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MsSommelier

Our Europa 2 Cruise canceled by Hapag-Lloyd

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We had booked a January 2020 back to back with Europa 2, Progreso-Colon and Colon-Valparaiso plus an after-cruise program in Santiago Chile focused on wine.  The Progreso-Colon leg included Cuba.  Since we had booked this trip almost 2 years ago, Trump's new policy was not yet in effect. 

 

When the new policy was announced in early June, we immediately called our TA to see what the situation was going to be.  Repeated calls to her and from her to Hapag-Lloyd yielded no concrete answer:  Staff handling the situation were on vacation (for 6 weeks), the lawyers were looking at it, etc.  We kept calling and checking. We were told we were not the only Americans on board and H-L was still looking into the matter. Then, we figured, well, it's now almost end of August, it must be okay.  A German ship, not starting or stopping in any US ports.  I thought, worst case, I could just stay on board.

 

Then, suddenly, we got a call from our TA that H-L had canceled the whole trip - 2nd leg included.  No explanation, nothing.  When we tried to at least reinstate the 2nd leg, the pricing that came back (we had a PH) was as much for the 2nd leg alone as for the whole trip!  And given how poorly we had been communicated with, we decided to not go ahead.

 

We were really looking forward to Europa 2 - the wonderful food, service, itinerary, everything.  To say we are bitterly disappointed is to put it mildly.  I certainly expected better handling of the "PR" situation relative to their customers (us), given especially we're regular customers who have spent a lot with them.  Of course, they have a waiting list a mile long, so I am sure they didn't suffer.....

 

And lots of luck finding availability and half way decent airfares on another luxury cruise so late in the game.  We ended up booking with Seabourn for New Zealand during the same time frame and we canceled our Europa 2021 cruise to NZ.  There is certainly no comparison (food, wine, service, etc) but at least it's a new destination for us.  And, of course, we were very aggravated with H-L about their handling of our situation.

 

So, it's back to Seabourn...with greatly lowered expectations based on our last cruise.  I read something on these boards recently that has helped me re-calibrate:  It was to the effect that since Holland America took over management, it's still a nice experience, just not the luxury one it used to be.

 

 

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If you are a US citizen, the sooner you realize H-L is a German line catering to the German market, the better off you will be.

Personally, I like the the company and how it operates.  Just because the marketing department has decided to make a lame effort at taking a stab at the North American market doesn't mean everyone (including their loyal passengers) is on board.

 

That you were the only Americans booked is more typical of the three cruises I have been on with H-L.

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15 minutes ago, saminina said:

If you are a US citizen, the sooner you realize H-L is a German line catering to the German market, the better off you will be.

Personally, I like the the company and how it operates.  Just because the marketing department has decided to make a lame effort at taking a stab at the North American market doesn't mean everyone (including their loyal passengers) is on board.

 

That you were the only Americans booked is more typical of the three cruises I have been on with H-L.

The OP was told by H-L that they were not the only Americans on board.

 

H-L regularly exhibits at London travel fairs, and is due to do so again in November.

 

If, as you state, 'H-L is a German line catering to the German market' why has it invested in, and promoting, the Europa 2, and the Hanseatic inspiration as International ships?

 

If you wish to cruise unsullied by the presence of native English speakers there is always the Europa, and the Hanseatic nature.

 

 

Edited by English Voyager

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Saminina,

I live in Germany and speak fluent German (and my husband is German) so I can't excuse H-L's handling of the situation as due to my being a "US citizen or catering to the German market".  As English Voyager reiterated on my behalf, H-L said we were not the only American passport holders who booked this cruise.

 

I expected a clear, professional explanation from what I have always considered to be a high class company who operates high class ships.  I didn't get it, and I find that to be a lack of good customer service and good customer relations.

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My error misreading not the only American passengers.

 

You have mentioned the London exhibits how many times?

 

Expanding fleet in need of expanding markets.    You know damn well H-L caters to the German market.  In North America, their marketing effort needs help if they are to make inroads.  

 

Guess H-L does not limit their poor land based customer service to USA.  Good to know.

 

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MsSommelier,  feeling very sorry for you and the cancellation based upon your nationality. And I agree with you in full concerning your comments on Seabourn and the Hal relation.

It is true HL is another approach as the "luxury" companies mostly frequented by US passengers ; I recently was a week on the Crystal Serenity what was very good - especially the service for sure - but cannot match the quality of the food ingredients on HL. Especially the continental breakfast items cheeses and cold cuts.   One example - I like to drink Champagne , on Crystal exception made for the all inclusive Jacquart Brut Selection - a cheaper brand in the Jacquart family as the Mosaique what was poared until recently -  no single Champagne is available by the glass ( the others are all sparkling wines ) -  even if you want to pay for it  - on the Europa 2  up to 6 by the glass…a different culture in drinks attitude??

On the HL ships very few people drink "martini's"  - and those  are great on Crystal.

I was told aside of the German speaking counties British and Belgian passengers are  the highest input as international guests.

HL  is also present on several travel and cruise fairs in Belgium and most of the time in Antwerpen port functions are organised.

 

 

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On 9/24/2019 at 6:26 AM, saminina said:

If you are a US citizen, the sooner you realize H-L is a German line catering to the German market, the better off you will be.

Personally, I like the the company and how it operates.  Just because the marketing department has decided to make a lame effort at taking a stab at the North American market doesn't mean everyone (including their loyal passengers) is on board.

 

That you were the only Americans booked is more typical of the three cruises I have been on with H-L.

 

Really appreciated your post.  When I discuss H-L with people on the Luxury Board, and say that there are few people from North America on the cruise line, I'm told that I am wrong.  

 

I have never questioned the fact that Europa 2 is a luxury cruise line, however, just like the cruise lines that the majority of U.S. luxury travelers sail on, they cater to the U.S./Canadian (and British/Australians to a lesser extent) passengers.

 

To be honest, I'm not sure that H-L can break into the U.S. market easily.  If they really want a position in that market, it will likely take a lot of money (advertisements) and time.  

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2 hours ago, Travelcat2 said:

To be honest, I'm not sure that H-L can break into the U.S. market easily.  If they really want a position in that market, it will likely take a lot of money (advertisements) and time.

Its not really a business issue for them though-- they have waitlists for a lot of sailings on Europa 2 (I'll leave the rest of their fleet out at the argument) where lines like Seabourn and Regent run specials to fill their ships. They also have to fill a single ship on unique itineraries (unlike other lines that have to fill several ships on itineraries they sail multiple times back to back). Europa 2 we noticed also has a decent sized contingent of people who book the same cabins every year (no matter the itinerary) for lengthy stints.  

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2 hours ago, Travelcat2 said:

 

Really appreciated your post.  When I discuss H-L with people on the Luxury Board, and say that there are few people from North America on the cruise line, I'm told that I am wrong.   

What you have posted, and which drew a response saying that on their cruise the number was greater was 

'…….there are two major things that luxury cruisers should know about Hapag-Lloyd:  1). According to reports on CC, there are typically 30 or less English speaking passengers onboard;...…..' 

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2 hours ago, Travelcat2 said:

 

To be honest, I'm not sure that H-L can break into the U.S. market easily.  If they really want a position in that market, it will likely take a lot of money (advertisements) and time.  

To repeat what  I posted last month:

 

'Between now and the 2 October 2021 over it's fleet there are 37 cruises with destinations in the USA, and Canada.

 

Of those 37, 19 are on the bilingual Europa2, and the Hanseatic inspiration.'

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Sorry to hear of your experience, MsSommelier. I'm not really surprised though. I love their ships and itineraries but I've had a bad customer experience as well which put me off booking them for a while. But as we are travelling with two little ones now, we have decided to give them another go as the Europa 2 really is the only option for luxury when travelling with children.

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9 hours ago, princeton123211 said:

Its not really a business issue for them though-- they have waitlists for a lot of sailings on Europa 2 (I'll leave the rest of their fleet out at the argument) where lines like Seabourn and Regent run specials to fill their ships. 

This is what you would know only if you tried booking Europa or Europa 2.   It can be frustrating! 

 

 

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3 hours ago, saminina said:

This is what you would know only if you tried booking Europa or Europa 2.   It can be frustrating! 

 

 

With it's restrictive policy of releasing a very limited number of staterooms for single occupancy it is even more frustrating being a solo passenger attempting to book a cruise with H-L.

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Thank you, Vistaman and Cathaana, for the sympathy :-) 

 

It is certainly difficult to find ships of H-L's caliber.  In addition to superior food, wine and service, the itineraries are much more interesting (in general) than most American luxury lines, which tend to repeat, as Princeton 123211 said. 

 

I tried to find a sailing with Crystal (either Serenity or Symphony) but couldn't find anything in the time frame I was looking for that suited.  I haven't sailed with them for a while, but after reading about the updates to the ships, I thought it might be nice to try again. 

 

 

 

 

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MS Sommelier, I can certainly empathise with your situation and frustration, having had my Hanseatic nature trip cancelled short notice in the spring due to the ship not being ready on time.  There was poor communication on emails when that happened.

Though I personally have zero interest in visiting Cuba for various reasons, I know that people who had their trips cancelled or itineraries altered after big buildups about going there have been very disappointed due to the sudden policy change. 

You should have had clear and early communication from HL about what was going on.

Your husband is German, and you also speak German, so the issue was thus likely not related to bias against non-German speakers, and rather was something they needed to rapidly deal with and which they handled it poorly.

 

I just returned from a short MS Europa cruise I had booked without a TA and everything went very smoothly from on-line booking to finish, including phone calls I made to help with some unusual issues I had.

Lately email responses have become less reliable than previously, but phone calls have gone better ( obviously not for you). There is a lot of staff turnover from one position to the next.

However, I have also had bad booking related customer service from SB, SS, and Regent, initially very surprising, but it is what they can get away with. 😟

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I agree that they have some very interesting itineraries. I have indicated an interest to them in the Inspirations 2021/2 sailing to the Kamchatka peninsula.

Very few options here on a ship that’s not an old icebreaker,

Silversea runs here now and again, but they aren’t really genius at expedition cruising, especially outside the polar regions and Galapagos.

Edited by Jacqueline

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