Don't let this happen to your vacation

Carnival Cruise Lines is not about family, relaxation or safety - only money

How we got “Carnivaled”

If you are thinking about booking a cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines, you want to read about our experience.  Cruises are expensive and your vacation time is important.  You should make the right decision when choosing how to spend it.  Choose wisely.  Don’t get “Carnivaled!”

carnival triumphOur Carnival cruise ship experience was not a pleasurable or comfortable experience at all, and consisted of such atrocities as a children’s counselor using foul language in front of the kids, a sewage leak on our floor just 2 doors from our cabin, a terrible vibration in the room that kept us from sleeping at night, a sharp piece of aluminum floor trim that cut my 8 year old daughter’s toe so badly we needed to seek medical attention off ship as the ship’s doctor and nurse would not assist us, small groups of delinquent teenage/early 20′s men roaming the hallways looking for fights with other people, and a staff that generally didn’t care about the issues we were having.

I will go on to define the events of our trip below as concisely as I can.  I also have crew names and photos of the incidents.  The story is below:

We started by calling several cruise lines in search of a cruise that would fit our family… Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Princess and others.  In speaking with the Carnival sales rep, I was assured that the Carnival cruise I knew of in the ’80s was not the Carnival cruise line today.  I was promised that the Carnival ship was family friendly to children and that our kids would have plenty to do, managed by Carnival’s well-trained, professional staff.

We went ahead booked our cruise on the Carnival Triumph out of New Orleans on August 27th 2011, over an Alaska cruise, as we were convinced that the Carnival trip would be more fun for the kids.  We then arranged for round trip airfare from Orange County, CA.  We paid for the upgrade to a balcony cabin, as this was my family’s first cruise, and I wanted their experience to be memorable.

On August 26th, we flew to New Orleans to depart on our Carnival Caribbean cruise.  It was to be a 5 day cruise to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, stopping in Progresso and Cozumel.  We know that no trip is perfect and that small things go wrong on all vacations, but the experience we had was way beyond the “acceptable” amount/severity of problems.

The first issue was the noise in our cabin.  We were on the 8th floor, and there was a terrible, unusual vibration/humming coming from outside the cabin that was annoyingly loud and disturbing.  If you touched any of the furniture/beds in the room, you could feel the vibration.  It was not a normal vibration, but felt like there was an AC compressor over our room.  We walked about 3 doors down and asked if we could hear their room.  They had no such sound, so we confirmed that this was not normal.  The phone in our room did not work the whole trip. We went down to contact customer service… had to stan in line almost an hour to get to the front desk.  A technician was later dispatched to our room.  She said that she could not hear anything.  We were absolutely dumbfounded and insulted that she could tell us she couldn’t hear the noise or feel the vibration.  We filled a glass with water to show her the shaking when it was sat down.  She saw it and said “that was normal”.  It truly was not normal.  This issue never got resolved.  Sleep for myself and my wife was very limited for the next 5 nights due to this noise and vibration that nobody would address.

sewage leakThe next issue was the smell of sewage – not just the everyday smell around the ship, but the sewage pipe that blew out next to our room.  The second day of the cruise, we smelled a horrible sewage smell in our room.  We went into the hallway to see that carpeting was being removed some 3 doors down from us.  The technician said that there was a sewage issue.  There was cardboard covering the carpet in the hallway that evening that was stained in fresh, black sewage – which wasn’t even cleaned up for over a day – and the cardboard remained outside our room until we departed the ship.  This, on top of the loud vibration noise, made for most unpleasant accommodations.

We tried to spend some time on the Lido deck – where the pools are, but the Hip-Hop and Rap music was so very loud, you could not hear yourself think.  People were yelling over the loud music to talk.  It was as if nobody evaluated the needs of the passengers on the deck and just turned the music to 11.  And the music selection was very poor, ranging from rap to hip-hop… music aimed at the 20′s drunken crowd.  There was no way to relax on the upper, outside decks.  No way to read a book or even enjoy a relaxing day in the sun.

The children’s program was probably the most disappointing part of the trip.  As parents of an 8 and 11 year old children, we were excited at the activities that they had to choose from.  We took them to the opening party for ages 6 to 11 that first evening.  When we came back to get them, our children literally ran from the room and hugged our legs.  They told us “all we did for the last hour was stand and cover our ears.  The DJ played music so loud that it hurt our ears.  We asked him to please turn it down, and he looked at us and turned it up louder and smiled.  We asked to leave and nobody would let us”.  I understand them not letting the kids leave for safety, but to not pay attention to the kids discomfort was not very respectful.

The 2nd day of the cruise, we took the kids to the 2:00pm towel folding/animal event with the intention to let them stay through the t-shirt coloring and scavenger hunt.  We waited at the designated location for 25 minutes with a dozen other parents until the staff finally showed up.after checking them in (another 20 minutes), they were completely behind schedule.  This started the next downfall of the kid’s program.  We left our kids for the next hour.  When we came back, my son was sitting in a corner upset and my daughter was on the other side of the room with an acquaintance.  They again both wanted to leave, but this time… they started with “the head counselor was mean.  She yelled at us; she used foul language. Carnival kids counselor She told us that we could all just sit there all day for all they cared”.  The general attitude came from a counselor, a Serbian girl named Amanda.  They said “we didn’t get to fold any towels because she cut the guy off who was trying to teach us.  She was rude to him in front of us.”  Then, my son said “they took the markers away from me and wouldn’t let me finish my shirt”.  He said “they didn’t let me go do the scavenger hunt, which is what I wanted to do”.  Basically, the whole event schedule that afternoon was messed up.

Trecia - kids directorWe went downstairs and asked to talk to the director of the kid’s program.  About 15 minutes later, Trecia Young Bokonjic came to us.  She apologized and told us that Amanda would be pulled from the kids program.  She asked us to give them another chance.  Our kids refused to go back to an event until we finally convinced them on the 4th day of the cruise.  When my daughter decided to try Camp Carnival again, Amanda was there with the kids. My daughter did not want to stay.  Basically, all lip service.

Ashtray and dirty balconyOn the return leg of the trip the port side (our side) of the boat was cleaned.  There were crews on the balcony levels supposedly cleaning up the ship.  This was one of our 2 days at sea and we had to leave our cabin during this process instead of being able to enjoy our balcony that we paid extra for.  Could this not have been done while we were docked?  When we returned to our cabin, our windows were dirtier than the were before the cleaning, the chairs were wet and too dirty to sit in and we now had a lovely ashtray full of cigarette butts on our deck table which my kids had to find for us – they actually brought us a dirty ashtray full of cigarettes.   Just another example of customer care and a well trained staff

There were groups of “inner-city” young men on the ship that travelled in packs of 2 to 4.  They seemed to get off on walking a path into other people as a show of power – kind of charging into them – ramming them with their shoulders like it was an accident, then looking at you as if to challenge you.  It happened several times, in front of my kids, so I went to security.  I asked them what I should do and the security officer said “try to avoid them”.  He said that there was nothing else he could really do about it.  So, we just tried to stay in our cabin or the nice restaurant where they didn’t seem to roam.

danger in carnival stateroomOn the final evening, my daughter went to the door in our cabin to walk onto the balcony.  It seems that in cleaning our room, someone knocked off a piece of trim on the floorboard – the aluminum trim on the floor.  My daughter caught her toe on this sharp piece of aluminum.  It was a missing piece of floor trim that housekeeping had overlooked or knocked off – poor maintenance or workmanship.  It was as sharp as a razor and it cut right through her large toe and toenail.  It went deep enough that it actually cut her big toenail in half, and blood was gushing our pretty hard.

It was 8:10pm, our phone still doesn’t work, so I rushed down to the medical center on floor zero.  There was nobody there.  I ran around until I found someone who could call me a doctor.  I waited over 15 minutes and a nurse showed up.  She seemed a bit ‘put out’ that someone needed help after hours.  I explained the situation and she brought me some gauze and bandaids and sent me on my way.  She did not come up to see my daughter, to lend and nursing skills, to help in any way.  I was completely floored by her attitude and lack of compassion to help a guest, but I had no time to argue as my daughter needed help.

The toenail has since fallen off - infection set inWe left the ship the next morning, took my daughter immediately to a doctor to look at her toe. That cost us even more, not to mention her pain and discomfort and us spending much of the night awake due to negligence in maintenance of the cabin.

When I booked the cruise, I was talked into paying an extra $240+ for insurance.  Among other things, that was supposed to cover medical emergencies, as I was told.  But we were basically brushed off by the medical staff.  Where is my insurance help there?  Or where is even any basic decency of helping their passengers in a medical situation?

When we returned, I sent out an email to customer service explaining what had happened.  No response for days.  I sent it a second time, no response.  So I started digging around for email addresses until I found a few executive member emails, including Mr. Mickey Arison, Chairman/CEO of the Carnival Cruise Line.  I send Mr. Arison a letter.  A few days later, he had ‘Kay Savedge – Special Advisor, Office of the President” contact me.  Kay did the marketing apology for our experience, told us that saw the issues reported in the ship’s files, and that Carnival would look into them – thanked me for bringing them to their attention.

Next, she wanted to offer us a 15% discount on a future Carnival cruise.  Seriously, a 15% discount.  And BTW, there were conditions on the offer:

While there are a few restrictions like, holiday departures, cruises to Alaska, Australia, Europe, Hawaii and chartered sailings, etc., the offer is combinable with most fares.  Additionally, our offer is limited to one per booking, is non-transferable, and applied to the cruise fare only, after you’ve paid the deposit.

Basically, she offered us 15% off another Caribbean cruise – maybe on the same ship.

Where to go from here? Does anyone have ideas?  I am probably going to expand this site to start hosting other people’s experiences on Carnival so that the world knows what they are getting into when planing a vacation with them.

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Other Carnival Complaint Sites

Here are other places to read about people’s experience on Carnival Cruises

Consumer Affairs – Carnival Cruise Lines