Stein Kruse HALToday I ran across an interesting video prepared by a Holland American Line passenger following the boiler fire on the M/S Westerdam.

You may recall that the Westerdam caught fire on June 28, 2014 as it was sailing to Alaska. The automatic fire suppression did not extinguish the fire and the crew had to use hoses to extinguish the fire. The fire flared up again and the crew has to extinguish it a second time. The Coast Guard forced the cruise ship to turn around and return to Seattle. You can read about the incident here.

HAL CEO Stein Kruse came aboard the ship later that night and spoke to the passengers. He said that one reason he came aboard was "to get this completely straight." 

He was very apologetic. He said that one port of the seven day "full Alaskan experience" would be lost. He promised that to make up for the fire and lost port, the passengers would receive a $250 credit to use on the ship. Plus, Kruse said that in order to make amends:

" . . .  we will send you a note to give a 25% discount off a future Holland American Line cruise." 

However, when a passenger later tried to a buy a cruise with the promised 25% discount, a HAL customer representative told the passenger that CEO Kruse had misspoke. The representative said that the 25% discount was good only for a cruise of a comparable price as the cruise in question on the Westerdam.

Of course, this is not what the cruise CEO said. Kruse was very deliberate, careful and precise with his words. "25% discount off a future Holland America Line cruise." There were no limitations, exclusions or caveats mentioned at all.

The customer representative wouldn’t budge. She said that "our policy is that we don’t protect verbal misquotes . . .  that goes from all the way from our reservations department up to our CEO."

The guest representative also referred to a "speech," which Kruse allegedly read from, which according to the cruise representative "specifically states that the credit would be from the sailing of the Westerdam." But this is not what Kruse said. 

In most circumstances, cruise passengers are at the mercy of the fine print and the legal mumbo-jumbo buried in the passenger ticket. But here a cruise CEO came aboard to "make amends" and to be "completely straight" with the passengers following a fire. The CEO made a promise, not a "verbal misquote."  

There is a legal issue whether what CEO Kruse said is legally binding on this cruise line. I think it is. But some other lawyer can sue HAL and argue about that.  But it’s a real shame, from a public relations perspective, when the clear promises of a cruise executive are meaningless and can be easily disavowed by a low level reservations clerk.    

 

//www.youtube.com/embed/NGdSGVqjFsk

  • Scott

    Had a similar experience with Princess. Our 7 day cruise turned into a 6 day. We were given a 20% credit of the price we paid for the short cruise, not 20% off the price of the future cruise. Worked out great for my friends and I. Nearly $400 off a $900 cruise!

    As any reasonable person knows, “get it in writing”! HAL owes NOTHING to those affected cruisers.

  • Linda

    I would disagree Scott.From what I heard Mr Kruse was very clear in his speech offering amends! What kind of confidence should we the public have in anything HAL says if their CEO is allowed to placate passengers with an offer they never intend to deliver?

  • Alvin Sario

    Long time ago. We believe in Karma.. lol. Tell me I can tell you more about this company with documents provided as evidence!

  • Baltazar A. Rafales

    “Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
    —Deuteronomy 27:19 (NIV)

    The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him.

    The LORD will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess.

    The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish.

    The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron.

    The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.

    The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth.

    Your carcasses will be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away.

    The LORD will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured.

    The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind.
    —Deuteronomy 28:20-28 (NIV)

    In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.” His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.
    —Psalms 10:2-7 (NIV)

    Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.
    —Isaiah 8:21-22 (NIV)

    See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; He will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants—it will be the same for priest as for people, for master as for servant, for mistress as for maid, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The LORD has spoken this word. The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.
    —Isaiah 24:1-6 (NIV)

    And he said to me, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. The LORD Almighty declares, ‘I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in his house and destroy it, both its timbers and its stones.'”
    —Zechariah 5:3-4 (NIV)

    Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.

    What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?

    Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives or fall among the slain. Yet for all this, His anger is not turned away, His hand is still upraised.
    —Isaiah 10:1-4 (NIV)