I am SOOOO angry!!! My poor parents have found themselves in a horrible position, and I feel sad that there is nothing I can do to help them…. So in writing this, I hope that I can help get the word out, and at least WARN people about the pitfalls and perils of traveling… Let me back up and explain…
My parents have worked very hard in their lives to be able to travel. THIS was always a priority for my family as I was growing up… Mom and Dad sacrificed so many things in their lives to give us the opportunity to see the world. I don’t know if I appreciated it fully when I was younger, but looking back now, I understand how truly blessed I was to have experienced different cultures and to see parts of the world that most don’t get the opportunity to see. I learned more about life on these family vacations than I ever did from a text-book, and it has made me appreciate everything I have in my life. The value of living in a first world country where I have freedom has never been lost on me. It is hard to forget seeing amputee children beg on the streets when I was 8-years-old. I had the gift of standing on the stairs in front of the Sydney Opera House, going to England and seeing where my family is from, and visiting the San Blas Islands where POOR means something entirely different from what it means in Canada. I got to see that primitive cultures still exist, and people will do just about anything for a pair of Nike’s… I not only value each memory, but I, as an adult, appreciate all the time, energy, effort, and resources my parents used to give us these opportunities….
As I became an adult, moved out of my childhood home, and started taking care of myself, I only valued my parents more for the opportunities they gave me… my parents continued to travel on their own, working year-round for the opportunity…
When my Dad fell ill with cancer, it was simply the notion of going on a family trip that kept my Dad going… Not only had my parents given my sister and I the beautiful gift of travel, BUT they decided to pass that along to OUR kids, and last year they took all of us on a family vacation to Mexico… It truly is one of the most important memories I have to date. My parents very selflessly gave my son and niece an opportunity that we would not have been able to give them on our own. It was a beautiful trip, my family got to spend 8 days together without distraction – and that meant more to me than anything. Because of my Dad’s health, we weren’t sure if we would have that time.
Let me tell you that when my family was told that my Dad had cancer, his prognosis was almost as poor as they come. He truly is my hero, he fought every step of the way – through unimaginable road blocks, and he beat the odds… I think we all learned that life is very short, and to take every opportunity that comes your way because you don’t ever know what tomorrow will bring. Once you have been through something of that magnitude, you can’t disregard the lessons that it brings. Life life.. See the world… Love passionately… create your own memories…
Fast Forward to the present – My parents have been working very hard this past year to be able to take a cruise through South America. It has been a LONG time in the making – and I can’t tell you how much effort, time and resources have gone into this. They were supposed to leave this past Sunday…
We all know that this past Saturday there was a MAJOR Earthquake in Chile. My heart, prayers, and all my thoughts go to the people of Concepcion and Santiago – the places that were hit the worst from what I understand, and all of the other people who were impacted. Lives were sadly lost, and the devastation that they are going through is only something you can even try to imagine if you have lost a loved one in your own life. It is truly sad.
My parents were to fly into Santiago – but the airport there suffered major damage, and air travel was canceled into this area. We sat on pins and needles Saturday night as my folks waited to hear from Princess Cruises, the company that they booked this trip with…. and the phone didn’t ring….
Sunday, some of the people who were booked on this trip congregated on a cruise forum, and they all started to share stories of how they were stranded in airports and homes across the world with NO idea what was going on, how Princess intended to handle this situation, or HOW they were supposed to get to the ship on time… hundreds of calls were made to Princess… without much of a response.
Yesterday as we followed this devastation in the news, we were left to come up with our own conclusions, and since air travel had been suspended, and there were travel warnings and advisories released which stated that all non-essential travel into this area of the world was prohibited, we came up with our own conclusion…. this trip would NOT happen as planned… which is completely expected, and obviously what is best for everyone… But Princess Cruises STILL hadn’t communicated this to any of their passengers. My Parents, along with help from their wonderful travel agent, both came to the conclusion that they wouldn’t be going on holiday, which was actually a relief – after 3 days of sitting by the phone, not sleeping, and not knowing whether they were going to have to leave at a moments notice and travel into an area of the world that is destroyed.
But GET THIS….. LAST NIGHT, my parents were told that this cruise was leaving, with or without them – and IF they chose not to get themselves to Chile, they were NOT receiving a refund…. That the $$$$$$, time, effort, resources, and frustration were for nothing, as they were not being refunded or compensated for any of it!!
UM… HELLO?!?!? If people can NOT get out of Santiago, how to they suspect that people are going to get IN? How can you sail a cruise ship OUT of an area that has been impacted by a SEVERE earthquake, leaving hundreds of people stranded with no way to get there, and then KEEP their money? Keep in mind that almost all of these people have travel insurance….
Some brave souls have decided to make their own travel arrangements, flying into city centers as close to the ship as possible, and either taking a bus, or hiring a driver to take them the rest of the way… My hat is off to all of you.
Other people cannot even get close to this point, as flights into this area aren’t feasible right now – and are trying to meet the ship somewhere along the way and salvage what is left of this trip – at their own cost.
But regardless of how people have tried to make lemonade out of the lemons that they have chucked at them – Princess Cruises SHOULD be helping the people that essentially keep their business alive and well.
THIS just isn’t good enough… and as Princess makes press releases stating that they are doing everything they can to assist all of these travelers, I must admit, looking from this perspective – I think that it has been convenient for them to use the media to their benefit – because I have spent the last 4 days reading story upon personal story that contradicts everything they have said.
Again, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Chile that have been affected by this horrible disaster. I hope that they will be able to grieve, rebuild, feel the love and prayers we are giving them from around the world, and hopefully become stronger at the broken places….
As for Princess – The saga continues… I hope they do the right thing and really help these people out…