Yuck! Carnival served me dinner with a side order of chewing gum

Maybe I should have had the mashed potatoes instead?
When Marilyn Sweeney bit into a serving of sweet potato casserole during her seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Valor she tasted something unusual. It was rubbery, with a faint mint flavor.

“I did not recognize it at first,” she says. “I thought it was food.”

It wasn’t. It was chewing gum. Used chewing gum.

Sweeney thought she was going to throw up. She bolted out of her seat and made a beeline to the ship’s store and bought antiseptic. She hardly ate for the rest of the journey.

“Months later it is still distressing to remember,” she says. “I have had many sleepless nights worrying if I might contract AIDS or some other disease due to this contamination. It is very distressing. I will never be able to take a cruise again after this incident, and it used to be a favorite way for me to vacation.”

Sweeney contacted Carnival in writing after her vacation, asking for compensation. It offered her a form apology and a 10 percent discount off a future cruise.

Not enough, she says. Here’s an excerpt from her appeal:

The thought of this still disgusts me and has reactivated my PTSD. I have had treatments for my stress since I arrived home. Instead of a relaxing vacation I needed treatment to relax from the stress that this incident caused me.

Everyone I have spoken with is disgusted by the thought of someone else’s chewing gum in my mouth. I am sure you reading this would be disgusted to discover you had somebody else’s used chewing gum in your mouth. Then there’s the thought of who did this gum belong to? Do they have any diseases?

Carnival has been terrible and did not even pay for the antiseptic rinse that I had to buy! Carnival has done nothing except offer me a 10 percent discount on a future cruise. I am never going to cruise again after this incident. I have not even been able to eat sweet potatoes anymore and they were one of my favorite dishes (the gum was in a sweet potato dish).

Instead of consideration on a future cruise I want to be refunded for the cost of the cruise that I took. I want to be reasonable and I want you to be reasonable, too. I had lots of expenses associated with this “vacation” including airfare and time taken off for a time that was supposed to be relaxing. Instead I needed to recover from it.

OK, that was a pretty emotional rebuttal. Here’s Carnival’s reply:

We regret that this matter was not reported onboard as this would have allowed for timely investigation and further follow up.

Despite our best efforts to address your concern, I’m sorry you remain dissatisfied. Please know that the issue you’ve raised has been carefully addressed by the executive team and reviewed thoroughly. At this point, I must advise you that we are unable to give this matter any further consideration.

I take the opportunity to reiterate our sincere apologies previously expressed and leave you with my best wishes.

Sweeney says she reported the incident on board and even visited the ship’s doctor after eating the gum. She’s unhappy with Carnival’s response. The cruise line didn’t even cover the cost of the antiseptic when she informed the staff about the gum in her casserole.

At a minimum, she wants her money back for the cruise, but Carnival won’t even consider that. She thinks it can do better and wants to know if I agree. Is a form apology and a 10 percent discount enough?

I agree with Carnival that this case hinges on whether she reported the alleged gum-in-the-food incident or not. Even if tried to sweep the incident under the dining room carpet, there would still be a record of her doctor’s visit. If Carnival could verify that, it might put her in a better position.

The other issue is evidence. Did Sweeney take photos of the gum-laced sweet potato casserole? If she did, then she’d probably have a stronger case.

By the way, I’m sure Sweeney isn’t the first Carnival passenger to ask for a full refund because of an incident like this. Other cruise lines and land-based business have to deal with these types of customer grievances all the time. Some are legit, but many are sent by opportunistic customers looking for a freebie. Carnival’s skepticism is understandable.

Based on the correspondence Sweeney showed me, I think Carnival may have been too quick to dismiss her complaint. Did it under-compensate her? Maybe. But until it conducts a more formal investigation, we may never know.

(Photo MR. T)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Monica Kennedy

    It was horrible and gross, but she thinks she could have gotten AIDS… really? That seems a little melodramatic to me. This is someone who thinks she is entitled to more than she should be. A full refund is out of the question. She continued with the cruise for the whole journey. Gross things in food is unfortunate, and a discount on a future cruise would be acceptable. For lack of a better term, this was a freak accident and highly unlikely to ever occur again.

    If there was proof of a doctor visit, then yes, I think a refund of the antiseptic is reasonable in addition to the 10% discount they already offered her. But does she deserve more than that? I don’t think so.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    OMG. The moment I read the headline, I knew the hate mail would come pouring in. Where do you get these people, Chris? And do you have as much fun answering them as we do reading them? I already feel ever so slightly sorry (but not that much) for the OP when she reads the 100+ comments that are about to follow… I know my fellow commenters will do a pretty good job of eviscerating her, but let me get the ball rolling….

    1) Really? You’re never cruising again because you saw gum in your food? So if the incident happened in a restaurant, you’d never go to restaurants again? Why stop there? Why not stop eating all together?

    2) Really? You’re worried about contracting AIDS through a piece of chewing gum? (I don’t even know WHERE to begin with this one.)

    3) PTSD? Really? Like what people get after returning from war? But only with chewing gum?

    4) She wants her entire cruise refunded? Really? That would start a wave of chewing-gum-spitting Carnival-cruise-going people looking for a free ride.

    5) Has she ever seen CSI? All she had to do was keep the gum, get it to a lab and then she’d know exactly who flavored her sweet potatoes!

    Yes, finding gum in your food is disgusting. But if the same incident happened in a restaurant while she was on holiday somewhere, all she could hope for was the meal to be comped and possibly a future meal as well. Would she ask for her hotel and airfare and car rental back? What’s the difference now? Did I leave anything out? (smh)

    So she’s entitled to a free meal via Carnival. So, that’d be about $4.99?

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I agree, the comments on this one should be interesting.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    LOL. Sometimes I think you purposely let one of these slip through about once a week just to chum the waters and watch the sharks circle…

  • Raven_Altosk

    That may have been a gross moment in life, but she thinks she may have contracted AIDS? Is she really that stupid? You cannot get AIDS from chewing gum, toilets, sharing a glass…

    Also, I am really sick of people throwing around “PTSD” as if it’s the latest fad. As someone with a brother who suffered this after two tours in Afghanistan, it is not a pretty thing. It is also not something you can get from having a bad meal. Send this crybaby to the sands and let her get bombed. Then she can talk to me about PTSD.

    That said, until her insane letter, I was with her at the headline. I was ready to pounce all over Carnival (which is the Walmart of cruise lines). However, with her insane ramblings, I can’t help but understand why Carnival told her to get lost.

    Leave this one alone, Chris.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I want to like this more than once, Icarus.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I look forward to a good cup of coffee and a good letter to snark. It does make my week.

    Just wait until Delta rolls out that “Bare Bones” fare. I can’t wait to see what letters show up.

  • emanon256

    I voted no on this one. I think that is so incredibly disgusting that I feel grossed out reading it. I really feel that Carnival should be doing a lot more for her than 10% off her next cruise and a letter of apology. I don’t know how to calculate an amount for what she should get, but I think they owe her something more than they gave her. Probably not a full refund, but definitely the cost of antiseptic a refund for the equivalent of her meals, and if she has evidence of such, the medical bill. Though I don’t think a reasonable person would go to the Dr. for chewing someone else’s gum.

    What does bother me are her bold statements about getting AIDS, her PTSD reactivating, and needing recovery. Also that she will never be able to do her favorite activity or eat one of her favorite foods again. I have a feeling that when Carnival saw that they simply clammed up and won’t budge because someone who makes statements likes that, could possibly start a frivolous lawsuit.

    If she really is shaving this much trouble, I hope a Dr. would write a letter to Carnival explaining what has transpired as a result and I hope they would reconsider doing something. I know Carnival has to protect themselves, and could have people putting um in their own food to try and get money back, but for some reason, in spite of the melodramatics, I believe this really happened to the OP and think Carnival owes here more than what they offered. Improper food handling always upsets me; perhaps it comes from my first job where I designed logistics systems for the food distribution side of the restaurant industry.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    My momma warned me about hanging around people like you. I’ve noticed my comments here have gotten progressively snarkier, thanks to you! Sigh. I used to be so nice…

  • https://plus.google.com/115197896619361127605/posts Aaron W

    Yikes… a rambling letter, no documentation, an over-the-top request… unless she comes up with a record of the doctor’s visit or names of people she notified on board, leave this one alone.

  • sirwired

    Look.  This was certainly disgusting.  And yes, I’d raise quite a ruckus with the headwaiter and demand to see the head chef on duty.  This is beyond gross, and somebody needs to be fired over it.  And I doubt that I’d have a real healthy appetite for the rest of the cruise.

    But geez lady… you are not going to die of cooties.  There are, of course many illnesses that can be transmitted via oral contact.  But the chance that you’ll catch anything worse than a cold are rather small.  Zero if the gum was cooked into the dish instead of dropped in while plating.

    AIDS?  PTSD?  A full refund?  Seriously?

  • emanon256

    I love your post! I am not sure why, despite all her craziness, I still feel a little for the OP.  But I can’t disagree with anything you asked either, keep your great posts coming!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OSW6Y735Q2LBC5CSZUZBVTTYEQ JT

    Drama queen, anyone?  I understand getting used chewing gum in your food is lousy.  I’m not sure who to believe about whether or not it was reported on-board, though I’m leaning towards “not” as the cruise line would have taken this seriously.  
    But the OP entirely loses me with her melodrama.  AIDS?  Really?  Are you that ignorant to think you could get AIDS from used chewing gum?  PTSD?  Really?  You think your PTSD was reactivated over chewing gum?  If your PTSD was “reactivated” over something so simple as chewing gum, then anything would have triggered it – a close encounter on the highway, an unpaid bill, anything – because you were never over it in the first place.  As such, the OP paints herself as a major drama queen likely looking for some sort of lawsuit angle.  Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy and this is just another case of that.  No compensation, no consideration and that’s it.  Next time, pose your complaint like a rational adult and you might get more sympathy.  

  • emanon256

    Didn’t they put up billboards in the 80s that specifically said, “You cannot get aids form chewing gum.”?

  • Crissy

    Thought she got AIDS? from gum? Sleepless nights?  While this is really gross and a normal person would be grossed out, maybe not eat sweet potatoes again and accept the 10% and move on.  If she’s in fact as traumatized as she states, why would she only want a refund on her cruise, that seems odd.  If she has PTSD and needs therapy I think suing for coverage of her medical costs and anticipated future medical costs would be a more appropriate action. Getting her cruise paid for seems like an odd for of compensation for being so traumatized, which makes me wonder if she’s being overly dramatic to get Carnival’s attention and get a free cruise. 

    Also, if I were Carnival, I would not offer her anything more then a standard type offer, such as the 10% discount.  She’s either pushing to see what she can get from them, or she’s going to sue and they would want to minimize saying something that could be used against them in a lawsuit.  

  • BillCCC

    Another case of she said/they said. Not reporting the incident immediately or having any evidence that this incident occurred is usually a sign that you will not receive the compensatin that you hope to receive.

    Unless she comes up with a doctor’s bill she is probably out of luck on more compensation. As far as I can remember you are charged when visiting a doctor on a cruise ship, she should have a receipt.

  • Chasmosaur

    Just ditto with everyone here on the melodrama aspect.  It’s gross and yucky, but too…much…drama.

    I’m now trying to figure out how the original PTSD was contracted, if it was reactivated in this manner.  A possibly far more interesting story than this one.

    In the future, Ms. Sweeney, the way you handle poor food production?  Summon a waiter, show them the problem before you get up from the table.  Yes, this is gross, but you need to show them the issue “in situ” as it were.  Document at the table, not after you’ve left it.  Makes the issue easier to prove.

    I have found bugs in my plated food before.  The restaurant has subsequently comped my meal (and frequently a round of drinks or dessert for the table, sometimes a gift certificate for a return meal) after I’ve *quietly*  shown them the problem and not screamed BUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGG!!!!  AAAAAIIIIIDDDDDSSSS!!!!

  • naoma

    It was a bad experience.  But you are on vacation.  My favorite comment is “get over it.”
    And, you wanted them to pay for your antiseptic?  Glad this was not “mediated” further. I worked for an attorney who said If you find a partial bug in your food, forget it — a live one 
    crawling around — call the waiter.

  • naoma

    Once at a very nice restaurant, a cockroach crawled across the table.  Called waiter who “smashed it.”  Needless to say, I did not feel like eating any more.
    Meal was comped, but I never returned.  

  • Jennifer Moore

    Oh, for crying out loud!  There would have been a record of her ship’s doctors’ visit on her own bill.  I don’t believe this story at all.  I think Carnival might have dealt with this better by paying for the antiseptic rinse and not offering a future cruise credit.

  • gsai

    Are you sure it wasn’t chewy cheese or mastic in the dish? This claim sounds hysterical and ridiculous. (Mastic is used in many Greek dishes to add consistency and texture).

  • Bob M

    So because she found some chewing gum in her food, she will never take another cruise. Hmmmm, so if she had found that gum in some food in a restaurant, I would assume that she would never eat in another restaurant, or for that matter she would not eat anywhere but in her own home where she would know exactly what was in the food she prepared. Yes it might be uspsetting, I remember when a fly landed on some cottage cheese that I was eating in a restaurant, but I still go out to eat. She should get over it.

  • adventurebaby

    Fly, Icarus, Fly summed it up perfectly. REALLY, Lady!

    I do thank you for the laugh.

  • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net/ John Frenaye

    Chris–can she show a receipt with the date and time of the onboard antiseptic purchase? Does it coincide with her dinner and the menu?

    Is it possible it was a stick of gum that perhaps fell in to the casserole and melted?

    There are a lot of unanswered questions here, but perhaps the best answer was Fly, Icarus, Fly’s —just give her her $5 back and be done with it.

  • Christina Conte

    Oh wow! Can you say “embellishment?”

    If I were you, Chris, I wouldn’t have given her the satisfaction of even posting this! It’s as obvious as the nose on your face that this woman doesn’t have PTSD but a massive sense of entitlement.

    Besides all the drama, the main reason I voted “yes” (she rec’d enough compensation) is the fact that it seems this incident went unreported until after the cruise was completed. Although it would be easy enough for someone with no conscience to “plant” a piece of gum and take a picture, this woman doesn’t even have photographic proof.  She needs a course in how to write a proper complaint letter and what is “fair compensation.”

  • writenow

    This makes me shudder.  And it’s another example of why one attorney highlighted, http://www.carnivaldisasters.com

    with “Additional proof a Carnival cruise is no picnic.”

  • frostysnowman

    Oh my – PTSD? AIDS? Never cruising or eating sweet potatoes again?  While what happened is undeniably gross and unhygenic, a full refund for her cruise is asking a bit much in my opinion.

  • writenow

    1.  You missed the point.
    2.  Try reading medical journals.
    3.  PTSD.  – Interestingly, the public is quick to recognize trauma, just not government officials for returning soldiers. Due to the fact, if diagnosed then the VA must offer treatment.  But any traumatic injury physical, emotional, or both, carries it’s own trauma.  With or without a buzz word.
    4.  I agree
    5.  Why pick on her?

    Your restaurant analysis is only completely flawed.  It would funny if the original premise wasn’t incorrect.

  • mszabo

    Seems like it would be somewhat impossible to get photos in this case.  What exactly would you photograph?  I’m guessing that the casserole wasn’t laced with multiple pieces of gum, just the one.  So I guess she could have spit that back out and photographed it but that still doesn’t show much and Carnival could just say well that looks like you forgot to take the gum out of your mouth before you started eating.

    If the story is true,  I would actually say a full refund is suggested, but no more than that.  Other posters are mentioning they should just comp the meal.  I would disagree in that on a cruise you have no real choice but to eat at that same restaurant for the remainder of your vacation.  Just comping the meal seems acceptable for a land restaurant, but you wouldn’t see me going back to that restaraunt again.

  • john4868

    I was in her corner until I read her complaint and Carnival’s response. I have a ton of friends who are on active duty… Anyone who starts throwing around PTSD for stuff like this loses my vote right then plus she starts in on the AIDS angle. She then compounds it by not reporting it onboard. Really? You refuse to eat onboard but don’t bother to summon the waiter, head waiter or chef and can’t be bothered to go to Guest Services? Sorry but you lost my vote. I’m with Fly Icarus Fly.

  • Kotch11

    This one is just unbelievable.  Everyone has experienced something like this in restaurants or resorts or cruises.  You just report, get your meal comped, and move on.  Put your big girl panties on, lady.

  • mszabo

    I’m guessing you may have seen too MUCH CSI,  I would doubt that you can pull DNA from a suspects chewing gum after it has been baked into a casserole and then chewed by a 2nd person.  Still I completely agree with 1-3.

    As for #4, it really isn’t the customer’s fault if there are massive negative repercussions to an incident.  That seems a bit like being mad at email for driving the USPS out of business.  If this is a true story,  I don’t think a refund is completely uncalled for, but we’d need a bit more evidence.  

    The difference in finding gum in your food in a land based restaurant is you don’t ever have to go back to that restaurant.   I have no interest in going on a cruise but from what I hear from friends that enjoy them the food is a major part of the experience.  

  • Christina Conte

     “A full refund, but no more than that.”  Is this the OP’s husband by any chance?

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Welcome to the discussion, Marilyn Sweeney. (Or Marilyn’s mom)…

    1) Which point? The point where she displays no logical thinking ability?
    2) Please link to the medical journal where you read that AIDS can be spread through chewing gum. 
    3) Based on her way of expressing herself, I don’t doubt that OP was stressed by the incident. Was she more stressed than the average person? Oh God, yes. Should that be the cruise line’s problem? No.
    4) Please do not agree with me. You’re only bringing me down to your level.
    5) Why pick on her? Hmmm. She wrote in to a syndicated columnist hoping to be published on a website that draws thousands of visitors. She wants free help? Expect to be Lindsay Lohan’ed…

  • Julie Sturgeon

    Can you spell “drama queen”? PTSD over that? AIDS? That’s just reaching for something to get upset about. It was gross, it’s over, they offered an apology and a compensation, and now move on with your life, honey. 

  • TonyA_says

    How do we know if this wasn’t the same gum Raven placed in the armrest of the airplane and got stuck to the arm of the fat passenger seated beside him who just happened to be the chef on the cruise? :-)

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Sorry, Mszabo. The CSI comment was meant to be sarcastic. Apologize that it went over your head! Just pointing out that if the OP had serious concerns about contracting a disease, there were steps she could take to know for sure. Simply by your response that no DNA could be extracted, you’re proving my point that the possibility of transmission was incredibly slim.

    I’m all for publicity when it’s warranted. But based on the information provided, if the cruise line was to award her a full refund, it would open the floodgates to every devious person wanting a free / discounted cruise. All you have to do is spit your own gum into your food and cause a stink.

    Since you’ve never cruised, let me break it down for you. There are usually >5 dining options. It’s not like she would starve if she never went back to the buffet. And believe me, if she’s on Carnival, she didn’t go for the food…

    Next time, I’ll speak slower…

  • Sharon C.

     I had a similar thought, K.F.  Perhaps the “gum” was actually an overbaked marshmellow from the topping on the sweet potato casserole.  It would be logical that the consistency would be close to a piece of chewed gum.  As for the mint flavor, could have been cinnamon … just saying.

  • TonyA_says

     No Raven it’s all your fault, read my post below!

  • Harry Baxter

    Certainly no one wants to have such a disgusting thing happen to them, but even in the event of a legitimate claim, a full refund should be out of the question. I have no doubts concerning the legitimacy of Ms. Sweeney’s claim, but based on conversations from one of my close relatives who has been in the restaurant business for over 20 years, I know that there are thousands of scammers who carry foreign substances like grease, animal parts, bandaids, bugs, and so forth into a restaurant. They then eat a full meal, including drinks, and when they get to the last succulent morsel, they place the foreign substance in the food, call the manager, act outraged, and demand a free meal. Unfortunately for them, however, the area where he works has a website where these occurrences are documented, and repeat scammers are identified, and are even arrested for their actions.

  • http://twitter.com/alangore_sedona Alan Gore

    To me, the validity of this complaint centers on whether Sweeney actually did report the incident not only on board, but right at the time. If you catch the norovirus that takes down half your ship you have a good case, but an after-the-fact accusation that nobody else can verify is not going to get much attention.

  • Michael__K

    If the OP suffers from any syndrome, I suspect she may have Sensationalist Overreaction Syndrome (SOS) :)

    That said, this is a case of atrocious customer service if it’s accurate that Carnival failed to address the issue >>>during the cruise<<<.  

    Just a guess, but I suspect that if Carnival owned up to it's snafu and showed a little compassion and common sense in the moment (e.g. a prompt, face-to-face apology from the head chef; reimbursement for the antiseptic rinse; other token gestures of regret) that this complaint could have been nipped in the bud and everyone's reputation would have been better served.

  • Raven_Altosk

    LOL! I deny everything! :D

  • Christina Conte

    I would agree with you, Michael_K, if the OP was a reasonable person, but I don’t think anything Carnival could have done would satisfy this woman, except for a full refund. Someone with “SOS” as you put it, is not rational.

  • ClareClare

    I’m trying to imagine being served in a restaurant and biting into something that DEFINITELY didn’t belong on my plate.  (A friend once told me of being served a dinner that contained a cigarette butt, e.g.)  How am I going to react?  Am I going to say NOTHING to the staff, instead waiting until I get home to write a LETTER to some top-mucky-muck who wasn’t even there at the time? 

    If this incident really happened (which I seriously doubt), the OP obviously should have–WOULD have–screeched for the head waiter or some other higher-up, either in the restaurant itself, or elsewhere on the ship.  She would have taken that wad of chewing gum and slammed it down on his desk, right then and there!  “LOOK at what was in my sweet potatoes!  LOOK AT IT!”  She would also be able now at least to describe this person, even if she didn’t remember his name…

    And even though this is Carnival we’re talking about, it’s impossible to imagine that the higher-up would not have (a) apologized, (b) tried to come up with some sort of onboard compensation, and simultaneously (c) investigated WTH is going on in the kitchen this evening.  Is somebody scraping leftovers off the diners’ plates, back into the casserole? or maybe the dishwasher is derelict in his duty? or is the entire kitchen staff busy doing vodka shots back there? 

    Without evidence of an immediate report, there’s not much that can be done now, long after the fact. 

    It rather reminds me of those people who get rear-ended at a stoplight by someone going 2 mph, yet file dramatic claims of whiplash and emotional distress to the insurance company.  If you’re going to try to cruise for free, OP, you’ll have to come up with a better ploy than this.   

  • Raven_Altosk

    Trauma? For a bad meal? Please, Cupcake. Never leave your house again. You might trip over your own two feet and suffer from “trauma.”

  • Carchar

    Many years ago, when I was pregnant, I had a craving for wonton soup. Hubby and I were driving by a Chinese take-out place and he brought some back to me in the car. It was dark, so I couldn’t see what I was eating. I actually was quite lucky. We were stopped at a light and a street lamp lit up my food. On the spoon on its way to my mouth was a cockroach. Well, needless to say, I didn’t finish the soup. But it didn’t make me feel sick either. I figured the boiling of the soup had killed it and its germs along with it.

    Had the ABC gum incident happened to me, I would have said something to the waiter, but I would have realized that the cooking of the casserole would have rendered the gum inert. I would have requested, though, that the kitchen staff members keep their mouths closed while cooking. For me, it would have been another amusing travel war story to tell to my friends. Life happens…

  • Michelle B.

    So you’re saying Chris is his own troll? :-)

  • Michelle B.

    My mom firmly believes that she can get AIDS if a waiter spits in her food. So yes, there are people really that stupid.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I SO wanted to snark on this one but the “Ewwwwww” factor was too strong.

    Yes, I think she’s a little over the top with her dramatics but, frankly, were this to happen to me, I’d have made such a stink right there in the dining room about it there would have been no doubt whatsoever of what had happened.  I’d have cleared the room of all diners with my ranting.  The odds are great they’d have called a helicopter to come remove the screaming banshee in their dining room and get her the heck off their cruise.  Had I remained, as the OP did, every single time I was given a plate of food, I’d have asked (in a loud voice) “Are you SURE there’s no chewed gum in THIS meal????”

    As far as her continuing with the cruise – aren’t these kind of difficult to leave?  Doesn’t it pretty much take an act of God to get these ships to pull into an unscheduled port?  What choice did she have, really, but to stay with the cruise?

    I’m usually against over the top demands for full refunds but I can’t help but empathize with the OP and I think I’d have felt skeeved out the rest of the cruise, choosing crackers and soda for the remainder of the trip.  As I take meds that suppress my immune system, I’d have been worried about illness, as well (not AIDS – seriously?) not because I’m a germophobe (which I am.  Really.) but because other countries are much more lax with regard to their health requirements/regulations.

    Full refund?  No – I simply can’t go for that but maybe a half refund?  Absolutely.  She couldn’t enjoy the food, which is supposed to be one of the best parts of a cruise.

  • LeeAnneClark

    BAHAHAHA!!!  Now THAT’S funny!

  • LeeAnneClark

    1. I have no doubt that you are in some way related to the OP.  Have you noticed that you are the ONLY commenter who is on the OP’s side?  Interesting, no?

    2. Impossible to get a picture?  LOL!  You immediately call the waiter.  You demand that nothing is touched until someone in your party fetches their camera (you ARE on vacation, someone surely had a camera) and take a picture of it.  You document every step – name of the waiter, name of the doctor, save receipts.  Otherwise, it’s just you trying to scam a free cruise.

    3. EVERY SINGLE CARNIVAL CRUISE SHIP has more than one restaurant.  Skip the one that offers gum as a side dish, and eat at another one.

    4. Nobody deserves a full refund if they took the cruise, no matter what happened.  Simple as that.  You (or your daughter, or sister, or however you are related) stayed on the ship and took the cruise. 

    5. Are you related, by chance, to Anna Ayala?  (Google it!)

  • jebaker

    This is simply too much drama to be taken seriously.  The time to address it was in the Dining Room, it should have be brought to the attention of the crew management immediately.  I am sure that we all eat worse things every days in restaurants.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I’m hearing echoes of the Anna Ayala case (finger in the Wendy’s chili).  I’m very glad it didn’t work!

    I might have been more sympathetic, until I read the AIDS fear.  That smacks of old-style homophobia:  GACK!  It’s a GAY PERSON!  They emit AIDS Spores!  That right there causes me to lose not just all sympathy, but all respect.

    Another thought:  even if it DID happen and Carnival WAS at fault, they shouldn’t compensate someone for a reaction that is beyond the norm.  I’m sorry but if she suffered PTSD and needed therapy, that indicates that she is pretty severely mentally unstable.  Why should Carnival pay more because her reaction was so over-the-top?  A normal, mentally stable person would be grossed out and pissed off, but needing therapy?  Please.

  • TonyA_says

    There are plenty of usual suspects.
    Here’s a video of everyone and their brother touring the Valor’s kitchen. Very sanitary I should say.

  • scot2512

    She wants a full refund?   Good luck.    A Carnival employee tipped my paraplegic husband out of his wheelchair while supposedly assisting him to board at the beginning of an Alaskan cruise.   2 passengers helped me get him back into his wheelchair while security looked on from the top of the ramp (not their job to help I was later informed).   It took me months to get the accident report from the Doctor on board and it was mostly unreadable when I did finally receive it.   They paid for one massage at the spa because he had hurt his shoulder but refused to comp any other massages.   The most corporate Carnival offered was a bottle of wine on my next cruise!     As upset as we were it hasn’t stopped us from cruising and also cruising with Carnival.     Accidents happen and although I think they could have done more sometimes you just can’t win.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    “I have had many sleepless nights worrying if I might contract AIDS or some other disease due to this contamination.”Ignorant person is ignorant.   Perhaps she should do a little reading on how one contracts STDs and a little less time demanding ridiculous refunds for a piece of chewing gum. Which, I might add was probably thoroughly cooked and harbored nothing but a little more than an unsettling experience.

    I find these hyperbolic extortion letters (” I can never cruise again!” and “Reactivating my PTSD!”) to be ridiculous and you only lend credence to them by humoring them and republishing their story. 

  • Sean Brosius

    As disgusting as her experience was, she is completely overreacting to the situation. Had she told the head of the dining room what happened immediately maybe they could have made amends. But in this case, nothing the company can do will ever satisfy  Mrs. Sweeney.  PTSD? Please.  I doubt any psychiatrist would ever actually diagnose her with that.  She needs to calm down and be a bit more rational.  Chris, you shouldn’t get any more involved with this one.  I think that trying to get the full cruise refunded for one bad meal experience is more than ridiculous.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Exactly, and every high schooler in America has been taught, or anyone who has access to a computer and a rational mind could easily find out that you can’t get an STD like AIDS from chewing gum. 

    It’s ignorant people like the OP and people who don’t challenge these ignorant beliefs based on pure emotion and ZERO fact that allows this kind of misconceptions to continue. 

    I can picture this person as a severe hypochondriac literally running to the ship store and bathing in antiseptic. As I said in my original comments below, Ignorant person is ignorant!

    [Edited because I apparently have low reading comprehension skills this morning]

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    “I would have cleared the dining room with all my ranting” Really, so because you had one bad experience and therefore you should ruin everyone’s meal service with your over dramatics? 

    You sound like just as big a whack job as the OP. Asking about gum at every meal?

    You do realize all that this ridiculous display of jackassery would accomplish is to make you look like a stark raving idiot? Not to mention, likely get you thrown off the ship (deservedly) for causing a scene. 

    Half a refund, for a single meal that was botched?? Guess you didn’t need this to happen to you in order for you to look like a stark raving fool. Posting here did that for you. 

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Thank you so much for your kind comments and we apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused you.  We look forward to hearing from you and wish to assure you these matters are taken seriously.

    Again, thank you and have a wonderful day.

  • Mary Ramsey

    it’s just gum. AND it was inside something that was cooked.  so yes it was gross. but dangerous?- no. she is looking for a free vacation.

  • emanon256

    So this is my fault?
    “It’s ignorant people like the OP and people like you who don’t challenge these ignorant beliefs ” Wow, whats with the personal attack? I don’t follow your logic at all.

  • bodega3

    Do you know how many of your meals out may have had spit on them?  Act like this and you can guarantee it even more.  You could also guarantee not being allowed into the dining room after your first or at the most second loud rant.

  • bodega3

    This is par for the course on many letters to Chris.  Sad times.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    There really does need to be a sarcasm font. Because no matter how obvious it is, somebody is going to take it literally. 

  • Steve_in_WI

    Well, her letter just screamed “drama queen” and I think the request for a full refund of the cruise is way over the top. That said, though, I think the “compensation” she got was inadequate because she really didn’t get any compensation at all for what is a pretty unforgivable event. An offer for 10% off a future cruise (that probably has to be used in the next year) is worthless unless the passenger is already planning to cruise again and wants to do it with the same company. So basically, what she got after finding used gum in her food was an apology and nothing more.

    I think compensation on the order of a couple hundred dollars would be fair. If I was at a restaurant and found used gum in my food, I would expect at a minimum that my meal would be completely comped and that the manager would throw in something extra.

  • Joe Farrell

    She didn’t tell anyone on board?  Seriously? Ok, then – must have really stressed you out and disgusted you at the time. .  

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Replying to the wrong poster, possibly?  The rest of the post makes sense, but that section is just way of out of left field.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’m not sure if Ms. Sweeney is, as so many commenters have said, a drama queen.  She may genuinely have a mental disorder.  I’m not a psychiatrist, so I can’t diagnose her from excerpts from one set of correspondence – and I don’t think it’s fair that the rest of us do so.  The lack of documentation to support her claim sabotages her complaint and makes it unfeasible to pursue.  If I were Chris Elliott, I would pass on this, and write a polite refusal to mediate further.  I think one person in this whole fiasco (from her viewpoint) should treat her with kindness and sympathy, even if unable to help.

  • emanon256

    That makes sense.  Thanks.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    If I were eating in a restaurant and the person at the next table bit into used gum, I’d like to know about it.  Odds are it’s an isolated incident, but if I’d already found quality to be questionable in any way, that’d be enough to end my meal early.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    A free bottle of wine?  What a terrible experience. Sorry they didn’t offer more.
    Insult to injury in this case would be offering free gum on their next cruise!

  • Joe_D_Messina

    What antiseptic did she buy on the ship? Listerine or some kind of antiseptic mouth wash, perhaps?  Most antiseptics are topical and aren’t supposed to be injested. That could do her far more harm than the gum ever could have.

    It’s gross, but she’s way over-the-top.  And if there’s no proof she reported it on the cruise, she’s totally out of luck.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OSW6Y735Q2LBC5CSZUZBVTTYEQ JT

    Yeah, it doesn’t make sense directed at emanon or myself.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Right, and you would you take the ravings of a madman seriously? Or would you listen to a calm rational person?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Yeah, I completely misread emanon’s comment. my apologies. 

  • AgentSteve

    It doesn’t appear to be as “true” as Sweeney would make it seem. If she has previously suffered from PTSD, then perhaps that plays into her current state of mind; perceived or otherwise. From her correspondence, one could surmise that she may need therapy (no sarcasm intended). If she did report it on board, where is the documentation? If indeed the gum was in her meal, why wasn’t the head waiter or maitre d’ brought into the scenario? What was the doctor’s review and where’s the charge, to have gone to the doctor? Carnival has made an attempt to “accept at face value”, Sweeney’s allegations and has offered compensation. I’m curious to know: if Sweeney was given a 100% refund of the cost of the cruise, does that ease her stress ten-fold? What would she have done (compensation wise), had it happened at a port-call cafe/restaurant? And to say that she’ll never cruise again (because of gum in the sweet potatoes) is ludicrous.  I do not see any point in Chris expending his credibility on this issue, which belies reason and common sense.

  • jennj99738

     This was my first question.  Did the woman report it immediately and then follow up in writing or did she not report it first until after the cruise?  I find something like gum in my food, I’m going to immediately get the Maitre D’ or the Head waiter over to my table immediately.  I’m not going to just do nothing and then report it after the meal, let alone after the cruise. 

    The woman is over the top with her dramatics.  Simply stated it doesn’t matter if it happened on a cruise or in a restaurant–except she’s not going to say she’ll never eat in another restaurant for the rest of her natural life. 

    If I were Carnival, I’d ask her for the bill for her last counseling session with a mental health professional and offer to pay for that. Period. 

  • Sadie_Cee

    I have read all the responses here and for me yours is very temperate and helpful.  The OP did not behave and is not behaving as a normal person would be expected to in the circumstances.  There could be an underlying condition other than the ones she mentions but as you say, we are not qualified or in a position to diagnose.
    However, what this affair highlights for me is that IF there was no mistake and chewing gum was in her food, it casts doubt on the wholesomeness of food coming out of this kitchen.  Is there anything else getting into the food that cannot be seen with the naked eye?  Are proper sanitary measures being practised  in food handling and preparation?  Is kitchen staff healthy?  I hope that Carnival has paid some heed to this complaint and is ensuring that all its kitchens meet the highest standards at all times.

  • jennj99738

     I agree with the first part of your statement but I can’t agree with the second.  The old adage of tort law is that you take your victim as you find him or the “eggshell plaintiff.”  Let’s say you have a previous spinal fusion and get rear ended at a stop light.  You have major injuries from the accident that a person who didn’t have a prior fusion would not have.  Wouldn’t you want to be made whole?  Even if it’s not foreseeable you, the victim, have preexisting medical conditions, the negligent driver still has to pay for your injuries.  That’s why the “eggshell plaintiff” doctrine exists. 

    If the woman was truly damaged from past experience and a doctor said that this gum nonsense sent her over the edge, the law would say she had a claim for the “PTSD.”  However, I believe very little to none of this woman’s story and I don’t believe any real mental health professional would write such a report and no jury would buy it. 

  • Lindabator

    And you don’t think these things happen in restaurants????  What she should have done is bring it to someone’s attention immediately – not wait till after the cruise.  Of course, IF anything even happened at all!

  • Lindabator

    There are MULTIPLE dining venues – so no, she is not “captive” in any one.  What she should have done was bring it to their attention immediately – she could have received compensation onboard.  But AFTER the cruise?  Just sounds like a money grab.

  • emanon256

    No worries :)

  • Lindabator

    But she NEVER claims they didn’t address her while onboard, which is why I believe SHE never addressed this onboard – believe me, if it had been reported, she would have been offered compensation at that point – the fact of reporting it AFTER the cruise, and the histrionics in her letter, would lend Carnival far less reason to even believe her.

  • Lindabator

    I think you hit the nail on the head.  Years ago, over a pasta dinner, I bit down and almost broke a tooth over a pice of metal in my food (turns out it was from the netted spoon they took it out of the water with).  My father showed it to the waiter immediately, and the restaurant addressed the issue immediately, comping the entire party’s bill.  I think if this had been the case onboard, she would have had some sort of offer to complain wasn;t enough.  But since she doesn’t, I don’t believe she even brought it to their attention – so i doubt the entire story!

  • emanon256

    Yeah, I am shocked she never reported it on board, that really screws her case over.  Maybe she has mental problems from now from drinking hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol.  I was assuming she bought mouthwash, but if she is so concerned about AIDS I bet she bought something stronger.

  • Lindabator

    Actually, she COULD have chosen to leave at the next port of call if she was SO traumatized.  And there are multiple restaurants to choose from, so no problem there either.  But, like you, I would have made an IMMEDIATE stink, and could not, and would not, have kept it to myself till after the cruise.  So hard to believe her at all. 

  • LeeAnneClark

    Jenn, that makes sense to me. Not being a lawyer, it’s good that we have people in this forum who are willing to educate us laypeople. Thanks for explaining that to me – as someone who actually HAS had a spinal fusion, yeah I would want to be made whole! So that was a fortuitous analogy.

    However, this does raise some questions with respect to this particular case, and how this adage of tort law translates to those claiming mental health injury, rather than physical injury. While it’s comparatively easy to validate a spinal injury exacerbated by a car accident, how does one validate that someone was so damaged mentally by a trivial incident that they are entitled to major compensation? And how far can you take that? What if someone was once bitten by a dog, then they walk into the nightclub on a cruiseship and the DJ puts on the song “Who Let the Dogs Out”, and the person claims it “re-activated” their PTSD? Is that person entitled to damages?

    The whole concept raises some troubling questions.

    Of course in this case I consider it all a moot point – I don’t believe her any more than you do. But thanks for shedding some light on the possible legalities in a case like this!

  • SallyLu

    Wow, bc, that was one of the rudest, most unnecessarily mean replies I’ve seen on this site. 

  • Lindabator

    Yes, but you wouldn’t wait till you got HOME from the restaurant to bring it to their attention, and expect any compensation.  If she had brought it to their attention onboard, I’m sure she would have seen some sort of compensation – we were on a cruise once when a table-mate absolutely despised the food he was served (couldn’t get it cooked to his specifications).  He was immediately offered something else, was given a free bottle of wine (his choice), and he later told us they had sent some goodies to his room to say sorry to boot.  The point is, if you didn’t think enough of the problem to mention it onboard, it couldn’t be a problem at all, then!

  • Lindabator

    I wonder why her travel mate didn’t do anything?

  • Lindabator

    They, like any other restaurant, take these things very seriously.  But accidents can happen, and if not brought to their immediate attention, nothing can possibly be addressed.  I grew up with a family pizzeria, and could tell you a good story or two of mistakes in the kitchen (oops – where did that broken fingernail go to?)

  • pauletteb

    I don’t think the OP deserves a full refund (and her complaint is definitely on the hysterical side), but I think she deserves more than 10 percent off a future cruise when she’s unlikely to sail with Carnival again. The “discount on future travel” seems to be a favorite ploy of  the travel industry. They know it’s unlikely that the unhappy customer will want to travel with them again, so they’re out nothing. Basically I find sweet potatoes nauseating in general, with or without ABC gum.

  • pauletteb

    I too have a brother with PTSD from his tour and injuries sustained in Afghanistan. He’s doing much better. I wish your brother all the best.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I know what you mean, Linda.  While there are ports of call along the way, none of us knows how far away they were from one of these ports.

    And I suppose I need to explain to the naysayers just WHY this gives me such a hard time…

    I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is not arthritis but an auto-immune disorder like Lupus or Psoriasis.  The medication I take lowers my immune system to the extent what might be a simple cold or the flu for others could turn into a pretty serious illness for me.  My ability to fight illness is almost nil so I have to be extremely careful when I travel.  Some people think I’m a loon and so long as I stay healthy, I don’t care what others think of me.

    Early in my illness, before I became the germophobe I am, I very nearly ended up in the hospital following a trip because a cold I picked up while traveling turned into pneumonia.  Given I’m allergic to several antibiotics (since childhood) as well as a developed immunity to a couple others, it becomes a real challenge to find one that will work with me.

    I wouldn’t have turned into a howler monkey until/unless I was ignored on the ship. This is pretty serious business to some of us.  

    And before anyone says it, no, it never occurred to me to stop traveling.  I just carry my own soaps, antibacterial wipes and I go on my trips.  My life shouldn’t stop because I have an illness through no fault of my own.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    That would be enough to put me off the food for the duration of the trip.  I wouldn’t have to worry about someone spitting in my food because I’d be eating out of vending machines and eating only prepackaged foods.

    I can’t afford to get sick because someone else was afraid to tell their boss they accidentally spit their gum into the food.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    *Giggle* “Madman” – BC thinks I’m a man!

  • pauletteb

    You might not want to use your cell phone to make calls aboard ship, but I’m sure someone at the table had one handy to snap pictures. The rest of your “reasoning” is equally bogus.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    As I said above and below this, Bodega, I wouldn’t have to worry about my food being spit in because were something like this to have happened to me (and I still have my doubts with the OP given her histrionics and the fact the dish had marshmallows in it – when cooked incorrectly these can “look” like chewed gum) I wouldn’t be able to eat another bite of food on the cruise that didn’t come prepackaged.

    I’m not an overly squeamish person but this would get to me.  (Okay, I lied, I am squeamish – which drove my husband nuts while the kids were growing up.  If they got “sick”, I couldn’t take the smell and appearance and it would make me “sick”.  He had to always take care of that part of the raisin’) 

    I don’t know it would throw me enough to keep me from cruises forever.  I don’t know it would keep me from sailing with the same cruise line again.  I do know it would keep me from eating on “that” cruise again. *Shudder*

  • TonyA_says

     Because they probably saw nothing of that sort happening.

  • Miami510

    This is one of the most horrific episodes of gastronomic horror I have ever read.  When I recall the history of the terrible things that have plagued mankind in the last century (war, famine, pestilence, rape, torture, nuclear explosions, Tsunamis and earthquakes… nothing… but nothing comes even close to this event. 
    Carnival should pay her millions in compensation, to recompense her for having to endure the traumatic aftermath of chewed bubble gum… maybe even send her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to college. 
    I know a few… about 10,000, lawyers who specialize in these cases of greed, materialism, and avariciousness.  Go to it dear lady, our legal system is there to feed your desire for justice.  

    With tongue in cheek, I send you my best wishes.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I can only speculate wildly, for which I apologize, as it is unfair to Ms. Sweeney.  As Tony said, nothing may have happened.  Something may have happened, but this kind of occurrence may not have been out of character.  I have a brother with some pretty profound mental issues, and I never know when something has actually occurred, or if he only *thought* something occurred.  Or, something happened, and her travel mate thought that Ms. Sweeney had addressed the situation.  I don’t know. 

  • jennj99738

     Hi, LeeAnne.  The takeaway from your analogy is that first, the burden is always on the Plaintiff to prove her damages.  So in your case about Who Let the Dogs Out? (Who who who who), the Plaintiff would have to prove this.  It is certainly more difficult with a mental damages claim but the method of proof is the same.  The Plaintiff would require a mental health expert to examine her and write a report finding that her, uh, issues, shall we say, flowed directly from her exposure to the song.  Then, the Defendant will unleash :) his expert who will say the woman is certifiably nuts but it isn’t from exposure to the Baha Men.  Finally, if the case is not resolved, a jury decides. 

    However, reading my previous response there is an element here that I didn’t make clear.  I was focusing on her damages rather than the elements of her claim.  Even though the woman is an eggshell and may have PTSD from something previous, it does not automatically mean she wins.  Emotional distress still must rise to the level of a distress that an objective reasonable person would suffer it in the circumstances.  Taking the facts as true, I don’t believe a reasonable person would suffer such extreme emotional distress from finding chewing gum in their food. Yes, we would probably all be skeeved out but emotional suffering, unable to cope, etc., I think not. 

    I’ll probably think of more I missed on this scintillating topic. ;)

  • streamerstoo

    AS awful as it was, I think she should get over it and move on.  I am sure she immediately spit it out and washed her mouth out and saw a physician. So here she is…she could get the HIV and other tests if that would sooth her. More  compensation…good grief…My husband found a spider in a fast food sandwich. He took a bite and saw the legs sticking out of the sandwich. So they gave him a new sandwich and investigated. Enough done. 

  • LeeAnneClark

    Jenn, I have not laughed so hard in a long time. I am now a big fan. :) Woof!

    And the best part is that while entertaining me to the point of having to muffle my guffaws at my desk at work, you have also educated me! That takes talent. Thank you, and kudos!

  • Michael__K

    the cruise line would have taken this seriously.

    If the cruise line takes this seriously I would have expected them to ask her for more details, even if they have no intention of meeting her demands.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I would totally freak out over a spider in my food WAAAAY more than abc gum.  A freaking SPIDER?  I’d be ruined for life.  They’d have to haul me out in a straight jacket.  Not only would I never cruise again, hell I’d probably never even speak again except in drooling gibberish.

    What would be even worse would be….HALF A SPIDER!!!  NOOOO……….the prospect is too horrible for me to even contemplate…

    In fact I’m thinking of suing you just for even making me think it.  I’m damaged now! Gimme a million bucks. Or a free cruise. Either one will do.

  • sanibelsyl

    Have to agree with most of the comments.  This was truly disgusting, but the lack of action on the part of the OP justifies (IMO) the lack of action on the part of the cruise line. That said, Carnival does not have a great reputation and this certainly is not going to help.

  • mszabo

    Again, what exactly can you photograph here?  I absolutely agree this should have been solved on board and call the waiter/manager over immediately.  From the traveler’s story she claims she did that.   However I just think the suggestion of a photograph is silly.  She stated she tasted the gum.  So there is no photo of the gum in the casserole.  At best you could have her spit out the gum and get a photo of it with some slightly used sweet potatoes.  Even if you were to get a photo of the gum untouched by the waiter there’s a 50/50 chance the gum is white (was it spearmint or any other mint?) So would look pretty much like a marshmallow in the photo and marshmallows are a pretty common ingredient in Sweet Potato Casserole (see photo above).  Even supposing you get the perfect photo,  Your Anna Alaya reference is spot on, what would that photo prove? Nothing. Gum is a lot easier to fake than a finger.    I never said I believed the passenger just think Elliott’s suggestion of a photo would help is completely wrong in this case.  
    As for multiple restaurants, aren’t they all pretty much run by the same management, and for that matter likely to run with an interchangeable kitchen staff?  If we were stipulate that there was in fact used gum in her meal, a 10% off coupon is insulting and clearly under compensating.  I bet you can find 10% off coupons on the web, or just by booking at the correct time.  It is a meaningless offer that sounds somewhat auto generated without Carnival checking at all into the passengers story.

  • technomage1

    I wouldn’t say a full refund, but maybe a 10% refund on the cruise would be appropriate.  

  • LeeAnneClark

    LOL well you do have a point about how the photo of the gum by itself doesn’t prove anything (kinda like Anna Ayala). However, MY point is that it would at least be SOMETHING to prove that anything happened at all! Clearly if all she had was a blurry photo of something chewed up on her plate of potatoes, that wouldn’t have much impact in and of itself. But if she 1) called over the waiter and Maitre’d, 2) photographed the offending masticated chicklet on her plate, 3) documented her complaint, 4) kept records of her antiseptic purchase and doctor’s visit, and basically had something other than the word of her supposedly-contaminated mouth, she might have a case for something better than a 10% off voucher. But as it stands, it’s her word against Carnivals.

    As for the restaurants, while I realize not everyone knows this, the reality is that there are, in most cases, staff dedicated to specific restaurants on cruise ships. This is particularly true of ships that have specialty restaurants – they generally hire a higher-caliber staff for these extra-fee restaurants that are supposed to offer a finer dining experience than the basic buffet or dining room.

    In any case, IMO the fact that one tiny piece of abc gum showed up in a side dish is not an indictment on the entire restaurant – it likely means that one person involved in the food preparation or serving process accidentally dropped their gum (maybe gossiping about the drunk passengers in the jacuzzi?). Restaurants are run by humans, and humans make mistakes…including (OOPS) dropping their gum out of their mouth by accident! I suppose it’s possible that it was done ON PURPOSE, in which case…ICK! Again, dining at one of the other eateries would more than likely prevent future encounters with that person’s saliva.

    If it was ME who encountered someone else’s abc gum in my food, I would have demanded free entry to the extra-fee specialty restaurants for the remainder of the cruise…and counted myself lucky! I would totally chew someone else’s gum for the opportunity to avoid the crappy buffets and eat at the high-end specialty restaurants for free.

  • mszabo

    There also needs to be a Douchebag font so we can just ignore trolls like “Fly, Icarus,Fly”.  

  • Michael__K

    she NEVER claims they didn’t address her while onboard

    Did you RTFA? 

    “The cruise line didn’t even cover the cost of the antiseptic when she informed the staff about the gum in her casserole.”

    “Carnival has done nothing except offer me a 10 percent discount on a future cruise.”

    You can call the OP a liar (is there any OP you ever believe?) but you can’t make stuff up.

  • Ann Lamoy

    I just hope Marilyn Sweeney never, ever eats hot dogs. That is likely to send her into a catatonic state.

    But seriously, while I feel for her-finding non-food substances in your food is gross-her demands of a total refund of her cruise are way more than she deserves. Her over the top reaction about possibly contacting AIDS or some other disease? Really? Seems more like a way to bolster her case (at least in her mind). If, as she claims, she had reported it-where are any reports that were made? I’ve never cruised but I would assume that if she went to see a Doctor there would be a report that she could obtain a copy of at the very least? That would help bolster her claim she reported it when it happened and not after the fact as Carnival is claiming.

    I say Carnival repays her the cost of the antiseptic and since she doesn’t want the 10%, refund her the cost of the meal. If they were really generous, they could also refund the cost of the meals of her table companions. (and since I really don’t believe her over the top claims-refund them TO the table companions)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    You’ll fit right in on a Carnival cruise!

  • jennj99738

    Thank you very much.  I’m here all week and don’t forget to tip your waitress.  Now I’m getting punchy.   

  • TonyA_says

     I wonder why she just didn’t run to the bar and gulped down or gargle with 100% proof Vodka?
    That would have solved all her problems.

  • y_p_w

    It was possibly from a steam or chafing tray. The photo shows a home-prepared casserole in a glass dish.

    If she’s telling the truth, it could have been an accidental discharge from an employee, or possibly even another cruise goer who accidentally (or maybe even intentionally) dropped it in there.

  • y_p_w

    I’ve bitten through all sorts of things.  Once I scooped out some clam meat, but then bit into something hard.  It looked like a pearl, but seemed too perfectly round to be a natural pearl.  If anything, it looked like the seed material used for cultured pearls, but I’m not sure how it would have gotten there.  Shellfish come with all sorts of issues.  I spit out shell fragments all the time when eating oysters.

    I really don’t buy that something like used gum would be that traumatizing unless it’s an act designed to get a free trip.

  • DavidYoung2

    You say, “a little melodramatic.”  That’s being kind at best.  Given the recent headlines about ‘pink slime,’ ammonia and other disgusting things legally and commonly in the foods we eat, chewing gum rates pretty minor on the scale. 

    Disgusting, yes.  PTSD — from used chewing gum?  Too funny.  Toss this one like old chewing gum in the ‘virtual’ trash.

  • Daves

    No need for a font, really. Just ignore, and you’re good to go.

  • MikeInCtown

    Raven, I appreciate your brother’s service, but as someone who should know all about PTSD, you should be sensitive to the subject. Someone who has been raped, for example may go into shock and emotional trauma when someone says something innocent to them, simply because it was an emotional reminder. there is no one thing that will set anyone off, but if she really had a breakdown then we neeed to understand that. Personally I think that if she is that emotionally unstable, she shouldn’t have had additional medical expenses as she should have been seeing a therapist every week to start with.

  • Lindabator

    too late after the the cruise is over with – and with the histrionics displayed here, who would want to hear even MORE???

  • Lindabator

    Yes – she says she left the table immediately to get antiseptic – so who in the dining room did she approach?  She only talks about the answers she received from her letters – not what the hotel manager, dining room captain, or front desk said to her, so I do NOT believe she did anything about this at the time (which is WHEN it should have been addressed)  I don’t just blindly believe someone because they through a hissy fit, and have such histrionics – there are plenty of folks with legitimate complaints, and this one just doesn’t seem like it.

  • Lindabator

    But, as you say, you wouldn’t have turned into a howler monkey (CUTE!) UNTIL ignored — but she doesn’t say she was ignored on board – just that she didn’t get what she wanted from her letters — you are right – B#&$% onboard, don’t wait till you get home.  Otherwise, how does anyone believe its anything but a moneygrab.  (And since I travel all over the world, too – I carry extra stuff for my protection too, especially 2 different asthma meds, due to my responses to things).  Yes – this was nasty, but she should have forced the issue onboard if it so grossed her out!

  • Margery Wilson

    All things considered, a piece of chewed chewing gum is one of the better contaminants I could find in a meal. All sorts of body fluids find their way into restaurant foods, more so if you piss off a cook or server. The FDA has taken the time and effort to set limits on gross things that get into your food. For instance, canned mushrooms may not contain “over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms” or “five or more maggots two millimeters or longer per 100 grams,” Peanut butter can have no more than an average of one rodent hair per 100 grams

    .There are standards for how much  “mammalian excreta”is allowed in cocoa beans. Mold, grit, insects; there are standards for all of these.

    I doubt any disease would pass via chewing gum baked in a casserole. I will be asking a friend later; he is an infectious disease specialist. If I find out I’m wrong I’ll add a post.

    We are unique in history, and in much of today’s world, for being concerned about contaminants in our food. Our ancestors took it for granted that there would be mold, maggots, and such in food. I have been grossed out by unexpected “finds” in food, but once I get past ewwwing I tell myself to get over it.

    Our species would not have endured this long if less-than-pure food was a criteria for life.Not that chewing gum, or used bandaids, or bits of metal from serving utensils should be tolerated silently. I agree with the posters who recommend bringing said surprise to the immediate attention of the highest ranking staff on the premises.  And then, get over it.

  • Michael__K

    Again, did you RTFA? 

    Sweeney says she reported the incident on board and even visited the ship’s doctor after eating the gum. 

    You can call her a liar, but that doesn’t give you license to make stuff up about what she did or didn’t claim.

  • Lindabator

    But, again – to whom???  She would be making more of a stink if the dining staff or front desk had ignored her, and she’s not.  Just because someone says they “mentioned” it, doesn’t mean they actually DID anything about it.

  • Michael__K

    What part of her claim that “Carnival has done ‘nothing'” do you not understand?

    You don’t have to believe her, you can wildly speculate all you want and blame her for possibly complaining to the wrong staff member, but it doesn’t change what she’s claiming.

  • sunshipballoons

    Shame on Chris for publishing the AIDS comment without some disclaimer that this is for all practical purposes impossible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730993098 Erica Shafer

     This is an SNL worthy reply! :) made me LOL