“We paid for a seven-night cruise and only got six”

Rina and Hasan Subhani disembarked from their cruise on the Carnival Glory with a sinking feeling. Along with a litany of complaints, one rises above the rest: The couple feels they were cheated from a day of their vacation.

“We paid for a seven-night cruise,” says Rina Subhani. “We got only six nights.”

I thought this one aspect of their cruise was serious enough that it merited an intervention by yours truly. Little did I know that I would learn lesson about about the grievance process: that there are times when you should never give up the fight.

The Subhanis cause looked lost, even after I asked Carnival to review it. But then … well, I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, let’s hear from them. For all those following along, their cruise took place June 3 to 10, and yes, there are others with this problem. Here’s an interesting thread on Cruise Critic for anyone interested in the backstory.

“This was far from a relaxing good time,” Rina Subhani told me. “This was, honestly, a nightmare.”

The ship was scheduled to depart for its New England cruise at 3 p.m., but a combination of weather and speed restrictions caused the ship to arrive late in Boston. The ship didn’t leave until 12:30 p.m. the following day.

She adds,

We booked through a travel agent so we received no communication from Carnival about delays, as they claim all of that went to the travel agent. We were treated as second class because we booked through an agent, and that is totally unfair.

We found out that they had rented a room at the Westin. We went there at 6 p.m. Sunday and were there until 1 a.m. We got on the ship at 2 a.m.

We were the last family on board, and the entire time we were told during check in and at the Westin that the buffet would remain open.

We have learned that people waiting at the pier were at least given sandwiches. We spent our evening at the Westin and were only fed tea, coffee and chips.

We are vegetarian. We made a special request on the first night for specific Indian food — naan bread instead of rice — and an employee came by and said that this was not possible.

We had to continuously ask for bland pasta with no meat every night. We’ve cruised Carnival before and special requests made on the first night were always accommodated.

So, a lot going on here. (And there’s more; I’ve edited their grievance to just hit the highlights.) Clearly, they were unhappy about their cruise, and Carnival’s compensation, which was a comped night in a hotel, a $50 dinner voucher and a polite, fairly detailed response from someone in the cruise line’s executive office.

I was curious to get Carnival’s side of the story. Here’s what it had to say after I asked:

Regrettably, the weather was poor during the ship’s repositioning to Boston. Additionally, we properly planned for and took into account the speed restrictions imposed on ships to protect migrating whales along the East Coast for our scheduled itinerary.

However, the speed zone was greatly expanded recently, making it impossible for us to maintain our original arrival time in Boston. Consequently, we informed guests of the delayed arrival on April 9th and again on June 1st.

On June 3rd, it became clear the ship’s itinerary would be impacted due to fog. That same day, we notified guests via email of the change in itinerary, revised check-in times of 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.,
boarding to begin around 10:00 p.m., with departure scheduled for Monday at 11:00 a.m. Additionally, text messages were sent to all guests who had subscribed.

Boarding commenced at 9:45 p.m. with a brief pause due to a computer glitch and then resumed at 10:15 p.m. Embarkation was completed at 1:45 a.m.

An all night buffet was not promised, however, the Lido Deck buffet remained open until 1:45 a.m. The dining rooms were closed. We sent an email on June 3rd stating we were providing $50 per person onboard credit so guests could enjoy dinner in town.

We feel the gesture extended was fair and equitable. Please be advised that this is our final determination.

That’s not just a “no” as an old coach at the Naval Academy used to say; that’s a “hell no.”

Carnival’s ticket contract leaves it just enough wiggle room to deny the Subhani’s request for a one-night refund. But just because it’s in the fine print doesn’t mean it’s fine. While other customers were also inconvenienced, I think these passengers could make a case for being among the most inconvenienced by the delay.

I circled back with the Subhanis, relaying the bad news. And then I moved this into the “case dismissed” file.

A few days later, they sent me another note.

“Just wanted to give you an update,” wrote Rina Subhani. “Carnival is refunding one day of the total price paid — which is what we were looking for as fair compensation. Not sure what changed their mind, but it’s a victory.”

I don’t know what changed Carnival’s mind, either. I’m reluctant to take the credit for this one. I suspect the collective pressure from Cruise Critic, and perhaps the threat of a lawsuit, made this one move forward.

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

    The post is unclear. Who rented the room at the Westin? The OP or Carnival? If Carnival, don’t understand why the OP wouldn’t have been updated.

    I think $50 was too cheap. People spent up to 9 hrs on shore when they should’ve been on the boat. Whatever they chose to do probably cost them more than $50. I’m glad Carnival came through on this one.

    Another thing – I’ve never said Carnival before, but on the cruises I’ve been on, you check in on-line regardless of who you booked through. Had they done that, the cruise line would’ve had their contact info…

  • Raven_Altosk

    One night’s refund was fair compensation, IMHO.

    Side note on one of the other complaints highlighted:
    If you have specific dietary requirements and are caught in a delay/odd event/force majure, you really can’t expect the world to bend to you. Why didn’t these folks enjoy a nice meal on their own before they boarded the ship? They were at the Westin. There has to be room service or a restaurant nearby! In this situation, I would never take the chance on a buffet.

  • sirwired

    I hate to so frequently be taking the side of the company, but here goes:

    – The cruise line cannot control the weather. If the ship can’t leave, the ship can’t leave. They want to depart just as much as you do; when the ship leaves late, you aren’t spending, the food they’ve already purchased is going to waste, nobody is having a good time, ports (for which they would very much like you to take excursions to) are being missed, staff (which is still being paid) is idle, etc.

    – If the travel agent isn’t passing on the delay notifications, then this should be pinned on the travel agent, not Carnival. People that used the line AS their agent received their agency services (like assisting with delays) direct from Carnival. People that the passenger/line PAID to provide agency services are supposed to do their job.

    – Offering $50 per person for a decent meal in town seems to be a pretty fair solution to me vs. running the dining room. I expect this is why they didn’t think they had to fulfill any special food request on the first night; they thought the passengers would have already eaten.

    I would have offered a half-day’s refundable OBC as compensation… certainly boarding at 1:45AM is no fun. But most of the factors were out of Carnival’s control and/or the fault of the travel agent, not Carnival.

  • emanon256

    It says that Carnival provided hotel vouchers. But I’m not sure if it was for the Westin, or if the OP choose to go there on their own.

  • emanon256

    Wow, I think they got too much compensation. I hate to sound mean, but I guess I am. The cruise ship boarded substantially late, but gave everyone a $50 mean voucher and a hotel voucher. I think that’s pretty generous, especially since the delay was due to both weather and migrating whales. I really don’t think they deserve a night to be refunded since they got the hotel voucher. If they got to their hotel at 1am rather than the day before because of weather, would they expect the hotel to refund their first night?

    Also, I really don’t think their complaint is justified, they are asking for food substitutions, and complaining that the cruise line won’t accommodate it? It’s a cruise line, not a 5 star restaurant. All the food is brought on board pre-departure and the menu is fixed far in advance. You can’t just ask the chef to prepare you whatever you feel like. Also, they said they boarded at 2am expecting the buffet and the buffet closed at 1:45AM, well they were given a $50 meal voucher, why didn’t they eat before they boarded? And Boarding began at 9:45, if the buffet was that important, why didn’t they board earlier.

    Also, how were they treated as second class citizens due to using a travel agent? If that their interpretation of the chef refusing to make them off menu food? They sound very whiny and entitled. I am curious if they really used an agent, or if it was some site line cheapcruises . com which is pretty shady in my opinion. Either way, they should have given all of their contact info to the cruise line in advance, or at the very latest at the initial check in.

    I’m really surprised how un-snarky Raven is on this one, and how snarky I am. But I stand by my opinion on this matter.

  • john4868

    The OPs need to talk to their travel agent. TAs get paid by the cruiseline to handle communicating with their clients. A good TA notifies the OP about the delay. A good TA notifies the cruiseline about the OPs dietary needs (if known).
    There were some obvious communication issues between the OP and their TA. Messages weren’t gettting passed back and forth.
    In addition, people need to understand that preparing food on a ship is fundamentally different than on land. There is no running out for an additional (fill in the blank). Also, a ship has very limited preparation facilities (but on a huge scale). So, if you have dietary requirements you need to let the cruiseline know well in advance so they can plan and stock a menu for you. Otherwise, they may not be able to satisfy your “special request on the first night for specific Indian food ” since the ship may not have the supplies, equipment (like a tandori to make Naan) or people with the skill set to make it.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I posted while feeding the baby at 4:30am. It’s hard to snark when I have that much cute on my lap. :)

    But yes, I’m also curious about this “agent” and how these folks expected a private menu on the floating equivalent of a Walmart and Señor Froggs.

  • http://twitter.com/scholnicks Steven Scholnick

    The OP is in Boston, a city with many great Vegetarian restaurants. They didn’t have to “We spent our evening at the Westin and were only fed tea, coffee and chips.” I think Carnival gave too much. Maybe 1/2 day would have been enough compensation. Problems happen when you travel.

  • MikeInCtown

    Sorry, but putting someone up in a hotel for a night does not equal a night aboard a cruise ship. It also appears as though they couldn’t even spend the night sleeping since they were boarding at 1am. However, the complaint about their dining requirements is absurd. Preparing a special meal for one guest is not acceptable andif they got that treatment in the past they should count themselves as very lucky. In the end I believe Carnival did the right thing.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    While feeding the baby? Wow, I’m impressed. You’ll have to show me how you did that. When my kids were younger, that always kept both hands busy.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I fixed that. The cruise line covered the hotel expenses.

  • cjr001

    I don’t know if it’s policy to make specific ethnic foods on request, but generally cruise lines go out of their way in their restaurants to deal with food allergies.

    But if they’d gotten their food requests in the past, there was no reason for them to think they wouldn’t continue to get them in the future.

    I’m curious to know whether Carnival adjusted their itinerary for their cruises to something more appropriate once they learned they had to deal with this change in speed zones. From this story, however, that seems unlikely.

  • pauletteb

    Would the OP like some whine with her crackers and cheese? It seems that Chris is getting more than his fair share of cruisers with an outsized sense of entitlement.

  • Mel65

    There’s nothing you can’t do with duct tape and a little ingenuity!

  • y_p_w

    You can one-hand post with a smart phone or tablet computer these days. However, it can be full of typos or strange auto-corrections.

  • y_p_w

    I would have thought they have fed vegetarian customers at the very least. I can go to most buffets and find some reasonable options for vegetarians, although sometimes it involves fried foods.

  • SoBeSparky

    When are all the “entitled people” going to understand that travel is subject to many vagaries? Whether by land, sea or air, weather and “Acts of God” impair a smooth and uneventful trip. As many philosophers have said, change is a normal state of affairs.

    OK, so they got a free hotel room and did board and still wanted a refund? Greedy. They are vegetarians and wanted special service immediately in the face of all these other unanticipated problems? I too am a vegetarian and always carry veggie snacks whenever I travel by any mode. Stuff happens to disrupt “smooth sailing” all the time.

    This is a lot of unwarranted griping. No sympathy here.

  • y_p_w

    I took a look at the location (I’m guessing the Westin Boston Waterfront), and it seems to be in somewhat of a no-man’s land. If they actually wanted any sort of “Indian food” it would have likely been over a mile away.

  • Michael__K

    they were given a $50 meal voucher, why didn’t they eat before they boarded?

    According to Carnival they were NOT given meal vouchers. They were given on board credits for $50.

    Since they weren’t receiving communications from Carnival, they probably didn’t even know about the on board credits at the time. They “knew” that (according to Westin) the buffet would remain open.

    Depending on how much they were planning to spend on board, the $50 credits may have been worth $50 to them or may have been worth substantially less to them.

  • Raven_Altosk

    One hand on the bottle, one hand on the phone. The autocorrect suggestions are amusing. LOL. :D

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LKHWSI5H6XYINENJT6DJ2UX7E4 Wrona

    Carnival is very good at catering to vegetarians. I have a friend that is a strict vegetarian and raves about the food and options on Carnival. From the edited complaint, I’m guessing this couple were picky eaters in addition to being vegetarians.

  • Nica

    I was thinking the same thing. If you have dietary requirements, I would think they would have fared better at the Westin than the buffet line. But I get the impression that they may have felt they should not have to shell out any more money since they felt the cruise line caused this situation.

  • backprop

    I agree with some of what you say, but I wouldn’t go so far as to refer to it as a “free hotel room.” The paid to sleep in a stateroom that night. Because it wasn’t available, the ship provided a hotel room. It wasn’t a perk or bonus.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LKHWSI5H6XYINENJT6DJ2UX7E4 Wrona

    Chris, since we don’t see the full complaint I’m just guessing, but based on what we did see, was this a laundry list complaint? If they had just complained about the lack of notification (although I do think they need to be complaining to their travel agent about that one, not Carnival) I might have sympathy as even with emails/telephone numbers/etc it is not always easy to get in touch people once they start their travels to the departure port. But when they went into the whine about not having a very specific food item (i.e. not just that they didn’t have something for vegetarians, but that they couldn’t get that one specific food item that night) they lost me.

  • Nica

    I wonder why they did not call their TA. Were they not available? If not, why not? Where there other alternatives for them to get assistance? Anyway, I think the one night was more than enough for them.

  • Christina Conte

    Once again, the OPs sound like they have a major sense of entitlement and are living in a world they think revolves around them. Where are the people that really deserve assistance from you, Chris?

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Yeah, that one confused me a little, too.

    We sent an email on June 3rd stating we were providing $50 per person onboard credit so guests could enjoy dinner in town.

    Uh, what? How does an onboard credit make them able to enjoy dinner in town?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Exactly what I was thinking. They weren’t treated like second class citizens–the messages from Carnival just weren’t getting to them because their travel agent wasn’t forwarding them along.

  • SoBeSparky

    I was just trying to say that for the first disruptive night they got both a hotel room and then, after boarding, their stateroom with no additional charges. Certainly no perk, but also no “lost night.”

  • Joe_D_Messina

    The part I found bizarre was their gripe about being stuck at the Westin while the people waiting at the pier were getting free sandwiches. Huh? They’re vegetarian, so the sandwiches wouldn’t have appealed to them and I’d much rather wait at a hotel than be stuck at the pier with nothing to do.

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

    I wouldn’t bet my hungry stomach that there’d be a buffet a 2 IN THE MORNING. Eat a bag of chips and wake up at 6am for the breakfast buffet if you’re that hungry…

  • bodega3

    Before we bash the TA, I would like to know if it was a local agent, or an OTA. I would also like to know if a cell phone number was provided to the TA. I have clients who are past passengers of Princess and are traveling with another couple. I am getting emails to my email address for the second couple but not the repeat couple. I called Princess and since the passengers are repeat passengers, Princess has the client’s email address as primary, unknown to me even though I am the agent on record.

  • bodega3

    We don’t know if the TA was getting the messages, do we? Did the OP provide a cell phone number to the TA? I posted to another comment that past passenger contacts often have another email listed in their portfolio that their current TA may not be aware of. The message could be going to that. I just learn this last week and I have been in the business for close to 30 years, so it was news to me that you have to check on past contact information.

  • john4868

    @Michael__K:disqus & @ExplorationTravMag:disqus Here’ how I took that statement. First, just about everyone spends more than $50 onboard due to quasi mandatory tips (separate issue and on Carnival the tip rate is $10 per person per day) so its not like it wouldn’t get spent.

    Second, I saw the $50 as the easiest way for the cruiseline to pass along something the has value to the consumer. It takes them seconds to add the credit and then the customer gets to choose what they eat that night.

    Since the tips exceed the credit amount, the credit will get spent before they depart and the cruiseline has given them something of value.

  • john4868

    @bodega3:disqus I would expect that you would defend the TA. All I was saying was that when you purchase through a TA, the information chain now goes through the TA. If the OP didn’t receive the information, that is the TA’s issue not Carnival and for those issues, the OPs need to talk to their TA.

  • IGoEverywhere

    As a travel agent of 40+years, I am abhorred that the travel agent may have dropped the ball on this one. With that many communications, there is no reason that Subhanis were not communicated with. As far as being treated like second class citizens because they were booked thru a travel agent is pure hogwash. Travel agents book 80+% of Carnival’s reservations. My clients thru thick and thin have been treated top notch. I teach them to treat the employees with respect and reap the benefits. All I see here are a LOT of maybe legitimate complaints that should be directed towards the travel agency. BTW was it an ASTA, ARTA, or CLIA authorized agency, or was it a city slicker super discount type of agency? It does make a difference with what you get in return!

  • Michael__K

    Points well taken; it looks like the days I recall of tipping in cash are pretty much past. I was mainly responding to emanon256’s question (“why didn’t they eat before they boarded?”).

  • IGoEverywhere

    Carnival does provide vegetarian meals, but under these exteme circumstances, you take what you can get. My son traveled with us on many cruises while he was a vegetarian, but thank goodness he is converted back to real LIVE food.

  • bodega3

    What I am pointing out is that the messages may not have been going to the TA. I haven’t been getting my client’s message, nor has she, since they had her old email from her last cruise with them, that was being used even though Princess has mine as I did receive their inittial reservation to my email address that I had given them.

  • Tygar

    I voted “no” because of the original $50 offer.
    They booked a 7 night cruise & if they only received 6 nights they should only pay for 6.
    Carnival ultimately did refund for the 7th night so someone in Carnival caved to the pressure, probably the threat of a law suit.
    I am sick & tired of business not providing what they promise & using small print & shady tactics to screw the public.
    If it wasn’t for guys like Chris we, the consumer, would really be out of luck.

  • MikeInCtown

    Exactly, though it seems like thye were forced to eat nothing but pasta their entire voyage. In reality, there are probably two hundred things they could have eaten. As if Carnival never hears of salad, noodles, vegetables, fruit, breads, or anything else made without using meat products. they also made it seem like every other passenger was forced to eat spaghetti with meat sauce every night on a 7 day cruise. Simply absurd.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I can only surmise that the intent was, by giving them $50 to spend on the ship, the customers would feel they could then spend $50 on shore and it would equal out. Cruiseline accounting.

  • LeeAnneClark

    And my feeling about that is that if they are incapable of eating food that isn’t specifically “Indian”, maybe they shouldn’t be traveling to places that aren’t in India. Virtually any restaurant can provide vegetarian offerings – salads, anyone?

  • MikeInCtown

    It was a “lost night” because that night was supposed to have been spent with the ship at sea, presumably with all the amentities and shows one would normally be entitled to on board. Lets not forget that the stateroom is merely a portion of the cost and appeal of the cruise. Would you think you deserved a refund if the cruise ship allowed you to board then just sat in port and went nowhere for 7 days?

  • LeeAnneClark

    I’m in complete agreement with everyone who finds their food complaint to be absurd. No naan bread? Heck I can’t even find naan bread at my supermarket. And they’re expecting an unusual, very specific ethnic food item to be on a cruise ship? And to be served at 1:45 in the morning? Wow.

    Next time I go on a cruise I’m going to demand that they provide corek bread. (That’s Azerbaijani.) Or maybe leipa. (That’s Finnish bread.) And I’ll demand a refund if I don’t get it. And then I’ll write to Christopher so we can play another round of “Entitled Customer Poker!”

  • SooZeeeQ

    As I read this, it sounds like there was a reasonable result, but I also wonder ~ why a cruise along our gorgeous coast?

    I get it for other countries in order to have the same room and familiar food, but the good ol’ USA?

    As much as I whined for a beach and a Mai Tai for a vacation, we flew from CA went on a 10 day drive beginning in Boston, north to Maine and flew home from Washington D.C., and I found it to be a fabulous time.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Observation: In the past I could always count on coming to Christopher’s blog to find great stories of poor beleaguered travelers who got screwed by big bad travel providers and needed “Christopher Corleone” to ride in on his trusty steed and save the day. And it gave us readers an opportunity to commiserate with the dumped-on clients and vent about the greedy corporations who screwed them.

    Lately, however, many of Christopher’s articles have featured irrational customers
    with outrageous expectations, overblown and overwrought complaints and
    an overly developed sense of entitlement. Those of us who used to always side with the customer, are now finding ourselves in the uncomfortable position of siding with companies.

    So here’s what I’m thinking: maybe, over the years of his efforts as a travel ombudsman and mediator, Christopher has done such a great job of enforcing good customer service that travel providers are actually…wait for it…..DOING A GOOD JOB! Maybe there ARE no more stories of reasonable travelers getting screwed by unethical companies! Maybe Christopher worked himself right out of a job!

    …………………..Nah. ;-) We can at least always count on yet another story of a rental car company trying to scam someone out of a $500 deductible for an imaginary dent.

    In the meantime, since the OPs of this particular overly-entitled-customer story seem to have such narrow and specific dietary demands, methinks they need to stick to only traveling to areas where they have verified in advance that a decent Indian restaurant is in walking distance. I’m not sure where they live, but somebody needs to tell them that naan bread is not a staple in most regions that are not in, say, India.

  • john4868

    Lottery Ticket Time!!! Great observation

  • Raven_Altosk

    Like x a million!!!!

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I think you’re on to something. Some businesses, including some online travel agencies and car rental companies, have really paid attention to the complaints and the comments on this site, and have made changes because of them.

    Regarding the whiners — I have to admit there are times when I see complaints and say to myself, “You’ve gotta be kidding.” And sometimes, I need a second opinion. So that’s where some of these marginal cases come from. I’m interested in your feedback.

    Also, I’ve learned that mediating every case is problematic. Just have a look at some of the comments I get on Friday, when I post my syndicated Q&A column. Yikes! There’s always one or two who think I should have stayed away from the case.

  • SoBeSparky

    There are very few guarantees, if any, on sailing hours and itineraries while on a cruise. The customer should know this by reading the contract. Weather and whales are by no means the responsibility of the cruise line. A short delay in port based on the exigencies of cruising is no call for refunds.

    If someone wants iron-clad 100% guarantees, then try to find and buy an insurance policy to warrant what the cruise line cannot and will not.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    It appears much of this happened over a weekend. I wonder if the TA wasn’t checking messages?

    It’s interesting how little they mention their TA. There’s a line about Carnival “claiming” updates were being sent to the travel agent… but no rebuttal from their TA. It sounds as if they really don’t know if the TA was getting the updates or not. As upset as they are, I’d have expected they’d have checked to see who really dropped the ball.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Well I suppose that’s good news for us travelers: you’ve been having such an impact that we might actually have better overall travel experiences because of you. And at the end of the day, isn’t that the intent of your work?

    Of course, it means we miss out on all the great stories of screwed customers that would get us all riled up and ready to rumble…

    On the other hand, now we get to have fun snarking about the whiners! So I guess it equals out in the end. ;-)

  • WaldoLydecker

    I don’t have enough information to answer the question.

    Was this a once in a lifetime trip? Are they old, with special needs and on a limited budget or fixed income?

    With out all the facts, I can’t answer.

  • emanon256

    Credit aside, if they are at the hotel all evening, frustrated that sandwich are being served at the pier, and go to board at 1:45am, why would they not have eaten at some point during that time? Why would they just wait and hope for a 2am Buffett? I would have just eaten if I was hungry, either at the Weston or nearby.

  • bodega3

    They have taken a cruise before, so no, not a trip of a lifetime.

  • emanon256

    Of they could by their own boat, chef, and entertainment and see if they can get them all to sail in bad weather :)

  • Michael__K

    They had tea, coffee, and chips. They didn’t know there were sandwiches at the pier until it was too late.

    We don’t know what timezone they started from or what their meal schedule was. Maybe they really preferred to eat at 1am rather than at 10pm or 11pm. They don’t really owe us an explanation. Why were they given erroneous information about the buffet (at least twice apparently)?

  • y_p_w

    I know a lot of (mostly) vegetarians from India. They’re almost always realistic about what they can eat and aren’t wedded to a single type of food. They have certain food preferences but are almost always flexible.

    Pizza is almost universally acceptable and I don’t know of any pizza place that won’t at least serve a veggie or cheese pizza. I’d be surprised if they couldn’t find some place in the area (including their hotel) that had pizza.

    A salad however typically won’t be filling enough for a meal without something like meat or eggs added.

    And “Indian” is not one category. It’s dozens of different cultures and religions. Hindus generally don’t eat beef (I know of some who don’t care) and many sects follow a strict vegetarian diet. Muslims don’t eat pork. Sikhs won’t eat “ritually slaughtered” meat, so that leaves out Kosher or Halal restaurants. Many so-called “Indian” restaurants are really Indo-Pak restaurants that may serve beef. Some types of Indian cuisines don’t have bread but rather rice. However, I’ve typically found that those from India have no problem adjusting their diet to what they can find.

  • djp98374

    These rules on peed of whales didn’t suddenly change. They have been in effect for a few years. The reason they gave a refund is because of negligence by the cruise line in not properly planning their schedule. Cruise lines are priced based on ship nights…thus if they advertise for 7 nights at the 7 night price point and know they can’t honor this because of their unrealistic itinerary then this is fraud.

  • y_p_w

    Naan doesn’t have to be freshly prepared. I worked at a place with lots of Indians, and the cafeteria always had items prepared for Indians. The naan came out of a bag like tortillas would be served at some Mexican restaurants. They were these perfectly formed, mass-produced circles, unlike the almost free-form freshly prepared naan that you’d find from a real Tandoor.

    I know someone who was raving about a naan recipe he found for preparation on a skillet. It looked pretty good.

  • emanon256

    If they don’t owe an explanation, then they have no business to complain. The ship boarded 7 hours late and put them in a hotel for all that time. If they were hungry, they should have eaten. Instead they board 15 minutes before the buffet closes and demand special food that’s not on the menu instead of the available rice and complain about being told no? I would think anyone would eat at some time during a 7 hour period.

  • backprop

    Carnival addressed this. They planned for the speed zones, but the restrictions were expanded prior to sailing. I think claiming negligence is a bit strong, and probably not even “poor planning” because they planned based on what they knew at the time

  • LeeAnneClark

    Are you aware that in this most recent post, you are, in essence, contradicting your earlier post to which I was replying?

    You wrote: “I took a look at the location (I’m guessing the Westin Boston Waterfront), and it seems to be in somewhat of a no-man’s land. If they actually wanted any sort of “Indian food” it would have likely been over a mile away.”

    So you were pointing out that they wouldn’t have been able to find, specifically, Indian food. I subsequently pointed out that if they can only eat Indian food, they really shouldn’t be going anywhere where they might not be able to find Indian food!

    And then you come back and explain in detail that most Indians can, in fact, eat food that isn’t, specifically, Indian? So what exactly IS your point? If they (like most Indians) can, in fact, eat food that isn’t specifically Indian what then is the problem? Why should it matter that there weren’t any Indian restaurants near the Westin? If they were hungry, they could have ordered a cheese pizza from room service, right?

    But just to make it clear, in spite of your lengthy dissertation on what most folks from India eat, it does appear this family is VERY specific in their food demands. Note that the OP wrote: “We are vegetarian. We made a special request on the first night for specific Indian food — naan bread instead of rice — and an employee came by and said that this was not possible.”

    They wanted a rare (in the US, anyway) type of bread generally only found in Indian restaurants. Given that most bread (and even rice) are, in fact, vegetarian, it would appear that their demands had nothing whatsoever to do with being vegetarian. They wanted Indian food, and were dissatisfied that they were not provided with it.

    Wouldn’t you consider that to be rather unreasonable, since they weren’t on an Indian cruise ship? What makes their request for naan bread any more reasonable than, say, people from Azerbaijan demanding corek bread, or people from Finland demanding leipa? What makes anyone think that a US-based cruise ship is going to stock breads from around the world?

  • Raven_Altosk

    I’m seriously hoping this is sarcasm…

  • Raven_Altosk

    The whiny cases are good for entertainment, too. :D

    I still think my favorite is the “zomg my kid drank a sip of booze on a cruise and now I want all my money back…!”

    But there are a few others that still make me snerk.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    You’re making *me* hungry!

  • Michael__K

    So Carnival or it’s representatives and partners can misrepresent the closing time of the buffet, and you don’t expect any explanation from them?

    But if someone has a complaint about that misrepresentation, then they need to detail their eating schedule and personal habits and preferences to your satisfaction; otherwise they have no business to complain?

    FYI, you have the timeline mixed up. They left the Westin (1/2 mile from the cruise terminal) at 1am and for whatever reasons didn’t manage to board until 2am. Then they found out the buffet was *already* closed (as of 1:45am). Their special food demand (which I agree may have been unreasonable unless assurances were made in advance) pertained to subsequent days.

  • emanon256

    The hotel told them the buffet would remain open, why would they even accept the hotel as a source, I don’t ask 7-11 when a restaurant will stop serving food? And yes, they left the hotel at 1am, the cruse started boarding at 9:45pm. According to them, they were the last to board. And according to the cruise line the last people boarded at 1:45am. So again, why did they just hang around and be the lasts to board. They did this to themselves.

  • djp98374

    The didn’t plan….they were not up to date on the NOAA plan that was likely updated last fall. The territory isn’t just off cap cod but all the way to Boston port…they should plan accordingly. I bet someone found out more info such as captan error. Or the info was issued earlier of the expanded territory a month or so before the cruise. Which means they could claim weather or unforeseen circumstance.

  • Michael__K

    They clearly weren’t getting the communications that other passengers were. To write “they did this to themselves” is cruel and presumptuous. You have no facts to support that conclusion.

    The personnel at Westin made the same representations as those at check-in. Presumably the family was dealing with personnel from Carnival or its subcontractors (not Westin employees) at check-in.

    we were told during check in and at the Westin that the buffet would remain open.

  • john4868

    No. NOAA updated the reg in March. http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/staff/news/headline-rightwhale.html
    In April, the cruiseline informed the passengers of the change.
    Here’s an article from Dec showing the intent to end in Apr

  • Lindabator

    But that depends on whether the client is pre-registering online HIMSELF. I prefer doing this for my clients, so I know the cruise line has their current info, but at times my clients have jumped the gun and done so themselves – and sure enough, when I go into the info, find old emails or cancelled phone numbers, which I then update. But not every agent will think of doing this, especially when some clients prefer to keep everything they post a “big secret” (I don’t care – I still take a peak to ensure the info is updated if possible) :)

  • Lindabator

    Actually, Carnival is very good at providing special meals – and they actually have a nice selection of Indian vegeatarian dishes – but expecting something SO specific, when it doesn’t sound like it WAS ordered in advance, and under these special circumstances – is really asking for too much.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I vote to include this one (well, at least part of it) among the most absurd. “Zomg I didn’t get my rare naan bread that can usually only be found in India or Indian restaurants on my US-based Carnival cruise ship that generally serves large portions of Denny’s-quality all-you-can-eat-buffet food.”

  • Nica

    I actually do not think the TA dropped the ball… I do not think they even bothered to contact him/her. I think they were expecting a ‘perfect’ trip and was pissed off when they did not get it.

  • Nica


  • Lindabator

    Actually, they offer a very nice selection of Indian vegetarian foods when PRE-ORDERED. But I don’t know of any cruiseline who can prepare such a specific food without pre-ordering it – after all, they do have to STOCK the ship with it.

  • Lindabator

    Wonder how fussy they were – they didn’t even want rice, but naan bread instead. Who knows what else they got picky about. And I can honestly say, not only does Carnival have wonderful vegetarian choices, they do offer a nice selection of Indian vegetarian dishes as well – provided you let them know in advance, you’ll find a lot more options available to you.

  • Lindabator

    It said they were given the credits to eat in town – and since others did, why didn’t they? We know they chose to stay at the hotel, and they boarded late, so why not go get a good meal?

  • Michael__K

    When did they find out about those credits?

  • Lindabator

    And if weather had delayed their flight, you would expect a full refund, too? This was a delay – they still set sail, and they were allowed a nice hotel to relax in, and could easily have gotten a meal, as they were compensated onboard for $50 – they are just whiners, as are a lot of entitled people here who expect an act of God should automatically mean a big pay day.

  • Lindabator

    They gave them a hotel room for the DAY, not the NIGHT – they boarded late that same night, so DID sleep in their stateroom. The hotel was just a gesture of somewhere to stay that was far more comfortable than the pier. That is a perk.

  • djp98374

    This nky applies to the migratory pattern of the right whales as they travel the coastline. The spend the summer off of cap
    cod that is a known restricted territory that could always change if the whales slightly alter where they are the territory
    covers all of Boston.


  • djp98374
  • Lindabator

    And what exactly does an airline offer you when delays arise out of weather? NOTHING. This was an Act of God – so call him and whine!

  • djp98374
  • Lindabator

    You can’t read, can you? Carnival had ALREADY sent notification TWICE on the change to their itineraries – they just claim they were never informed. And since when does bad weather impacting a cruise constitute fraud????

  • Lindabator

    This was $50 to feed them, not to entertain them – had your flight been delayed due to weather, you would have gotten NOTHING. They gave them a nice hotel to stay in, $50 for food, not seeing the problem. And yes, you do have to pre-register online, so if you failed to provide a phone or email, then that is your fault they couldn’t reach you. (and that;s why I want to know who the TA was – perhaps just an OTA?)

  • emanon256

    And you have no facts to support your claim either.

    The fact is that the ship began boarding at 9:45pm, and the OP decided to stroll on over at 1:45am. I think they are lucky they got on at all. And if someone said they were boarding at 9:45pm and the buffet would remain open, it’s pretty unreasonable to assume it would still be open at 2am.

    Call me cruel all you want, but I think they made some lousy assumptions and had unreasonable expectations.

  • djp98374

    Yes I can ….. They notified peopl on the day of departure that they would be late which they Gould have known weeks before. It’s fraud when they had unrealistic itineraries if the said 7 nights when they could only do six. If they knew this a week before the cruise and didnt inform passengers then it does constitue fraud. If the were negligent in their schedule and planning them it’s fraud.

  • Michael__K

    Huh? The facts (which are not in dispute) are that Carnival announced the boarding time in an email which this family would not have received because they booked through a travel agent.

  • Michael__K

    You must be referring to the notifications on April 9th and June 1st.

    Are you suggesting those had anything to do with weather on June 3rd?

    And who were those notifications sent to?

  • john4868

    Where do you buy Naan in the middle of the Atlantic?

  • TonyA_says

    Ask the crew members. There are plenty of Indians working the ships.

  • MarkKelling

    While I eat real food, I prefer mine to be DEAD before I eat it.

  • TonyA_says

    All the groceries here in Stamford CT sell naan. I think we are still part of New England. Yummy.

  • SallyLu

    I absolutely agree that if they had a specific need, such as naan, they should have requested it way before the cruise and not on the first night. I do want to point out, however that naan isn’t really all that rare in the bigger cities. I live in LA county and it is in every grocery store – even the smaller neighborhood markets. But just because I see it in all grocery stores, I wouldn’t expect find it on a cruise ship.

  • Extramail

    If I’ve learned nothing else from this site, I have learned to always be prepared for the unexpected and, with travel, as most everything in life, you need to be able to roll with the punches.

  • andi330

    I think you’re missing the point. @travelagentman:disqus is saying that Carnival contacted the Travel Agent in question at least twice in order to tell them the new itinerary, yet the OP claims that they were not informed. It is part of the TA’s job to relay this information to their customers, whether the customer calls them to check on the itinerary, or whether they have to call the customer and tell them. In fact, there should not have been any significant delay in getting the information to the OP from the TA. Once the TA got the notification, they should have made communicating with the OP to be a priority, so that they could make changes to their itinerary if needed.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I live in Ventura County, which has a large Indian population, so it’s actually not too hard to find naan bread around here either…although my local Ralphs doesn’t carry it, sadly. I know this because I love naan bread, and was trying to find it there one night when I was trying out a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe. I ended up having to go to an Indian restaurant to buy the bread. There’s also a middle-eastern market in town that carries it, but that’s about it around here.

    Still, my point was that outside of major metropolitan areas (and maybe some suburban pockets of Indian immigrants), it’s not something you will generally find at supermarkets across America. Hence, I find it unlikely that Carnival, which is basically feeding mass quantities of Mc-food to middle Americans, would have naan bread aboard. Carnival is not exactly known for its eclectic international menu offerings. ;-)

  • Meredith Putvin

    Wait… They only received Tea, Coffee and Chips… In Boston? I can understand if they were at the Westin Convention Center Hotel, but if they were at the Westin Copley place that seems a bit hard to swallow, knowing Boston… The Copley place hotel is connected by indoor walkways to a mall area and Copley place. Something tells me they expected everything complimentary.

    I also attended a conference at the New Convention center on the waterfront… Something seems off…

  • andrelot

    This is one of those cases in which the “laundry lists” puts off my sympathy for the OP. I think compensation offered is already enough.

  • Cybrsk8r

    I’m torn on this one. The OP’s seem pretty whiney, but, since the ship did leave about 22.5 hours late, I think a one days refund is in order. I mean, ships are compared to floating resorts these days. Well, if that’s that’s the case, then this would be like pre-paying a hotel room for seven days and then when you get there you find out the hotel doesn’t have a room for you, but you still have to pay for it

  • y_p_w

    You buy it before departing. I don’t think they typically resupply in open waters like large navies.

  • bodega3

    That and pack your sense of humor and you will can make the best of a bump in the travel road.

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

    I know it’ll only be popular with some of the commenters, but there should be a secondary poll where we rate the OP:

    Needs a slap / reality check (I prefer ‘slap’)
    Got Screwed
    Totally Deserving

    You get the picture… The regular polls can be for casual readers. The OP polls are for the commenters…

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

    If they were at the Westin which Carnival got for them, how is it that they didn’t get any updates on boarding, is my question…

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

    I’m sure there was a buffet open for the bulk of the people boarding. The OP said they were the LAST family on board. So presumably, the buffet had closed when it was clear that they vast majority had made it on. They DO have to re-open at 6am for breakfast. The OP needs to be reasonable. Do they not have 24 hour room service?

  • Nica

    Exactly. They seemed to be so caught up in their own frustration that they neglected to do some very minor things in order to make sure their needs were being met and that they were getting the proper information.

  • Nica

    I get your point. However, if you are experiencing this situation and you used a TA, would you not call if you have not heard from him/her? I am not trying to be a pain. Just want to make sure that I understand.

  • LadySiren

    Hahahahaha, Christopher Corleone. Love this.

  • Michael__K

    If they didn’t have access to the same communications as the other passengers, and they were given erroneous information multiple times, then they have a legitimate gripe that the vast majority of fellow passengers didn’t have.

    When and where did they check-in? Was it in the cruise terminal between 1am and 2am that they were *still* told that the buffet would remain open?

  • IGoEverywhere

    If only TSA would look at the column and pay attention, you might be elected as the next president.

  • IGoEverywhere

    Since working with Carnival since the original Mardi Gras, I have never had Carnival not contact me when there was a problem. Even when there is a weather delay, I am contacted to get hold of the client.

  • Lindabator

    Only they didn’t REQUEST it before sailing – they did so at dinner. Too little, too late!

  • Lindabator

    Actually, they do a very good job with those people who PRE-ORDER an Indian vegetarian request. Or any other ethnic request, for that matter. But its not something that can wait till you’ve boarded to brooch!

  • Lindabator

    Where do you get 22 1/2 hours????? They were scheduled to depart at 3:00 pm, and left at 2:00 am the SAME DAY.

  • Lindabator

    In APRIL and JUNE they notified these passengers (and all others) that due to the wahales, they would be slowling down and changing the itin. The day they BOARDED was due to bad weather. Read, people!!!!

  • y_p_w

    That’s not the same day. Less than 12 hours, but technically not the same day.

  • Nikki

    OK, that Christopher Corleone reference got me laughing my way out of a bad mood. Good lord. lmao (thx LeeAnne!)

  • S E Tammela

    Hmm, I am not so sure they were asking too much, they didn’t want “compensation” but just a pro-rata one-night refund for what they didn’t get. Also, “rice” often means fried rice containing ham, and it’s certainly not rare for people to have that as a food they don’t eat, being forbidden by two of the world’s biggest religions. I suppose it all depends whether they’d been told their diets could be accommodated. Something tells me the cruise line were anything BUT accommodating that week. This family’s requests were nothing compared with the usual customer demands of free do-overs and cash for pain and suffering.

  • judyserienagy

    I agree with LeeAnn, these recent stories about whiners aren’t very interesting. Are we to believe that these bozos ate nothing at the Westin because they would have had to pay for it … they were waiting for a free buffet on the ship … in the middle of the night? When your travel hands you a glitch, you make the most of it, you don’t sit in the corner being hungry. Whining tourists should stay home, stop wasting valuable resources … we want more real problem-solving stories, Chris!

  • judyserienagy

    Icarus, what a wonderful idea … rate the people who are complaining … what fun! OH PLEASE CHRIS, CAN WE DO THIS?????????