no smoking in bed” sign was a vestige of the previous smoking policy, but Celebrity is in the process of removing any remaining signs.
As for documenting complaints, Ballentino said that Celebrity takes all customers’ concerns very seriously and tries to rectify them the same day or the following day. Your concerns were logged on a daily basis, and your room was cleaned three times during your stay. Celebrity does attempt to accommodate room change requests, but your request may have been denied because other passengers who were also unhappy with their rooms may have already been switched into the spare berths that were available. Plumbing problems are a common reason why passengers need to be rehoused, and that means that the rooms they vacated become ineligible for someone else to take.
Ballentino said the best way to ensure that your complaint gets immediate attention is to go to the guest-relations desk (instead of calling housekeeping or a guest-room attendant), because the latter don’t have a means to log problems.
Celebrity offered to refund you 50 percent of the cruise fare portion of what you paid, which works out to $509. (They are unable to refund taxes and fees once you actually set sail). Vacations to Go, your travel agent, also agreed to give you a 5-percent discount on a future cruise with the cruise line of your choice, since you said you prefer not to cruise with Celebrity again.