Which? cruise poll condemned as ‘inaccurate and unrepresentative’

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MSC Bellissima

MSC Cruises and P&O Cruises have hit back strongly against negative comments made about them in a newly published survey by consumer group Which?

The annual cruise poll of Which? members rated MSC Cruises as the worst line with “poor customer service. Surly staff and mediocre food” and a customer score of 57%

But MSC Cruises criticised the report as “inaccurate and unrepresentative” and called for the methodology to be improved.

P&O Cruises was criticised for its “social atmosphere” on board with several repeat passengers complaining that standards had dropped and it was akin to “Butlin’s on the sea”. However, the British line received a “respectable” customer score of 71%.

A spokesman for P&O Cruises said in response: “We continue to see cruising rise in popularity across all demographics and age ranges, many of whom have learned to appreciate cruising by going on cruises with their families while growing up and who are attracted to the flexibility and choice available on cruises from discovery to dining; exploration, knowledge, learning and adventures onshore.”

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The poll of 2,253 Which? members taken in September placed Viking Ocean Cruises top followed by Saga Cruises, Azamara, Hurtigruten and Silversea.

 

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Viking Sky

The bottom five were MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International. P&O Cruises came sixth from bottom in the rankings.

Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “Cruises shouldn’t be about long queues, expensive extras and rubbish excursions, especially when you’ve already forked out thousands of pounds for your trip and have limited choice about how you spend your time and money on board.”

However, the results were based on small numbers of responses, with just 67 for MSC Cruises, while P&O Cruises attracted the highest number in the survey at 504.

MSC Cruises argued that the small sample size was not representative of the overall passenger experience following a 37% rise in passengers from the between 2018 and 2019 and three million taking cruises with the company worldwide last year.

The line said: “MSC Cruises is particularly disappointed with the methodology used by Which? as well as the commentary provided within the report.

“The survey fails to recognise the vast difference in what the cruise lines offer as an experience, comparing products that cost £630 per night and products that cost £130 per night without stating what is included.

“This makes for an inaccurate comparison and as a result is misleading for consumers.

“Whilst this is the second year MSC Cruises have featured bottom of the report, Which? stated that for the 2018 report they surveyed people who have cruised with MSC Cruises in the last year, and for the 2019 report people from the last two years, this shows they have only surveyed an additional 21 people and as a result we had a minimal chance of improving our score given the incredibly small sample size.

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P&O Cruises ambassador Gary Barlow to perform on Iona

“Whilst we are always grateful for the feedback and are constantly working to evolve our product offering and passenger experience we feel that this ranking is unrepresentative of both our brand and the cruise industry as a whole.

“The report does not give enough information to allow readers to make an informed choice on what they think is value for money based on what the cruise includes.”

MSC Cruises said it approached Which? for a second year running asking for a meeting “to help educate them on the cruise industry and to discuss suggestions as to how this report could better represent the cruise industry”.

The line added: “Whilst representatives from Clia, including an MSC Cruises team member did have a meeting to this effect last year, the report has been issued in exactly the same way which is very disappointing.

“Once again we have requested another meeting in the hope of looking for a fairer, more representative study with a distinct improvement in the methodology.

“At MSC Cruises we really believe there is a cruise for everyone and we hope that this inaccurate, unrepresentative report does not put future cruisers off investigating cruise, the fastest-growing holiday segment in the world.

The P&O Cruises spokesman said: ”We work relentlessly to improve and enhance the guest experience for P&O Cruises guests across all our ships.

“In May we will launch our new flagship Iona which will feature enhancements to already successful brand signature venues from the existing fleet, as well as features newly developed for Iona.

“These include a breath-taking three-deck atrium in the heart of the ship as well as SkyDome which will be a world-first at sea and offer a unique space for relaxing in all weathers and providing entertainment, featuring aerial performers and a wealth of live acts.

“Iona will be the first new launch for P&O Cruises in five years, and will be the most environmentally efficient ship in P&O Cruises history.

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P&O Britannia

“It will use LNG to generate the primary source of power reducing exhaust emissions to support the company’s sustainability goals. Iona will be named on July 4 in a celebration which forms part of Ionafest which will feature Clean Bandit, Trevor Nelson, Jo Whiley, Alex James and Sara Cox. We are also very proud to have just announced Gary Barlow as our brand ambassador.”

Clia claimed that the survey “does not tell the true story and is entirely unrepresentative”.

The cruise line trade body said: “We have previously raised our concerns regarding how the survey has been conducted, such as its limited sample size.

“We remain disappointed that these concerns have not been addressed, but we continue to remain willing to engage should the survey authors decide to adopt a fairer approach in future.”

A Clia spokesperson said: “Cruise holidays are becoming increasingly popular as more and more passengers are appreciating the incredible experience, value, and fantastic onboard service offered by cruise lines today.

“Not only are more people choosing cruise holidays, with 32 million people expecting to travel on a cruise in 2020, but they keep returning too, with 82% of cruise travellers saying they are likely to book another cruise in future. In fact, the cruise industry enjoys one of the highest ratios of repeat customers within the travel industry.”

Norwegian Becomes First Major Cruise Line to Eliminate Plastic Bottles

No plastic bottles on Norwegian

Norwegian Cruise Line is now single-use plastic beverage bottle free across its fleet, according to a press release. The company said it was the first major global cruise operator to do this.

The brand announced last year that it partnered with JUST Goods, which enabled the cruise line to replace all single-use plastic water bottles across its 17-ship fleet, beginning with its most recent ship, Norwegian Encore.

In 2018, the company eliminated single-use plastic straws across its fleet and private destinations, and as a result of this most recent initiative, it will replace over six million single-use plastic water bottles every year, according to a press release.

In addition, the brand is working to eliminate single-use plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles later this year. 

“This is a very special and very proud moment for us,” said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “As a leading cruise line, we are thrilled to make such an impact by eliminating single-use beverage bottles across our fleet. It’s just one of the ways we are working to preserve our oceans and the destinations we visit. While this is just the beginning of what we and others can do, we are incredibly committed to our Sail & Sustain program and believe wholeheartedly in the importance of preserving our natural resources. We will continue to strive towards making environmentally conscious decisions to benefit our earth.”

NCLH: Hurricane Relief Underway; Breakaway to Deliver Key Supplies

Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings today announced the relaunch of Hope Starts Here, the company’s hurricane relief campaign in partnership with All Hands and Hearts, and pledged a minimum commitment of $1 million toward immediate short-term relief for those affected by Hurricane Dorian, according to a prepared statement.

The company has also vowed to match donations dollar-for-dollar to assist with rebuilding efforts across the Bahamas, including debris cleanup and removal, and the delivery of supplies and temporary shelters.

“Our hearts are heavy after witnessing the impact and devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian across the Bahamas,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. “We have been cruising to these islands for over 50 years and remain committed to its wonderful people during this unprecedented event. Through our partnership with All Hands and Hearts, we vow to match all donations collected to support the country’s rebuilding efforts.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is also coordinating with local Bahamian authorities to bring needed provisions to the affected areas, as quickly and as humanly possible. On Sept. 5, Norwegian Breakaway will depart Miami with hurricane relief supplies donated by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and its employees, in addition to items collected by the City of Miami, Baptist Health South Florida, the 305 Gives Back foundation, and other Miami-based organizations, to be delivered to Nassau, Great Harbor Cay, the company’s private island Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

“We are pleased and humbled to again partner with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, to bring both immediate and long-term support to those who have so tragically suffered from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas,” said Erik Dyson, chief executive officer of All Hands and Hearts. “We partnered, after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, to help respond to and rebuild communities in Key West, St. Thomas, Tortola, Puerto Rico, and Dominica – this resulted in helping literally tens of thousands of people moving forward on their path to recovery. We look forward to continuing this joint impact working with and for the people of the Bahamas.”