Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Elation
by joe
February 16, 2009

Carnival's mission is to please it's customers so they will want to return to sail again. However, somewhere between this mission's philosophy and delivering it to the customer, it gets lost in bumbling middle management, with an over zealous bottom line agenda.

Don't get me wrong. Before my recent sailing on Carnival's "Elation," I was a very happy, and probably the best supporter of Carnival, having sung their praises to many.

We booked over 30 friends and family on the Elation (some who had previously sworn never to cruise with Carnival again) for mid February, and another 4 couples signed on the sailing just before our's (due to work schedules). We had booked this same group the year before on Royal Caribbean and the year before that on Carnival Pride, and in past years chartered privately. But this trip was different. It was to be a short, inexpensive cruise into Mexico, because we were bringing along some fatherless children who didn't normally have the luxury of vacations, and we wanted to make a difference. We MOST certainly preferred Carnival prior to this sailing for its fun and friendly staff, and the fun things for the kids to do once onboard (waterslide, minigolf, etc.). Let me tell you, the ship's staff are the best and it's a shame all their hard work is overshadowed by poor administration in Maimi. What I will say is "Caveat Emptor," buyer beware!

Originally we were told that we could book this large group through the normal customer service agent, Lee Fernande (who was great and should be employed where her hard work would not be wasted), and even though we would be giving up many of the perks given by the Groups department, we liked the flexibility of booking it as individuals, within a group. For this we were offered a party, upgrades and other items, but ran afoul when we tried many times to get a written agreement. We did get plenty of substantiating emails and such. Despite having booked early in October, and even though Carnival had plenty of time to review and make changes, they chose to cancel our party in email, only days before we sailed, and well beyond our deadline and ability to cancel, AND only after we had decided on a theme of "the 60's" for the party and many had purchased appropriate attire.

Carnival also quoted us prices that were never quite honored and made promises never quite kept. In fact they even found a way to finagle my fuel supplement fees which I was told would be returned to me AND THEY DID NOT GIVE THE KIDS the soda cards they had promised them. In fact it was acknowledged to me, by more than one employee, the treatment we received was not fair. One employee even referred to them as "crooks" (but God forbid these great employees should be at a risk of losing their jobs having done so -- they may actually go to work for a company with ethics, which might cherish such employees that know the right from the wrong way to treat loyal customers). This was our third and last cruise with Carnival. We had discussed prior to this sailing our going without children in September on the new Splendor.

The only gripes we encountered onboard were that they didn't put us at a banquet type setting and our group was mixed with others at dinner. Or, for those that were unaware, they charge you the tips with each purchase on your sign and travel card, while the staff smiles and knowingly lets you pay double, without warning. Or that they WILL let 7-year-old kids gamble at bingo, even collect winnings, but will not let a 15 year old talented singer sing at karaoke, go figure. Other than that, the ship's layout isn't as good as others and it rained most of our trip. Docking in Catalina took half the day and for those who gave up trying to go into port, all shops and the casino were closed. There is also little for the teenaged kids to do in the rainy season as well. BUT we still had a GREAT time even though my complaints only got me room keys that didn't work, or wouldn't let me on or off the ship without hassle, and a few of our guest info had been altered, so we were delayed at boarding and a couple were not on the manifest at all. Thanks, Carnival!

This is one group that will never join the wonderful (and I do mean that) staff on another Carnival cruise.

In short, Carnival spends MORE time and resources solving customers' issues that they create over made up rules and changes, and the reasons for dissallowing or unqualifying its sales offers, than it would actually make with just honoring, truly and honestly, offers and having as great of an administration and customer service department as its ships have in onboard staff and in satisfying those same customers.

I'll return when I read that Carnival is "under new management."