• Report: #669647

Complaint Review: Royal Caribbean International

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  • Submitted: Wed, December 08, 2010
  • Updated: Sat, January 22, 2011

  • Reported By: SAH — Robbinsville North Carolina USA
Royal Caribbean International
1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, Florida Internet United States of America

Royal Caribbean International Royal Caribbean Cruise Line "Phantom" Platinum Member Benefits - Internet

*Author of original report: RCCL Feedback Yields New Loyalty Tiers & Formula

*Consumer Comment: RCCL Perks Really Are Down

*Consumer Comment: Yes, Royal Caribbean loyalty perks are down

*General Comment: HAL Plant

*General Comment: Reality

*Consumer Suggestion: Next Time Take an Upscale Cruise Line

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"Phantom" Platinum Member Benefits.


Are you a Royal Caribbean Platinum or Diamond member? (Platinum after 5 cruise credits; Diamond after 10 cruise credits). Then I hope you never have our experience. Royal Caribbean is a reputable company and we have enjoyed excellent cruises with them. But on a 12-day cruise in November, 2010, we have no doubt we became victims of deceptive practices that might prove useful to potential Royal Caribbean cruisers.


If you are a Royal Caribbean Platinum or Diamond member, you know the hype: priority check-in, private departure lounge, express boarding, etc. Royal Caribbean might deliver on the promises in their home port Miami, but the "where available" caveat applies in too many other Royal Caribbean departure ports.


In the port of Venice, Italy, many Royal Caribbean Platinum, Diamond (and even Double Diamond) passengers on the "Holy Land Cruise" were instructed to sit on a bare concrete floor with their luggage waiting - for some up to two hours - after the first boarding group number was called. For some this was after a 9 or 10 hour flight from the U.S. Human error? Maybe. But there would be no corrective action or consequences.


Issues began before our cruise as we were obliged to jump through many hoops to validate our promised onboard credit. Once we were aboard we discovered we had not received the onboard credit. Only because we were able to produce written evidence of our onboard credit and a photocopy of the original certificate did we succeed.


Recall the "Onboard Ultimate Value Booklet"? We tried to redeem a coffee coupon and were refused with no explanation given. Up in the Viking Lounge, the bartender told us we needed to have our drink coupon "validated" at the Guest Services desk. Ours had a Johnny Rockets coupon - but the ship had no Johnny Rockets! We had a discount offer for logo merchandise - but it was refused because items were on an unadvertised special. These certainly appear to be deceptive practices to us.


Cabin upgrade? Our cruise was not fully booked. We requested a cabin upgrade. We were put on a "list". The next day most Norwegian passengers (RCCL is owned by Norwegians) and some South Korean passengers (many first-time cruisers) received free cabin upgrades. We did not. Discrimination comes to mind.


Priority seating at theater shows? Not on this cruise, pal.


Have you heard the "exclusive on-board booking bonus" claim? The same bonus was made available to first-time cruisers.


So what benefits did Royal Caribbean Platinum & Diamond members receive on this cruise? We got a lapel pin to wear to show our tier status - as in how many times we were foolish enough to overpay for RCCL's nickel-n-dime-you-to-poverty cruise. We received a well-worn terrycloth bathrobe to wear during the cruise. We had a get together social to listen to RCCL hype about their newest ships - Allure and Oasis - "a destination in themselves."


We talked directly to the customer affairs officer aboard. We wrote our concerns in our cruise comment card. No response from Royal Caribbean.


We emailed and immediately complained to Crown & Anchor about their less than Gold Anchor service. We immediately received a "Do Not Reply Automated Response." Though our membership number, cruise booking number, home address, phone number and contact information was provided, we did not and have not heard from Royal Caribbean.


A month went by and we emailed RCCL Crown and Anchor again. And again we received a "Do Not Reply Automated Response." This public complaint is our response to being ignored by Royal Caribbean.


My advice to anyone anticipating rewarding benefits by sailing on Royal Caribbean enough times to qualify as a Platinum or Diamond member is sail with another cruise line that will appreciate repeat customers better.


I have a question for Royal Caribbean who bills itself as "the Nation of Why Not?" - Why Not treat your repeat cruisers better?


For us ... why not book our next cruise on Holland America?


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 12/08/2010 09:17 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Royal-Caribbean-International/internet/Royal-Caribbean-International-Royal-Caribbean-Cruise-Line-Phantom-Platinum-Member-Benefi-669647. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Author of original report

RCCL Feedback Yields New Loyalty Tiers & Formula

AUTHOR: SAH - (USA)

"Phantom" Platinum Member Benefits.
Are you a Royal Caribbean Platinum or Diamond member? (Platinum after 5 cruise credits; Diamond after 10 cruise credits). Then I hope you never have our experience. Royal Caribbean is a reputable company and we have enjoyed excellent cruises with them. But on a 12-day cruise in November, 2010, we have no doubt we became victims of deceptive practices that might prove useful information to potential Royal Caribbean cruisers.
If you are a Royal Caribbean Platinum or Diamond member, you know the hype: priority check-in, private departure lounge, express boarding, etc. Royal Caribbean might deliver on the promises in their home port Miami, but the "where available" caveat applies in too many other Royal Caribbean departure ports. In the port of Venice, Italy, many Royal Caribbean Platinum, Diamond (and even Diamond Plus aka "Double Diamond") passengers on the "Holy Land Cruise" were instructed to sit on a bare concrete floor with their luggage waiting - for some up to two hours - after the first boarding group number was called. For some this was after a 9 or 10 hour flight from the U.S. Human error? Maybe. But there would be no corrective action or consequences.

Issues actually began before our cruise as we were obliged to jump through many hoops to validate our promised onboard credit (we had booked this cruise on our previous cruise). Once we were aboard we discovered we had NOT received the onboard credit. Only because we were able to produce written evidence of our onboard credit and a photocopy of the original certificate did we succeed. The lesson here: save bring all of your papers with you.

Recall the "Onboard Ultimate Value Booklet"? We tried to redeem a coffee coupon at the Solarium and were refused with no explanation given. Up in the Viking Lounge, the bartender told us we needed to have our drink coupon "validated" at the Guest Services desk. Ours had a Johnny Rockets coupon - but the ship had no Johnny Rockets! - OK, but there was no alternative available on our ship. We had a discount offer for logo merchandise - but it was refused because items were on an "unadvertised special". These certainly appear to be deceptive practices to us.

Cabin upgrade? Our cruise was not fully booked. We requested a cabin upgrade. We were put on a "list". The next day most Norwegian passengers (RCCL is owned by Norwegians) and some South Korean passengers (many first-time cruisers) received free cabin upgrades. We did not. To confirm, cabin upgrades went to first-time cruisers. Discrimination comes to mind.

Priority seating at theater shows? Not on this cruise, pal.

Have you heard the "exclusive on-board booking bonus" claim? The same $200 credit was made available to first-time cruisers. They sat at our table with us and showed us their paperwork.

So what benefits did Royal Caribbean Platinum & Diamond members receive on this cruise? We got a lapel pin to wear to show our tier status - as in how many times we were foolish enough to overpay for RCCL's nickel-n-dime-you-to-poverty cruise. We received a well-worn terrycloth bathrobe to wear during the cruise. We had a get together social to listen to RCCL hype about their newest ships - Allure and Oasis - "a destination in themselves." (That's the goal, the ship not the ports are the new destinations.)

We talked directly to the customer affairs officer aboard. We wrote our concerns in our cruise comment card. No response from Royal Caribbean. We emailed and immediately complained to Crown & Anchor about their less than Gold Anchor service. We immediately received a "Do Not Reply Automated Response." Though our membership number, cruise booking number, home address, phone number and contact information was provided, we did not and have not heard from Royal Caribbean.

A month went by and we emailed RCCL Crown and Anchor again. And again we received a "Do Not Reply Automated Response." This public complaint is our response to being ignored by Royal Caribbean.

My advice to anyone anticipating rewarding benefits by sailing on Royal Caribbean enough times to qualify as a Platinum or Diamond member is sail with another cruise line that will appreciate repeat customers better.

I have a question for Royal Caribbean who bills itself as "the Nation of Why Not?" - Why Not treat your repeat cruisers better?

For us ... why not book our next cruise on Holland America? ... better yet, Silver Seas?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

January 21, 2011 UPDATE: Royal Caribbean announced changes in the Crown & Anchor loyalty program. To quote royalcaribbean.com, "We listened to your feedback and have made many of the changes you asked for."

Here isa measure of vindicationto Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor members who felt "ripped-off" and posted their complaints about the loss of loyalty benefits on this website.Then theyenduredoften unwarranteddisparagement from those who rebuttedbylabeling them "whiners" or worse. I have little doubt that public internet forums such a Ripoff Reports expedited Royal's Caribbean'surgency to revamp their loyalty program.

The question now is did Royal Caribbean make substantive improvements to their C&A loyalty program or is this "smoke and mirrors"? I am cautiously optimistic.

The GOOD: The most significant change borrows the practice from other cruise lines and awards points per day aboard instead of per cruise. This redresses the inequalities thatwereproduced under the old system that allowed a cruiser to take two 3-day cruises and receive the samecruise creditsas one who took a 12-day cruise.In theory, per diem computationgreatly simplifies recordkeeping for everyone.Recordkeeping gets more complex because those who book a suite earn double points. C&A loyalty points apply, with what promises to be confusing conditions, on Celebrity and Azamara.

The BAD: Royal Caribbean added two new loyalty tiers to their Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Diamond Plus. One tier, the Pinnacle Club, has been created to recognize the topmost group.During this introductory period,Diamond Plus memberswho have100+cruise creditsare enrolled thoughsoon it will require 700 points to arrive at this tier. The second new tier, that affects many more "loyal Royals", is the Emerald Tier. The Emerald Tierhas been created to add a step betweenPlatinum (5 cruise credits) and Diamond (10 cruise credits). Under the new system,Platinum requires 30 points, Emerald 55 points, and Diamond 80 points. Though no one is supposed to be downgraded,a closer look shows, in theory, howa Diamond member could wake up this morning Platinum (one who took ten 3-day cruises = 30 points) orone who was Platinumis now Diamond (who took eight 10-day cruises = 80 points).

The UGLY: Benefits haven't been enhanced very much. Gold and Platinum tiers receive no new benefits. The only benefit an Emerald Tier recieves that a Platinum doesn't is a small welcome snack basket and a beverage (and the fine print adds conditions). There are new benefits for Diamond members, where available.Sadly, the posted "Terms and Conditions" fine print controlling the new loyalty benefitsprogram contains evenmore exclusions and qualifiers. Here, the devil in the details, may be found ingredients to justify future "rip-offs".

Is Royal Caribbean's C&A Loyalty Program superior to other cruise lines? Compared to budget cruise lines such as Carnival and NCL, it appears so. Comparisons between moderate priced cruise lines aremore subjectivebecause some loyalty "perks" given by onecruise linecan be more highly valued by a patron than loyalty "perks" awarded by another cruise line. And it should be noted that loyal patrons of most of these cruise lines can reach the topmost level sooner than Royal Caribbean repeat cruisers. Many "luxury" cruise lines include in their fare what Royal Caribbeangives as a loyalty award.

One will know whether this is a sweet victory or a public relations gimmick for Royal Caribbean Crown & Anchor members as soon as they take their next cruise. Until then, the jury is out.

SAH

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#2 Consumer Comment

RCCL Perks Really Are Down

AUTHOR: OceanGirl - (United States of America)

Gee, San Antone David, it appears to me like you're the one who hasthe agenda. If you got a Ripped Off Report to post, then write it. But looks like your agenda is to cruise this website to take pot shots at someone whodoes writes a report. Worse, the words you write are just hatefuland manage to insult the elderly.

I'm Royal Caribbean C&A Platinum with 8 cruise credits. That won't impress no one, but I just finished a cruise on Serenade. And I want everybody to know Royal Caribbean keeps cutting out the "extras" for everyone. Onthe cruise I took before this lastone there wasa variety of breakfast fruit drinks there for all. On my last cruise you got to buy a beverage card to even get tomato juice at breakfast! How many would be happy with watered down orange punch for breakfast? How cheap can Royal Caribbean get? Hey SAH is right! My last Ultimate Value Coupon Book was such a joke! It wasn't worth the paper it got printed on. And I know the loyalty gifts weren't as good on this last cruise as onthan the one I took beforebut then again they never been a reason to cruise.

I really hate thinking Royal Caribbean is sinking down to the bottom level of cut-rate, no-frills cruises on the cheap, but right now I can tell you I believe they used to better than Carnival and now I don't think they are anymore.

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#3 Consumer Comment

Yes, Royal Caribbean loyalty perks are down

AUTHOR: MikeW - (United States of America)

To David, San Antonio, TX

I find your rebuttal unecessarily offensive and mean-spirited.

Why personally attack someonewho postsa legitimate complaint? Isn't there enough vitrol in this world without you adding to it? It begs the question, what do you have to gain by posting such a verbal assault?

Big business, such as Royal Caribbean International, assume customer silence is tacit approval. After all, it was legitimate complaints that caused Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein to acknowledged feedback from Crown and Anchor members caused the line to restore some, but not all, benefits.

Iconsider myself aRoyal Caribbean "Loyal Royal" and am a C&A Diamond Plus member. Having said that, in my own experience, Royal Caribbean passengers are not treated a well as they were even ten years ago.

There is a parallel with airlines. There was a time all airline passengers received numerous benefits. With the advent of no-frill discount flying, these benefitsbecame scarce except to First Class.

It may be inevitable, but I am witnessing the sametrend in the cruise line industry andin "MY" Royal Caribbean. "Frills" that once defined a cruise are gradually disappearing, and in RCCL's case, that includes some loyalty "perks". When they were the larger ships of the fleet they offered loyalty "perks" that are no longer available on the same ships today. Go figure.

What readers should know is, like in so many other purchases, one gets what they pay for.I love cruising and my expectationshave beenlearned by experience. If one has high expectations then consider paying the small premium of an upscale cruise because, sadly, Royal Caribbean is now about on par with Carnival and NCL. Keep this in mind whendebating whether to purchase a Royal Caribbean cruise.

MikeW.

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#4 General Comment

HAL Plant

AUTHOR: David - (U.S.A.)

Reading through this complaint, I have to wonder if SAH was actually on a Royal Caribbean cruise and if he/she actually is a Crown and Anchor member. Where do I begin with the inconsistencies?

First, any C&A member, especially platinum or diamond would know the booklets are not ship specific. They are fleet wide. That means there are Johnny Rockets coupons in all of them. So the ship didn't have a JR, so what? What rational person would be offended by the presence of the coupon in the book? That's just dumb.

Second, what is "Double Diamond?" That level does not exist. Someone who claims to know so much about what they should be entitled to would know the level above Diamond is Diamond Plus.

Third, thecoupon for one free specialty coffee is pretty clear when it isable to be used. It says right on the coupon it is good for one free specialty coffee while dining in a specialty restaurant.

Actually, I have readthe diatribes of SAH on at least 3 threads now. SAH obviously has an agenda here and I'm willing to bet it's all made up.

Havefun on your Holland America cruise. As described in the book "Devils of theDeep Blue Sea," HAL is "God'swaiting room." Then again, if you fit in with that 80+ crowd, I can probably understand lack of comprehension.

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#5 General Comment

Reality

AUTHOR: Michael - (U.S.A.)

Right after RCI advertises priority embarkation, private departure lounge, etc, it very clearly says only in ports where it's available. Miami, Ft Lauderdale, and Tampa are 3 of those ports. Venice, Italy, where RCI does not control the facilities,is not one of those ports.

Good luck with HAL.The nickel and dimingand port services are no different.

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#6 Consumer Suggestion

Next Time Take an Upscale Cruise Line

AUTHOR: Karl - (U.S.A.)

Royal Caribbean and other mid-level lines are one step above Carnival. If you have the money to go to Europe and sail from there why not sail on an upscale line where you are treated better than a steerage passenger? Holland America is good and RCI even has Celebrity. Try somebody else.

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