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

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.)

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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?

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)

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

  1. Hmmm… this is a toughie.  It’s true that the ship was probably full, and there wasn’t any alternate place to put her.  That said, stateroom designs often leave a lot to be desired when it comes to noise insulation.  (I never go on vacation without a white noise machine or at least a white noise player for my laptop.)

    Did she call security about the yelling, screaming, and alleged drug dealing as it was occurring?  Complaining the next morning is unlikely to have any effect.

    Lastly, did she attempt to take advantage of Carnival’s guarantee?  This is mentioned in the pre-cruse materials and usually some signage at customer service; if you tell them you want to leave prior to hitting the first port, they’ll refund the remainder of the cruise and fly you back to your embarkation port.

    1. Interesting point. After the first night of no sleep, this would have been a sign that the balance of her cruise would go downhill from there.

  2. This story is the type of behavior I’d expect on a Carnival cruise line. Let’s be honest here, they’re the wal mart of cruise lines and a step above “booze cruises”. None the less 2 days refund is not to bad.

  3. I am shocked….SHOCKED…..that illegal drugs are used on board ship! C’mon…I’m not excusing the behavior that this woman witnessed. But a cruise ship population…it’s no different from society at large. Particularly on Carnival.

  4. Was a complaint filed while she was actually on board?  I would need to now this before I could “vote” on additional compensation.

  5. I dismiss the noise from the club thing, this is a known issue in cruise ship design and something they don’t compensate for. But, I understand blasting the music when they open to bring people in, but I do agree it’s rediculous  2 hours later when no one is there. 

    As for the issues with the neighbors, Carnival and other cruise lines can only do so much about guest behavior.  If they’re calling when it’s going on and no one responds, that’s one thing.  As for the alleged drug dealing, that’s tough without knowing why this was suspected, what was convied to the cruise line and when.  The cruise line can’t kick you off the ship because your neighbor says you were dealing drugs.  So, if there were no cabins available then it’s up to the OP on how to deal with the threats made against them.  If they were so threatened and couldn’t get another cabin why they didn’t push Carnival to get them a hotel at the next stop and pay for expenses related to that.

    I view “conditions were so bad that I want my money back” the same as if you’re in a restaurant and get a bad meal.  If you ate it, it wasn’t that bad and you should pay for it. 

    I think the 2 day refund and the 15% discount is reasonable in this case.

    1. Agreed. I think she’s due something, but not a full refund.
      Also…does Carnival allow firearms? I always travel with my gun where it’s allowed. Having a weapon in this case might’ve been useful against the drug dealing neighbors…

    2. “I view “conditions were so bad that I want my money back” the same as if you’re in a restaurant and get a bad meal.  If you ate it, it wasn’t that bad and you should pay for it.”

      Sorry, but if you get a bad meal at a restaurant, you can get up and leave, or not eat and go elsewhere right after. On a cruise ship, where exactly are you going to go? You are being held captive until you are allowed off the ship, and even then, there can be a significant expense involved with getting home.

      i think that if she is able to back up her story with documentation from other passengers that were harrassed, then she deserves a 100% refund.

  6. Need to pick your cabin carefully. Fortunately, there are many resources on the web that allow you to see where your cabin is and pick one that isn’t under the nightclub, basketball court, running track etc.

    As somebody who was once a teenager and has had teenaged children, drugs are part of American society. In California and a few other states, marijuana is available to anyone who tells a friendly doctor they are anxious. And Florida doctors proscribe 90 percent of the country’s oxyconton. I don’t think Carnival would be any better at keeping drugs off the boat than keeping a public high school drug free.

  7. You should mediate *all* our cases.  We all need help and the big boys just want to step on us.   The only motivating factor to take care of their customers is bad press. That’s the only thing that motivates their greedy hearts.

    1. No, see I’ve been reading this site for years and there are tons of cases that come up which don’t deserve mediation. That’s why Chris added the voting. Look back just last week and you’ll see a nutter who wants Amtrak to give her money for luggage lost by her ancestor–in 1907!!!

      I mean, come ON.

      I have to say, at least this letter didn’t contain the usual stomach turning pity-parties like: I’m a single parent, I have small child, I have a special needs child, etc. Often times we see letters like that, asking Chris to mediate their case even though they booked a NON REFUNDABLE ticket. In that case, the majority of the regulars vote no. Why would I expect a company to bend the contract that I entered into with them? Why should these people??

      1. Wow – so because the ticket was non-refundable, the OP had to suck up whatever Carnival dished out – noise, refusal to respond to multiple complaints, and so on.  And I suppose it’s the same for disabled kids and other “pity parties”.  And of course, your solution is to bring along your gun! I can’t imagine what you do for a living, but I hope you never have any control over any aspect of my life – you’re disgusting.

        1. Never said that. I said I think she received enough compensation already. It is always the same for the “pity parties”…I can’t stand seeing those in letters. While I believe some people deserve extra consideration, they certainly shouldn’t get a free ride because they are “a single parent” or “seniors on a fixed income” etc.

          Phrases like that don’t help when appealing to a company for assistance. They just sound like whining. So, why include them?

          I always travel with my firearm where and when it is legal. If that makes me “disgusting” then so be it.

      1. Actually, Raven has a point. Speaking as someone who worked on a customer service 800 line for 6 years, starting your complaint with something like “I’m a single mom, I’m on a fixed income, My child/parent/spouse has special needs” actually makes you less likely to get sympathy or help. The reason for this is that we have no way to verify the information and a LOT of people call in and try to lie about their situation to get money back. If you called in and said “Hey, I went over my minutes last month is there anything you can do to help me out?” I was much more likely to try to find a solution for you than for someone who called in and complained that the reason their bill should be fixed because they were a single mom or on a fixed income or whatever. Those things don’t entitle you to special treatment in the eyes of a company. If you can afford to buy their product, you can get treated like everyone else. 

        The only time that might be a factor is if it was something you spoke to the company about ahead of time. For example, you have special needs and book a cruise and at the time of booking you discussed those needs with the company, and they agreed to make specific accommodations and then they failed to follow through with those promises. Then, it would be appropriate to address that issue in a complaint.

  8. What a nightmare, with no way to escape.  I’d want a full refund also.  When you save all year for a vacation, what she went through is inexcusable

  9. Not all cruises are created equal. Some are made for partying and some are made for relaxing. A Carnival Caribbean cruise is truly the former. I wonder what the expectations were upon booking.

    The location of the cabin could have been researched ahead of time, unless it was assigned at check in.

    The lousy neighbors should have been handled better, security could have been assigned to monitor the activity in the hallway.

    I would “take the money and run” on Carnival’s offer. Getting a refund for a portion of the past sailing is great, use the discount and give them another chance on another cruise. 14 years ago I complained to NCL about a group of teenagers that took over the ship…including the “over 21” club. I vowed not to sail them until I get a response…still waiting.

    1. My last (and I do mean LAST) cruise involved HAL and them allowing kids everywhere–included diapered babies in the hot tub. Well, technically they weren’t allowed, but the staff did nothing, even when you complained to them!
      One of those nasty poopers did exactly that in the hot tub and it had to be closed for three days.YuckCruises are just full of entitled, stupid people. I’ve found I like going to resorts like Peter Island a lot better than being stuck on a boat with drunk idiots and their unattended spawn.

      1. Ewww!  I would suggest anyone who were to witness something like this take photos of the diaper-wearing, duty-factory in the hot-tub.  Then, when you make the complaint, gently remind the ship’s management that you will forward those photos to the departments of health in all the ship’s ports-of-call and the ship’s country of registry if they don’t enforce the rules.  It’s my guess that fecal matter in a hot tub is unacceptable no matter where the ship is registered.

    2. …adding to my post above. I just searched “cabin selection carnival destiny” and found a forum with some cruise critics who state that deck 6 is above all the lounges etc. Also states Empress level is above and below cabin spaces…presumably the quietest. Total elapsed time to find this…about a minute. The cabin selection, to me, is a non-issue with proper research by the OP or Travel Agent.

      Curious Chris, many times how a person booked is included in your story and the Travel Agent get blamed for a lot, sometime unfairly, so how was this one booked and where is the Travel Agent?

  10. When she was complaining about the nightclub noise, I was about to write one of my famously snarky answers, noting that “you get what you pay for” especially with a budget line like Carnival.

    (After what Carnival did to a friend of mine–basically told her to get an abortion or she couldn’t cruise, even with their “cancel for any reason” insurance–I refuse to even look at their trashy product)HOWEVER…The drug deals on board really bothered me. Why did Carnival not intervene? What sort of security do they have on board that ignores drug deals and PAX harassing other PAX? Is this just acceptable behavior for their guests now?So yes, I say mediate…but I don’t think she’d due a full refund.

    1. I have never taken a cruise before, however, I was quite surprised to hear that Carnival  cruises have a reputation for party goers. Perhaps she wanted to have some fun, but got more than she bargained for. You are right when you say “you get what you pay for”.

  11. I can understand the “laundry list of complaints” is something that’s not listened to, but there are two ways to look at this.  A customer can be too picky…..but if you are in a bad hotel, or a bad cruise ship – and it is poorly run, they seldom screw up on only one thing.  They generally screw up on many things, because they are screw ups at managing they place.  I’ve recently been at two Marriott hotels which were managed by what I would call “screw ups” and the list of issues at their properties was long.  It is pretty sad really.

  12. “It’s not enough for her.”
    Of course it isn’t. She won’t be happy until she gets a full refund as well as another free cruise for her and her 50 closest friends and family members.

    Another ‘oh it’s this case again’ moment – she already got a fair amount of compensation for qualitative complaints and she just wants more. The fact that she got it at all means that Carnival read her complaints and she isn’t going to get any more without being a real b**ch.

  13. She got a 2 day refund on a 4 day cruise. She presumably at food and went ashore at the ports of call. The layout of the ship is available prior to booking, so it’s not like Carnival slipped the night club under her in the middle of the night. Isn’t that enough compensation?

  14. Obviously this lady & friends are Cruisers. Get together with the rest of her group & get into everysite she & others can think of, relate her story to the DEA & media & try to organize a boycott.
    These big companies just don’t get it.

  15. Hi Chris, since I had a similar experience on Princess I can understand her anger.  We were under the buffet & heard carts & thumps & bumps all day & all night.  Sounded like they were rolling beer barrels overhead.  Really sucked.

    I received NO satisfaction from them, even though I had senior officers come into the room to listen & they all agreed that it was bad.

    So, like others, I informed Princess they can kiss my butt!

    Given how I felt, yes Chris, give it a go!

    But conversely, my Carnival cruise out of San Juan was better than both Princess (obviously) & 2 Royal Carib.

    Had no problems, great food, good service.  Guess it depends on the luck of the draw.

  16. I think they got more than I would have given them. Carnival is known for families with children (noise) and younger adults who party and therefore , consume alcohol. If you want a nice quiet cruise, pay a bit more and use a cruise line with a different reputation.

  17. If the OP had to pick a single issue to focus on here, I’d suggest she (and you too, Chris, since I hope you will try to mediate for her in some way) focus on passenger SAFETY.  The primary issue here, as I see it, is not the noise (although that would personally drive me to tears!).  It’s the fact that the passenger complained to Carnival because of the drug-dealing in the hallway–and their response apparently amounted to little more than telling the dealers that she had complained about them.  Gee, thanks!  If your customer indicates that the situation is UNSAFE, you should go out of your way to (a) look into it, trying to verify that said customer is not dreaming or exaggerating, and (b) avoid identifying her to the allegedly dangerous people–because if the complaint is accurate, you are ENDANGERING your customer even further, DUH.  This is not rocket-science; playground monitors deal with comparable (but obviously much more minor!) situations every day. 

    So maybe the questions put to Carnival should be phrased like this: what is your position on personal safety aboard your ships?  What is Carnival’s policy when a passenger indicates that he/she feels threatened, either by another passenger or by some other situation on board? because surely Carnival HAS such a policy…  And was that policy followed in this case?  Was the complaint unreasonable, in Carnival’s view? 

    In other words, make CARNIVAL assess its own handling of this incident.  Should the passenger feel that she will be safe on another Carnival cruise in the future? (They’re offering her a future discount, after all!)  If so, why should she feel that way?  What has Carnival done to ensure her safety and that of all other pax, and to communicate that to her?

    To sum up, if Carnival thinks it handled this well, let’s hear them say so!  And if it doesn’t think it handled this well, WHAT IS CARNIVAL GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  Lots of potential future passengers, especially WOMEN, want to know…

    1. Actually having a tough time buying her story.  I have sailed on almost every cruise line out there (work as a travel agent) and have gotten to see some behind-the-scenes things most passengers never will.  IF they questioned the “dealer” he would have no way to know who reported him, unless her own behavior would had led him in that direction.  And I have also been privy to the cruise lines turning over a troublesome passenger to the local authorities at the next port of call, so if this was a complaint that was legitimate, and could be proven, I assume the same would have happened there.  I wonder if she hated the cabin’s noise level, and is just fabricating the rest to get more money?  Hate to say it, but I know it happens a lot (I know of a client who will write up a nasty complaint, totally false, each time in order to get a freebie or next to freebie their next time out!)

    2. If the drug dealing and threats were in fact happening and if Carnival did nothing, you would be correct.  However, I have serious doubts about what happened other than the noise from the disco.  Cruise lines take potential drug dealing or transport and threatening behavior toward other passengers very, very seriously. 

      Any passenger reporting another for alleged drug dealing would NOT be identified to the alleged drug dealer.  Security would speak with the alleged drug dealer and perhaps search his/her cabin.  If threats were made security and/or the hotel director would have put the offending party off the ship at the next port.  I’ve cruised over a dozen times and know that even less offensive behavior (but still disrupting) has resulted in passengers being disembarked at the next port. 

      Further, if she felt so threaten why did she stay?  She says they offered her the option to disembark but she stayed.  If someone was threatening you, you felt unsafe, wouldn’t you get out of there?

      I believe the OP completely about the noise from the disco and believe she heard drunks in the hallway, not necessarily drug dealers.  I also believe her complaints about alleged drug dealing and threatening behavior were investigated.  Carnival didn’t willy nilly decide to refund money, something cruise lines very rarely do.  They refunded her 2 days of fare because of the noise and that is sufficient. 

  18. A good travel agent should steer you away from a cabin located above a nightclub.   Carnival’s annual report says it has 104% (including third- and fourth person in some staterooms) average annual occupancy, so I believe the passengers couldn’t be moved.  The rest sounds like the horrible fellow-passengers and here I don’t know what Carnival can do.   Sounds like the cruise from hell…

  19. Perhaps it is time for drug sniffing dogs at the embarkation point when passengers go through security and perhaps it would prudent also when the checked luggage goes through security prior to it being loaded on the ship.

  20. Carnival is VERY good about documenting guest complaints so they will be able to tell you exactly what she complained about and the resolution.

    On night one, when she heard the noise from the disco and it kept her awake, they should have invoked the guarantee–the cruise line CANNOT move the disco, and they are not going to inconvenience a thousand partiers because she doesn’t like the noise.

    If she is such an expert cruiser, why did she not select cabins AWAY from the noise areas. Any frequent cruiser knows where to go for cabins and what to look for (red flags) in the deck plans.  And of course a reputable travel agent should have steered her away from the location.

    Drug deals? Pure hearsay. Are they on ships? Yes. Do the lines condone or look the other way–not in my experience.  Threats? Again, not something ANY cruise line would take lightly. What were these threats?

    To me, it seems that she was responsible for selecting a poor cabin choice for her and her companions. And I might suggest that she may be embellishing to you and Carnival (if indeed she reported this multiple times) to further her agenda.

    As for the compensation, I think it is more than fair. Carnival probably did the refund just to try ad save future business from her and her travel companions.

    1. Well, drug dealers or not, the other PAX sounded like jerks. I was in a business hotel a year or so ago, and this CRAZY old lady would come out of her room every time someone got off the elevator. Apparently the noise of the elevator doors opening would rouse her “ill” husband. As I was rolling my bag down the hall, she chased me, screamed in my face and told me I was being “disrespectful” of her “quiet space.”

      I called hotel security and apparently she had been a problem since her check-in a few days before. I still don’t know why they put up with her, but I had some fun after it happened again on the second day. I called security at 3AM and said I heard loud, angry noises coming from her room. They went up there, knocked on the door, and woke her up.

      Sweet justice.

  21. “The fact that there was no alternate accommodations … was absurd.”

    Really?  The cruise line should keep empty cabins on purpose?  I was 100% on her side until this statement.  While there are occasionally empty cabins on a ship, there is no guarantee that if there were any empty cabins on this cruise those cabins would have been anywhere near the type she was occupying.  Would she have been happy moving from a balcony cabin to an inside basic cabin?  Even if it would have been silent with friendly neighbors I doubt it.  

    I agree that the cruise line should have done a better job addressing the drug dealing accusations.  But I also doubt that the accused drug dealers were told that it was this cabin that complained.  This would open a possibility of a serious civil suit for endangering the passengers. It is more likely that the accused simply harassed everyone near the area, as stated by the OP, and was not singling out her cabin.

    It is an unfortunate fact in the world of travel today that there are jerks out there and they seem to think than can be even jerkier while traveling because they somehow have a right to do anything and everything because they paid to be there.  Even if the OP would have been on the most expensive and exclusive cruise ship in the world, she still could have had a jerk for a neighbor.  

    She should be happy with what she has received and take it as a lesson learned.  

  22. At first blush, it might seem she has a laundry list of things, she has, in fact, two.  

    First, the music from the disco…  I’ve never been on a cruise (and given what I’ve seen here on this column, I don’t know I’ll ever go on one) so I don’t know – but was her cabin chosen for her?  Did she book late and the choices were limited?  Seems to me the design of the ship is flawed with regard to reducing the noise level above the disco.  Given the ship was full, I don’t know there was anything they could have done.

    Second, the fellow passengers.  If they were such a disruption to the rest of the guests, why were they permitted to continue on the cruise?  If someone on an airplane is creating a disruption, the plane lands and they are kicked off.  Why not on a cruise?  Why not remove them at the next port?  Drug deal gone bad?  Really?  Now they are endangering the health and well-being of the rest of the passengers. I mean, we ALL know just how congenial drug dealers can be when they don’t get their money.

    I don’t know a full refund is in order but certainly more than 15% on another cruise…

  23. Well, there’s a reason Carnival is the known as the party ship cruise line, and while I’ll probably never sail with them.

    1. I should add: I voted no. We like cruising. Granted, we also have only ever cruised with Disney, but we do a lot of research about where the staterooms are located on the ship, and therefore what kind of noise we can expect.

      EVERYBODY should do this kind of research as well. Not only of where your stateroom could be located, but of the ship you will be on, and the cruise line itself. As somebody else pointed out, Carnival is the budget cruise line, and therefore I would go into a cruise with them having very low expectations of just about everything.

      1. All the research in the world wouldn’t have prevented:
        “banging on our doors and screaming all hours of the night with the intention of keeping everyone awake and making threats through the door,”

        Surely you don’t mean that passengers should expect this and deserve this if they book on a budget cruise line?

        1. I never said that research can prevent everything.

          But it can prevent you from being located above/below clubs and such.

          Also, depending on the ship, you may also be able to narrow areas where there would be less traffic in general, such as at the back of the ship, rather than in the middle.

        2. Absolutely right that research does nothing to prevent one from being located near unruly passengers. 

          I seriously doubt the “banging on our doors and screaming all hours of the night with the
          intention of keeping everyone awake and making threats through the
          door,”  happened quite the way the OP describes.  If it had a whole section of cabins would have been affected and complaining and ship’s security would have spoken to the offenders and depending on the severity would either put them off the ship or give them a warning.  If it happened again, they would be put off the ship.

          1. It’s awfully easy to dismiss someone’s complaint by saying you doubt their story, without offering any evidence that they’re lying.

            Chris confirms that the OP “lodged multiple complaints.”  It appears that the cruise line shared her identity with the unruly passenger(s), which IMO was a very irresponsible, amateurish mistake.

            I’m open to hearing the cruise line’s version, and hearing about any efforts they made to question the unruly passenger(s) and monitor the hallway in question at night.  If we just doubt the OP and ask Chris not to mediate then I don’t expect that will help us find out.

  24. “I’m surprised they couldn’t keep illicit drugs off the ship, too.”

    How exactly?  Do they search every bag that boards?

        1. They found the bottle of wine someone in my party packed in their checked luggage! It was bubble wrapped and hidden between their clothes, so I doubt it was a random check!

  25. No way is she entitled to a refund. It’s the passenger’s responsibility before booking to look at the ship layout–easily available on the Website–and avoid the cabins that are on top of the nightclub. She doesn’t get compensated because of her lack of research.

    Carnival should have removed the disruptive passenger (s) from the ship, particularly if they were actually harassing others. But it still doesn’t entitle her to a refund. Two days’ worth is more than fair and she should be happy with that. She did stay on the cruise–if she had left in the middle because of intolerable conditions, she’d have a better case.Re the comment from Sweetartcat: You should mediate *all* our cases. No, you shouldn’t. Because some of them suck. This is a disturbing trend I’m seeing on this site lately. We’ve had the woman who is suing for her grandmother’s lost luggage (a case a court already ruled on) from 100 years ago; a women who wants a full refund of her flight plus other damages because the man next to her groped her (I’m not minimizing what happened, just saying it’s not the airline’s fault); and now this. These are not legitimate demands and don’t deserve mention on this blog. Please stick to actual cases of travel companies cheating customers.

  26. Come to think about it( I voted ‘yes’ a few minutes ago) and after reading the rest of the comments here, Carnival did allright with a partial refund and a futire discount. Why the change of heart and mind? Why wasn’t security called during the time of the negotioations aoutside the cabin. Why wasn’t it called the rest of the times. Was kapilla the only person reporting these nuts banging on their doors? Carnival is not a non party cruise. Carnival did OK with what they gave.

  27. The noise from the disco is a non-issue, since many cruise ships were built without thought to the cabins above and below it.  A good travel agent or frequent cruiser would check room location when booking and stay away from potential noise areas.  My concern is that the people in the adjoining cabin were making all this noise and even threats and no one from Carnival ever confronted them.  This makes me wonder if they weren’t as bad as discribed or Carnival just didn’t care.  If the former, then Carnival gave more than enough compensation, but if it was the latter, then Carnival should have removed the rowdy guests at the next port.  Virtually every cruise line has rules that state passengers can be removed for specific reasons and this would qualify as one. If Carnival was at fault for not doing this, they should totally refund the cruise.

  28. Come on Chris, drugs on ships isn’t new.  Very easy to bring them on board from an island purchase.  The dealers are right there as you get off the ship at certain ports.

    Why would this person be writing to you after getting a response back from Carnival?  Why does this person want more from the cruise line?  Are they really going after a free vacation?  Seems to be the norm with so many letter posted here.


  29. Chris the drug dealer that harassed her outside her cabin door now has her full name (and it is unusual) if he wants to find her stateside.  This is why I questioned your use of full names in the complaints that are published.

    If it is a matter of integrity, yours is impeccable and if you chose to use first name and last initial (while mentioning that you have full name on file) I think your readers would understand.  

    1. In this case, if I’d been asked to withhold her last name because she feared for her life, I would have probably either identified her only by last initial or not published this at all. But I wasn’t.

      Using a full name is a standard practice in journalism. On the few occasions I’ve protected the identity of my sources, I later regretted it.

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    I’ve taken a number of cruises over the years, on Carnival and other lines. 

    After about the fourth or fifth one, I made a “startling” discovery (regardless of the cruise line or where the cabins were located): A three-day cruise seems to have the most drunk and disorderly PAX; a four-day cruise has a lesser number, but not much. 

    However, a five-day or seven-day adventure at sea seems to draw persons with whom I can identify… few fellow PAX who are constantly noisy, drunk or rowdy.

    Thus, my last cruises have been five-day or seven-day — on smaller ships — and have been very pleasurable.  

    With ocean cruises — like most things in life — “you get what you pay for.”  

  31. I voted in favour of mediation.  However, my vote relates to the the OP’s complaint regarding the alleged drug dealing and NOT to her complaints regarding noise.

    Many factors when taken together relegate her experience with the noise to a low level of importance for me.  Loud noises 24-hours per day on  cruises geared to pleasure-seekers are not unexpected.  On the other hand, there are specialty cruises for people seeking a more sedate form of entertainment.  The OP should have sought out one of those. 

    Of greater concern to me is the OP’s experience with the disruption outside of her room at night caused by the drug dealers.  It is easy to say that “drugs are everywhere” and that we shouldn’t become too concerned.  Nevertheless, these are illegal activities that have a great potential to erupt in violence.  The OP and all the PAX in that area could have been physically harmed. 

    It doesn’t seem to me that the staff to whom the OP complained identified her as the complainant. That would have been too irresponsible for words!  The perp knew where the confrontation took place and went back and to intimidate the occupants of all the rooms in that area.

    However, the incident should never have happened.  Carnival needs to beef up their security and to do more to protect the safety of its PAX.  Frequent patrols of all areas would be a good starting point. 

    BTW under U.S. law, do captains of ships at sea not have the power to detain or arrest PAX whom they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe have committed crimes on board?

  32. Having been on a cruise from h*ll, I sympathize with the OP but there is something not right here on both sides. 

    If the situation was as described by the OP what was ship’s security doing about it?  Did she report the fight or door banging when it was happening or wait?  Moreover, if the situation is as described, what did the other passengers similarly affected by this behavior do?   Did they complain, too?  I’ve cruised over a dozen times and can tell you from experience that ship’s security takes drug use/dealing very seriously, even low-end ships like Carnival.  The mere allegation of drugs being dealt gets the alleged dealer talked to and perhaps even their cabin searched.  (There are stories just in the last year of drug dealers being held on ships and then turned over to authorities at the next port.  The dealers were reported by crew and/or passengers; their cabins were searched and drugs were found.)  As for the threatening behavior and banging on doors until 5-6 a.m., again these things would have been investigated by ship’s security because it would have affected several passengers. 

    As examples:  On one cruise a newlywed couple in their late 60s were fighting (in their cabin) so loudly and often, disrupting passengers on both sides of them, that the ship’s hotel director disembarked them.  On another cruise four young men (mid-20s) were drunk morning to night and disrupting to many others that they were put off the ship. 

    And if she really felt threatened why didn’t she get off the ship?  If a drug dealer was threatening me, I would be out of there.

    So it sounds to me like the only people complaining were the OP and her cabin mate.  Which sort of makes me think her real complaint was having a cabin over the disco–and as a person who has cruised before surely she knows enough to check her cabin location before booking.

    But then Carnival refunded 2 days of the fare and gave her a 15% discount on a future cruise.  Cruise lines are notorious for not giving refunds so they must have felt there was some validity to her complaint but I suspect the refund was because of the noise from the disco. 

    Two days of fare refund and 15% off next cruise is sufficient.  I don’t think mediating would result in any additional refund, nor do I think she should receive further compensation.

  33. Drugs dealing on cruise ships are common:

    It is unfortunate that authorities are very selective to when they bust and also it is unfortunate if you are neighbouring a dealer on the boat. As of this case, I think the cruise line should have called authorities to investigate an issue or maybe they called and law enforsment didn’t have available resources or didn’t care? I don’t think Carnival should honor full refund, I think maybe they could offer free or deeply discounted (not 15, more like 75% off) next cruise.

  34. Chris, I bet 95% of the issues you get would never have happened if people used a travel agent.  I am a veteran frequent flier (30 years plus) who knows the ins and outs and still books non business travel through a travel agent (my company uses a travel agent for business).  I can’t count how many times my agent saved me time and inconvenience.  He always knows my preferences and my quirks (quiet room, suitable hotels).  If you can’t afford a travel agent, you are leaving yourself open to issues.  

    I have limited time off and my travel budget is tight these days.  I want my vacations to be smooth and trouble free – or at least with a recourse if I have problems

    The only issues I have had are when I have had to book thru a convention site – travel planning is for travel professionals!!!


  35. You really do get what you pay for with the “Fun Ships” of Carnival.  If you want a more laid-back cruise, you have to pay more, otherwise, you’re stuck with young honeymooners and college kids on vacation.  If you like the Carnival businesses, try Princess Cruises, or if you’re a Royal Carribean fan, try Celebrity cruises.  You pay a little more, but the cruise passengers are a little better behaved.

    1. Actually, you have to really compare apples to apples.  Short cruises (3-4 days) tend to garner more partiers, regardless whether Carnival or Royal Caribbean.  Once you get the longer cruises (7 or more days), you are looking at those not treating the event like a lost weekend, and it is more to the majority of passengers’ tastes.

  36. I voted ‘no’ because I just don’t believe her, with the possible exception of the loud nightclub.  But, having been on more than a few cruises, the possibility of a club that loud just does not ring true.

  37. In my opinion, here’s the crux of the matter: the unruly passenger was making THREATS! Now, we don’t know whether he was a drug dealer, for certain, and we don’t know what he might or might not have done. However, in my opinion, a passenger making threats against other passengers should be put off at the first available port and flown home. Period. It’s not up to the threatened passenger to determine whether the threat is credible or not. A police officer once told me in person that, if a person PERCEIVES a legitimate threat, then a threat exists, because that person is not necessarily qualified to determine whether a threat is credible. That’s up to law enforcement.
    Any passenger making continued threats is a danger to himself and others. I don’t see how that’s even arguable.
    Not because of the club below, not because of an alleged drug deal, but because Carnival did not respond to its passengers being threatened, I feel the OP deserves a full refund. You don’t go on vacation to have one of your fellow travelers harassing you the whole time. Carnival could have done something during the cruise, and did not.

  38. I am a Platinum member with Carnival, and I know for a fact that if you make enough fuss, they (Carnival) will listen.   I also know that cruise ships have a brig onboard and I have seen several passengers who have actually been locked up.  I recall on one cruise a lady had too much to drink and was trying to pick fights with other passengers.  The ship’s security promptly escorted her out of the club, then restricted her to her cabin, and put her off of the ship at the next port.    I am surprised the security team from this ship did not take more action. 

  39. Carnival should have searched the room of the alleged drug dealer. Usually if a cruise line finds the stuff, the person gets booted at the next port (and probably also arrested).

    1. How do we know they didn’t? Next week Chris will have a column: “Is This Enough Compensation? Carnival Called me a Drug Dealer and Searched My Room…Found Nothing”.   🙂

  40. Considering incidents of cruisers being arrested for drugs in Bermuda and elsewhere, I don’t know why you’re surprised at drug dealing aboard ship. All the recent arrests appear to be for drugs the cruisers brought with them. I would imagine that it’s a lot easier to hide a baggie of drugs than a bottle or sixpack.

  41. Another ridiculous whiner.  If her description of events is true, why didn’t she call Security WHILE the disruptions were going on?   Competent cruiseline management would have off-loaded the bad guys at the next port.  Again, may I point out that she was cruising on Carnival.  I’ve not experienced a Carnival cruise precisely because it’s a cheap cruise and attracts the kind of passengers that I don’t want to be with.

    If you shop at Target, do you expect someone to hem your new jeans?  No, in order for you to receive that service, you need to buy your jeans at Nordstrom.

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