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Great Lakes cruise confusion.


uktog
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I really am beginning to wish I had never booked this Cruise that was supposed to be special. I just cannot get any information that I can trust from American Queen. 
 

We are due to be on the cruise, leaving Toronto on the 18th May  thanks to people on this board we became aware that the endpoint was Milwaukee, not Chicago.  I contacted American Queen online, and it was confirmed to me that the endpoint was indeed Milwaukee and I had to fund my own transfer to Chicago. 
 

I heard nothing, and then two weeks ago, I got an official confirmation from American Queen saying that indeed the endpoint was Chicago/Milwaukee  it is clear online that transfers are being sold for the cruise from Milwaukee still.  
 

My Cruise is booked through a UK travel agency having been transferred back to them from an on-board booking. It appears actually that it is a booking with one travel agent positioned in the UK with another who works with American Queen so it takes ages to get answers. Today I got this answer relating to the end port alleging that all the letters that came out all wrong and in fact, the endpoint is Chicago,

 

 

What is the truth I can’t trust anybody and wish I could walk away but too much is booked in addition to this cruise. 

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This is SO frustrating! I found this "contact us" address for Navy Pier, and sent an email this morning asking if they have a schedule of cruise departures. The only cruise information I could find on their website is for day cruises, and sightseeing. They don't list AQV as one of their "cruise partners."

 

navypierinfo@navypier.org 

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19 hours ago, uktog said:

I really am beginning to wish I had never booked this Cruise that was supposed to be special. I just cannot get any information that I can trust from American Queen. 
 

We are due to be on the cruise, leaving Toronto on the 18th May  thanks to people on this board we became aware that the endpoint was Milwaukee, not Chicago.  I contacted American Queen online, and it was confirmed to me that the endpoint was indeed Milwaukee and I had to fund my own transfer to Chicago. 
 

I heard nothing, and then two weeks ago, I got an official confirmation from American Queen saying that indeed the endpoint was Chicago/Milwaukee  it is clear online that transfers are being sold for the cruise from Milwaukee still.  
 

My Cruise is booked through a UK travel agency having been transferred back to them from an on-board booking. It appears actually that it is a booking with one travel agent positioned in the UK with another who works with American Queen so it takes ages to get answers. Today I got this answer relating to the end port alleging that all the letters that came out all wrong and in fact, the endpoint is Chicago,

 

 

What is the truth I can’t trust anybody and wish I could walk away but too much is booked in addition to this cruise. 

IMG_7224.png

Well…if it’s true, the good news is that you’re going to Chicago on the ship.  I certainly hope so, anyway.

 

I am very surprised that even if it does end in Milwaukee, that AQV would charge for the

 transfer for the 85 miles down to Chicago.

I have sailed their river boats, and the pre-cruise hotel, and transfer to the boat is included in the fare…such as St. Louis to Alton, or Minneapolis to Red Wing…🤷‍♂️

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43 minutes ago, bob brown said:

Well…if it’s true, the good news is that you’re going to Chicago on the ship.  I certainly hope so, anyway.

 

I am very surprised that even if it does end in Milwaukee, that AQV would charge for the

 transfer for the 85 miles down to Chicago.

I have sailed their river boats, and the pre-cruise hotel, and transfer to the boat is included in the fare…such as St. Louis to Alton, or Minneapolis to Red Wing…🤷‍♂️

I agree, certainly a Chicago end which is what we booked would make me very happy.  I had checked previously (twice) with AQV and transfers to the hotel in Chicago which seemed the easiest option were $69 each.  There were no transfers included in the fare.  It’s a mess creating a very bad impression after our positive first cruise with them. 

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18 hours ago, bob brown said:

Well…if it’s true, the good news is that you’re going to Chicago on the ship.  I certainly hope so, anyway.

 

I am very surprised that even if it does end in Milwaukee, that AQV would charge for the

 transfer for the 85 miles down to Chicago.

I have sailed their river boats, and the pre-cruise hotel, and transfer to the boat is included in the fare…such as St. Louis to Alton, or Minneapolis to Red Wing…🤷‍♂️

 

Pre-cruise hotel and transfer are included. End of cruise transfer is not. The "official" Chicago hotel this season is the Sheraton Grand. At least that's where I was told I would be staying before the cruise. I looked at the cruise before mine so see where it's supposed to end. It says it ends in Chicago, and the timing of the various transportation options looks right for a Chicago arrival. There's a bus transfer from the ship (Navy Pier) to the "official" AQV hotel. IF it is the Sheraton, they're charging $49 for a 1-mile ride. 

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17 hours ago, uktog said:

I agree, certainly a Chicago end which is what we booked would make me very happy.  I had checked previously (twice) with AQV and transfers to the hotel in Chicago which seemed the easiest option were $69 each.  There were no transfers included in the fare.  It’s a mess creating a very bad impression after our positive first cruise with them. 

 

Are you staying at AQV's "official" hotel, or did you book something on your own? 

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7 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

Pre-cruise hotel and transfer are included. End of cruise transfer is not. The "official" Chicago hotel this season is the Sheraton Grand. At least that's where I was told I would be staying before the cruise. I looked at the cruise before mine so see where it's supposed to end. It says it ends in Chicago, and the timing of the various transportation options looks right for a Chicago arrival. There's a bus transfer from the ship (Navy Pier) to the "official" AQV hotel. IF it is the Sheraton, they're charging $49 for a 1-mile ride. 

Okay, I get it now.  Fortunately for us, we were going in the “right direction” on our two river cruises, finishing at the “downtown end” that did not need a lengthy transfer, that the beginning did from the pre-cruise hotel…

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8 hours ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

 

Are you staying at AQV's "official" hotel, or did you book something on your own? 

We were never expecting AQV to transfer us in Chicago, we booked our own (Intercontinental) a short ride from the pier if it’s Chicago but on the face of it now face $150+ cost to get from Milwaukee

Edited by uktog
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I have had online chat with American Queen.

They say the ship is disembarking at Chicago (eg confirms the email my agent had received) however does not answer why AQ issued the letter to us last week saying the disembarkation port had been changed to Milwaukee nor why the website is selling transfers from Port of Milwaukee to Chicago and why the website map and everything relating to the narrative leads you to believe the cruise ends in Milwaukee.  

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22 hours ago, uktog said:

We were never expecting AQV to transfer us in Chicago, we booked our own (Intercontinental) a short ride from the pier if it’s Chicago but on the face of it now face $150+ cost to get from Milwaukee

Have you considered Amtrak?  Should be much less than that, including an Uber ride from ship to station…

Edited by bob brown
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1 hour ago, bob brown said:

Have you considered Amtrak?  Should be much less than that, including an Uber ride from ship to station…

Nice idea but not sure we can cope with the luggage 

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Amtrak is a good suggestion. I just looked at Amtrak and they do have redcaps, as well as checked luggage, in both Milwaukee and Chicago. I did a quick dummy booking, and I saw fares at $25. It's a 90 minute ride. Not as convenient as door-to-door car service, but less expensive. 

 

Welcome to Amtrak Hiawatha | Milwaukee - Chicago | Experience

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Thanks, the train would certainly be a nice idea.  However, having done all the maths and thought about the additional taxi fares, redcaps etc we probably would just use the cruise line transfer if we do arrive in Milwaukee -  my travel agent is going mad, they get a different answer depending on who they speak.  Either the website is wrong or 50% of the agents they speak to are wrong....... or both 🙂

I wish the official source would come here and give a definitive answer for 18th May departure from Toronto

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It's one month away. That's ridiculous!!!

 

With so many cruise line reservation staff let go during the Covid shut-down, all the lines are short staffed, and the new people have insufficient training and information. Things have been up and running long enough that those issues should have been corrected by now. It isn't just AQV. I've gone a few rounds with HAL this winter. 

 

I still haven't had a reply to my email to Navy Pier. I can't believe they don't keep track of the ships that are set to dock there.

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You could not make this up.

 

My travel agent just got this email at the bottom - identical to what we got on 30/March which they then said was an error - 

 

So where are we getting off.  Travel agent told by AQ in writing on 8th April it was an error we are disembarking in Chicago (I have a copy of that email)

I was told by online chat on 10th April as below

 

I checked our schedule and stops and on the day you disembark it tell me that you are disembarking in Chicago not Milwaukee. Let me double check one more area. One moment please
( 19m 18s ) me: thanks
( 22m 42s ) Rubi 😄 Okay i double checked and still show Chicago not Milwaukee.

 

I am beyond  head banging.......

 

We have received below important notification from American Queen Voyages regarding your upcoming voyage on the 18th May 2023 onboard the Ocean Voyager:

It is with sincere apologies we have to announce the Ocean Voyager itinerary departing Toronto to Chicago on May 18th, 2023, has been changed. Guests will now have the opportunity to explore Escanaba, Michigan. 

 

Date

C. Day

Port

Arrival

Departure

18th May

1

Toronto

06:00

19:00

19th May

2

Port Colborne

08:00

18:00

20th May

3

Cleveland

08:00

18:00

 21st May

4

Detroit

08:00

18:00

 22nd May

5

At Sea

 

 

23rd May

6

Soo Locks

07:00

11:00

23rd May

6

Sault Ste. Marie, MI

11:30

18:00

24th May

7

Mackinac Island

07:00

19:00

 25th May

8

Escanaba

08:00

17:00

 26th May

9

At Sea

 

 

 27th May

 

Chicago / Milwaukee

06:00

19:00

 

 

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I just looked at the tours. For Saturday, May 27, they are selling tours and transfers from "Chicago (Port of Milwaukee)."  This sounds like the Voyager will dock in Milwaukee. I want to say they wouldn't sell a tour from Milwaukee if they were docking in Chicago. But AQV seems to sell tours/cruises that aren't going to happen, so I guess I'd say this is an indicator rather than proof. 

 

When I look at the first page for my cruise, day 1 is "Chicago/Milwaukee" but day 2, when we actually go to the ship, just says "Chicago." This sounds like the hotel stay is Milwaukee and then we are bused to the ship in Chicago, which I don't think is correct. For the end of the cruise before mine (June 14), all the tours/ transfers are from "Chicago," no mention of Milwaukee. 

 

I'm tempted to chat with an agent, but I have so little faith that anything I'm told will be true. This is too much of a rabbit hole for me this morning!!!!

 

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31 minutes ago, 3rdGenCunarder said:

I just looked at the tours. For Saturday, May 27, they are selling tours and transfers from "Chicago (Port of Milwaukee)."  This sounds like the Voyager will dock in Milwaukee. I want to say they wouldn't sell a tour from Milwaukee if they were docking in Chicago. But AQV seems to sell tours/cruises that aren't going to happen, so I guess I'd say this is an indicator rather than proof. 

 

When I look at the first page for my cruise, day 1 is "Chicago/Milwaukee" but day 2, when we actually go to the ship, just says "Chicago." This sounds like the hotel stay is Milwaukee and then we are bused to the ship in Chicago, which I don't think is correct. For the end of the cruise before mine (June 14), all the tours/ transfers are from "Chicago," no mention of Milwaukee. 

 

I'm tempted to chat with an agent, but I have so little faith that anything I'm told will be true. This is too much of a rabbit hole for me this morning!!!!

 

Based on my experience as you saw in my post where I pasted the agent's answer it is the opposite to what my travel agent was told a few hours later so I do not trust it.  My travel agent is trying to get an answer but is again drawing a blank either from AQs UK handling partner or AQ overseas but she continues to try.   She will be making exactly the points you are, not only are the emails contradictory but the website is selling a transfer from Milwaukee - also a trip from the ship to the downtown hotel should be in line with what it is in New Orleans ($20) as it is a one mile trip if it was a Chicago disembark not the $69 a head.

I wish the verified representative would check back in here and see the confusion that exists and do something, it is reflecting very very badly on the cruise line.  There are competitors out there that my travel agent also sells, its going to be hard for her to point future prospectors in the direction of AQ based on this experience though things may change particularly if we bring her back stories of a great experience onboard.  

I still look forward to my Great Lakes cruise in hope 🙂 

 

 

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My travel agent is on leave, someone covering has returned with an answer from AQ which beggars belief.  Could I tell them what hotel I am staying in for Chicago and they will get a quote for a transfer for my consideration.......

To be 100% factual, AQ do not say you are disembarking in Milwaukee but given we were a short taxi hop from our hotel in Chicago and would not expect the cruise line to arrange that, I think we know that this is in effect an admission that 50% of the previous communication was absolutely incorrect.

The inference is we are disembarking in Milwaukee and have to pay the cost to get from Milwaukee to Chicago.

I suspect many people booked after the port of disembarkation changed so of course they should cover their costs to getting to Chicago but would US based guests accept paying the costs for the transfer to Chicago if they had originally booked to return there?

In the UK we are not expected to cover these costs and technically this is a UK booking.

Edited by uktog
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Unbelievable....we have an error of an error for the 17/18 May departure from Toronto

 

Just received....

 

It has been confirmed by the operator after speaking to the cruise line that the errata was sent in error.  The cruise will disembark in Chicago as originally booked.

 

Oh well, we will head off on this adventure and accept what happens.  I am not going to let it spoil our enjoyment but American Queen, if you ever come back to look at these boards, this is not a great guest experience, you have a lot to do to convince those of us involved that you are a cruise line with a good focus on customer service

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40 minutes ago, uktog said:

Unbelievable....we have an error of an error for the 17/18 May departure from Toronto

 

Just received....

 

It has been confirmed by the operator after speaking to the cruise line that the errata was sent in error.  The cruise will disembark in Chicago as originally booked.

 

Oh well, we will head off on this adventure and accept what happens.  I am not going to let it spoil our enjoyment but American Queen, if you ever come back to look at these boards, this is not a great guest experience, you have a lot to do to convince those of us involved that you are a cruise line with a good focus on customer service

Makes Azamara look better and better, doesn't it?  So sorry that this cruise has caused you some much anxiety and exasperation.  Hope it will be better once you are onboard, and that you do sail right into Chicago as planned.

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Unfortunately, Azamara doesn’t cruise the Great Lakes, but there are other choices besides AQV, as we’ve discussed.  The main attraction (for myself) of AQV is the Chicago embarkation, while the others use Milwaukee.

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13 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

Makes Azamara look better and better, doesn't it?  So sorry that this cruise has caused you some much anxiety and exasperation.  Hope it will be better once you are onboard, and that you do sail right into Chicago as planned.

I would not go as far as say that (yet!).

 

I would have no issue sailing into Milwaukee if they would confirm that’s where we are going and include the transfer back to downtown Chicago (or credit) for those who booked a Chicago final destination. Think Venice and Ravenna if you are using Azamara equivalence. 


But to be issuing an errata of an errata of an errata smacks of gross incompetence somewhere along the line. And they don’t have an IT system change to blame!  


However I look forward to experiencing Canada and US lakes in all their majesty. 

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11 hours ago, bob brown said:

Unfortunately, Azamara doesn’t cruise the Great Lakes, but there are other choices besides AQV, as we’ve discussed.  The main attraction (for myself) of AQV is the Chicago embarkation, while the others use Milwaukee.

 

Yes, Chicago is what made me choose AQV. I really hope the cruise is good enough to make up for the planning drama. I wouldn't do this cruise on ACL because I had a terrible cruise with them (Columbia/Snake rivers). I don't want to pay Viking's prices. I don't want to be out of options!

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