Alfred Kniberg shouldn’t have gone there.
He sailed to South America on Celebrity Cruises a few months ago. He did not have a good time — and that’s putting it nicely.
There were delays, problems with a visa and service issues. Details in a moment.
But his experience raises an important question: Are some of us not meant to cruise? Figuring that out for yourself may be the key to vacation bliss.
Seriously, you don’t want to be the landlubber stuck on a ship. I know what that’s like.
But back to Kniberg. After sailing to Chile and Argentina on the Celebrity Infinity, he’s done with the cruise line, if not cruising.
“Celebrity has lost a customer for life,” he says, adding, “It could have been avoided.”
So what, exactly, did Celebrity do? Let’s pull out the list.
Eight of the first ten days on the ship were at sea. “This was obviously not the plan,” he says. “Had we known that this was a possibility, we would have taken a land tour instead.”
They canceled a port of call in Puerto Arenas, Chile. “High winds were expected in the afternoon, but were not present in the morning,” says Kniberg. “The captain could have allowed us a half day to see the city even though we would not have been able to take the trip to see the penguins.”
No port of call in Puerto Madryn, Argentina, either. You can thank the port worker strike for that one. “This was the second and last opportunity to see the penguin colonies, which was to be one of the highlights of the cruise,” he says.
The ship began to run out of food. “Specifically, the ship ran out of many fresh fruits, including apples, pears and bananas, for many days,” says Kniberg. “The ship also ran out of prunes. Chocolates that were to be left on the bed at night were also out of stock after two or three days.”
No card room on the ship. “We were constantly shuffled from one area to another since we were requested to vacate tables to make room for people wishing to eat in the solarium,” he says.
Not enough bingo. “My wife and I went to one bingo game in the afternoon and were extremely disappointed that there was only one game played,” he says. “We were charged $30 for the card for one game? We estimated that the ship collected at least $600 in revenue, and paid out $107 for the game. Casinos wish that they had that kind of profit margin. Why was only one game played? Ridiculous!”
The visa is extra. “We were very surprised by the need to pay $330 for an Argentina visa when we checked in at the ship,” says Kniberg. “Apparently, Argentina changed the law as of January 1, 2014, since a check of the visa requirements a couple of months ago indicated that we only need a visa for Chile, and not for Argentina unless the trip was initiated there. We should have been notified by the cruise line so we were not surprised when we missed Puerto Montt, and much of the time in Buenos Aires,” he says.
Kniberg wanted a partial refund of his cruise, which, of course, Celebrity denied.
But all this got me thinking: Maybe Kniberg’s first suggestion was the right one. Perhaps he should have booked a land vacation.
There are some people out there — and frankly, I might be one of them — who are better off on dry land. The uncertainties of sailing, like the weather (not to mention the waves), the visas, the missed ports, even the togetherness of being stuck on a boat — it’s just not for you.
This is the second installment of our weekly feature “Don’t go there.” Maybe this one should be called, “Don’t sail there.”