Not a fan of the piper - MeetMeOnBoard LGBT Forum

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Not a fan of the piper

Sat Sep 21, 2013 9:28 am

We recently went on our first trip with Pied Piper to Alaska last month. Two weeks ago, I spent a good chunk of time crafting feedback to them with our experience, hoping they would hear the feedback and reply. Their lack of reply confirms our impression of them, and consequently, we will not travel with them again, or recommend them to friends.

September 7, 2013


Now that we’ve been home for a week, we wanted to take this opportunity to share some feedback about our experience on the Alaska cruise last week. As a customer service professional, I value feedback from customers, and it is in this spirit that I write to you.

Overall, we had a great time, and felt the package you offered was a great value for the money. Prior to the cruise, we appreciated Bruce’s very quick responses to our queries. We enjoyed meeting some new friends, and appreciated that it wasn’t an “all-gay” cruise. The train trip in Skagway was nice, especially with cars reserved just for the Pied Pipers. We found the ship to be beautiful and appreciated the drink package and the service by the ship staff.

Some feedback for you to consider:

We found the communication prior to and during the cruise very lacking.

We would have appreciated knowing more about the planned Pied Piper activities during the week in advance of the cruise. The email with the suggested excursions came way too late, long after we’d already booked our excursions, which we did early to ensure we got the ones we wanted.
It would have been nice to be able to connect with people in advance of the cruise, either through a group, through Cruise Critic or Meet Me On Board—something I think you have done in the past.
Once aboard, there was a welcome letter from the cruise hosts, but it lacked last names and contact information. Reaching Derek via Guest Relations was not easy and it took two tries, with the second person having to keep us on hold for a number of minutes before he could figure out who Derek was.
Of the three cruise hosts, only one (the tall Dylan McDermott look-alike) sought us out and introduced himself, at the first cocktail party. We had to seek Derek out when we had a problem, and the third person never once said hello.
The evaluation sheet left in our cabin provided little room for comments—more space was devoted to wanting referrals—hence this email.

Our biggest disappointment was our dinner table assignment, which was compounded by Derek’s rude and very inadequate response to our dilemma. We were looking forward to sitting at a large table and having the opportunity to get to know others, especially since this was our first time with Pied Piper. We were very surprised to be seated at a four top, as were our tablemates. They were very pleasant and also wanted to be able to meet others. Derek was able to seat them at a larger table. I only wish he’d done the same for us.

The second night, Derek assigned another couple to sit with us; however, one of the men was very odd, to the point that Michael and I were both very uncomfortable and our dinner was miserable. We knew there was no way we were going to be able to tolerate a week sitting with this person and were desperate for a new table assignment. When I tried to reach Derek that evening, Guest Relations was unable to connect us. That was when I decided to email Bruce in the morning, as he’d responded quickly in the past. He did respond quickly, assuring us someone would contact us.

When I hadn’t heard from anyone by 5 or so later that day, I tried again through Guest Relations, and this time was able to reach Derek. He proceeded to chastise me for emailing Bruce and was obviously very bothered to have me calling him. When I expressed my frustration at not being able to easily reach him, his response was snotty and offensive--something to the effect of “Well you reached me now, didn’t you?”

Clearly, Derek has no clue about service recovery or how to make people feel welcome and cared for. He never once apologized, either for his response to us or for our dissatisfaction with our table assignment. His solution for that evening was to give me two other table numbers that had openings. Both were small tables and there was no clue if that was our solution for the remainder of the cruise. That was it.

Derek then made absolutely no effort to follow up with us to see if we were satisfied with the alternate arrangement. Since he was so unapproachable and nasty, on the subsequent nights, we ate at the buffet once, Murano once, and then had to look for openings on our own at the larger tables where there were people we’d come to know.

Other than the cocktail party on the first and last nights, the group activities and opportunities to get to know others were limited. We took it on ourselves to organize card games. We discovered by word of mouth that there was a group tour of the bridge, but only after there was no room left on the tour. We never received an invitation from the tour hosts to participate.

Overall, we had a great time, but honestly, not because of your hosts or the activities. Our experience with Derek was the low point of the cruise, and honestly, he should be ashamed of himself for his response to us.

I wish we were left with a more favorable impression. As we approach retirement, one of our primary goals is to travel more, and I wish we thought we could count on you to provide us with opportunities in the future.

Michael & Mark

June 2005--Zuiderdam--Western Caribbean
March 2006--Jewel of the Seas--Eastern Caribbean
February 2008--Oosterdam--Mexico
March 2009--Westerdam--Southern Caribbean
August 2013--Solstice--Alaska
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Oct 31, 2010 10:40 am

Re: Not a fan of the piper

Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:37 am

Your commentary on Pied Piper was extremely helpful to me. There is no excuse for the lack of courteous service you received and for the lack of communication. I'm glad you enjoyed your cruise anyway. I had a somewhat similar experience a couple of years ago when the organizer of a dance cruise was an invisible hostess.

I had been considering booking a 2015 cruise with Pied Piper, but I decided there was no particular advantage...and possibly the disadvantage of being stuck (like you) with incompatible seat mates at a small table for an entire cruise. I decided to book the same cruise as the Pied Piper group...but independent of them. I think I'll be better off. Thank you for your balanced critique!
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:52 am

Re: Not a fan of the piper

Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:20 am

I've only recently discovered this board, and since I've travelled on Pied Piper many times, I feel I should throw in a comment in defense of the company. I don't have the time or motivation to craft a detailed response, and I'll admit that sometimes the administration is, shall we say, quirky. I find that overal, though, the price paid and the people met more than compensate for the idiosyncrasies.
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:59 am

Re: Not a fan of the piper

Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:45 am

Hello Michael and Mark. I know, talk about a delayed response... I am bad about looking at info on boards, etc. I am not sure if you were aware of this or not, but Derek is the owner of Pied Piper. Possibly why he never responded, besides the fact that there are no words to describe his customer service skills. We have traveled with Pied Piper more than a few times (all but one being Caribbean Cruises and the one being a Mediterranean Cruise) , and did meet great friends that we have maintained through the years on Pied Piper cruises, but in the past couple years have not bothered to book with them. I will state that when we first started cruising with Pied Piper, it did seem that Derek was more personable and we did see him during most of the group events and at dinner. However, with that being said, things went downhill and it does appear now as if Derek does not care about retaining new customers. He does have a bunch of repeat customers, and we were part of that, until the last few cruises when we and our friends starting having problems. Now basically what we do, and there are more people out there that do the same thing, because of the problems that they have had with Pied Piper and not wanting to give their money to Derek, but still wanting to go on cruises with friends they met previously, they book separately. You get to see the friends you made, while making other friends too, you just don't get to partake in the private functions.