Can this trip be saved? “This was the worst vacation any of us have ever taken”

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Christopher Elliott

Whenever I get complaint like Ashish Kapila’s, my first reaction is, “Oh no, not another laundry list.”

Companies almost never respond to laundry lists, because they look like pointless rants. (I always advise picking the most egregious offense, and focusing on it.)

But then I read Kapla’s litany of complaints against Carnival. And I understood why she couldn’t decide which part of her cruise was the worst. The whole thing was bad.

“This was the worst vacation any of us have ever taken,” she told me. “I have been on several cruises on Carnival and other lines, as have the others in our party, and none of us have ever seen something like this.”

What was so bad about it?

Kapila was on the Carnival Destiny Western Caribbean sailing on May 26. She and a friend were staying in room 6332, a balcony cabin on the ship’s upper deck.

Our stateroom was located above one of the nightclubs, which on the first night, played music so loud that we might as well have been trying to sleep in the club.

It was so loud in our room that everything from wall panels to furniture and lights shook and vibrated from the bass until 1 a.m.

Worse, she later found out that the club was practically empty that night. So why blast the music?

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Second issue: Several other passengers in nearby staterooms.

They were extremely rude and disrespectful to everyone in our wing of the ship, and even began to make threats to myself and members of our party.

There was yelling, screaming, hollering and doors slammed repeatedly all night until 5 to 6 a.m. every morning.

One night, there was also a confrontation in the middle of the night outside our door because of a drug deal that had gone bad, with vulgar language and people arguing over money not paid to them for marijuana.

OK, I was shaking my head until I read the drug deal comment.

Drug dealing on ships? Seriously?

It got worse. After the disruptive, drug-dealing guest found out Kapila complained about his behavior, he retaliated, she says. He began harassing guests in the other staterooms by “banging on our doors and screaming all hours of the night with the intention of keeping everyone awake and making threats through the door,” she says.

Kapila lodged multiple complaints and asked to be moved, but was told there was no available room.

This cruise was an awful experience. The fact that there was no alternate accommodations that could be provided to us, with the exception of us getting off the ship, was absurd.

After the cruise, she contacted Carnival in writing. It sent her a form apology and refunded two days of her cruise and gave her a 15 percent discount off a future cruise.

It’s not enough for her.

Carnival, like other cruise lines, does an excellent job keeping alcohol brought from the outside on its ships. BYOB is strictly verboten, since it cuts into the cruise line’s profits.

I’m surprised they couldn’t keep illicit drugs off the ship, too. (At least, if Kapila’s account is to be believed.)

I think Carnival owes her more than a boilerplate apology and she’s entitled to a detailed explanation of why it allowed a disruptive passenger who was allegedly dealing drugs to board.

But can I help? I don’t know.

I don’t know if I can advocate for a full refund, which is what she wants.

Even if I could, Carnival’s no-nonsense attitude when dealing with customer grievances (and particularly laundry lists) mean it’s unlikely that I’d be able to influence the process in a meaningful way. Also, the refund and discount offer isn’t half-bad.

But I’m not opposed to trying.

(Photo: bosh amite/Flickr)

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. He also publishes Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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