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Empress - First 4 Sailings Sold out ? I Don't believe it.....

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I am sailing on the Empress on April 11 (5 days, Cozumel and Costa Maya).  I am an obsessed researcher so I check the website numerous times throughout the day to see what rooms are still available and if prices are fluctuating, etc.

 

So I have been keeping a very close eye on the status of my Empress sailing.  Suddenly, earlier this week, the status for the first 4 cruises out of drydock (of which mine is one...the last of the 4, I believe) are showing a Sold Out status.

 

I find this VERY hard to believe (for my sailing, at least) given the fact that, consistently there have been many, many cabins still available, particularly in the "JR SUITE" category, [which really looks more like a standard balcony on any other ship].  I do concede that the inside rooms had been nearly sold out for some time and all of the Owner's Suites have been sold, but there were still MANY oceanview and balcony (JR STE) still available before they miraculously sold out the entire ship.

 

This is making me very nervous about the refurb.  My gut tells me that they aren't ready yet and that they have CUT OFF the remaining unsold cabins b/c they are either going to : (1) cancel some or all of these sailings or (2) they are going to be working, to some degree, during these sailings and they're going to minimize the impact to whomever is already booked on these sailings.

 

They have been even quieter than normal about what is going on with Empress.  I believe the refurb is supposed to have been completed by now...but I haven't heard a single peep about whether that is the case, or what they did...or any kind of grand announcement, welcoming Empress back to the fleet.

 

Nothing, nada, el-quieto.

 

I'm getting a bad feeling....

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I can understand your concern......they haven't said much about it at all. Much like Majesty as well I find. The really seemed to promote dry dock of other ships like Liberty etc

 

 

I would say maybe a large group booked or something last minute...but if the first 4 sailings suddenly booked up that doesn't seem plausible....

 

Hopefully it is just demand that filled it up...RCI certainly isn't hurting from empty sailings right now...we all know that.

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I am sailing on the Empress on April 11 (5 days, Cozumel and Costa Maya).  I am an obsessed researcher so I check the website numerous times throughout the day to see what rooms are still available and if prices are fluctuating, etc.

 

So I have been keeping a very close eye on the status of my Empress sailing.  Suddenly, earlier this week, the status for the first 4 cruises out of drydock (of which mine is one...the last of the 4, I believe) are showing a Sold Out status.

 

I find this VERY hard to believe (for my sailing, at least) given the fact that, consistently there have been many, many cabins still available, particularly in the "JR SUITE" category, [which really looks more like a standard balcony on any other ship].  I do concede that the inside rooms had been nearly sold out for some time and all of the Owner's Suites have been sold, but there were still MANY oceanview and balcony (JR STE) still available before they miraculously sold out the entire ship.

 

This is making me very nervous about the refurb.  My gut tells me that they aren't ready yet and that they have CUT OFF the remaining unsold cabins b/c they are either going to : (1) cancel some or all of these sailings or (2) they are going to be working, to some degree, during these sailings and they're going to minimize the impact to whomever is already booked on these sailings.

 

They have been even quieter than normal about what is going on with Empress.  I believe the refurb is supposed to have been completed by now...but I haven't heard a single peep about whether that is the case, or what they did...or any kind of grand announcement, welcoming Empress back to the fleet.

 

Nothing, nada, el-quieto.

 

I'm getting a bad feeling....

 

This time I really hope I am wrong in the way I read this. But I think maybe you will be getting a notice soon about a change for your Empress cruise.

 

Look at these statements made this week at the trade show:

 

Vicki Freed, Royal's senior vice president of sales, trade support and services, recently told a group of travel agents that inventory on the Empress will likely be parceled out month by month.
 
“We’re not going out too far, because we’re waiting for Cuba to open up,†Freed said at a CruiseOne/Cruises Inc. training seminar. “The minute Cuba opens up, we know this is the right-sized ship for Cuba.â€
 
Then add that the US Government lifted the ban on ship travel.
 

Reported by News Network Fox:

 

"The United States is removing Cuba from its list of countries deemed to have insufficient security in their ports, eliminating a major impediment to free flow of ships in the Florida Straits. The move marks one more step toward normalized relations ahead of President Barack Obama's historic trip to Cuba.
The shift clears the way for U.S. cruise ships, cargo vessels and even ferries to travel back and forth with much less hassle."
 
We should see Major US Lines in Cuba within the next few months.
 
 
And I believe maybe they are getting ready to flip to the Cuba market. Again I really hope I am wrong and they honer and have your cruise.

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Something is definitely amiss.

 

I received a call from Miami yesterday during my drive back to VA from NJ (where I had been working all week) but was unable to answer.  They left no message.  Now I'm wondering if that call may have been from RCI, and somehow related to this.  I guess I'm letting my imagination run wild here.  Probably just a sales call....

 

If they are now showing 6 sold out sailings (I haven't checked in the past 30 min. or so) then there is definitely something going on.

 

Hmmmmm.....you'd think that they would be making a big deal about this ship returning to the fleet but it's like they're trying to tamp down any mention of it at all !

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Yep...just got the bad news from Michelle (MEI TA).  CAncelled.  I was afraid of this.

 

UGH

I love how we're in the know before Royal makes any official announcements.

 

It is possible that they also had a full-ship charter; it may not be related to refurbishment at all.  Or perhaps they're going to add more to the ship now that Cuba is much stronger possibility than it was a few months ago.

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Yep...just got the bad news from Michelle (MEI TA).  CAncelled.  I was afraid of this.

 

UGH

Just wondering... what happens next for you? I know they can cancel at any time and that's in the contract, but do they do anything else for customer service reasons (and those of us in C&A)? 

 

We've never had a canceled cruise before. We're booked on what was supposed to be the 8th sailing, which I guess is now the second sailing, so I'm getting nervous... 

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Or perhaps they're going to add more to the ship now that Cuba is much stronger possibility than it was a few months ago.

 

I'm wondering about this as well - seems to be too much of a coincidence with all of the Cuba talk going on, and the fact that it's basically common knowledge at this point that Empress is destined for Cuba as soon as it's a possibility. 

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Well...it is definitely tied to the refurb unless they are straight up lying about that.  The letter (email) that RCI sent to Michelle said that the refurb was the reason for the cancellation.

 

Options....well...

 

I can rebook with the Empress between April 23 - July 23, I can rebook on the Majesty or I can cancel and get a refund.  I can't see why I would rebook with Majesty since she doesn't do any 5 day itineraries and I'm certainly NOT going to trade a 5 day for a 3 or 4 day.  I got such a good rate that I don't want to cancel and I have no interest in going to Key West/Grand Cayman.  The only other Cozumel/Costa Maya itinerary is April 23 and there are no Owner's Suites (besides, given this cancellation, I'm not so sure I want to book so close to their new start date anyway) left for that sailing.  I have absolutely  no interest in going to Key West/Grand Cayman, so it looks like my only option is for the 5 day Cozumel overnighter.  It's not really what I wanted but I don't see that I really have any other options.  The only date where my original room is available is May 23.  So...I'm hoping to resked for May 23 for the 5 night Cozumel overnighter.  I will have to change my airline reservations (of COURSE I did not get travel insurance for this trip) and I have to cancel and or/resked excursions for Maya Chan (Costa Maya) and Mr. Sanchos (Cozumel).  If I can get all of that accomplished with minimum stress and money I guess I will be happy.  My mini vacay will just be delayed by about 5 weeks....otherwise, ok....

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This is just not a good situation all around - the cruise line is allowing you to change to a new sailing and

price protecting, and adding in $100 onboard credit as a good will gesture - they are also giving client

who booked airfare with royal free change in airfare.  For those like Waaaytoo that book air on her own

they are allowing up to $200 reimbursement of airline change fees.

This cancellation is due to refurbishments not being made in time but still it leaves a bad taste

for clients and will be a hard sell now for RCI to get people to trust them

 

No worries though Waaaytoo -I got your back!! 

Also - this is also why travel insurance comes in handy!  you never know what will happen

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I think my Freedom cruise next moth should skip Coco Cay and hit up Havana!!

 

 

 

That sucks about the cancelling.  I've been looking so forward to this that it would pretty much kill me if they were to cancel.

 

Cannot yet as the Cruise Line needs to apply to the Government of Cuba for the rights to dock within the country. The US Government has cleared the way already that is only one step.

 

 

 

This cancellation is due to refurbishments not being made in time but still it leaves a bad taste

for clients and will be a hard sell now for RCI to get people to trust them

 

 

 

Do not believe this for one minute.... if Royal says only due to refurbishments they are out and out lying. If the ship was over 30 days delayed they would have known long before now. And if it was just a short time frame they would have cancelled one or two cruises not a months worth of cruises. When they refurbished a ship they have daily meeting and follow the work being done, what is completed and how long to finish.  Royal does not wake up within a week of the date a ship is to be leased and say it will be a month late. Best case they have been behind and thought they could caught up... but they should have not sold cruises in this case. Or they are covering the real reason here. Royal is free to run the business as they see fit. But they owe it to loyal clients like WAAAYTOOO to tell them the truth.

 

The same as when they cancel the second  Anthem of the Seas cruise in February claiming it was for the safety of the passengers because of a storm. The only problem with this is if you checked the weather for the area, and the Coast Guard information no storm was in the area? So why cancel the cruise and return early? Royals statement "Caribbean announced via Twitter that that it's "closely watching a large storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras. We want to be extra cautious when it comes to weather in the area." The cruise line decided that it is canceling the last two days of the current Anthem of the Seas cruise which will skip Barbados and St Kitts in order to "avoid a severe storm & provide guests with a comfortable journey back home."

 

Could it be because a at that time over 65  Passengers reported symptoms of the  norovirus.? And Royal made a mad dash back to port so that they could get the passengers of the ship and not get to the 3% level that the CDC then list the ship as having a outbreak. And when  the cruise ship return to the port 2 days early, if really weather you let the passengers finish their time on the ship. But did royal do this?  No they got the passengers off the ship claiming they need to do a super cleaning of the ship. Again since norovirus takes time to developed, get the passengers off the ship and they don't count.  Eradicating norovirus  and the risk from it seems to make much more sense than the mystery storm. 

 

As a shareholder I want Royal to do everything they can to maximized profits and stay just within the law. I want the maximum return on my investment. As a passengers I want the truth from them and my interest put first. I want to allow them to make just enough profit  to stay in business, and allow me to pay the lowest prices. Two goals that are 180 degrees apart, it just depends upon what hat I am wearing that day.

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Kris, unfortunately, there is not much "good will" going around on this one.  As unhappy as I am, there are people who are REALLY pissed off over this (and rightfully so).

 

We are fortunate.  We can simply rebook a later sailing, change airline reservations, make a couple of minor changes (excursions and hotel in Miami) and move forward.  Many - I think, most - only had this one window (work, school, special event such as graduation) and now their options are none or extremely limited.  From my vantage, RCI is doing little or nothing to help them.  They are not providing price protection on ANY other ships except for Empress or Majesty.  IMO, that is very shortsighted.  Many pax are willing to travel to alternate ports, change dates and make other kinds of concessions, but RCI is being extremely rigid.  If you try to book on ANY other ship, they are requiring you pay the price fare difference, even if staying in the same cabin category.

 

This is causing a LOT of very bad feelings and is resulting in unbelievably bad PR.  With a blunder like this, you would think RCI would be trying to keep this tamped down, but they don't seem to care at all.  They are losing (voiced, at any rate) many new customers.  This ship was supposed to attract those new, young, first time cruisers but instead, they are stunned by the insensitivity and uncaring responses they are getting from CS.

 

Add to that, the concerns that Todd and others have voiced about the "true" motives at play.  Will they eventually cancel even the re-scheduled cruises down the road ?  What's really happening with this ship ?  Could they really have encountered a heinous refurb issue completely, previously unknown (a current thread on CC says "yes") ?  Are their scheduling and logistics really that poor ?

 

At any rate, we have decided to resked for May 23 for an overnighter in Cozumel.  The only other itinerary that included Costa Maya (our real destination of choice on this one) did not have any Owner's Suites available so we had to compromise.  With any luck, we will even get our original cabin.  Michelle is dutifully working on it for us.

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That's too bad, WaaayTooo. It seems that Royal is becoming very inflexible. I experienced this on the Liberty when they took our cabin out of inventory at the last minute. We offered to switch ships, ports, sailing dates, etc. and what we received was total inflexibility for a change they didn't even notify my TA of. And as you know, the icing on the cake was that we were told at pier check in that we owed money for a COMPLIMENTARY upgrade that we didn't receive and much of our prepurchased items and notifications were not routed to the new cabin.

 

Royal can and should do better.

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  Believe it.  We have had not 1 but 2 cruises cancelled in the last month.  The first one was a 10 day cruise on the Quantum out of Shanghai in December, the 2nd was on the Rhapsody transatlantic for April 2017.  We had booked them when they were first posted, just like Royal says, book early.  But the Quantum was later Charted so they changed to 2 five day cruises (4 months after we booked).  They offered us a refund or compensation for our flight reservations where we lost several hundred dollars, but after 3 weeks we have received nothing.  Of course we are still waiting on the Rhapsody compensation & refund.   RCCL loyal to Royal, seems more like RCCL is loyal to RCCL.

  As Pinnacle Club Members, and feeling abandoned, we cancelled 20 of our next 26 booked cruises, feeling that our "Land Tours" booked by us, we won't cancel.  Hopefully in the future RCCL will be able to find a way to schedule cruises without pulling a port our of a hat, or at least live up to the promise of proper compensation due to their indecision or greed.

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Sorry I posted this in another thread but I figured it fits on here very well too:

 

I was also on the cancelled sailing of empress on the 11th of April, as well as the sailing before on the 7th.  I could not agree more with Raye about how Royal has done nothing short of slapping it's passengers in the face, who trusted them to keep a schedule.  1000's upon 1000's affected with little shown by Royal to make us feel as if they actually care about our business.

 

So many people, including myself, do not have flexibility in travel dates and can not just switch to another sailing at a later date as they seem to think is easy peasy and what they offered us.  Oh, or you could switch to the VERY tired Majesty on a shorter sailing to garbage bahamas ports, nothing like originally booked.  I was offered to trade my 4 AND 5 night sailing's in for a 3 and 4 night on majesty for the same price.  How sweet of them.  ALSO, I was in a Junior suite, to which they did not have any available to accommodate me, but AGAIN it would be the same price.  SO 2 less nights AND 11 less crown and anchor points.  ALL for the great price of what I already paid for 9 nights and 18 points.  They would do nothing to match the points that I originally would have gotten as well.  Thanks.

 

I called immediately mid day Friday when it was announced, and already at that time Majesty had next to nothing available.  My total time  in one phone call was over 4 hours followed by a few 30 minute ones later on.  So YES, a TA would have been amazing to have is what my point is lol.  

 

We ended up switching to OASIS on April 9th in a JS for 7 nights.  Same price, in fact about $80 cheaper.  18points-14 means 4 points less than originally booked.  Makes us 4 points shy of the big status Diamond after sailing.    :(  Pretty disappointed as I've worked hard to get there by 31.  Also got $200 obc added to the sailing as we had 2 sailings cancelled.  SO all in all are we still going to be on an amazing cruise? Yes.  Is it what we wanted? No.  We already have oasis booked for Sept.  Maybe will be making the switch to the group cruise now!  We shall see haha.  

 

Also vs switching flights which were MUCH more expensive now, which Royal could not even come close to taking care of with the $200 offered, we had to book hotel for an additional 2 nights before the sailing at the cost of 400$ since not much available this close to the date.

 

Pretty disappointed in my cruise line for all that has happened not only to us, but many more people on several different sailings this year.

 

 

Rant OVER now, sorry.  

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The plot here just got  another turn Carnival  Cruises on Monday got approval from Cuba to sail from Miami. The direct cruises start on May 1st on a much smaller ship about 800 passengers. Royal has said all along that Empress would be their Cuba ship, and now all cruises cancelled until April 30th and approval to cruise just days away for Royal. Will we ever Empress do the cruises now showing on the website or will they change to Cuba and go head to head with Carnival in May?

 

Could the current cruises have a change made and a new port stop added? It will be a interesting few days to see how this plays out. In a head to head battle I believe Royal has the bigger better guns with Empress.

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She's underway and headed for Tenerife.

 

 

It is about  a 1700 kilometer trip and the ship is traveling about 30 KPH, so it should reach Tenerife in about 2 1/2 days if no other problems or issues.

 

If it is going to have work done on the balconies (as reported) then Royal really has screwed this up....unlike finding a hidden or new problem towards the end of refurbishing. Balconies is something they would have known and been able to see that they were very far behind and off the plan. If so the cancelled trips should have be done long before they did. 

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