March 13, 2018.
Commentary, and admittedly a rant
Last week Royal Caribbean International rolled out their new website and to be polite, it’s been a less than stellar debut.
Various experiences have occurred, ranging from previous user login IDs and passwords being denied but not redirecting to set up a new (required) ID and password, to a message to ‘try again later’, to some lucky users being redirected to setup the new user ID and password.
After doing the usual things like clearing my browser cookies and trying different web browsers, but still being told to try later, I finally clicked on the ‘forget your password?’ link and it kicked me into the ‘create new login’ screens. Only then could I experience the pain of the new website’s myriad problems.
The new layout is stark, with very little information. I am one of the fortunate ones in that my currently booked cruises are still listed, my Crown & Anchor (C&A) points are correct, and my cruise history is mostly intact with only my first two Royal Caribbean cruises missing from the list. Many people have not been as fortunate, with several saying they are listed as “Pre-Gold” C&A members. (There is no such thing as a Pre-Gold member level.) Some report that their bookings are missing, and some of those with upcoming cruises are not able to print their boarding passes. There is no link to access the C&A webpage, so nobody can update their onboard preferences or loyalty gift selections. You currently have to call them to do those things. The link for the Cruise Planner -where you order excursions, drink and dining packages and so forth – requires you to re-enter your booking number, ship, and sailing date even though the Cruise Planner link is part of the existing booking information on your personal dashboard in the wondrous new website. Or again, you need to call Royal Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean’s social media and call center teams have been overwhelmed with requests for assistance, many of them from customers who are not especially gracious with their language. I truly feel sorry for these employees and they’ve been doing a remarkable job in trying to handle the onslaught of complaints while taking needless abuse. No doubt they have the following statement set up as a timesaving message template for their Facebook and Twitter feeds: “We are sorry. The new website has many issues our IT Team is working hard to address. Please send me a private message with your booking number and contact info and I’ll see what I can do.”
This was not a finished product. It’s not up to beta testing viability. Some could argue that it is barely above alpha testing level. Billion dollar companies aren’t supposed to do things like this, but then Royal has a dubious history with IT-related activities, and in particular their website reliability and usability.
Royal Caribbean executives have been noticeably mute during this debacle, with nary a peep from them to at least admit they hosed this up quite thoroughly. I find that unacceptable. To spring this new website on the public, with all the problems, is also unacceptable.
As for me, my next Royal Caribbean cruise is in July. I’m not touching this booking for at least another month lest some errant software coding cancel the cruise when I try to do online check-in. Hopefully they will get this ironed out and suitable for use.
Oh, and part of this internet upgrade effort involves combining the website access processes for Royal, Celebrity, and Azamara into one. So grab your popcorn. I’m sure that will be something to behold.