Did Carnival do enough for these Destiny passengers?

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By Christopher Elliott

Frank and Lucy Pirri are unhappy with their cruise on the Carnival Destiny, and they’re even more unhappy with how the cruise line responded to their complaint.

Sound familiar? Given Carnival’s recent Triumph troubles, it probably does.

But this wasn’t a short island-hopper with a bad ending. We’re talking 18 days in Europe, which was “poorly planned and poorly executed” from start to finish, says Frank Pirri.

How so? Let’s count the ways

(Warning: laundry list ahead.)

Condition of the ship was poor. The Destiny was “obviously not maintained” up to Carnival standards. “This became understandable when we discovered that the ship was on its way to dry dock — a fact that we were unaware of prior to booking,” says Pirri.

Attitude of the staff was irritating. With the exception of the Pirris’ cabin staff and their main dining room waiter, the staff was “not accommodating and, at times, totally indifferent.” Why? Pirri says morale was low after the staff learned they were to serve on board to Europe instead of leaving the ship in Florida.

The food was bad. It was “our number one disappointment,” he says. In the main dining room, the chef’s menu selections, food preparation and presentation “were simply not representative of Carnival quality,” says Pirri.

Can anything be done?

In a letter to Carnival, he outlined other disappointments, including some food shortages (been there, haven’t we?) lack of onboard entertainment, and bad odors in their cabin. In short, while this wasn’t a replay of the Triumph, it shared some characteristics of that ill-fated cruise. (Related: We paid for a seven-night cruise and only got six.)

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Carnival’s response? A lengthy apology, which did not appear to be a form letter.

Your comments regarding the attitude of the staff, as well as the food, are of great concern to us.

We know that great food combined with excellent service is an important component of the cruise experience. We expect our staff to exemplify enthusiasm and make our guests feel pampered and special. Clearly, you were left feeling quite the opposite.

Once again, please accept our sincere apology for your overall disappointment in these areas.

Carnival offered the couple a 15 percent refund for three days of their cruise for the “inconveniences” they experienced. (Here’s our guide to taking a cruise.)

That’s not enough for Pirri. He expects more from Carnival, and wants me to encourage the cruise line to do better.

That’s easier said than done. The long list of complaints Pirri sent to Carnival ranged from serious (poor ship conditions) to borderline frivolous (indifferent service). Also, while it’s clear that the Pirris were deeply disappointed with their European cruise, it’s not obvious how Carnival can fix it.

Pirri didn’t ask for a full refund; as far as I can tell, he didn’t ask for any specific compensation.

Maybe the fact that this was one of the Destiny’s final cruises is in Pirri’s favor. But maybe not. I’m not sure if my involvement will change Carnival’s answer, but I’m willing to consider getting involved.

Should I mediate Frank and Lucy Pirri's case?

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Update: I’m not going to bring this to Carnival. Upon reflection, I don’t think the cruise line is likely to change its decision.

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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 three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and 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 X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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