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Lovebirds’ privacy lost

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On December - 12 - 2008

(Originally publishedFebruary 13, 2007)

The lovebirds just wanted to enjoy a romantic interlude inside their balcony stateroom. And why not? Their ship, the Norwegian Jewel, was anchored off Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line‘s private island in the Bahamas. The view was so lovely that the couple decided to keep the drapes and balcony door open. But the romance vanished when a maintenance worker turned up outside the balcony for a routine window cleaning.

“It was 8 a.m. and we had just finished being intimate when we heard a noise on the balcony,” reports the gentleman. “We looked out and there was a maintenance man on a trolley standing in front of the railing outside our cabin leering into it. I was stunned. We were on the 11th-story deck, and we were not notified that there was going to be any maintenance going on out there.”

Incensed, the gentleman called the purser’s desk to complain. He spoke to a staff member in the ship’s front office who admitted there had been a mix-up and asked what the staff could do to solve the problem. “I told them that I needed to cool down and wanted to know what they could do to compensate me for their breach of our privacy,” says the offended husband. He was then given a contact card with the address and phone number of NCL’s corporate offices in Miami.

Upon returning home, the couple contacted NCL but got no satisfaction. They then turned to Tripso for help.

What price do you put on privacy?

I contacted NCL to see what the cruise line could do. AnneMarie Mathews, director of public relations for NCL, told me that the customer relations department had conducted an investigation and found that the Jewel’s housekeeping staff had indeed sent a notification around to all balcony staterooms letting them know about the scheduled work.

Nevertheless, NCL wanted to make amends. “As a gesture of good will the couple will receive a 25 percent future cruise credit,” she said. Indeed, two weeks later, the couple received a letter apologizing for “any discomfort or inconvenience” and confirming the credits, which totaled $524.

“We are disappointed with their offer,” says the gentleman, who insists that the couple never received a maintenance letter and that the onboard staff freely admitted to an error. “The minimum that I would like would be two free cruises: one to make up for the cruise that was ruined, and the other as a settlement for being violated in the manner in which we were.”

While I sympathize with the lovebirds’ situation, I think their demand for free cruises is excessive. One of the most important things to do when trying to rectify a cruise complaint is to set realistic expectations. If you ask for too much you are bound to be disappointed, and you may antagonize the customer service department as well. Having realistic expectations makes it more likely that a mutually satisfactory settlement will be reached.

What’s realistic? If you really don’t know, call a lawyer, an ombudsman or a friend whose judgment you trust. Remember, too, that privacy complaints can be an exceptionally difficult to resolve satisfactorily because while there is no actual harm, the offended parties may be feeling a great deal of anger, outrage or embarrassment. How do you remedy that — other than apologizing over and over and over again?

The view from the balcony

Personally, I feel NCL’s offer is fair. I also think the couple shares some responsibility for what was admittedly an awkward and maybe even unpleasant situation. But when I pointed out that the whole incident could have been prevented by simply closing the curtain, the husband argued that they shouldn’t have had to. In his view, booking a private balcony cabin on the 11th-story deck accorded him a reasonable expectation of privacy. I see his point, but I also see the need to keep those windows clean and shiny. Yes, a private balcony is built with solid dividers so people on the next balcony can’t easily peek over, but when it comes to maintenance trolleys, there is no privacy when the curtains are open. The view goes both ways.

Most of the time the ship’s staff does inform passengers when maintenance work is scheduled in the vicinity of their stateroom, but the system isn’t perfect. On a luxury cruise, I was surprised to return to my suite to find a maintenance worker varnishing the balcony railing — I had not been notified. On another cruise, I returned from a beach day and left my drape partially open as I was undressing. Luckily, I heard the maintenance men talking and quickly dashed into the closet! In that case, I had been informed of the balcony maintenance — I had simply forgotten.

So, what’s the lesson in all this? First, know that maintenance work goes on whenever the ship is in port, so be on the lookout. Second, read all the correspondence that comes to your cabin. Third, keep in mind that the only way to guarantee privacy is to lock your door and close the curtains. Finally, if you feel that a cruise employee has been disrespectful of your privacy, report the incident immediately. The best defense against a similar situation happening to another guest is a stern reprimand or dismissal of the worker.

The lovebirds intend to pursue their “quest for justice.” I wish them luck, and wish all of you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Filled Under Ombudsman

13 Responses to “Lovebirds’ privacy lost”

  1. N. Cogneato says:

    Personally, I think that their expectation of privacy ended when they decided to leave the curtains open in addition to the doors. They got busted by their own actions and want to be compensated by others? How silly, tsk tsk.

  2. J. Orr says:

    Reading this story (and the one about the couple who got banned from Royale C. because of their incessant online complaining) reflects the same two components: 1) The cruiseline’s inability to offer appropriate and immediate compensation for wrong doing ( What is this crap about a offering a percentage off of future travel? This is insulting and is the cheapest and worst form of compensation. 2) The whiney, greedy travellers who try to extract unjustifiably large compensation.

    I agree that the cruiselines were at fault and need to respond quickly and appropriately (like a percentage refund of THAT cruise), but then the complainers need to chalk it up to experience and shut up.

  3. J says:

    2 free cruises??? Get real, and stop trying to use this simple mistake to milk it for all you can get!

  4. simon K says:

    you want two free cruises. Maybe you are a trail lawyer. do Not be an jack-***

  5. Ed says:

    Everyone wants to be a “victim” these days — when things go wrong, its always someone else’s “fault” and as such they should be “compensated” — puhleeze!!! Give me a break!
    I’ve been on a few ships…maintenance and cleaning activities are always ongoing, and while leaving the curtains open to the marvelous sea view and ocean air may seem like a wonderful opportunity…one has to remember that you are on an ocean-going vessel with a couple of thousand other passengers and more than a thousand crew members…think, dude!
    You made the decision to “get it on” with the curtains open…there was no one plotting to visit your balcony during your “interaction” — it just happened. Besides, if I read the account correctly, when the window washer guy showed up you were…er…done? At least you weren’t caught in “flagrante delecto” — did I spell that correctly?

  6. Sue says:

    *****MUST READ*****The two “lovebirds” should be banned by NCL for being outrageous and ridiculous! Ships need to be cleaned and passengers should not expect total privacy. They should have been given on knock on the head and two beers, not 25% off a future cruise! Not to mention, they should learn to read!

    These two need to get a life!!!

    I wonder what compensation the NCL employee received by the obsurd behavior of these passengers? Where’s his side of the story? He was simply doing his job and he had to experience this intellectually challenged couple.

  7. John F says:

    Anita–do you know the cabin they were in? You may want to let Ms. Moran know….we all know what the blacklight might expose!

  8. DrKoob says:

    These people must be kidding. They are everything that give cruisers a bad name. Norwegian should ban them just like RCL did to the Morans. I wouldn’t have given them a penny.

  9. s.carrington harlow says:

    maybe the couple should book for Hedonism and let the good times roll…

  10. Jenny Cristal says:

    Good post, I really aprecciated. 😀

    Jenny Crystal

  11. John says:

    Thanks great post.
    I do not think the privacy was lost though..

  12. mark says:

    john, is right!
    great post

  13. jon says:

    How ridiculous!! What’s the big deal… I’ve been caught numerous times naked, by both hotel and motel maids. These people should feel flattered that the guy actually paused to watch. Another example as to the extent people will go, to get something for free. The bottom line is: If they were that embarresed over the whole situation, they wouldn’t be aggravating the matter, by informing every Tom, Dick, and Harry.


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