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Old March 13th, 2013, 12:59 AM
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Default The Unfortunate Truth About Carnival - For Parents

Let me start by saying I have the opportunity through work to travel internationally extensively so have had the best customer experiences and the worst customer experiences and in 15 years of travel I have never felt compelled to publicly comment of an experience. Until now that is.

To every parent reading this contemplating traveling with your kids (unfortunately probably applies to just about anyone), here is an extremely important fact you need to know right away. You are a bank account to Carnival. Period. End of story. You are not a guest, a friend, a cruiser, a family, or a good looking guy from Texas with incredibly cute kids.

To be clear, today is Tuesday and I am on the ship writing this on the $130.00 wi-fi internet plan. We purchased two adjoining rooms (2 parents, 3 kids, first long family vacation ever with TWO birthdays being celebrated this week). We dropped almost $650 in our first two days on board (the spa lives up to its billing, it really is that good). I say this to note that we were ready, willing, and able to fully enjoy the trip!

But today is when the reality of everything hit home. We booked our cruise DIRECTLY WITH CARNIVAL OVER THE PHONE. Not with a travel agent, not through a website, but through a wonderfully friendly agent who always was excited and continually told us how wonderful this experience was. He even noted that we had TWO daughters with birthdays on this trip (one on Monday, one on Friday turning 8 & 10). He made sure that we knew this was very special and that there would be surprises in the room on each day to celebrate.

So as parents, we begin building up this wonderful surprise with our soon to be 8 year old daughter. We get on the ship to the anxious and inquisitive questions of "What will it be?" and "When will I see it?" which built up the anticipation even more. Then Monday, the big day, arrived and to our surprise, nothing. No card, no balloon, not even a "Happy Birthday" to be found.

Now, with 4,600 people on board, it is fully understandable these things happen. So we called the onboard customer service team which is where this whole thing started moving downhill fast.

I WRITE THIS AS A WARNING TO PARENTS AND AS NOTICE TO THE MANAGEMENT OF CARNIVAL THAT YOU ARE LITERALLY "MISSING THE BOAT" ON FUNDAMENTAL SERVICE AND THAT IS SHAMEFUL.

Here is the timeline:

MONDAY EVENING

1. Called customer service and told them that we missed the birthday surprise in the room.
2. We were told that nothing was showing on our account and that we should have booked through "Bon Voyage" if we wanted something in the room
3. We noted that it was the CARNIVAL employee, not a travel agent, website, email, text, or tweet that set it up. But no problem, let's just remedy it for Tuesday. Problem solved right? Customer service promises to take care of it and respond back.

TUESDAY MORNING - Really gets fun here! THIS IS WHERE THE TRUTH HITS HOME!!!

Start the day with NO response from customer service as promised...

1. Daughter asks throughout the day "Why did they forget me?" and "When do I get to see the surprise?". Keep in mind here that the big surprise is a card and a couple of balloons. It really is the thought that counts with kids!
2. Dad tells her, "Don't worry baby, it will be there tonite!"
3. Dad calls customer service on Tuesday morning and speaks with Ivan who informs dad of the following:
a. It is not their fault that it was not booked through Bon Voyage.
b. Ivan would visit with management to see what could be done but he was almost certain nothing could be done. Unless of course we would like to pay $65 per child for a card and a couple of balloons that THEY forgot that was ordered by THEIR DIRECT CARNIVAL EMPLOYEE.
c. Ivan promises to "look into it and respond back"

TUESDAY AFTERNOON - FRUSTRATION TURNS TO ANGER AND OUTRIGHT RESENTMENT AT THIS POINT

1. We return to the room to the following message from Ivan at customer service. This is not a joke.

"Mr. XXXXXX, I have sent an email to our corporate headquarters in regards to your matter and will follow up when we figure out where this situation developed. I have visited with our onboard management and regret that there is nothing we can do for you in the room unless you would like to pay. I am happy to tell you that I have informed the staff at dinner that your daughter's birthday will be on Friday and we will provide you with a complimentary dessert for her that night."

So I can get this straight, here is what the response was.

1. For a card and a couple of balloons that YOUR employee set up voluntarily that cost almost a full $1.00 that YOU didn't get correct in the system, you have initiated emails to corporate headquarters?
2. For my daughter who turned 8 on Monday, she is pretty much out of luck?
3. BUT, you will be happy to give my daughter who is turning 10 on Friday a complimentary dessert on a cruise where ALL OF MY MEALS ARE PAID FOR INCLUDING DESSERT.

OR.........

For $130, you will be happy to put a birthday card in our room 3 days late?

TO THE MANAGEMENT OF CARNIVAL WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE HEAD OF CUSTOMER SERVICE

You have taken a dad who has brought his family on a 7 day cruise from Galveston, who bought TWO ROOMS, went overboard in the spa, and spent more on candy the first day that all of last year combined and by so grossly mismanaging basic customer service by ruining my daughters 8th birthday, failed miserably on every promise your team so gleefully promoted throughout the booking process.

TO ANY PARENT CONSIDERING CARNIVAL OUT OF GALVESTON (The only one I am qualified to comment on)

Make absolutely no mistake. I am writing from DAY 2 of a 7 day cruise. You are a bank account only to the staff here. Every event, game, celebration, party, and activity is focused on you spending money. We came on this ship fully prepared to do just that and the reality is we will continue to spend albeit drastically more reluctantly and in significantly less quantity that before. We are adults and understand the game so came aboard prepared for it.

But when you hurt my kid, all bets are off. And for the remainder of this trip and after I get home, I will make sure as many parents as possible know that the customer service team onboard cares nothing for you, your family, or the experience you have. They simply care whether they can push a drink, a toy, an event, or $130 for a card, a couple of balloons, and a "complimentary" dessert on you.

The truth about Carnival.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 02:43 AM
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I feel bad for you and your family.

If you cruise had been booked by a good TA, you probably would have had those dates remembered.

However, I will say this.....on our latest Celebrity cruise we mentioned to our waiter that a couple on our table had gotten engaged in port and he had a cake and champagne toast for us that evening.
He only had a few hours notice.

I wish you happier crusing in the future.

TM

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Old March 13th, 2013, 07:39 AM
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Default The Unfortunate Truth About Carnival - Gyno Edition

So I woke up this morning and remembered in my haste that I forgot to mention the gratitude I felt for the sex ed class my little ones got to experience on our 2nd day on the ship. Not onshore mind you, but on the 65 foot main screen on Lido deck by the pool on our way to breakfast.

Apparently, the person in charge of programming for the MAIN TV greeting guests at 8:00 am decided that an episode of "The Doctors" (full disclosure, love the show) that was doing an in depth discussion of the components of the female anatomy and orgasms would be wonderful programming to start a fun filled day.

I was naively expecting to discuss the shore excursions planned, karaoke, or even the funny way some people like to dress with my 5, 8, & 10 year old girls at breakfast. Instead, allow me to recap the discussion...

Me: "So girls, are you excited about today?!? Big day planned (still believing my birthday surprise was coming)
8 year old daugther: "What is an orgasm?"

At this point I am pretty certain I spit coffee on approximately 20 passengers. At some point in life, probably much sooner than I would like, I was planning on having "the talk" with my girls. I wasn't planning on having it on a cruise when they were 5, 8, & 10 because Carnival staff thought that showing A GYNOCOLOGICAL REVIEW OF THE FEMALE ANATOMY ALONG WITH DISCUSSIONS OF ORGASMS AND HOW TO GET THEM would be great family entertainment for the Lido deck at breakfast.

In the suggestion box, I am going to note that there are 1,600 staff members on this ship. A Director of Common Freaking Sense is apparently not one of them although the position is drastically needed.

Pulling into Freeport now, fingers crossed that we miss the presentation on Irritable Bowel Syndrome before dinner tonight. And yes, I do have photos and will be posting as soon as I get to a decent internet connection.

Parents be warned...
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Old March 13th, 2013, 08:33 AM
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I am just so sorry to hear a. bout the birthday suprise that didn't happen. I just can't believe with your first call about the issue, they didn't fix it ASAP....Pretty weak customer service IMHO...It would been an easy fix for them, shame on them.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasdad View Post
So I woke up this morning and remembered in my haste that I forgot to mention the gratitude I felt for the sex ed class my little ones got to experience on our 2nd day on the ship. Not onshore mind you, but on the 65 foot main screen on Lido deck by the pool on our way to breakfast.

Apparently, the person in charge of programming for the MAIN TV greeting guests at 8:00 am decided that an episode of "The Doctors" (full disclosure, love the show) that was doing an in depth discussion of the components of the female anatomy and orgasms would be wonderful programming to start a fun filled day.

I was naively expecting to discuss the shore excursions planned, karaoke, or even the funny way some people like to dress with my 5, 8, & 10 year old girls at breakfast. Instead, allow me to recap the discussion...

Me: "So girls, are you excited about today?!? Big day planned (still believing my birthday surprise was coming)
8 year old daugther: "What is an orgasm?"

At this point I am pretty certain I spit coffee on approximately 20 passengers. At some point in life, probably much sooner than I would like, I was planning on having "the talk" with my girls. I wasn't planning on having it on a cruise when they were 5, 8, & 10 because Carnival staff thought that showing A GYNOCOLOGICAL REVIEW OF THE FEMALE ANATOMY ALONG WITH DISCUSSIONS OF ORGASMS AND HOW TO GET THEM would be great family entertainment for the Lido deck at breakfast.

In the suggestion box, I am going to note that there are 1,600 staff members on this ship. A Director of Common Freaking Sense is apparently not one of them although the position is drastically needed.

Pulling into Freeport now, fingers crossed that we miss the presentation on Irritable Bowel Syndrome before dinner tonight. And yes, I do have photos and will be posting as soon as I get to a decent internet connection.

Parents be warned...
Would suggest another cruise line in the future which will follow thru with special occasions and I say this with experience in this regard
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Old March 13th, 2013, 11:00 AM
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I never knew the cruise lines did "Birthday Surprises" free of charge and as mad as you are I certainly wouldn't of paid for the internet to write a post, I would of waited until I got home.
Sorry for your kids disappointments.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 02:11 PM
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5 years ago...maybe longer, Carnival used to bring a birthday cake to the table....

but again, they have not done that in years...perhaps the operator did not realize this had been discontinued????

Or you may have misunderstood what the operator said.

I know that even Personal Vacation Planners (PVP ~ which are the Carnival Travel Agents ) ... not an operator that just takes a cruise order must pay for any gifts they send out of their own pocket.

Since none of these folks make a commission, I can not see a Carnival Vacation Specialist ~ CVS handles cold calls over the phone ~ offering to spend their money on a total stranger.

Personally my first reaction would have been that I misunderstood the operator and then I would have gone to the gift shop and made sure a "surprise" was in the cabin for each child.

Since there is a chance that you misunderstood, I certainly would not have taken it to this length......

my 2 boys literally grew up on Carnival ships (the 21 year old as 54 cruises) and they have always been treated like family.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 02:27 PM
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I would suggest going to Cherry On Top and ordering a cake to be delivered at dinner. The waitstaff will sing the birthday song for the kids and it will be a special surprise. It will cost somewhere around $12.

I do feel your frustration when something you were told to happen does not. Do your best to make it right to the kids and then deal with Carnival.

I also know that the sad thing is that every cruise a number of people try to "scam" gifts, OBC, liquor and other things from Guest Services. I know that in your case this is not true but others have given the staff and corporate a "jaded" view of people claiming that something was promised but never delivered.

That is why, if I ever order or promised something, I request and receive a follow up email with the receipt or confirmation.

I hope things go better for you.

P.S. I think it's pretty pathetic that they are showing daytime TV on the big screen.

Take care,
Mike
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Old March 13th, 2013, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerogirl View Post
I never knew the cruise lines did "Birthday Surprises" free of charge and as mad as you are I certainly wouldn't of paid for the internet to write a post, I would of waited until I got home.
Sorry for your kids disappointments.
I too have never heard of FREE birthday surprises.

OP I feel bad that you are this upset and did not ask people about this before you go. People would have told you the only thing they do for you is to stick a candle in a dessert and sign in the MDR for free.

Anything else you have to pay for.

I am really sorry you are so upset and that the booking agent gave you bad info. You would think they would know, but sounds like you got a agent without proper knowledge .. because they dont give free birthday stuff to anyone in your cabins. Nothing I ever heard of.

I wish you had not spent the money on the internet to warn people and just waited until you got home.

What you were expecting makes no sense to me as its not what Carnival's policy is .. at least for the years I have been cruising on Carnival.

Please make it up to your girls and try and have a good cruise and just put this behind you.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 03:26 PM
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Please.....for the sake of your kids, just chalk it up to a misunderstanding. I've been cruising with my grandson for 5 yrs, he's now 9, and if I want him to have something special, I hide it in my suitcase and surprise him with it during the cruise. Just go to one of the shops and get something she would like.....don't dwell on it. You don't want your daughters to remember this as the cruise where the crew forgot them.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 06:37 PM
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I have to say I agree with you all....let it go, and, go to The Cherry on Top,and make it right...That's what Dads do.....Frustration aside,and I get that....enjoy the rest of your cruise, and, tell them to turn the station!!
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Old March 13th, 2013, 09:47 PM
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For my daughters birthdays on both Carnival Freedom and Carnival Dream (lucky girl) I just had to mention to our server that it was in fact, her birthday. The fuss they made was incredible, and they did produce a cake for us both times. No charge. (Tipped them well, of course)
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Old March 13th, 2013, 11:20 PM
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There may or may have not been some misunderstanding on both parties but things do happen.
Several years ago when Bob Dickinson was President and CEO of Carnival, I wrote a complimentary letter to him after we returned from a cruise. We had cruised about 8-10 times with them at that particular time and had been responsible for numerous others taking Carnival cruises. Anyway, I never really expected to hear back from him, as I figured an assistant would get the letter, dump it in file 13 ( AKA wastebasket ) and that would be it, but as it was a letter complimenting the staff, etc. I did indeed get a personal letter from him.
He thanked me for the letter, stated that was a good way to start off a Monday workday, etc and gave me the name of his personal assistant and her phone number and advised me to call her when I booked my next Carnival cruise and he would arrange for me to have ( his words ) " a bottle of bubbly from Bob " in my cabin when we arrived. I booked another cruise for approx. 6 months later, called the phone number several times and only got voice mail--left messages --even copied the letter and sent it to Carnival to the ladies attn.
There was another couple taking their first cruise with us so I had mentioned several times I was going to have a " bottle of bubbly from Bob " in my cabin when we got there.
Imagine my surprise when we had no bottle of bubbly in the cabin and no one knew anything about it--we didn't get mad--we all got a big laugh out of it-- the other couple teased me about that for the next 6 cruises they took with us over the next 3 years--every cruise, they would ask if I got the bottle of bubbly from Bob yet !
SO, I guess the point is, things happen. even coming down from the CEO-- it wasn't anything that I was terribly excited about one way or the other but did think it was funny that the CEO couldn't get a bottle of bubbly put in someones cabin !
I never wrote and complained, never complained at the pursers desk, etc. as I could have easily bought my own bottle of bubbly had I wanted it--we just took it as humorous and cruised on. Since then , we have been on many, many more Carnival cruise ( still haven't rec'd my bottle of bubbly from Bob ) and am sailing the Dream for the 3rd time this fall, and no, I don't expect that bottle of bubbly from Bob to be on my cabin--but who knows--it could mysteriously show up !
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Old March 14th, 2013, 11:41 AM
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Just wondering if by booking directly with Carnival they reduced your fare by the amount of commissions they would have paid to a travel agent?
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Old March 14th, 2013, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennc View Post
Just wondering if by booking directly with Carnival they reduced your fare by the amount of commissions they would have paid to a travel agent?
No, The price they give you I get from my TA.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 11:57 AM
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So Carnival are making money by passengers booking directly and not having to pay travel agents. ALWAYS USE A TRAVEL AGENT!!!!!!
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Old March 15th, 2013, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennc View Post
So Carnival are making money by passengers booking directly and not having to pay travel agents. ALWAYS USE A TRAVEL AGENT!!!!!!
That is great advice.

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