He missed the boat and Royal Caribbean doesn’t care

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. And if you’re dealing with Royal Caribbean, again and again.

And if that doesn’t work? Write a story.

Which is why I’m telling you about Lowell Bower. He and his family were scheduled to fly from Orlando to Vancouver, where they were scheduled to start their Alaska cruise tour on the Radiance of the Seas. Bower and his family had booked the airline tickets through Royal Caribbean’s Air2Sea program, which offers some protections for passengers.

But thanks to a delay in getting the aircraft to the gate in Los Angeles, his connecting city, he missed his flight to Vancouver. Bower says Royal Caribbean was royally unhelpful in fixing the problem.

“Their response was, ‘Sorry, there’s nothing we can do for you,'” he says.

Bower then paid a walk-up fare on a WestJet flight, but after he cleared customs and made it to the port, the ship had sailed. He and his family returned to Orlando the same day.

Bower wants a $1,708 refund for the extra airfare and a $2,342 cruise credit, so he can repeat the Alaska cruise this summer.

I reviewed the lengthy correspondence between Royal Caribbean and Bower. It appears a travel agent was involved in this debacle, but until now, has been unable to help. Also, the cruise line has tried to keep its communications to voicemails, presumably to keep this conflict off the Internet.

Perhaps they’ve never heard of transcription services. It’s a neat concept. It allows anyone to turn voice into text.

And that’s where we get the following non-response from the cruise line:

Hi, this is Jackie from Royal Caribbean Corporate Guest Relations. I was just calling about the email that you sent over regarding your missed sailing on the Radiance of the Seas August 7th, I just want to apologize for any disappointment missing that sailing did cause.

Per the note you sent here I do see that you missed the flight not because the flight was canceled or has mechanical issues but that you were late to the flight, that is why you were not able to make the cruise, which unfortunately will not fall under the insurance guidelines as per (unintelligible).

ChoiceAir assures you that if you are not able to make the sailing because of something we have done such as mechanical error, flight delays, cancellations or things of that nature we will do our best to get you to the next port-of-call.

Unfortunately with this particular sailing there are laws called the Jones Act where we are not able to put you on another flight or put you on another sailing on that particular cruise. Let me apologize for that. I see that you have been fully refunded for the refundable portion of your cruise including your taxes, gratuities, and any other refundable components such as shore excursions.

Should you have any further questions or comments feel free to give me a call at 800-256-6649, and again my name is Jackie.

That doesn’t really line up with Bower’s version of events. The delay happened because of a late-arriving aircraft, which caused him to miss his connection. The cruise line then threw its hands in the air, according to him, putting him in the position of having to pay more just to try to get to the ship. Jones Act, Shmones Act. The cruise line didn’t help this customer.

I figured there must be more to this story, so I contacted Royal Caribbean. The first time, it didn’t even acknowledge the email. Two weeks later, I reached out again. This time, my contact said she hadn’t received the first email, but would look into it. A few more weeks passed, so I sent a third reminder. Silence.

Here’s the thing: Apart from the vague dismissal Bower shared with me, I have no idea what actually happened. Did he actually have enough time to connect, and did he maybe stop by Starbucks for a latte on his way to the connecting flight? Why didn’t his agent help him? Why didn’t the ChoiceAir, or Air2Sea, or whatever Royal Caribbean calls it, kick in like it was supposed to?

I think Bower deserves a better answer. The “no” from the cruise line still might stick, but at least he’d know why.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Royal Caribbean wants to be left the hell alone to deal with its customers as it pleases. I’ll let them, just as soon as I finish writing this story.

Should Royal Caribbean have turned down Lowell Bower?

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