Chavalin Cross said Bon Voyage on April 27th as the Carnival Ecstasy set sail from Galveston headed for Progresso and Cozumel. This was Chavalin’s first cruise ever… and her big birthday celebration.
Unfortunately Chavalin never stepped foot off the ship at any time during the 5-day cruise. Tuesday night after 27 hours at sea, Carnival informed the passengers they would not be stopping at any ports. This was the height of the swine flu scare… so the decision not to stop at any Mexican ports is not surprising. Other ships scheduled for the same cruise at later dates were upgraded from a 5-day cruise to a 7-day cruise with stops at other ports.
What did Chavalin and her shipmates get? A $40 credit for port fees. I was a little surprised. Chavalin was shocked… and understandably disappointed. When she asked me for help, my first question was “What would make you happy?” She did have accomodations and food and entertainment for 5 days… although this was her only view of the ocean.
Chavalin said she would be happy with a discount for another cruise. I called Carnival, explained the situation and got this reply:
“This was a very unfortunate situation and we apologize that we were not able to provide the itinerary that people anticipated. There were 11 Carnival ships on voyages last week with scheduled port of call visits to Mexico at the point the US government advisory was issued discouraging all non-essential travel to Mexico. Several other cruise lines were affected as well. When the Ecstasy left port on Monday, we fully anticipated that the ship would be operating its normal itinerary. Carnival became aware of the advisory on Tuesday and then set about determining what options we had for re-routing 11 different ships, which takes some time. Unfortunately, in the case of our shorter cruises from Gulf ports such as Galveston, getting to locations beyond Mexico isn’t really an option within the allotted time frame. This is why we have now been forced to temporarily convert that program to seven-day cruises and also why we were not able to get to any alternate ports on last week’s five-day cruise. We have a standard protocol for missed ports when an itinerary is impacted by events beyond our control. This is same protocol followed with regard to severe weather or other circumstances beyond our control that preclude us from making scheduled ports of call (this info is outlined in our brochure and on our web site). For any port of call we are not able to replace with an alternate port, we provide a $20 per person missed port credit. This is the protocol that was applied across all 11 ships in our fleet.
Going forward, Carnival has cancelled all stops in Mexico for all voyages departing between now and June 15. Additional information is available on our web site.”
Sometimes I can help. In this case, it seems I could not. But just a few days later, Chavalin got an email from Carnival, apologizing for her bad experience and offering a half-off voucher for any Carnival cruise taken before 2010.
Chavalin checked with shipmates she had met on board to find out if they received the same offer. A couple of weeks later, they had. I received this email from another woman on the same cruise:
“I felt like we were being taken advantage of by CARNIVAL cruises. Many of us passengers paid a LOT of money to go on this cruise and to spend some time in places that we have never been,instead we spent 5 days on a ship. ,,it felt like being on a floating prison. It appears to me that CARNIVAL cruises does not care about it’s passengers as far as giving them what they paid for. They offered to refund $40.00 per person (which were the port fees if we had stopped there) how insulting is that!”
Anyone else out there hear anything more from Carnival? Tell me about your cruise.