Finally, a place to gripe! I really didn't want things to end this way, but since Carnival still will not contact us, I guess I have to. I'm just going to put it all out here for you and you can sift through what you think is interesting. I assure you, none of this is exaggerated, even though much of it seems unbelievable. What could have been a "funny" mishap turned into a nightmare. Enjoy, and tell me what you think!
My wife and I were passengers on the Carnival Cruise ship, The Holiday, from November 23, 2002 to November 28, 2002. Although itˇ¦s not usually our style to put all of our eggs in one basket, we decided to forgo any other trips during the year in order to take our ˇ§dreamˇ¨ vacation. Because a cruise is supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime, we decided it would be worth the money, and we saved for approximately eleven months. By the time our vacation was all said and done, we felt that all the months of saving and planning had been a waste of our time and hard-earned money.
From the very beginning, this cruise was not the relaxing getaway we had longed for and anticipated. The following is a list of the unpleasant situations we encountered on our cruise with Carnival:
„h Upon entering the ship, we were confronted with workmen loading cardboard boxes on carts in many of the hallways. When we found our floor, we noticed that the entire wing of our hallway seemed to be under construction. There were carts sitting all along the hall. There were power cords empty boxes, and tools strewn along the hallway. Apparently a remodeling project was underway. We assumed that, like the touch-up painting going on outside of the ship, this construction would cease once we commenced our trip.
„h Despite our request of late seating dinner, we had been assigned to early seating.
„h Our first morning on the cruise, we were awakened at 7 a.m. by the sound of metal scraping on metal. The noise was excruciatingly loud, echoing throughout our cabin, and impossible to sleep through. Because of this rude awakening, we felt unable to relax on the first day of our much-needed vacation.
„h We called room service that morning and filed a complaint. We requested either a guarantee that this wouldnˇ¦t happen again, or that we be moved to another cabin. We were told that security would check into things for us.
„h That evening, we returned to our cabin and discovered a bottle of champagne along with a letter of apology. We were genuinely appreciative, and very hopeful that we would have good nightˇ¦s rest and an opportunity to sleep in on the second day of our cruise.
„h The next day, we were awakened to the sound of saws and various other construction noises. Once again the work began at 7 a.m., in fact, the only morning we were not awakened by the noise of construction, was the morning the captain ran our ship aground.
„h Our room steward was lacking in service, as both days we were in port he neglected to leave beach towels in our room. Both days we tried to reach him to no avail, and finally had to call room service to have our towels delivered. This was extremely frustrating, as our trips in to port were delayed by having to wait for our towels to be delivered.
„h Early Tuesday morning, our ship ran aground in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
„h We were given no official announcement of this occurrence until 10:30 Tuesday evening. What remains disturbing about the timing of this announcement is twofold. For starters, the mainlanders we encountered on Play Del Carmen were quite aware of the fact that our ship was not only stuck, but it would not be moving any time soon. Secondly, it struck us as odd that after the incident occurred, our captain was never heard from again. Risa, the Entertainment Director, appeared to be the person in authority of our ship, as she was the one keeping us ˇ§informedˇ¨ of the situation at hand. This did not evoke feelings of trust in the ability of those in charge of our cruise.
„h At the time of the announcement, we were told that our ship would be removed from the sandbar by Wednesday evening, and we would still have our full day at sea as promised.
„h At this time we were also informed that, although the ship was leaning a few degrees to one side, it was not a safety issue. Risa said that in an effort to relieve the ship of some of its weight, seawater was being released from the ballasts, and this was the cause of the list to one side.
„h The ship listed to one side for the remainder of our ˇ§cruiseˇ¨. In fact, our last two nights on the ship were spent trying to keep from rolling out of our beds while sleeping. Not to mention that walking anywhere on the ship took a lot of extra effort and energy as each direction was either extremely up or downhill because of the list to one side.
„h Although free drinks were offered until midnight, bartenders stopped acknowledging or serving passengers on the deck at 11:50.
„h We had family coming from three different states for Thanksgiving at our home, so following the announcement we made three phone calls to inform our guests that we would have an unexpected extension to our trip, and would therefore be late getting home.
„h We believe these calls were a necessity because of an error on Carnivalˇ¦s part. It never crossed our minds that Carnival would refuse to cover the calls in their entirety.
„h We were given a free excursion on Wednesday, most of which was spent standing in lines and being herded on and off of buses. Furthermore, what is advertised as a ˇ§Mayan Ruin and Snorkeling Tourˇ¨ is not exactly as it sounds. We were still charged for our snorkeling gear, to the tune of forty dollars. Not to mention the fact that we had no time to eat at any of our stops, so we ended up spending fourteen dollars on two boxed lunches and two Cokes on the bus. Our ˇ§free excursionˇ¨ ended up costing an extra fifty-four dollars we had not budgeted for our trip.
„h After standing in line for an hour-and-a-half to get on the tender back to our ship, we missed our final dinner.
„h Not only did we miss our last formal dinner, we returned to our room to find a letter that informed us that we were going to be flown out of Mexico the following day, omitting our full day at sea. Furthermore, we had to have our bags packed and outside our room by midnight. Although they couldnˇ¦t tell us our flight assignment at that time, passengers assigned to the first flight out would have to be ready to disembark the ship at 5 A.M. on Thursday morning. Any passenger who missed their flight would have to find their own way home.
„h This information alone was extremely disappointing. Add to that the fact that due to the water conservation effort, there was barely enough water trickling out of our shower to even wash our hands. This left us unable to shower after swimming in the ocean for a portion of the day.
„h Meanwhile, announcements were being made over the PA system that early dinner guests were supposed to be reporting to the Americana Lounge immediately to fill out immigration paperwork. Many who rushed to the lounge were then turned away due to a lack of immigration forms.
„h After immigration, we immediately went to the Purserˇ¦s desk to ensure that we would be on the first flight out, as our plane home was scheduled for departure from New Orleans at 11:45 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. After standing in this line for an hour-and-a-half, and hearing one Carnival employee tell a guest that he had no right to be upset as ˇ§it isnˇ¦t Carnivalˇ¦s fault that the ship got stuckˇ¨; we were informed that the information desk couldnˇ¦t help us until we received our letter with our flight assignment. When we had that information, we could come back down and they would be better able to answer our questions.
„h At that time, we asked for a printout of our current Sail and Sign charges. We were shocked to discover that we had been charged for our phone calls. Even more shocking was the attitude we received from the women who was ˇ§helpingˇ¨ us. I told her that the calls were necessary because our trip itinerary had been changed due to the ship being stuck. She told us that we would be refunded five minutes worth of calls and absolutely no more. Carnival was ˇ§not going to budge on thisˇ¨, and that there were ˇ§1900 guests on the ship, did we really expect Carnival to cover those costs?ˇ¨ Yes, as a matter of fact we did, seeing as those calls would not have been made had we not run aground.
„h At 10:30 that evening, we finally received our assignment, and indeed, we were on the first flight. As previously instructed, I went back down to the Purserˇ¦s desk, while my wife repeatedly called Room Service for a 4 a.m. wake-up call.
„h Around midnight, she finally got through to Room Service. I returned shortly after midnight only to tell her that, after waiting in line for another hour-and-a-half, I had been told, ˇ§Sir this is the information desk, we canˇ¦t help you with flights. All I can tell you is that weˇ¦re flying in 25 Carnival reps from Miami tomorrow. Youˇ¦ll have to ask them what to do about your connecting flight.ˇ¨ He also informed me that we were lucky to be leaving on the first flight, as some people would be stuck on the ship until as late as 4 p.m. on Thursday.
„h So in total, we had spent 3 hours waiting in line at the Purserˇ¦s desk, and received absolutely no help whatsoever. Suffice it to say we spent our last day and evening standing in lines, unhappy and under an extreme amount of stress.
„h Impossible as it may seem, the next day the nightmare only got worse when we were herded on and off a tender, then on and off three different buses.
„h Pandemonium reigned at the Cancun airport. A Carnival rep told us to remain on our bus. My smoking habit uncannily paid off when I stepped off the bus to smoke. It was at this time I discovered that passengers on the 9 a.m. flight were supposed to be locating and loading their luggage on to different bus that would take passengers to the terminal.
„h I also discovered that, although we had been assigned to this flight, and our names were on the list we had been given the wrong colored luggage tags. This error on Carnivalˇ¦s part could have caused us to miss our flight.
„h The confusion worsened when airport employees seemed to know nothing about our flight, as it was not listed on any of their screens.
„h Once we passed through security, the Carnival reps were nowhere to be found, and neither was our plane. We were left on our own, sitting at an empty gate with no way of communicating with Carnival representatives.
„h Our ˇ§9 a.m.ˇ¨ flight did not take off until 10:30 a.m., causing my wife and me to miss our connecting flight home to Michigan.
„h Throughout the morning, we had been assured over and over again that there would be representatives from Carnival waiting for us in the New Orleans airport. These people would help us with any connecting flights that were missed.
„h Upon landing, we rushed through the airport to find the Carnival rep that had been sent to help us.
„h I told him, ˇ§I think we just missed our flight what should we do?ˇ¨ He pursed his lips and said, ˇ§All I can tell you is to call 1-800- CARNIVAL.ˇ¨ I said, ˇ§Thatˇ¦s all you can tell us? They said we would have help with our flights.ˇ¨ He replied, ˇ§Again, all I can tell you is to call 1-800-CARNIVAL.ˇ¨ We were absolutely flabbergasted, to say the least.
Our situation went from bad to worse when we found that not only had we missed our flight by a mere half hour, there were no other flights that afternoon with our airline to our hometown. With my family waiting at our home, and us having been up since 4 a.m. on less than four hours sleep, now stranded, my wife spent the final hours of our ˇ§vacationˇ¨ crying in the New Orleans airport.
To make matters even worse, we resorted to calling Carnivalˇ¦s 800 number only to be put on eternal hold and/or hung up on at least three times between my wife and myself. Ironically, while on hold we were ˇ§entertainedˇ¨ by a story about Carnivalˇ¦s first cruise ship, which had run aground on its inaugural voyage. The narrator of the story made the comment, ˇ§ˇKbut we donˇ¦t like to talk about that.ˇ¨ Needless to say, we did not find this story to be amusing in any way.
Adding insult to injury, when I finally got through to someone, I spoke with a young man who furthered my ill feelings toward Carnival by arguing with me. While I was in tears, he insisted that Carnival had fulfilled their end of the contract, and didnˇ¦t owe us anything more than getting us ˇ§homeˇ¨ which is what they had done. I informed him that we had been stranded in New Orleans, while our home is in Michigan where my family, whom we see twice a year, awaited our arrival. He continued to insist that we were owed nothing. Apparently not even the decency of an apology, or a little compassion for our situation. On a nearby payphone, my wife was receiving much the same attitude from other Carnival representatives.
In the end we were forced to admit defeat and find a hotel room for the night. This was yet another unexpected cost we had not budgeted for and the fact that it was Thanksgiving Day proved to make our lives even more difficult. We were famished and exhausted by the time we checked into our hotel, only to discover that not one restaurant appeared to be open. After numerous unanswered phone calls, and walking for about a mile, we were finally able to eat at the one bar that was open. Not even Dennyˇ¦s is open on Thanksgiving Day in New Orleans.
Carnival Cruises advertises a vacation where relaxation and wonderful experiences abound. Our trip in no way reflected this. Our initial disappointment was due to the construction surrounding our cabin, and the inconveniences that arose from it. Had this been the only factor in our unhappiness, we may have been more willing to overlook the discrepancy in what we experienced versus Carnivalˇ¦s advertisements of a restful, fun vacation. Unfortunately for Carnival, we feel that from the moment our ship ran aground we were treated with disrespect. Not only were the employees unsympathetic to our unhappiness, many of them were outright rude. It seemed that every opportunity Carnival employees had to make a bad situation bearable, they failed miserably. One Carnival employee told us we were ˇ§luckyˇ¨ that Carnival was chartering flights, as though it was a favor to us.
A simple apology goes a long way and would have made a world of difference in our opinion of Carnival, yet not once did we hear even an inkling of regret that our vacation had been ruined. In fact, the situation was treated as though we were receiving wonderful service, and that we should be ever so grateful for it.
Well, you made it to the end. What do you think?