It has been awhile since I have written a post and I want to take this opportunity to update you on the River Countess.
On June 2nd the River Countess had just completed a very successful week in the beautiful region of Venice. It was early in the morning and most guests had disembarked to travel home and a few others were enjoying their last breakfast on board or completing the last bit of packing. All of this was abruptly interrupted when the MSC Opera lost control and hit our docked ship.
We are incredibly fortunate that our Captain quickly reacted and instructed the sailors to cut the ship’s lines, avoiding the full impact of the collision. I am convinced that this quick reaction from our experienced Captain saved lives. The crew and remaining guests on board were certainly in a state of shock but again we are fortunate nothing too serious happened. Since then, the River Countess has been at a ship yard where a team is quickly working to get her repaired. The damage was extensive; however, we are confident that she will be sailing again on September 8th.
I am incredibly proud of the Uniworld team and how well they managed through this situation. The management team followed the emergency procedures while our crew did exactly what they were supposed to do, which is to ensure our guests are cared for. Our land operations team immediately secured two 5-star hotels for the guests that were due to arrive for the next cruise and developed a plan for their experience since we no longer had a ship that would sail. My team in Los Angeles quickly put together a communication plan and reached out to our customers and partners to ensure they were informed of the situation. It was a very stressful couple of weeks, and we could not have managed so efficiently without the support of every member of our team.
The team deserves all the praise we have received from our customers and I wanted to share with you a few quotes from passengers that were onboard the morning on June 2, 2019:
“My husband and I were lucky to have no injuries as a result of this frightening incident. We appreciate very much the caring and quick action of the crew, the follow-up call I received upon our return home, and the continued concern expressed in this email. Our trip with Uniworld was wonderful and left nothing to be desired, and our complete satisfaction with your company is unaffected by the harrowing experience as we disembarked. Uniworld has nothing for which to apologize as the accident was not your fault, and your people have made every effort to help those who were negatively impacted by it. We have no hesitation about cruising with Uniworld again and continue to recommend you to our friends.”
– Lynn Fraser
“Once again, I would like to express my appreciation to the crew who were so effective and solicitous after the accident, to your CEO Ellen Bettridge for her concerned and immediate response, to you for your ongoing support and to Calvin, our long-time agent who introduced us to Uniworld many years ago. We have always enjoyed our cruises with you.”
– Patricia MacRae and Hugh Macdonald
“I would like to take this opportunity to compliment the River Countess crew, especially the Ship’s Captain, for the amazing work during this emergency. Their response was remarkable under terrible conditions...Uniworld should be very proud of them. Please pass these compliments along to the appropriate Company parties/officials.”
– Robert Irving
On June 2nd we also had customers who were scheduled to board the River Countess and were very disappointed when they heard the news. We provided them with the option to go home with a full refund or stay and enjoy the land experience our team organized. As you will see from the comments the Uniworld team did an excellent job:
“We have heard nothing but good things about this line, and now I can add my voice to the praise. The few days we did experience were very well done. The tour guides were quite good and things were organized well. I must also comment on the way Martin handled everything after the crash. He was extremely helpful and professional, even though I'm sure he was stressed to the max. He handled changing our flight home, among other things, and found us a direct flight. That made the trip home so much easier. We will probably wait a bit before booking a river cruise (this was to have been our first!), but when we are ready I will definitely book through Uniworld.” – Chris Zyburt
“Special thanks to Martin Kummer and Louisa for taking care of us and working to make our trip a success.
Also thanks to Uniworld for providing us with the gems of northern Italy even though it was by land. It was sad when some of our cruise mates left as we had started making friends but we also found new friends with those who stayed for the unique adventure.
Jenny and I have been on four ocean cruises and three river cruises. This would have been our first Uniworld cruise. We hope we get a chance to cruise with you in the future.”– Edmond and Jenny Lee (they just booked a cruise on the S.S. Catherine for 2020)
“A few lines to thank you for the responsible efficient manner in which your organization handled this difficult situation for all the passengers.
I wish to commend the Tour Director (Louisa). She was terrific. The updated information presented at meetings was clear; she answered questions with available facts, carefully explaining details. Her approach set this tone for the right group of dynamics. No frustrations, no complaints from anyone.
Good wishes to UNIWORLD for a long corporate life!”– Lupe Suarez
I appreciate these letters and will ensure all the crew members and employees have the opportunity to read them. I am looking forward to early September, when the River Countess will sail out the rest of the fall and then in 2020 after her transformation to the S.S. La Venezia. Please come join us!
I will end by once again praising the Uniworld team on board, on shore and in our corporate offices – I have an amazing team! I also need to thank my parent company The Travel Corporation. During and after the incident they have been incredibly compassionate and supportive. This fourth-generation, family-owned and passionately run travel company will celebrate 100 years of hospitality in 2020. This is an incredible milestone and we are honored to be part of this family and their commitment to be the very best across the travel industry. Their investment in our success can certainly be measured financially and just as importantly, it’s the investment of their time, their energy and their heart in our fleet of ships and in our team that will always ensure that we maintain our position as the World’s Best River Cruise Line.