When you book a cruise so far in advance you always take the chance that nothing will happen in between when you book and before you leave and everything will go the way it was intended to go. Well after a series of varied circumstances we have today eventually decided to cancel the cruise.
You could say this cruise was doomed from day one when the travel agent with whom we made the booking with (Ideal Cruises) was suddenly sold without notice on the 13 July 2012, the lady at the travel agents that we had built up a fantastic relationship was made redundant and we were left without a direct point of contact. In the ensuing weeks the company now dealing with the booking became increasing difficult to liaise with which was all very frustrating and unnecessary.
In a statement received via e-mail, I was informed that Lowcost Holidays were taking over the booking and everything would continue as planned with the balance payment now being made to them. OK, no problem with that set up until we needed to adjust the booking because one of our party were no longer cruising with us. The plan was to drop one of the cabins and move the lone member of our party into one of the other cabins.
I was initially told that lowcostholidays.com could not make any administrative changes to my booking and they recommended that I transfer the whole package directly to Celebrity who would be able to make the adjustments and after several letters and many phone calls I actually believed that this was what was going to happen. However at the last minute something happened behind the scenes and I was told that lowcostholidays.com would now be able to adjust it and the booking would remain with them. This was then swiftly dealt with but I did experience some difficulty getting a booking confirmation which laid out all the changes correctly.
The next thing that started to make us think perhaps its was not to be was when my father in law was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the early prognosis estimating he would sadly only be around for only 9 months and we straight away started to consider what would happen should we be away and things took a turn for the worse. Would we be able go away knowing he could be very ill at the time and leave the family without our support? I don’t think there is any way we would get the full enjoyment of the cruise knowing family back home were having to cope on their own during this trying time.
Then to add to all the above, a relationship breakup and all of a sudden we were now down to six.
The final straw came when another member of our party recently found out they are needing to go in for some surgery which would leave them laid up for many weeks. The timings all coincided with final payment dates and the cruise itself and so the final decision sort of made itself in the end.
The job of cancelling proved to be another ordeal and despite my best endeavours in contacting Lowcost Holidays to try and cancel everything, it became a fruitless exercise. Nobody answered the phone number I had been supplied and I kept getting an automated response via e-mail say someone will respond in 72 hours. I had already e-mailed them some three weeks previous to adjust the booking when our party was reduced to six but I never received a response and even to this day I still haven’t!
In an attempt to move things along I contacted Celebrity Cruises directly who eventually managed to contact the Lowcost Holidays on my behalf, this finally resulted in a call from one of their agents and at long last I was able to speak with someone about cancelling the bookings. However one final obstacle had to overcome, I needed to obtain written consent from the lead name in each cabin to say that I had authorisation to cancel everything even though they had nothing to do with the original booking process.
As a small consolation I received this message by e-mail which to me was all too late.
“I understand that you had difficulties in reaching us to discuss your bookings with a member of our Customer Services team. I do apologise for this and can confirm this matter is being looked into by our Group Operations Director to understand what happened and where this issue occurred and to ensure this does not happen again. Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention as this will enable us to rectify the course. As as gesture of our goodwill and thanks in this matter, I have raised a holiday voucher for £20.00 which will follow shortly.”
So was this was the cruise that really wasn’t meant to be……..