I would like to start this letter by saying the cruising experience my family and I had aboard the Carnival Freedom the week of March 15, 2008 was wonderful. Actually, we were part of a group of neighborhood friends (a total of 54 people which consisted of 12 families) The overall experience was outstanding. While it was my family’s first cruise, it won’t be out last. As a matter of fact, all 54 are ready to go again for Spring Break in two years. We took off from Miami and went to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica.
It was our 1st cruise. We didn't know what to expect. Some of the others with us had gone on cruises, so we took their cue on most things.
The rooms were fine. Had an ocean view which was cool.
The staff were friendly. We had 29 children (ages 5 - 17) with us. At dinner, they took care of the children and entertained them and had them served and out of the dining room before our appetizers were served. They did a great job.
The meals were good. Some of our party said they had the same items on the menu which was the 1st time that happened to them. I liked it and they did a good job accommodating our large party.
The entertainment shows were fun. Lots of work by the dancers and band. Good job by them.
A few times the bar service around the ship was lacking. I went once and a couple other guys went at other times to get served because no one was walking around to serve us drinks. I stood at the bar for a while and was not served.
The ports were great. Laughed hard in Cozumel. Grand Cayman was relaxing. Jamaica was fun. Did the Dunn's River Tubing and waterfall "hike". Got pics of all of it.
I would like to share with you one huge disappointment that I experienced on the last night of the cruise, (March 21, 2008). After another great dinner, my husband and I (along with several of the other neighborhood cruisers) proceeded to the 10:30pm show (comedian) in the Victoriana Lounge. As we entered the room, (approximately 10:15pm), the final call to purchase BINGO cards was being announced. The grand prize was a 7 day cruise for 2 or $1,000 cash. A few of us decided at the last moment to purchase a BINGO card. I had not played BINGO in years. In fact, the last time I remember playing we used little red “tiddly winks” to cover the numbers. As it was, my husband was one of the last to be able to purchase a card. The game immediately started. About half way thru the number callouts, I began to tear off the numbers on my card, so I could see which numbers had been called out. Bottom line, I eventually was the first person to call out BINGO, but when the employee came over to verify it, I was told my card was INVALID because I had not followed the rules, by tearing my BINGO card. The lady calling the numbers scolded us by saying, “I told you not to tear your card……how many heard me saying don’t tear your card?!” The whole audience raised their hands. She may have said that for the people who played BINGO all night or on previous nights of the cruise, but in the 3 minutes we sat there, she did not give any instructions. They continued to play the game, and awarded the GRAND prize to another player (a football player who was picked out of the crowd the first night to perform in one of their on-stage skits). I was very upset and devastated. The remainder of the cruise was not enjoyable. I didn’t sleep the entire last night as I continued to replay this experience over and over in my head knowing I had just missed out on $1000 cash.
Upon my return home, I did contact the guest relations department on March 26 to log my complaint with the BINGO game. On March 27, guest relations supervisor, ______________________, and I spoke also. It was after my conversation with her that I felt compelled to share my experience with you. First off, my original request was to merely have my account credited for the $20.00 BINGO fee due to the following reasons:
1. My husband and I entered the Victoriana Lounge just minutes before the game started and didn't hear all the earlier verbal announcements made by the Carnival employee about not tearing the BINGO card or it would be invalid. I shouldn’t be held responsible for an announcement made when I was not present to hear it.
2. Each BINGO card has a preprinted serial number on it; therefore, there should be a computerized record of what numbers are preprinted on the card, for verification.
3. If the rule about not tearing the BINGO card is that critical, there should be written instructions preprinted on each BINGO Card. This rule should not be left to a verbal announcement, which requires people to be in the room for the announcement and be fully paying attention, rather than conversing with a cocktail waitress at the time, etc.
4. Again, if this rule is so critical, it should be in writing on the large screen projector that is used to call out the BINGO numbers.
Long story short, after a lengthy and at times very unpleasant discussion with _______________, she agreed that the above recommendations for putting this in writing would be good and agreed to refund my $20.00 BINGO refund.
I would like to share a few points about the unpleasant discussion that did take place prior to _________________ actually listening to my recommendations listed above. At one point when she was refusing to grant my $20.00 refund, I pointed out that there were 54 people in my party who are planning on cruising again for Spring Break 2010, and perhaps we would be better off trying another cruise line, since this Carnival was so inflexible. (Also, it could be more families since we live in a community with over 800 families and many have children in the same age range and had indicated they would like to go next time). She stated that was OK if we felt we needed to do that. I pointed out the bottom line was that the 12 families spent on average $8,000 per family and she was willing to let that business walk away over a $20.00 refund. She said yes. I then asked her if the CEO of Carnival would agree with that business decision, if I asked him. She immediately informed me that the CEO “doesn't talk to customers". I was astounded at that reply. I reminded her that Carnival was in the service industry and I couldn’t believe that a CEO of a company in the service industry (or for that matter, any industry) doesn’t talk to customers. I then stated OK, but asked who was under the CEO that would talk to a customer. She stated she was as high as I could go. She wouldn’t even give me her supervisor’s name.
It was at this point when I asked her to just listen to my recommendations listed above. She then stated that she would check into this and call me back within 24 hours. About 30 minutes later, she returned my call and informed me they were good recommendations and I would be receiving my $20.00 credit.
I doubt we choose Carnival again.