CARTER: Just another Carnival bummer

February 14, 2013

Health, Tourism

This Carnival business and its drifting ship of horrors is so not a surprise to me.

The not-so-fun-ship Triumph.

The not-so-fun-ship Triumph.

Valentine’s Day or not, I don’t figure Carnival Cruise Line is getting much love from those poor souls aboard the disabled Triumph. With an engine fire having knocked out the ship’s power four days ago, they’ve gone with little or no food or bathroom facilities and now must face an hours-long bus ride back to Galveston from the ship’s emergency port in Mobile.

The world’s largest cruise line can’t spring for a plane ticket for its victims, er, passengers? What’s up with that?

Not to worry, Carnival has likely told them, we’ll give you a great discount on your next cruise. Would you like to book that now? Do you have a credit card with you?

I remember that long ago Jimmy Buffet song where he sang, “If you ever get the chance to go to Dallas, take it from me, pass it by.”

Jimmy tells me he actually meant “Carnival” – not Dallas.

Yes, friends warned me to pass that particular cruise line by. Spend a few extra bucks and go with Royal Caribbean or one of the other ones. Think upgrade, they said.

Sooner or later I’ve got to learn to listen more.

In June 2007 my daughter, who was 13 at the time, and I boarded a Carnival “Fun Ship” for a 4-day cruise to the Bahamas. The booking assuredly came at a bargain price and – as I would soon learn – bargain basement service (except in the dining room, where the servers were wonderful and the food tasty and non-stop).

Going aboard, it was everybody for themselves as hundreds of clueless passengers wandered about looking for cabins with no Carnival people anywhere. We weren’t expecting a concierge on this low-budget adventure but a directional sign or two would have helped us to navigate the ship’s many floors.

By 10:30 that night, I would find just how scarce Carnival assistance could be. Stepping out of the shower, my daughter caught her foot on some protruding metal that left a nasty slice and lots of blood.

She was scared and crying – expecting Dad to make it all better. Carnival’s help line would only ring. I left her with her foot wrapped in towels as I jogged down the hall looking for any sign of a Carnival person — to no avail. I rode the elevator to the main floor only to find it empty except for some passengers heading to the casinos.

I was fixing to go into an Al Pacino mode with a “Something really wrong is going on here,” when I spotted a man in a security guard uniform. His English was practically nil but he seemed to acknowledge I was begging for a First Aid kit.

He said he would see what he could do but didn’t sound hopeful.

Thirty minutes later a room-service maid showed up with a pair of small Band Aids. For crying out loud! I said to myself.

Back home in Miami a few days later, I called Carnival to tell anyone who would listen that it is dangerous to take thousands of people out to sea without bringing along a First Aid kit.

This is what the Carnival guy replied: “Well, do you expect us to put a doctor outside your door or something?”

By then I figured it was no use whining to him about how the next afternoon I sat at an outside bar sweating in the tropical sun and in dire need of a beer. Ten empty stools stood between me and the bartender. He was at the bar’s far end chatting up a female passenger and was just not inclined to divert himself. Finally, I approached him the way a hockey player is suppose to approach the puck – in ill humor. “I need a Bud big time, pal!”

Alas, the beer arrived just slightly chilled but with plenty of attitude from the bar guy.

In fairness, aside from the gash on her foot, my daughter had a wonderful time. She made friends with kids her age and seemed to enjoy every moment.

Me?

I was bummed and back in the cabin feeling claustrophobic, actually missing Miami and its ill-mannered inhabitants. But at least I had that slightly chilled $8 beer to enjoy.

 

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