When this whole mess started, our expectations from Holland America were quite modest.  We wanted them to make things up to us.

But instead they initially just made apologies.  Is this a good business practice?  When you go to a restaurant and the meat comes out raw or so overcooked as to be inedible you expect the restaurant to replace it if it can be done quickly and does not disturb the overall quality of the meal.  We have had this happen to us several times over the years and there is no issue, we get the replacement and we go on eating.  If the replacement dish takes an additional hour to prepare, we are inconveniences and expect something like a free dessert .  We have had this happen a few times.

What have been the consequences of this consideration?  Naturally, we go back to these restaurants.   We have one restaurant where we had a major problem once.  The manager actually offered all of us in the party a free meal in the future to make up for the disaster that had occurred.  The follow up meal was wonderful and we have gone back to this restaurant many times since then.

On the other hand, if the manager does not make matters “right” we usually do not go back to the restaurant and tell people about the bad experience.

But what to do in this case?  Holland America did not do us “right” while on the cruise.  There was no effort to do anything to offset the problems we had except numerous apologies.  The apologies cost Holland America nothing and were worth about the same – nothing.  We were meanwhile out several thousands of dollars in the cruise, air travel, incidental expenses, hotel stay before the cruise, and time off from work for what was a miserable week and a half.  One does not expect that from a vacation.  And I have not taken in consideration the physical harm from the exploding hair dryer.  I still have two small scars from the second degree burns I received.  What I should have done was to go to an attorney immediately, but I thought Holland America would do the “right” thing.

While Holland America could have turned this into a very positive experience they have instead decided that their marketing strategy is based on the old quote “There is a sucker born every minute”.  They have my money and that is all that is important.   What they should be doing is remembering the quote that was popularized during the 80’s –  “A satisfied customer tells 10 people about their experiences, an unhappy customer tells 100”.   It is my goal to multiply that number by over a thousand.

I have commented about my experiences on several cruise boards.  On one, www.cruiselinefans.com I have a fair amount of weight since I am one of the board leaders.  I have also posted on numerous newspaper web sites and a few other assorted places.  My goal is to make others well aware of how Holland America treats customers.

But, perhaps, my favorite activity is to go to cruise shows and casually wander up to the Holland America booth and politely tell the rep that my first cruise was on Holland America and I enjoyed it immensely – but I will never go on Holland America again.  They then innocently ask “what happened?” and I go into the full story.  It is interesting and amusing to see the line of people behind me slowly disintegrate as the poor rep tries to do damage control.  It never seems to work.  After getting even more apologies from the rep and a promise to look into matters, I politely let the rep know that several other people have done the same thing and all I get are more hollow apology letters from corporate.  I am proud to say that a few times people who were in line have asked me what a good cruise line is and I pointed them to the Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and NCL booths.

I should add that the rep did contact corporate and behold, I got another letter!  They were graciously extending the original $250 credit for another year!

I, naturally, tossed this offer in the same place as their previous ones.  I did scan it first. I have heard insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  You can tell what I think of Holland America’s management.

I , of course, am not insane so I have decided to try something else.  I now have this blog and the web address cruisefromhell.com.  (A special thanks to Greg Grottler who gave me the web address.  You can check out his web site www.flightsfromhell.com for airline issues.)

I keep raising the stakes but Holland America still refuses to get the hint that I am not going to go away.  And I am not satisfied with their “kind” extension of their $250 off my next cruise offer.  As I said, I had a vacation ruined by them.  If they had offered to make things right from the beginning, I would have accepted a two for one offer on a future cruise.  I have some idea what their costs actually are and that would have been a fair offer.  It is a little bit more than what they are offering travel industry people to take a cruise, but not that much more.  I would still be taking time off work for the cruise (without pay) and would have been responsible for the second fare, air, and the incidentals.  The $250 would mean that they would still be making a several hundred dollars PROFIT on my misfortune.  I do not think that this is fair.

As time went on and they kept insulting me, I have increased my expectations.  At this point my requests are for a free cruise for both my wife and I.  We would still be responsible for getting to the departure port, but they would be responsible for a totally free cruise.  Yes, I want them to understand what a company should do for a dissatisfied customer and to have someone in upper management take the repercussions of a poor policy decision.

Naturally as time goes on, I will be raising my demands.  And I find more creative ways to get the word out (and to do more damage to Holland America) my demands will increase further.  We shall see when Holland America finally realizes that the cost to them keeps increasing.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Joe Wood
    Jun 06, 2012 @ 17:41:58

    Hell hath no fury like a cruiser scorned.


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