What to Do If You Have a Complaint on a Cruise

For the vast majority of cruisers, the trip goes off without a hitch. Everything from check-in to dining to entertainment is as close to perfect as possible. After all, the cruise lines wouldn’t be in business if people didn’t enjoy themselves on vacations.

But with literally millions of passengers taking trips each year, there are bound to be some issues that come up that can make your cruise less than enjoyable. And while most problems are either minor or not worth the hassle of complaining, there may be some times when you have to complain in order to get an issue fixed.

So if this happens to you, what’s the best way to get results? The following tips will help you get your issue fixed and get back to enjoying your cruise.

Have a Complaint? Let Someone Know Immediately

Most people don’t want to cause a fuss or be a bother. In fact, some of us feel feel guilty for complaining at all. If there’s something wrong on your cruise, however, you should let someone know immediately if there’s an issue. First, this gives the cruise line a chance to make things right. If you have noisy neighbors near your cabin, for instance, letting the cruise line know could lead to a room change to somewhere quieter.

Second, bringing an issue up early can keep it from growing bigger and keep it from turning from something minor into an annoyance throughout your entire cruise.

Don’t Immediately Ask for Compensation

If you have an issue, you might be tempted to ask for compensation right off the bat. It’s better not to do so.

“Inform the [staff] immediately of the problem. If you feel that they are not concerned, ask for a supervisor. Don’t start asking for compensation as that minimizes the complaint. Are you complaining for genuine issue or to get free stuff?” says Suzanne Wolko of travel site PhilaTravelGirl.com. She recently had a complaint aboard a Holland America. By keeping the focus on her complaint instead of compensation, she was actually offered $75 in onboard credit, an apology from the company, and more onboard credit for use on a future cruise.

Document Your Issue and Have Proof

In most cases, any issue you might have can be taken care of quickly. However, if you still aren’t satisfied, then it’s time to start documenting the issue in case you need to start escalating your complaint. Take pictures of the issue (if applicable) and write down the name of any staff members that you discuss the issue with. Having as much proof as possible helps should you have to bring the issue to people who aren’t already familiar like a supervisor or the onshore staff.

Be Patient, but Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Up (or Escalate)

While you want to give the staff the opportunity to make things right, you shouldn’t be afraid to follow-up. If the staff hasn’t been in touch or hasn’t fixed the problem in a reasonable amount of time, then bring it up so the staff knows that the issue won’t just go away. If after you’ve been patient and the issue still isn’t resolved, then escalate the complaint. That can be a manager or supervisor.

And if you aren’t satisfied by the time you leave the ship, don’t despair. After you leave the ship you can take your issue up with the corporate offices (this is where having documentation is important). You can also try to contact and share your complaint on social media channels, which many companies monitor for customer complaints.

Above all, it’s important to have a positive attitude throughout your experience. Not only do you want to not let a complaint ruin your entire cruise, but you’ll likely have better experience getting your issue fixed if you are polite and pleasant to deal with.

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