Which? cruise poll condemned as ‘inaccurate and unrepresentative’

Image result for msc bellissima
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.”

Read about:
Royal Caribbean and MSC cancel sailings over coronavirus fears

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

 

Image result for viking ocean cruises

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.

Read More:

MSC Cruises unveils environmental campaign to restore reefs

Image result for Iona gary barlow
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.

Image result for p&o britannia

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.”

P&O Cruises Celebrates Australia Day in Sydney Harbour

For the eighth year running, P&O Cruises celebrated Australia Day on Sydney Harbour with nearly 2000 guests onboard the Pacific Explorer enjoying a giant deck party jam-packed with Australia-filled activities including the cruise line’s annual “Look Like an Aussie Legend” competition, thong throwing contests, meat pie eating championships and an Australian national anthem sing-off.

CEO Conversations: Carnival Corp.’s Donald on stability and innovation

Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, far right, was joined onstage during the CEO Conversation panel by John Chernesky-the-puppet of Princess Cruises. The session was moderated by editor in chief Arnie Weissmann, seated, left.

Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, far right, was joined onstage during the CEO Conversation panel by John Chernesky-the-puppet of Princess Cruises. The session was moderated by editor in chief Arnie Weissmann, seated, left. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

FORT LAUDERDALE — Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald told an audience at CruiseWorld that being the largest cruise company in the world comes with two key advantages — stability and innovation — that help Carnival’s brands deliver industry-leading results.

The company has more than 100 ships, and it operates in every segment and several global source markets. “One of every two people who cruise go with one of our nine brands,” Donald said, which include Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Cunard Line, in addition to the namesake Carnival Cruise Line.

“Because we have such a large portfolio, it’s difficult for anyone thing happening somewhere in the world to take the company down,” Donald said.

Size matters in innovation too. “We have the scale and the capability to take on projects that others can’t,” he said.

A prime example of that is the costly OceanMedallion personalization technology that Carnival developed and rolled out initially on Princess Cruises.

“We invented it,” Donald said. “It’s not off-the-shelf apps.”

Donald ran down a list of developments at various Carnival brands, such as the roller coaster on next year’s Carnival Cruise Line newbuild, the Mardi Gras.

But when he forgot to mention Princess Cruises, a surprise guest made an appearance.

From behind the couch where Arnold was seated, up popped a Muppets-style character designed to look like Princess’ senior vice president of sales and trade marketing, John Chernesky. The puppet ribbed Donald and amused the crowd until the real John Chernesky bounded on stage to complain that the puppet has been impersonating him all over town.

The larger message to the puppet tomfoolery was to billboard the Jim Henson Creature Shop show, called “Inspired Silliness,” that will debut next month on the newest Princess ship, the Sky Princess.

When Donald finally regained the spotlight, he took some time to outline Carnival’s sustainability initiatives and defend the industry’s record.

He said that very little of the estimated 8 million tons of plastics in the ocean comes from ships, much less from cruise ships. “It comes from land; it comes through the rivers and gets into the ocean,” he said, adding, “Having said that, we don’t want anything going in the ocean. He said that Carnival has accelerated existing recycling efforts and processes to eliminate plastics from its waste stream.

Likewise, when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, a Carnival brand was the first to use liquified natural gas (LNG) to provide power in port, and Carnival Corp. will be the first to bring an LNG-powered ship to North America, with the Mardi Gras.

“Ultimately we want to get to zero-emission,” Donald said. But he said cruise emissions are a tiny fraction of the global equation. “The reality is if the cruise industry didn’t exist, you wouldn’t be able to measure the difference in emissions,” he said.