Carnival Cruise Becomes Vacation Nightmare

Jennifer and her husband went on a cruise for their vacation last month, but it wasn’t all that relaxing. They ended up less healthy and more stressed at the end of the vacation than at the beginning. It began with an asthma attack-inducing smoke-filled stateroom, and somehow actually got worse from there. Worse how? There was the food poisoning, accidentally being double charged for everything, and a ship employee who was almost comically insensitive to the fact that Jennifer uses a wheelchair.

My husband and I went on a three day cruise in July with Carnival Cruise lines, and it ended up being hell.

  • The room we’d been assigned was so smoke-filled that smoke came out when we opened the door. We’re both asthmatics and had to use our inhalers to keep from having an asthma attack. It was so bad that we spoke to Guest Services onboard AND called their 800 number while still in port, and we were told they would be doing nothing until we sailed. The 800 number told us we weren’t allowed to leave the ship.
  • We did a special meal that was offered to 12 people, tops, called The Chef’s Table. It was on the last night, which we then spent puking our guts up from food poisoning. We had to hightail it to the port’s ER after we got off the ship.
  • On the Sensation, which is gigantic, there is one tiny area where children are not allowed. There are postings that it’s 21 and up all over. Parents ignored this. The attendant in the area said he couldn’t do a thing about it. I went to find someone else, who eyerolled me and said “I’m busy. Get someone else.”
  • I’m disabled, and need a wheelchair. We mentioned this when we booked. We filled out a form for them over it. Yet they sat us at dinner in a spot where I’d have to climb stairs.
  • Their dining room hostess also decided that I somehow didn’t need the wheelchair, and questioned me one night. “Why are you in that? You look too young to be in that. I think I saw you without it earlier. So do you really need it or what? Are you okay? Your face looks REALLY BAD. Seriously. You look terrible.” And on. And on. It was formal night, and I had made a special effort to look pretty; this girl’s speech put me in tears.
  • The ship itself is VERY wheelchair inaccessible. There are steel bands all over that are very hard to wheel over, which means you have to run over them at speed and risk getting ejected from your chair. It’s also impossible to navigate any room with tables in it, as they’re too narrow to get through. I did a lot more getting out of my wheelchair than I should have, which left me in considerable pain.
  • On top of ALL that, Carnival doublecharged us for EVERYTHING. We got off the ship and found out that our bank account had been wiped out by it, and we were in the negative. It took a week for all the false charges to go away.

I used the channels that Carnival asked me to. We asked for a partial refund for all our troubles, and said that we’d accept a credit for a future fare; if they’d work with us, we’d give them one more chance.

They rejected me. Big time. And they pretty much told me I was lying about the food poisoning. We got a “thanks for complaining, now go away”. We were treated like shit, and I do NOT want to go away.

Take it to the top. Here are some numbers and e-mail addresses to get you started.


Edit Your Comment

  1. _UsUrPeR_ says:

    Is it possible to contact the ADA with wheelchair claims on a boat?

    • mrvw says:

      I don’t know if that would apply to the ships since they are all based in other countries. But that is just a guess.

    • penuspenuspenus says:

      I have a feeling that form she filled out for her handicap was a waiver.

    • thomwithanh says:

      The ships are registered in the Bahamas, Sint Maarten and Antigua; ADA wouldn’t have any jurisdiction.

      • corporate_guy43 says:

        That does not matter, since the business that owns the ship is incorporated in the US and sells the tickets in the US.

    • kc2idf says:

      The ADA law might not apply. It is my understanding (and please understand, I may be mistaken here) that a ship at sea is subject to the laws of the country in which it is registered, once it has left port. If the ADA infractions occurred at sea, then US law would not apply.

      According to Wikipedia (usual disclaimers apply), two of Carnival’s ships are registered in Libera (some semblance of US law may apply) and all of the rest are registered either in Panama or the Bahamas.

    • Southern says:

      Foreign-flagged vessels are subject to the ADA per a 2005 Supreme Court case, Spector vs. Norwegian Cruise Line. At this time, however, there are no codified, enforceable structural standards (ADA Standards for Accessible Design) that explicitly mention cruise ships. Currently, there are only non-mandatory “draft guidelines” pertaining specifically to cruise ships.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      IIRC, I don’t think cruise ships were included in the text for the ADA (unlike other businesses in general that had to comply with access requirements), so cruise ships are inherantly unfriendly to people in wheelchairs because they weren’t required to modify their ship design.

      In one 2000 case, Stevens v. Premier, a lower court ruled that a cruise ship was included in the ADA’s definition of “public accommodation” and that being at sea didn’t matter. The plaintiff lost, though, because the ADA didn’t include cruise ships flying foreign flags.

      This was eventually overturned in 2005 with Specter v. Norwegian, and now foreign cruise lines had to adhere to ADA if it was determined that their ships serviced mostly American travelers or embarked from American ports.

      Since the case applied to foreign flag ships, Carnival is technically not violating the ADA, unless the ADA has been amended to include the provision for ALL ships. I don’t know, though.

    • Theoncomingstorm says:

      Probably not, cruise ships are usually “chartered”(don’t think that’s the right word), out of Holland or some other country that is immune to US law. Enlighten us if I’m wrong.

      • Real Cheese Flavor says:

        Yeah, most cruise ships are flagged in countries that have really lax laws for reasons just like this.

    • Difdi says:

      American laws don’t apply to foreign sovereign countries. Even on U.S. flagged ships (extremely few ships do this), once you’re in international waters, you’re mostly outside the law…

  2. Thyme for an edit button says:

    I hope you try an EECB. If that doesn’t work, maybe try local media, particularly if the local news station has a consumer segment.

    • rpm773 says:

      Considering that this was a cruise, I think the best move here is an EET, ie an “Executive Email Torpedo”

    • Jevia says:

      Contact the Travel Troubleshooter, Chris Elliot

    • GuinevereUnbound says:

      I would love to try an EECB. It’s the first thing I thought of; unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find the top brass’s email addresses.

      • 333 (only half evil) says:

        Contact Carnival’s senior cruise director John Heald on his blog or on his Facebook page. Contact Chairman & CEO of Carnival Corporation Micky Arison on twitter @MickyArison.

  3. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    Is Carnival really that bad? It always seems to be the butt of jokes.

    I’ve only ever been on one cruise — Our elderly neighbors got sick the week before a cruise and we ended up buying their tickets off them at a very big discount. The cruise was with Holland America and even though we were probably half the age of everyone on the ship, the experience was absolutely amazing. Everything was very top notch and the staff, all the way to the very lowest positions, were great. I went in with many negative preconceived notions about cruises and it was nothing like what I expected.

    • Hirayuki says:

      You’re lucky you tried Holland first; Holland and Celebrity are very good. Carnival is much more of a party ship, daily drink specials in souvenir cups and conga lines snaking across the decks at all hours. Not my style at all.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        We definitely did a lot of drinking on Holland but it really was a neat experience. It was fun getting dressed up every night for dinner and getting treated like a celebrity by the staff. The level of service was absolutely mind boggling and something I’ve never experienced in my life. I probably don’t want to know how much the tickets truly cost but it is something I can see us doing again for our 25th anniversary.

      • mavrick67 says:

        average age of cruise passenger:

        Carnival 18-25
        Celebrity 30-45
        Holland America 60-120

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          “Holland America 60-120”

          That sounds about right. We were only in our mid-20’s at the time, so we definitely stuck out. We still had a very good time.

          • Rebecca K-S says:

            My husband and I are going on an HA cruise this winter, and while we were booking and he was doing is trademarked constant research, he found that HA is definitely a retirees’ line and asked me if that would bug me. I’d definitely prefer it to Carnival’s party cruise.

    • jen says:

      I’ve also only been on one cruise, but it was Carnival. I thought it was fine, but then again I was in college at the time, roughly 21 years old, so it’s possible my perspective was different and my standards were substantially lower than the average person’s. It was also about 1998, so it’s possible that they have gone way downhill since then. I remember being surprised that the food was pretty good (again, perspective), just very small portions at dinner – but when we all asked for two entrees, the waitress was more than happy to oblige, since the food is all included anyway. I think there will always be complaints about any company and hopefully they are the minority. Not all the complaints are legit, of course, although this story really does sound awful.

    • erratapage says:

      We’ve been on three cruises, two with Carnival, one with Princess. They were good vacations. I didn’t care for the way the art auctions were pushed on Princess, so I actually prefer Carnival. The party atmosphere is somewhat more prevalent on short 2-3 night cruises. The longer 5-7 day cruises are not that much different from any other cruise product, from my experience.

    • Tyanna says:

      I hope Carnival isn’t that bad! My husband and I are schedule to go on a cruise with them at the end of the year.

      We’ve only been on one cruise in the past and that was with Princess. It was amazing, and it’s what made us decide to try another.

      I hope the balcony we splurged for will make the experience better.

    • ohiomensch says:

      Holland America is amazing. The ship we were on was smaller, and tho mostly filled with seniors, there were people that were younger too. There was actually a lady who had been living, yes living on the ship for three years. She was wheelchair bound and had an attendant, the ship has a nursing staff and a doctor. All her meals and laundry was done by staff. She could have room service, or go to any of the dining areas. it was very much like being in a Fred Astaire movie in the 30’s. Not a party ship if that’s what you are looking for. I for one want to go again.

      As for the lady living on the ship. She was told by the Doctor she needed to be in assisted living. The fee for that was about $7000 a month, being on the ship year long worked out to about $5000 a month. If she didn’t like where she was going, she could change ships, and honestly, I can’t think of a more fun thing to do than spend your life traveling around the world.

      • theblackdog says:

        That is an awesome story, and awesome for Holland America to allow for this.

      • Squee says:

        I went on a Holland America cruise in the late 90’s (as a teenager). It was excellent.

        The ship was definitely smaller than the other ships we saw in port (some of those ships were actually so big that they couldn’t physically dock in some of the ports we went to, the HA ship was always able to pull right up to he dock), but you could easily get from one end of the ship to the other in 5 minutes. And despite being smaller than other cruise ships, there were 2 pools, multiple dining options (including a really awesome lounge/bar), a casino, shops, small gym, sauna, and probably a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting.

        Our cruise was during the summer (Alaskan cruise), and I’d say the passenger makeup was probably 60-70ish% elderly, with a good mix of middle-agers and roughly 40 kids of varying ages (or that is about how many showed up to the kid activities).

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      In used to work as a musician on Princess. Although I can’t say I know everything and certainly wasn’t involved in the customer relations areas, whose experience does not seem to be the norm that you would experience at Princess Cruises. I’m sure there were inperfect experiences, but that seems a complete disaster.

      Disclaimer: I DID work there, but I no longer do. Just my personal experience.

    • Sparkstalker says:

      I’ll throw my hat in for Holland America also. We’ve done two cruises with them, Caribbean and Alaska. Both times, the service and crew were outstanding. The bartenders knew us by name one day in. The food is great, and the rooms aren’t actually that bad…good enough for two.

      Yeah, the crowds tend to the older set, especially on our Caribbean trip on the Maasdam. But it was surprisingly mixed on the Alaskan trip aboard the Westerdam. Then again, it’s a much bigger ship with more activities, so that may have something to do with it.

  4. Cat says:

    Jennifer and her husband have never been on a cruise before, amiright?

    • GuinevereUnbound says:

      This is the OP. Yes, we have; part of the reason we were willing to give Carnival another chance if they helped us out was because we’d had a good experience with them before.

      But given that they completely wiped out our bank account, which we’re still dealing with, if they want us back, they’re going to HAVE to give us some compensation for this – future fare credit, a refund, something.

      • dggriffi says:

        reverse the charge?

      • tiatrack says:

        This does not make any sense to me. Every cruise I’ve been on links your room key to your credit card. How would that “wipe out” your bank account? It gives you awhile to get the charges refunded before interest sets in, and you have your credit card company to help you. If you gave them your debit card, that was a HUGE HUGE mistake.

      • baquwards says:

        as a person that has been on cruises, if you use your debit card on the ship (bad idea) then you need to have double what you intended to spend. They will often put a hold on a certain amount of money depending on the length of the cruise, and will charge the card at the end. Depending on your bank’s policies, that hold may be released immediately or may still be on there for a while, even after the cruise line takes their money, causing possible overdrafts.

  5. PunditGuy says:

    Food poisoning doesn’t work that way. Bacteria need to build up in your gut in order to actually make you sick. Symptoms won’t typically appear until at least 12 hours or so after ingestion.

    I have to say, this is just about the opposite of the experience I had on my first ever cruise last year (also with Carnival). I’m curious as to which ship this was.

    • Cat says:

      I know that’s right. I used to work in a cafeteria, and people wold complain of food poisoning less than 2 hours after lunch.

    • zigziggityzoo says:

      Considering the meal they complained about was on the LAST night, I’m sure the food poisoning could have come from any of the meals prior.

    • dpeters11 says:

      According to the NIH:
      “When you develop symptoms depends on the exact cause of the food poisoning. The most common types of food poisoning generally cause symptoms within 2 – 6 hours of eating the food.”

    • Reader101 says:

      It depends if they were poisoned with a bacteria or a toxin. Toxins can make someone sick nearly immediately. Bacteria (assuming it does not emit toxins, which some do) can take much longer to make someone ill.

      Staph aureus (a bacteria that produces a toxin) can make someone sick within hours. While not as well known as Salmonella, it is still a pretty common bacteria in the environment and if food is not kept cold, it is likely to grow and produce a toxin that causes GI distress, like the OP described.

      EIther way, it sounds likely that something on the ship made them ill.

      • Reader101 says:

        Also, cooking food usually does not denature the toxin. So even if the food was left out of the fridge for a few hours earlier in the trip, cooking it later will not make the food safe.

    • red says:

      there are bacteria that pre-form toxin, where you become sick almost immediately after eating.

    • rmorin says:

      I also don’t buy: “The room we’d been assigned was so smoke-filled that smoke came out when we opened the door.”

      Unless someone was smoking literally moments before they opened the door, physical smoke would not be visible. Smell certainly, but to say smoke came out gives the wrong impression. It sounds like they had enough legitimate beefs, why obviously exaggerate one of them? Sort of casts doubt on the other things they claim.

      • wootbot says:

        Yeah. She sounds like an annoying harpie that’s just making stuff up. I’m visualizing Nancy Grace in a wheelchair.

        • Darryl, Darryl, and Darryl says:

          Unfortunately that’s the same feeling I get too. Too much of this sounds wildly improbable and over-dramatic.

          Some people are just never happy and live to complain.

          • rmorin says:

            “Their dining room hostess also decided that I somehow didn’t need the wheelchair, and questioned me one night. “Why are you in that? You look too young to be in that. I think I saw you without it earlier. So do you really need it or what? Are you okay? Your face looks REALLY BAD. Seriously. You look terrible.” And on. And on. It was formal night, and I had made a special effort to look pretty; this girl’s speech put me in tears”

            I don’t understand this either. After the first or second insult, do you or your significant other not speak up? “This girls speech” alludes that this was all in succession, or at the very least in one conversation. That seems like a pretty implausible speech for a hostess considering she does not indicate her responses, so we are to assume that the hostess just rapid fired demeaning questions?

            Are these direct quotes from the hostess? I doubt it, because of the way it is written and If not, then you are not being fair to the story. It is a completely legitimate question for a host to say, “Are you able to transfer from the wheel chair to a seat?” but if you are looking for things to complain about you can easily twist that to “do you really need the wheelchair?” She provides no context (or even her response) to the situation just her perceived view of what happened, so it is hard to get behind her. Almost all of her complaints are somewhat vague and lack context.

            It reminds me of my buddies back in college who would go “that guy was being such a jerk, he just went up and pushed me!” and me having to remind them “You spilt a drink on him, then told him to F@#& off”. You have to have the whole story or else it is disingenuous to the truth.

            • dggriffi says:

              It almost sounds like the hostess though she had been injured while on board and was sympathizing. it also doesn’t sound like she speaka the english.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      Nice try! Better luck next time!

      • PunditGuy says:


        • Rebecca K-S says:

          I guess you didn’t notice this, but your attempt to completely discredit the OP’s story was based on your ignorance about how food poisoning works. Hence: nice try! Better luck next time!

          • Darryl, Darryl, and Darryl says:

            But that IS exactly how food poisoning works. The last food you ate is almost never the cause. Considering it was a three-day cruise it’s very likely whatever they ate that made them sick was consumed BEFORE they even got on the boat.

            Funny thing about food poisoning, it tends to make *everyone* sick. So if other diners didn’t have an issue with the food at the Chef’s Table then it wasn’t the food at the Chef’s Table that made them sick. And this is why Carnival called them on the food poisoning claim, because the facts simply don’t add up.

            • Reader101 says:

              Google Staph aureus food poisoning.

            • Rebecca K-S says:

              Except that staph intoxication, which is by and far the most common cause of gastroenteritis (in the US, at least), takes only a few hours for onset of symptoms.

              And regardless of whether the OP was mistaken about the specific meal that caused the illness, it’s entirely likely that it was caused by a meal served by the ship. You’re right that it’s suspect that no one else complained – though less so if only ten other people were served the offending meal.

              • Darryl, Darryl, and Darryl says:

                I disagree. E. Coli is far more prevalent than staph for food poisoning (tho they are the top two causes). But again, even in the off chance they had a staph-based poisoning it doesn’t explain why no one else got sick, even if there were only 10 people.

                • Rebecca K-S says:

                  Source? I’m finding plenty of references listing staph as the most common, though from .edu not .gov sites. Googling most common causes of food poisoning mostly comes up with “undercooked poultry” and the like. My text doesn’t do a ranking, just notes that staphylococcal food poisoning is “extremely common,” and doesn’t say anything about e. coli infection frequency.

                • Darryl, Darryl, and Darryl says:

                  Well apparently salmonella is now the most common cause of food poisoning in the US. Learn something new every day.

            • Coles_Law says:

              I’ll add my own two cents. If it weren’t true food poisoning, but something like a chemical or detergent contaminating the dish, that would have fairly sudden symptoms.

          • PunditGuy says:

            My ignorance is based on taking food safety courses in culinary school. Cooks are extremely cognizant of food-borne illnesses. Hell, we weren’t allowed to touch food until we had a basic understanding of how we could make people ill, and how to avoid doing so.

            I was not attempting to completely discredit the OP. I was pointing out something that is a common misunderstanding about food poisoning. People blame the most recent thing they ingested, and that’s frequently not the problem.

            If this was serious enough to send them both to the ER, then others would almost certainly have been sick as well. I hope the ER physicians contacted the local health authorities.

            • Rebecca K-S says:

              You were pointing out your own common misunderstanding about food poisoning. “Bacteria need to build up in your gut”? Really? I just confirmed with my husband, who actually teaches safety & sanitation in culinary school, that staph intoxication symptoms occur within a matter of a few hours. I happen to be rereading my basic nutrition textbook right now, so I also have that handy to turn to the convenient “food poisoning” graph, which tells me staph intoxication leads to symptoms within 2-6 hours.

              Here’s the thing: if you’re going to correct people, it usually works best if you’re actually right.

              • Darryl, Darryl, and Darryl says:

                And if staph were the most common form of food poisoning I would agree with you. But it’s not. E. Coli is. And that takes much longer to affect you.

                • Rebecca K-S says:

                  Even if staph is merely number two, PunditGuy’s original comment is still wrong. Yes, most types of food poisoning take many hours, even days, to induce symptoms, but when a major cause of food poisoning in fact leads to symptoms in as short as two hours, saying, “Food poisoning doesn’t work that way. It takes at least twelve hours” is wrong.

                  • kracken41 says:

                    He’s not wrong. You’re just being a pill about someone having an opinion different than your own. Suck it up!

                  • Darryl, Darryl, and Darryl says:

                    And I *might* agree with you if other people had gotten sick. So, statistically speaking, the chances of only her and her husband getting staph-based poisoning is far far lower than picking up another form of poisoning with a longer gestation period before having gotten on the boat.

                    Is it possible that the food on the boat was bad? Sure. Very few things are impossible. Is it likely given the information presented? No. It is HIGHLY unlikely.

                    • Rebecca K-S says:

                      The reason I referenced the small number of people was because out of 10-12 people, it’s entirely possible that they were the only ones who reported it. If it’s ten, that’s a 20% report rate, which doesn’t strike me as especially low. If everyone on the whole ship gets sick and 20% report it, that’s hundreds of people. I’d wager most people don’t report it when they get food poisoning – I know I never have. When you have no idea what to attribute it to, and you’re not sick for very long (my longest bout was around a day), it can seem pointless to report it.

              • PunditGuy says:

                Yes, congratulations, you pointed out an example of a food contaminant with rapid onset of symptoms. Except staph isn’t the only or most common form of contamination. Hence, “Symptoms won’t typically appear until at least 12 hours or so after ingestion.” You could have also pointed out a chemical contaminant, which could have induced symptoms in minutes rather than hours.

                Here’s some good information about incubation periods, if anyone is still interested:

                And here’s the thing — unless you know for sure that this was staph, you didn’t actually disprove anything.

                • Rebecca K-S says:

                  And here’s the thing, unless you know for sure that it wasn’t staph, you didn’t prove anything. Staph intoxication isn’t some obscure cause of food poisoning; it’s quite common, regardless of its exact ranking. So, yes, you were wrong to correct the OP, saying food poisoning doesn’t work that way, when it’s entirely possible that she did indeed get food poisoning from a source that effects symptoms very quickly.

                  • PunditGuy says:

                    Mea culpa. I’ll use more weasel words next time. Apparently “typically” doesn’t mean “most likely to occur” any more.

                    • Darryl, Darryl, and Darryl says:

                      Yh, f y hvn’t ntcd, Rbcc sn’t jst snrk btch, bt vn whn sh’s flt t wrng sh’s lwys rght.

                    • Rebecca K-S says:

                      Apparently “Food poisoning doesn’t work that way” doesn’t mean “Food poisoning sometimes works that way” anymore, either. I wonder when that switch happened.

                • kracken41 says:

                  I gotta agree with PunditGuy on this one. He’s right- people always blame their last meal. It could have been any meal that you ate in the last 24 hours. None of us know what they had- just that they were really sick- which sucks, no matter what the cause.

                  • Rebecca K-S says:

                    Oh yes, it’s totally true that people tend to blame their last meal even when it’s not responsible, but the point is, one of the most common types of food poisoning occurs within a few hours of ingestion. His correction was off base, because it’s entirely possible that she was right.

              • dggriffi says:

                im going with Pundit here too. It is possible to show symptoms quickly but 1-6 hours almost always mean bacterial toxin or chemical rather than live bacteria. If the onset was immediate, then the bacterial level would need to be so high that everyone that ate it would be sick.

                I could care less if she is full of shit or not. This point is not accurate.

          • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

            It’s cool that all you guys are having a fun argument on how long food born illness takes to set in. But it’s all a fairly moot point since she was on the boat for 3 days prior to getting sick. This means no matter which one of you is correct about the gestation period, she still got it from the ships food. Can we all be friends now?

    • George4478 says:

      >>I have to say, this is just about the opposite of the experience I had on my first ever cruise last year (also with Carnival).

      My family has cruised 3 times with Carnival and once with Princess. Her experience (except for the wheelchair anecdotes since I have no experience there) was completely opposite of ours.

      Cabin filled with smoke and nobody cared? Cruise ships — all ships — take smoke and the possibility of a fire seriously. It’s an emergency situation that the crews drill and drill for. I have trouble believing the OP reported a smoke-filled room and the crew did nothing.

      • GuinevereUnbound says:

        This is the OP.

        According to the ER, it was food poisoning. The Chef’s Table served tons of stuff that could easily have done it, like tuna tartare and carpaccio. It wouldn’t necessarily have spread throughout the boat because the 10 people doing the meal were being served something different from everyone else on board.

        FYI, the “the whole boat would’ve had it” is Carnival’s official excuse, along with “Per the CDC, we don’t refund money for food poisoning”. Both are BS.

        • Darryl, Darryl, and Darryl says:

          Unfortunately those types of meats are associated with a type of food poisoning that takes at least a day or more to gestate. Meaning, it’s highly unlikely you got sick from that food.

          • GuinevereUnbound says:

            According to the *doctor at the emergency room*, it was food poisoning caused by something we ate on the boat. Period, amen. We got ill directly after the Chef’s Table meal, which is why we think that did it (as did the *doctor at the ER*). It could very well still have been something we ate in the normal dining room or buffet line.

            If you’re a physician or microbiologist that specializes in food-borne illness, I’ll be happy to speak with you on this. If you’re not, then you’re just armchair quarterbacking and telling me my complaint has no merit, which I don’t appreciate.

            • Rebecca K-S says:

              Just fyi, PunditGuy (and others) are right in saying that attributing food poisoning to an immediately preceding meal is often (ahem, not always) a mistake. It’s more common for the onset of symptoms to take at least half a day, sometimes much longer.

              • GuinevereUnbound says:

                It’s entirely possible that it wasn’t the Chef’s Table meal that did it; but we were on the ship for three days. All we know is that 1) we got sick, 2) it was due to food, and that 3) we got a very certain diagnosis from an ER doctor, which (now that I think about it) was confirmed by my personal doctor once I got home.

                • Darryl, Darryl, and Darryl says:

                  Again, no one is arguing whether or not you had food poisoning. All we’re saying is that due to the nature of this particular malady it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused it and when it was eaten. Now if you were on the boat for a week or more and never ate anything while off the boat, then yes, I think you could say with a reasonable amount of certainty it was something from the ship. But that’s simply not the case. 2-3 days just isn’t long enough to be absolutely certain.

                  While it *could* have been something from the ship, it’s just as likely NOT to have been something from the ship. Without having any evidence of others on the boat also becoming ill it’s going to be an uphill battle convincing anyone that you absolutely positively were fed bad food on the cruise.

            • rmorin says:

              Unfortunately food poisoning is such a catch-all that it is impossible to assess exactly the cause if that is all you were told by your provider. What was the exact diagnosis as per ICD-9 code (if you know)?

            • sirwired says:

              I don’t doubt it was food poisoning, however, it IS hard to nail it to a specific meal. (Did you eat any meals on-shore?) And food poisoning can indeed only strike a couple of folks that ate a particular chunk of contaminated food. (Not the whole buffet tray is necessarily conaminated.)

              However, it was indeed unlikely to be the Chef’s table in particular, given the short period of time. (Could have been just about anything you ate in the last 12-72 hours before showing symptoms.)

            • Darryl, Darryl, and Darryl says:

              Since you’re not even open to the possibility your illness was due to something you ate before you got on the boat I’m even more suspect about your claims.

              Unless the ER doc took stool samples, a GI tract sample, and/or did blood work to look for toxins or bacteria there is no way he/she could say definitively what kind of food poisoning you had, what you ate to cause it, or when you ate it.

              The typical ER doctor is only going to be concerned with stabilizing your current condition to ensure you’re not in any kind of life-threatening danger and then send you home. Since most food-borne illnesses clear up on their own there is generally no need to investigate further.

              And I hate to sound like a broken record, but if it were food on the boat wouldn’t other people have gotten sick too? I’m not calling you a liar, I’m just saying that the facts as presented don’t really add up. It’s easy to blame the cruise line because that’s where you started feeling ill, but with food poisoning you really just never know, especially if there wasn’t any kind of outbreak.

      • GuinevereUnbound says:

        OP here.

        The first thing we did was call Guest Services, and someone sent out. Once they figured out that nothing was on fire, they left. Getting them to do anything else was the problem.

      • oldwiz65 says:

        cigarette smoke is not the same as smoke from a fire, so they don’t really care. Why should they? The worst that can happen to the cruise line is a customer who won’t be back.

        Apparently the cruise lines still allow smoking all over the ship. Good grief.

    • GrandizerGo says:

      I have had it happen much faster.
      It depends on the level of bacteria in the food already. If the food is already teeming with bacteria it can in fact affect you in less then 2 hours. Seafood is one of the ones that are most notorious in this regard. Chicken, from my personal experience, can affect you in less then 4 hours.

    • shibotu says:

      The same food can affect people suddenly and differently.

      After a very expensive dinner in Paris, I started feeling sick on the way back, vomited once at the hotel and felt fine. My husband didn’t feel sick until the next morning and was miserable the whole flight home. And other than that dinner we had previously eaten different foods.

    • kerry says:

      There are many ways to get sick from food. If the food was tainted with certain toxin-producing bacteria, the effects can happen very quickly even without an infection ever occurring, because the problem is the toxin, not the bugs themselves. If you cook the food completely and “sterilize” it you still may not get rid of the toxins.
      Also, if the food is very contaminated you can have effects due to infection as soon as 4 hours later, it’s all related to the bacterial or viral load present in the food and the amount of time it takes to reproduce in your gut.

    • halo969 says:

      You sound just like the woman at the Wendy’s a decade ago when I called to let her know my boyfriend at the time had gotten sick after eating their chili and she yelled at us claiming it takes 24 hours for food poisoning to develop. You should do your research because the most common types of food poisoning generally cause symptoms within 2 – 6 hours of eating the food.

      As for Wendy’s, if they had listened to me and threw out the chili (I called because I didn’t want anyone else to get sick) it would have ended there. Instead they got a visit from the health department.

  6. Rainicorn with baby bats says:

    After sailing on Carnival once, I’m inclined to agree with you. The service is awful, everything is sub par compared to say, Royal Caribbean (LOVE THEM) … On our ship we had a dish of ice cream sit in the main thoroughfare for SEVEN hours, completely melted with a napkin in it, on the floor…. I watched six employees walk past it. There’s just an attitude of “who cares” with Carnival. I will never use them again. The tiny bit of money you might save by using them is absolutely not worth it. Royal Caribbean’s staff is like the second coming of Christ compared to Carnival.

    • mandy_Reeves says:

      Royal Caribbean!! that is my dream cruise line some day!!! ALLURE OF THE SEAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! squee! I hear it’s like Titanic on crack!

      • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

        I was on the sister ship the Oasis last year which is mostly the same design. It was pretty awesome. It’s the only cruise I’ve ever been on so I can’t really compare it. But I very much enjoyed the entire experience. It was also kind of funny to see at port next to all the other ships, most notably Carnival. You could literally fit a Carnival ship inside the Oasis it’s just massive.

    • LanMan04 says:

      Best avatar/name ever. Do you also speak Korean?

    • baquwards says:

      I’ve been on 4 Royal Caribbean, 2 Princess, 1 Norwegian, and 4 Carnival. My BEST experience was on Royal Caribbean and my WORST experience was also on Royal Caribbean. The last cruise that I took on the Voyager, was so bad, that I have put them at the bottom of my list. The service was downright bad. The worst was when I opened my cabin door to find a woman squatting and urinating in front of the cabin door across the hall, she was really drunk. I called to report this and hopefully have it cleaned up, but they didn’t come for almost 3 days (after calling numerous times), the people across the hall had to step over it for almost 3 DAYS! The smell was horrible.

      Carnival is just fine, not top notch, but a great value. Out of 4 cruises with them, I have very little to complain about. With that said, I only take 7 day cruises, so I can’t speak for the short 3-4 day cruises, which on ALL cruise lines seem to be party barges.

  7. Tkriger says:

    This makes me worry about my first cruise coming up in two weeks (With Royal Caribbean, not Carnival thankfully).

    You can bet that if there were kids in the 21+ areas I would do everything possible to get them out, if I wanted kids I’d go on a Disney cruise.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      I did a Royal Caribbean cruise last summer. They have adults only areas (the solariums). They are pretty good about kicking kids out. We had a great time with Royal Carribbean. We’re going on NCL next week, which my coworkers have told me is almost as good.

      Not that I’m blaming the OP here, but I consider Carnival to be at the bottom of the rung of the cruise ship ladder.

    • Tyanna says:

      There were 0 kids on the balcony that was attached to our room. :)

      We figured we didn’t want to deal with other people, nor their kids, so we spent the extra for a balcony. It was worth every penny.

      • Tkriger says:

        Good point – we also have a balcony on our upcoming cruise, so I guess that is always a last resort.

  8. suez says:

    I’m starting to think that food poisoning is just a given on these cruises. There was a time when I was tempted to try one, but not anymore.

    • sufreak says:

      I’ve been on several cruises, never got food poisoning once. Princess is the best experience I’ve had. (I have been on them about 3-4 times)

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      On the other hand, I could stand to lose a few pounds.

  9. joe says:

    stuff like this is why i will never go on a cruise. all these companies have HQ in third-world countries for legal reasons… doesn’t that tell you all you need to know?

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Is it legal reasons or tax reasons?

      • dpeters11 says:

        I believe to be US registered, it must be built in the US and most, if not all the American shipyards build only smaller boats, or are military.

        But this way, they also don’t have to abide by US minimum wage laws etc.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Royal Caribbean’s headquarters are in Florida.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      Holland is third world? I thought they were a little more than that.

    • sirwired says:

      Errr… No. NCL is headquartered in Miami, Carnival also in Miami, Princess in CA, etc.

      • joe says:

        I didn’t mean where some office buildings are – they incorporate in shady countries because they are protected from taxes and a lot of legal liability issues. According to new york times: Carnival HQ is in Panama, Royal Caribbean HQ is in Liberia, and Princess Cruises HQ is in Bermuda.

        • joe says:

          oops meant to provide NYTimes link:

        • sirwired says:

          It doesn’t matter to you where the Corporation is actually registered. By virtue of CCL, RCL, NCL, etc. all having a fixed presence in the U.S., you can certainly sue them in U.S. court, and the case will be adjudicated using U.S. law. (As a side note, Costa (a CCL-owned line) tried to wiggle out of this for related reasons (suing the U.S. subsidiary instead of the Italian HQ), and the Supreme Court slapped them down hard.)

          If they went bankrupt, I suppose collecting on it could possibly be interesting, but for everything else, it doesn’t matter to you in which country the corporate charter sits in.

    • edman007 says:

      Well the HQ is in the US ususally, but the ships are not owned by the HQ, they are contracted out (to what really is a subsidary of HQ) and anything that happens on the ship is under the jurisidiction of whatever country the ship is registered in (which is the country of the contractor). As such there are very few US laws that actually apply to the ship, with the biggest one being miniumn wage which allows a lot of savings. The only sanctions the US can really apply to a cruise ship is tell it to not do buisness in a US port and there are not many laws writting in a way that allow that type of sancation to be applied as a threat to the ship.

  10. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    This makes my blood boil. Regardless of whether or not the boats are registered in other countries, Carnival is an American company. It should be held to the ADA standards somewhere along the line, no?

    I’m so sorry you had this experience – from the inaccessible ship to the cabin to the puking to everything. It sounds like a nightmare. I suggest you start at the top with an EECB and let the sh*t roll down hill.

    In the future, make sure you get names of employees as well. Just good to have when submitting a hellatious story such as this, especially when they are treating you like crap.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      Carnival is an American company. It should be held to the ADA standards somewhere along the line, no?

      Using that logic, all American companies operating in other countries should abide by american laws. Furthing that, all foreign companies operating in the US should abide by their home countries laws.

    • sirwired says:

      I expect the Carnival-operated terminal would be held to ADA standards. But the ships are all registered under foreign flags for both good and bad reasons.

    • George4478 says:

      >>Carnival is an American company.

      Carnival Corporation is incorporated in Panama.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      I think that if you have a wheelchair or other assistive device covered by ADA you are well advised to skip any cruise line. Even if the cruise ship has some degree of compliance, the ports you visit will almost certainly have no provisions for ADA. Even ships that are supposedly ADA compliant will likely have quite a few areas where you cannot go on a wheelchair. And how would you get from a wheelchair to a lifeboat in case of an emergency?

  11. kella says:

    If I ever needed a reason to not take a cruise (especially on Carnival) I have it now.

  12. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    ADA does apply to carnival cruise as far as 30 seconds of google-fu can tell me:

    For the foregoing reasons, Carnival’s Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds that the ADA does not apply to foreign-flag cruise ships should be denied.”

    go to town on them.

    • George4478 says:

      From the brief: “When a cruise ship enters United States ports and internal waters, it is doing business in the United States. Therefore, cruise ships operating in United States ports and internal waters are subject to all generally applicable federal laws.”

      Her assigned seating issues occurred outside US waters. In port, you sit wherever you want and there is plenty of non-stair-accessed seating. The buffet/cafeteria (used on embarkation day while in port) seats hundreds without any stairs involved.

      Her big metal bump issue, now that would be present in port or out. I don’t know what the ADA says about how flat a surface needs to be, availability of alternate paths, etc.

      • Thalia says:

        The table spacing issues and similar accommodation issues existed in port, and US courts would not say “well, she didn’t eat at the port, so it’s not applicable.”

        That said, I would first write a very thorough note (in writing, always, copy your lawyer & a newspaper) explaining what happened, and how upset you are. Ask for something specific as compensation. Payment of medical costs, plus significant future discount, for example.

        Lawsuits are last resorts.

  13. Yacko says:

    That’s why it is called “carnival”. Your cruise is run by carnival folk.

  14. Doubting thomas says:

    Carnival sucks.
    On my carnival cruise 350 out of 425 passengers got ill. This was after they delayed our departure for 6 hours, leaving us all standing around in a cinderblock warehouse while they “sanitized” the ship, because they had had the same issue with the previous cruise. Our “sanitized” cabin had dirty gym socks in the bed and an unflushed toilet overflowing with fecal matter.
    Carnivals response after letters, email and phone calls was an offer for 10% off of our next cruise and they were adamandt that they never gave over 10% off for anything.
    3 weeks letter we got an advertising flyer in the mail offering us 20% off of our next cruise.

    You couldn’t get me back on a Carnival cruise ship with a gun to my head.

    • erratapage says:

      Curiously, the smallest Carnival ship carries over 2000 passengers. I assume you must have been part of a large group?

      • Doubting thomas says:

        No this was in 2005, and we were on the smallest, and oldest cruise ship in the line. I forget the name, but it has been retired.

        • baquwards says:

          I’ll say BS, as someone else said, there has NEVER been a Carnival cruise ship that carried that few passengers, even back in the 70’s.

          You’re making this up.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Sometimes a specific virus goes around the Cruise, because people (usually passengers) bring it on board and don’t wash their hands. It spreads quickly and ressembles a bad flu, accompanied by lots of vomiting and diarrhea.

      When these are reported on crewmembers, that crewman is quarantined. Passengers can’t be quarantined like that, so it usually spreads quickly; again because they don’t wash their hands. On the rare occasion a Captain will terminate the cruise.

    • erratapage says:

      I admit to being a little bit of a cruise fan. If you sailed in 2005, and it was the oldest ship in the fleet, the ship would have either been the Celebration or the Holiday. Both ships have a capacity of nearly 2,000 passengers. I did review the entire Carnival cruise fleet history (it took about half an hour, including the time I spent reading about the present owners of the ships and the way cruise ship capacity is determined), and determined that no Carnival ship has ever had a capacity of less than 1,000 passengers. Obviously, I was not there. I did review the CDC website and determined that in February, Carnival reported an outbreak of norovirus on the Celebration on back to back cruises. Less than 100 people were reported as ill. If you were one of the stricken, I’m sure it was a horrible experience. I once got Legionnaire’s from a stay at a Holiday Inn near St. Louis, along with many other people who attended the same event. Now, I hate St. Louis.

  15. NoWin says:

    I wonder if the double-charge was a hold against the account; typical in hotels, etc….other than that, there is not enough information in this article for me to blame the Cruise Line off the bat, and I think the lack of pertinent information is a disservice to us who follow the site for valid feedback (flame away!).

    How did you book (direct, Priceline, time-share sales cruise, etc)?

    Was this an arranged group cruise?

    Did you do any research on this type of ship or its handicap capability record prior to sailing? As there are handicap specific cruise offerings out there.

    Sailed from / to?

    …just sayin’.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Why is someone required to look up their “handicap capability rating” whatever the hell that is? Either the ship can accomodate or it can’t, and any booking agent should be able to tell you.

    • scar4711 says:

      Carnival (and other cruiselines) will put a hold on your credit card (or debit Visa/MC), plus do auths every evening for the days purchases.. this is one of the reasons travel agents recommend that you NOT use your debit card for the on-board account, and to just use cash if you do not have a real credit card.

    • GuinevereUnbound says:

      OP here.

      Before boarding, I spoke to their disability agents and confirmed that what I needed (wheelchair seating, ramps, et cetera) would be there. It wasn’t. Parts of the ship weren’t accessible at all; to get to the Serenity deck I had to get out of my chair and go down stairs, which was the only way to get there.

      And I don’t know whether the extra charges were a hold or not; all I know is that every charge, from the base fare to the drinks I ordered, were doublecharged.

  16. wadewood says:

    I’ve cruised over 20 times and on all the major lines. Frankly, I find very little differences between Carnival, Royal, Princess, NCL. In general, 3 day cruises are targeted at lower end and cruise lines usually use the older ships for these. Carnival just updated it’s smoking policy and now is probably the most restrictive on smoking of any of the lines.

    • baquwards says:

      I’ve cruised a lot, and except for the ships, the experience is pretty much the same. Some of the ships are magnificent (not Carnival’s but I love them anyway), but everything else pretty much evens out.

  17. Torchwood says:
  18. shufflemoomin says:

    I feel for them. Doesn’t sound like an experience I’d want, let alone pay for. I agree with what a wise man once told me about cruises. “You’re in prison with added option of drowning”. Certainly not for me.

  19. qwickone says:

    I know people like to knock Carnival, but I like them! I’ve been on 3 cruises with them and 1 on Royal Caribbean and I prefer Carnival (no real complaints about either though, food was a little better on RC). All my cruises were longer (6+ days), and I’m not sure if that makes a difference.

  20. Get A Amberlance says:

    WH WH WH m S sck nd trd f ll th bb whnng vr smkng. Gt VR yrslvs lrd!! Whn cn w rstrct th ntr ppltn fr t’s prptl bnxsnss???!!!!! nd wh wld nyn VR g n crs? t’s lwys bn bt rgh ss, rmpnt grms, ndrckd fd, nd vrcrwdng. Lt’s ll crm rslvs nt shppng mll nd tss rnd n bt fr n gnzng wk–nd w’r gng t p gd mn t d ths!

  21. john says:

    I don’t know if Carnival is a smaller cruise line, but this link to the CDC has a list of known illness outbreaks by year, and Carnival doesn’t appear that often. Holland America appears quite a bit as does Princess and Celebrity cruises.

  22. RosevilleWgn says:

    Certainly not trying to be a jerk (but it’s going to sound that way) but if I were wheelchair bound, I sure as hell wouldn’t be on a vessel out to sea. That being said, sounds like it was a crappy experience for them overall.

  23. adent1066 says:

    I’m very sorry to hear about your bad experience. The Sensation is a 18 year old ship, so I’m not surprised that you didn’t like it. I’ve been on 5 Carnival cruises and they have been pretty good for the most part. I try to avoid older ships like the Sensation.

    The experience and service on shorter cruises tends to be much worse. The clientele tends to be a more lower class (cheaper cruise), so the shorter cruises effectively turn into booze cruises. The help doesn’t get much in the way of tips on the shorter runs, so there isn’t as much in it for them.

    By the way, I believe those steel band that you described are part of the water tight doors that all ships have, so I think you’re out of luck with that. I believe you will find partitions like those on all cruise lines.

  24. CorvetteJoe says:

    This is why I cruise Royal Caribbean ;)

  25. PLATTWORX says:

    I feel the OP needs to take a deep breath. She has a poor cruise experience, she is not writing the script of a Lifetime Original Movie.

    First, as said above, ADA laws do not apply to cruise ships which are mostly registered to other countries. If her disability made cruising so difficult, why did she not call and research if her wheelchair was an issue BEFORE booking the trip?

    Second, I agree, smoke is a horrid problem on most ships. It’s like a floating casino. It seems smokers flock to cruises because of lack of restrictions. Also, smoking is much more popular still on other countries so people puff away with reckless abandon. Same would be true if you traveled to most of Europe.

    Never had ship crew be as rude as she is claiming. Can’t tell if she’s being overly dramatic or not. Why she used a debit card to pay for her cruise and allowed them access to her bank account. Also, if you’d use a credit card you could do charge backs to force them hand on an adjustment. I also very much doubt they said “”thanks for complaining, now go away.”

    Seems to me the OP may have points but she seems like a very angry and bitter person. I can just imagine what a pleasure she must have been to work with when she was unhappy if she is being this crash in an e-mail to the Consumerist.

    Being disabled is difficult. Problems happen. But taking your rage over what you body can’t do and using that negative energy to make a bad experience worse isn’t helpful.

    • GuinevereUnbound says:

      OP here.

      1. My disability has not made cruising difficult. It’s a simple wheelchair. What made this cruise difficult was the actions of the staff in response to it. I should have been able to get around, and I couldn’t. And yes, I called, and even spoke to their disability people. The staff knew my needs, which weren’t much.

      2. Just because you haven’t come across staff as rude as I did does not mean they don’t exist, or that I’m “writing a Lifetime movie”. This happened. I am not being overly dramatic.

      3. The one paraphrased thing is “thanks for complaining, go away”, but that’s pretty much what I got. I’ve been a lurker here since it was with Gawker, and if I had a nickel for every time someone complained and got a form letter that denied them what they were asking for, I’d be rich. This is what companies do.

      4. I did my utmost to be polite to both Guest Services onboard, as well as the customer service agents on the phone, even in the cases where the situation was their fault.

      I’m not angry, or bitter, or overdramatic; I simply want a refund, and it’s not a ridiculous request.

      • msbask says:

        You want a refund or a credit for future cruise, that’s the part I don’t understand. Why would you ever cruise with Carnival again after this experience?

  26. thebobpuller says:

    Typical wheelchair people expecting the world to revolve around them. While accomodations should be made where practical, designing a ship is hard enough as it is. Making it easy to get around for people who have to or choose to use wheelchairs is no small task for a ship, where you need to utilize all of the available space.
    Wheelchair laws have ruined many things, thankfully these ships don’t fall under the overly heavy handed cripple laws of US and A. I was at a funhouse in NJ and they had to add an elevator for the wheelchair people…

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      You really just posted this?

      I’m not imagining it?

      • thebobpuller says:

        I am serious. It’s wheelchair’s fault we can’t have phone booths anymore. (I know I know, moot point, cell phones…)

        • Rebecca K-S says:

          I’m really sorry that is life so hard for you.

          • thebobpuller says:

            If you can’t walk, there are some things in life you’re going to miss out on. That’s how it was for thousands of years. I personally don’t want my cruise prices to SKYROCKET to pay to accomodate a few people who can’t walk.

            I can’t metabolize carbohydrate without insulin injections. There are some things I am better off not eating. I don’t ask for any special treatment, anywhere.

            • GuinevereUnbound says:

              I seriously doubt that you have never taken a trip and needed to explain the presence of needles, or needed a sharps container in your hotel room.

              The ADA, which you seem to have so much animosity towards, helps you out too. And there’s no reason that a disabled person should have to sit at home and do nothing simply because it costs a little more for a community to install ramps.

        • Corndolf says:

          Carny funhouses AND phone booths?


    • pinkbunnyslippers says:

      I hope you’re missing your /sarcasm tag….

    • GuinevereUnbound says:

      This is the OP.

      …Wow. I do not expect the world to revolve around me. I am perfectly within my rights, though, to expect that a company that handles disabled people does things like provide ramps, not seat me in places that require me to climb steps, and place tables far apart enough to where I can get through. All I ask, from a company who claims to welcome people like me, is that I be given the tools with which to take care of myself.

  27. chiieddy says:

    Contact the county health department in the departure/arrival port regarding the food poisoning and provide documentation on when you went to the ER

  28. Froggee285 says:

    26yr old here, I have cruised twice, NCL (Dawn) in 2009 and Princess (Caribbean) in 2010. I thought Princess was more organized, and we had less issues, but life is life, and things happen. On our last night with Princess, we noticed on the bill that we were charged for several soda packages, which we didn’t order…mistakes happen, and it was fixed. And as a side note, why didn’t you just put your credit card on file, instead of your bank account…we put it all on the card, then as soon as the charge was put through, we paid it off in full.

    Also: I didn’t do this, but someone on our cruise did, in view of me. In the adults only section, where there are signs and crew members, some parents who think their little snowflakes don’t apply to the rule set up camp. Splashing in the hot tub, screaming and such. Well this tan woman, in her late 40’s but still decent looking, took off her bikini top. A minute or so later, the kids got real quiet and went by their parents, and the mom of the kids said, “EXCUSE ME, can you put your top on, this isn’t a nude beach” and the woman said, “Adults Only, sorry”. The family left, and I wished I was as brazen as her.

    • Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

      Oh, I love that lady (whoever she is). On our last cruise we were lucky enough that, when parents brought their little angels into the adults only pool (Princess) a chorus of voices reminded them it was adults only, and continued to remind them until they left. I really wish I’d have thought of the topless thing though (and yes, I would have been willing to let my 50 some year old girls out for some air!)

  29. Geekybiker says:

    I’m my experience, Carnival is the worst US based cruise line.

  30. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    If they think this is bad, then they had better never visit Europe.

  31. maxhobbs says:

    Why on earth anyone goes on a cruise is beyond me.

    • Bagumpity says:

      Amen, Brother. I check the web sites and run a few prices every now and then, and the only conclusion I can draw is: If they offered it at a price where what they offer is worth the price, they’d go broke. Add that to the fact that they nickle & dime you to death while you’re on the ship (and off!), it just comes down to the fact that there’s no compelling financial value to cruising.

      Even if money were no object, there’s the lack of control. The last time I took a vacation, I turned to the wife and said “you know, it would be awesome if we went over here instead” and that turned into a wonderfully bizarre 200 mile trip through a coastal swamp where we rode ferries, drove through a swamp fire, saw abandoned fishery towns that looked like they had been put there as part of the next Jaws movie, ate at a restaurant that was basically the first floor of some random person’s house, and generally had an awesome time. I can imagine asking a cruise ship captain “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we went over here instead?” You’d be laughed off the ship. At gunpoint. I’d rather not be at the mercy of somebody else’s schedule, menu, shopping options and rules. Cruisers say you have a lot of choices, but it’s really just the choices they decide you can have. I like to make my own, thanks.

  32. shepd says:

    Sounds like hell, although there’s one thing that I think will be common to ships in general (for now and the foreseeable future), and that is that they are difficult to get around for people in wheelchairs. The requirements for a ship generally do not make that a simple task to accomplish.

  33. ron704 says:

    I know exactly what this woman is talking about. Me and my partner went on a four-day cruise on that same ship about two years ago. He was paralyzed on his right side and used his motorized scooter to get around. While embarking, the chair hit a steel plate and he went flying onto the floor. He was okay, but it didn’t get any better during the trip. The doors to the deck all swung inwards, had to be manually opened and ususally one side of the doors were latched shut. We didn’t suffer from food poisoning, but the food was disgusting everywhere on that ship. At dinner, the wait staff circled the dining room, while their boss got on the mic, pleading for tips for them (there was a built-in gratuity), and then went into this talk about how people have complained about the food on past cruises, but don’t complain to the staff. I wrote a sensible letter to them once we got home, letting them know we wouldn’t be visiting them anytime soon.

  34. GuinevereUnbound says:

    Thank you SO much for posting this, Laura, and for the link to the top brass’s email addresses. EECB is on its way!

  35. Peter from Rutland says:

    I’ve heard nothing but horrible things about Carnival. One of the funniest being it was like being on a ship full of rednecks at best. Definitely NOT upscale. There are far better ones. Someone mentioned Holland, they are very good as is Norwegian.

    • baquwards says:

      Being on 4 cruise lines, Carnival is just about as good as any of them except for the decor, it’s like an acid trip on some ships.

      NCL was probably the worst, (and it was still good) but on NCL to get decent food, you have to pay extra, and I’m not talking gourmet food, just food that is edible.

      Royal Caribbean has great ships, but mediocre food.

  36. michaeljc says:

    I’ve been on 12 cruises, 5 of them on Carnival. I’ve never had or seen a problem like this. The few tiny problems and mishaps we’ve had on any cruise line have always been fixed promptly and with a great, great attitude. We wish that customer service in the States reached the level of customer service we’ve experienced on cruise lines. Having sailed on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Costa, they are all about the same in customer service and food (though Carnival has the best cabin stewards hands down.) The only difference is the aesthetic and atmosphere. I can be a rather impatient and picky customer and I’ve never had a thing to complain about on a cruise.

  37. jenolen2161 says:

    Not trying to blame the OP here, but why would you use a debit card on a cruise? I just went on NCL, and when filling out the boarding forms, they were explicit in saying that holds on your debit card may have adverse effects. FYI, you can put a credit card down, but pay off your balance the night before you disembark with a debit card or cash.

  38. DericLeeLULZ says:

    Been on one Carnival cruise, all they did was try to sell us on Diamonds International shit, seriously that is all they talked about.
    Never going to cruise with them ever again.

  39. TheBigWhiteWolf says:

    Carnival is the Wal-Mart of the cruise world.

  40. ramzafl says:

    This story sounds iffy only because I have been on 3 Carnival cruises and on this exact same ship not less then 3 months ago.

    “On the Sensation, which is gigantic”

    The Sensation is their SMALLEST ship, along with a couple of others that are exactly like it (same class of ships).

    “There are postings that it’s 21 and up all over. Parents ignored this. The attendant in the area said he couldn’t do a thing about it. I went to find someone else, who eyerolled me and said “I’m busy. Get someone else.””
    I never saw any kids here, except the ones wondering in the area then leaving. I even got ID’d here and I was of legal drinking age.

    They also NEVER allow smoking in any of the rooms. Not even the balcony’s. I also remember being treated like a king on pretty much every cruiseship.

    The one thing I can empathize with is the food poisoning. My buddy ate at the chef’s table and complained he got food poisoning. It very well could have been something else though (like the fish taco’s he had at some sketchy place at cozumel), but he blamed it on the royal steakhouse dinner at the chef’s table lol.

  41. Mclick says:

    Sounds like you were trying to get something for nothing. Maybe going on a cruise isn’t the best idea for someone in a wheel chair. So the room you were in generates smoke? Hmm, not sure exactly how that is happening but I don’t buy it either. Sounds like you complained to everybody on the ship and word got around. Sounds like you are one of those people that just can’t be pleased. I agree….go away!!!

  42. aleck says:

    Carnival is the Comcast of cruising companies. I am not surprised a bit.

  43. TampaShooters says:

    Typical complainers, I doubt any of that happened the way they explained it. Usually it’s the handicap or old that everything happens to, and usually it’s blown out of proportion. The reason the ship isn’t designed for wheelchairs, is… well.. because it’s a ship! I have been on 11 Carnival Cruises and never had a bad one yet. Food poisoning…. uh, try seasickness…. stupid

  44. Golfer Bob says:

    It seems she was trying to find things to complain about. However, why was the cabin smoke filled? Why did she seem to just let that pass? Smoke filled? From WHAT?

  45. ktlnlb says:


  46. Jimulacrum says:

    I’ve cruised with Carnival a couple times and never had a negative experience (except the usual cruise stuff I complain about, like forced “gratuities” around every corner). The raised metal bands on the floors can’t be changed, and it’s easy for someone without a disability to overlook them. But the rest of this story…ouch. I don’t know if I’m OK with ever giving Carnival another dollar.

    Try Norwegian next time. They’re a little more expensive, but comparable to Carnival prices. Meals and activities are open rather than scheduled (“freestyle cruising”), which I imagine would be easier for you than being forced to show up at a restaurant (with stairs) at a specific time every night.

    (No, I don’t work for Norwegian. This is my honest opinion.)

  47. Krazycalvin says:

    “The room we’d been assigned was so smoke-filled that smoke came out when we opened the door.”

    I love it when people blatantly exaggerate.

  48. DragonThermo says:

    Isn’t *every* cruise a vacation nightmare? Cruise ships are always catching fire, floating adrift, getting hit by monster waves. When they’re not, they find other ways to ruin your visit, as in the OP’s tale.