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Where are the earrings I bought on my Royal Caribbean cruise? Help!

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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Consumer reporter and ombudsman

While jewelry shopping aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, cruise passenger Robin White purchased a beautiful pair of earrings. White assumed the cruise line would ship her purchase directly to her home in time for her wedding day, which was just weeks away.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and White walked down the aisle in an alternative pair of earrings.

That was nearly a year ago and White still doesn’t have the earrings she purchased during her Royal Caribbean cruise.

The cruise line has been unable to help with the search and referred White to Starboard Cruise Services. That company claimed the earrings were shipped as scheduled and closed the case.

That might be the end of this story if the company provided evidence that the $1,600 earrings were actually delivered.

But it didn’t. So White is asking our advocacy team to help get that proof, the earrings, or her money back.

Can we do it? 

Editors note: This article comes to you from our archives and was originally published in 2021. It was fact-checked and updated in Feb. 2024.

Taking a Royal Caribbean cruise and shopping for special jewelry

Just months before the coronavirus shut down the cruise industry, White boarded Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. She looked forward to relaxing by the pool, shopping and exploring for the next seven days.

Cruise itinerary of this Caribbean cruise, Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, buying jewelry on the cruise ship
White was looking forward to shopping for earrings and relaxing on her pre-wedding Royal Caribbean cruise aboard the Allure of the Seas.

White says it was always her intention to buy a piece of jewelry at some point during the cruise. Her wedding was just eight weeks away, and she was hoping to find the “something new” to wear on her special day.

“My wedding was in a few weeks,” White recalled. “I thought I could find something unique to wear that would remind me of the cruise.”

That goal seemed like a relatively easy one to reach.

Anyone familiar with cruises knows that a favorite activity for many passengers is shopping for mementos — especially jewelry. The ports in the Caribbean are teeming with jewelry shops. And most of the cruise lines have luxury diamond shops on board their ships.

The Allure of the Seas is one of those cruise ships: it has tons of shopping opportunities.

Soon after boarding the cruise, White began shopping for the perfect earrings and a necklace for her wedding day.

Where did the diamond go on these earrings?

“I went into the jewelry shop called Regalia onboard the Allure,” White explained. “I bought a lovely tanzanite and diamond set of earrings and a matching necklace. The total cost was $2,400.”

Pleased with her purchase, White took the jewelry back to her cruise cabin to admire it. She unwrapped the package and took one look at the earrings and realized something wasn’t right.

Related: I got the worst view on the cruise ship! Can I get a refund?

One of the earrings had an empty hole where a diamond had been just 30 minutes before. Not sure how this had happened, White headed straight back to Regalia and showed the salesperson the problem.

“The salesperson said that the store could replace the diamond and send the earrings to my home by FedEx,” White remembered. “They assured me that I would have the earrings in time for my wedding in February. So I agreed.”

White handed over the gems and assumed that all the salesperson said was true and that she would soon be walking down the aisle wearing her repaired earrings.

That assumption was a big mistake.

White didn’t know it yet, but she definitely wouldn’t be wearing those earrings on her wedding day. In fact, she had just begun what would become a year-long battle to see those gems again.

Wedding day countdown: Where are the earrings I bought on the cruise?

Of course, when you’re about to be married, you likely have many things on your to-do list and a boatload of distractions. That was very true for White. She was so busy that she hadn’t noticed when a full month had passed without any update on the repairs of the earrings she bought on the cruise.

In the first week of February, White wrote to Royal Caribbean Guest Experience and asked about the missing earrings.

Hi Royal Caribbean! I had wanted to wear the set at my wedding in three weeks, but that seems impossible now. I have heard nothing from Regalia since I handed over the earrings on board the Allure of the Seas. The store staff said that they would put in the repair order once the cruise ended. Then they would send the earrings to me at my home address.

Could you please track down my earrings and find a status for them?

White to Royal Caribbean

Soon, Royal Caribbean sent a surprising clarification of its involvement in the jewelry purchase — it didn’t have one.

Royal Caribbean: Starboard Cruise Services handles your onboard shopping

Royal Caribbean responded to White’s email by explaining that RCCL doesn’t control or manage its ships’ shopping experiences. White had reasonably thought that by buying the jewelry on the cruise ship instead of in a port of call, she could count on Royal Caribbean to help if there were any problems. The agent quickly extinguished that thought.

I am sorry to learn that you still have not heard back about your earrings. Our onboard shopping is operated by our service partner, Starboard Cruise Services. You may contact them at: Starboard Cruise Services, Inc. Customer Service Department 9290 NW 112 Avenue, Suite1 Miami, FL. 33178 Phone: 1-800-540-4785

Robin, I appreciate you sharing your experience with us. We hope to have you onboard one of our ships soon.

Royal Caribbean

White had never even heard of Starboard Cruise Services — and no one at the company had ever made themselves known to her either. Yet, now Royal Caribbean Cruise Line was telling her that this fourth party to the jewelry purchase was the key to finding her missing earrings.

White felt abandoned by the giant cruise line.

Can Starboard Cruise Services locate the missing earrings?

Royal Caribbean’s inability to facilitate this process with their vendor and help locate the $1,600 earrings frustrated White. But with no other choice, she composed an email to Starboard Cruise Services and asked their team to find the earrings.

To its credit, the company answered White promptly and promised to find her jewelry. And shortly after that, an agent informed White that her earrings were being delivered from the manufacturer.

But six weeks later — after the coronavirus had shut down the cruise line industry and White’s wedding had passed — she received a surprising email from SCS.

A representative of Starboard Cruise Services informed White that it had tracked down her missing earrings. In fact, the agent said that the company had delivered the jewelry to White’s home in the third week of March. The company considered the case resolved.

White was stunned. But even more surprising was that the company had no proof of shipment or delivery and seemed to be implying White should take their word for it.

White had no plans to do that.

“Our offices remain closed because of the coronavirus.”

Following all the tips in my guide to solving a consumer problem, White escalated her complaint.

A senior customer service agent at Starboard Cruise Services explained that their records indicated that the earrings were shipped directly to White from the manufacturer on March 22. But this agent acknowledged that many of the manufacturers had closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, so she could not provide verification of delivery of the earrings.

Currently, we are experiencing delays as some of the manufacturers have closed and others are operating at lower capacity based on CDC and government guidelines. Based on the same policies, our office remains closed.

We hope you understand and we appreciate your patience as we all work through this unprecedented time.

May you and your family stay safe and healthy.

Starboard Cruise Services

Waiting patiently for an update on the MIA jewelry

Realizing that there wasn’t anything further she could do to accelerate the return of her missing earrings during the pandemic, White decided to be patient. She methodically sent an update request to Starboard Cruise Services every six weeks throughout the summer and in to October.

But by late fall, White’s patience was growing thin. With the announcement that the company had laid off hundreds of workers because of the pandemic — including the dedicated representative with whom she had been working- White decided to contact our advocacy team for help.

She had read about many of my cruise fiasco success stories and hoped that I might be able to help her, too.

Can we help locate the missing earrings?

When White’s request for assistance landed in my inbox, her level of patience amazed me. I also had a lot of sympathy for the situation on a different level.

White bought those earrings and necklace on that cruise to commemorate her last getaway as a single lady. She intended to wear the jewelry as she walked down the aisle in February. All the special memories she planned to associate with this purchase most certainly would always be overshadowed by the nearly year-long battle to find the missing earrings.

I went through the paper trail and I could see that White had given Royal Caribbean, Regalia and Starboard Cruise Services every opportunity to make this right. Of course, the coronavirus had complicated matters after March, but the problem began in December — months before the pandemic began — Regalia should never have asked White to accept damaged earrings in the first place.

It was time to escalate White’s plea for assistance to the parent company of Starboard — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Hi there!

A Royal Caribbean passenger, Robin White, who bought some jewelry last December during her cruise contacted us. Unfortunately, after she made the purchase (while still on the ship), she noticed that a diamond was missing in one earring. She returned the earrings and they were to be shipped to her home after the repair was completed. In March, an agent of Starboard sent her a notice that the manufacturer was shipping her earrings.

Despite much back-and-forth communication between Ms. White and Starboard, she still doesn’t have her $1,600 earrings. Would someone from your team please let us know if you can assist your customer with tracking down these earrings OR issue her a refund? Ms. White has been trying to retrieve her earrings or her refund for almost an entire year now.

Can you help? Thank you!

Michelle Couch-Friedman, Consumer advocate

Good news: Here comes your replacement earrings

Things happened very quickly after I reached out to LVMH. I heard back from its representative (in Paris) within hours. White’s shopping experience onboard her Royal Caribbean cruise troubled their team. The executive assured me that the company would make things right.

Within one day, I received notice that White’s earrings were (probably) on the way.

Dear Michelle,

I hope this email finds you well. I got encouraging feedback from our team at Starboard over the night. They will reach you directly to give you the full explanations, but I understand that Mrs. White will receive her earrings very soon (if not yet).

Kind regards, *****

Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

And this time, White received a tracking alert from FedEx for her package. Two days later, she had those earrings that she bought on her Royal Caribbean cruise a year earlier. To say this thrilled Robin is an understatement.

Now I have the earrings to match the necklace (which I’ve not worn yet). They may have missed the wedding last February, but I’ll have them for our first anniversary!

Thank you for all your help, Robin 🙂

Robin White

And all was right. Until…

“There’s egg all over my face! I found the missing earrings.”

Several weeks later, I received a panicked email from White.

In all of her wedding and relocation confusion last year, and with the company’s inability to provide any proof of delivery of the original earrings, she had overlooked one tiny box in a sea of boxes packed for her moving day.

It turns out the manufacturer missed White’s big day, but it did ship the earrings in late March after all.

Good morning, Michelle:

Yes… it’s me again.  This past weekend, I found the missing earrings when opening up boxes for a long-delayed home improvement project; the box had been put with the boxes of parts for the project.  I’ve emailed Starboard Cruises and will be returning the earrings once I get an address from them.  

I feel horrible; there’s egg all over my face. I guess I’ll be one of those follow-up articles. At least this is a “feel-good” item and all of this will be put behind all of us.

Thank you again for all of your help,

Robin

Things to consider before you buy anything on a cruise

The Consumer Rescue team receives a fair number of complaints each year involving problems with jewelry, art and other items bought on a cruise. Here are some things to keep in mind before you take off on your next maritime adventure.

  • Set a budget for souvenirs
    It’s best if you preplan your budget for souvenirs before you set off on your cruise. Most of the complaints we receive involve impulse buying while a traveler is in “vacation mode.” If you set yourself a budget for your souvenir purchases — and stick to it — you’ll avoid ending up having terrible post-vacation regret that can ruin any trip.
  • Return damaged jewelry ASAP
    In this case, White should not have accepted Regalia’s offer to take the earrings back for repair. If you buy any piece of jewelry on a cruise and discover damage before you even leave the ship, return it. Pick something different or get your money back. You’re under no obligation to allow the company to take your money and the damaged jewelry on a verbal promise you’ll get it back as described. No one needs that headache — let the jeweler deal with their own damaged product.
  • Research
    If you intend to buy jewelry on your next cruise, make sure to research your desired gem before you show up at the jeweler’s counter. Remember, jewelry stores want to get the highest price possible for their baubles. If you’re willing to pay top dollar, they’ll happily take your cash. An educated consumer is a salesperson’s enemy — make sure you are familiar with the price range for the type of jewelry you want to buy.
  • Prepare yourself for the hard sell
    Most consumers contacting us about problematic jewelry purchases on a cruise are elderly passengers completely unprepared for a hard sell. It’s important to remember that offers of a free bracelet, a cold drink, and other incentives are just the tools of the trade for a salesperson. You’ll likely be paying for all those extras in the final cost of your jewelry. Be ready. If you’re not interested in making a purchase, stay strong. Just say “no.”
  • Ask for a tracking number
    Finally, if you end up making a purchase on your cruise and the jeweler must ship it to you, make sure to iron out all the details beforehand. Make certain how and when the company will ship the gems. Ask for a tracking number so that you can be on the lookout for your jewelry — so you don’t end up with egg on your face, too. (Michelle Couch-Friedman, Consumer Rescue)

*If you need a cautionary tale about what could happen if you don’t prepare yourself for the hard sell, check out this article: You should not buy jewelry on a cruise. This is why

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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle Couch-Friedman is the founder and CEO of Consumer Rescue. She is a consumer advocate, ombudsman columnist, mediator, writer, and licensed psychotherapist. Michelle is a public speaker, and her expert guidance has been cited in MarketWatch, Consumer Reports, Travel & Leisure, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Popular Science, CNN, CNBC, Boston Globe, CBS News, National Geographic, Travel Weekly, Reader's Digest and more. You might even catch Michelle on TV reporting on a situation. :) Michelle is also the travel ombudsman columnist for The Points Guy and is the former executive director of the nonprofit Elliott Advocacy. During her six years in that position, she resolved thousands of cases for troubled travelers and other consumers. You can read hundreds of 5-star reviews Michelle earned during her service to the nonprofit since 2016 here on Great Nonprofits. She is also a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. Today, she continues to spend as much time as possible fiercely defending consumers and traveling the world with her family. Contact her at Michelle Couch-Friedman or on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.
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LiLi

Boy what a mess, can totally understand how a small box could have gotten lost in moving chaos. Add COVID chaos on top of that and there were far too many failure points.

Good on both the vendor for (eventually) “making it right” when they couldn’t prove that the earrings were sent, and good on her for returning the extra set when she found the error.

jsn55

I literally gasped when I read that she found the earrings. The poor woman, I can certainly understand how she feels. Odd that FedX couldn’t prove that they were originally delivered, they must have been insured, right? Just another ‘virus disaster’. But the good news is that now you have a good contact at MHLV!

DChamp56

To be honest and upfront, the name of this article should be “I made a mistake accusing Royal Caribbean of theft of my jewelry!”
The article name implies RCI or one of their partners tried to keep jewelry that should have gone to the consumer. Not good. Cruise lines in general get enough bad press (and like always, you only hear the bad news, never the good news). Also keep in mind, 5.5 million people sailed Royal Caribbean last year, yet you only hear a handful of complaints.
JMHO

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