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A Closer Look at the Problems of Carnival Cruise Line

Written by Rick Archer
Last Update: September 2013


Rick's Note:  It is now mid-September 2013.  Carnival has just pulled a stunt that will have the reader shaking their head in disbelief. 

We will get to the story shortly.  First an explanation of the various stories that are contained on this page. 

I have previously written three articles on Marla's problems with Carnival. 

The first article was published last October 2012.  That is when I wrote a lengthy article titled "Storm Clouds over the Magic" which explained that something very serious was wrong with Carnival Cruise Line.

The second article came after the February problems experienced by the Carnival Triumph.  That is when I wrote yet another article titled "Triumph Headaches Examined".  In my second article I explained that once Marla had seen the Omens, she bailed from Carnival well ahead of time.  

The third article came after the Triumph incident.  In rapid succession there were problems with the Dream, the Legend, and the Elation.  So I took a closer look.  "The Continuing Problems of Carnival".

The current article is the fourth look at Carnival in less than a year.  It deals with a bizarre publicity stunt that made absolutely no sense whatsoever.  "Carnival's ridiculous Publicity Stunt"

 Part Four:  September 2013  Carnival's Free Cruise Promotion
 Part Three:  March 2013  The Continuing Problems of Carnival
 Part Two:  February 2012  Triumph Headaches Examined
 Part One:  October 2012  Storm Clouds over the Magic


Part Four: Carnival's Free Cruise Promotion


Rick Archer's Note:  This is the current article.  It is the fourth article in a crazy series.  The first article was written in October 2012.  Please note that all these problems have taken place in less than a year.

Written by Rick Archer
September 2013


This is an odd story that I actually cannot quite figure out. 

This story revolves around Carnival's offer of a free cruise giveaway for Travel Agents. 


Marla received this Carnival email on Monday, March 9, 2013:

Dear Valued Fun Planners,

Something special has arrived! Announcing our Travel Agent Complimentary Cruise Experience Promotion, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the "Fun Ship" experience on a complimentary basis with friends and family. Through Carnival Conversations we've heard loud and clear that one of the best ways for you to sell Carnival is to experience it - so this one is all for you!

Travel Agent Rewards Program and Carnival Passport members receive an exclusive sign-up period starting Wednesday, September 11th at noon (EST). Then the request window opens for all agents this Thursday, September 12th at noon (EST). Simply visit for a list of available sailings. Here's how it works:

Step #1:

Visit to access the list of available sailings. Select one sailing from the list and click on "Register Now." Fill in the information for you and your guest(s). You can bring another guest, or even a third or fourth depending on the cabin availability. During this step, we're only collecting information. (It's important that you have the names of your guest(s) ready as name changes are not permitted after. Guest(s) cannot be TBD.) Once you've filled in the information, click "Submit."

Step #2:

Wait just a few days after you complete your registration, and if you are confirmed you will receive an email with a booking confirmation from us. Remember that the program is on a first come basis and space is limited.

Step #3:

Once you've received your booking confirmation from us, go ahead and call us at 1-800-xxxxx to secure your reservation. All we will need is a $50 deposit for the first and second guest. Upon boarding, the deposit will be applied back to your account as an onboard credit of $100.

This promotion is on a first come, first serve basis. Hurry, space is limited!

To view the press release, please click here.

Thank you again for your feedback and continued support. Hope to see you at a Roadshow soon or on our Join the Conversation page on

Happy sailing,
Vice President, Worldwide Sales
Carnival Cruise Lines

Marla was intrigued, so she clicked on the PRESS RELEASE link.  Here is what it said:


Created from Carnival Conversations Feedback, Promotion Offers Early Access to Carnival Passport and Travel Agent Rewards Program Members

MIAMI (September 9, 2013) - Carnival Cruise Lines is offering travel agents an opportunity to enjoy the “Fun Ship” vacation experience first-hand on a complimentary basis through its new Travel Agent Complimentary Cruise Promotion.

From September 12-26, 2013, travel agents may visit, the line’s travel agent Internet portal, and select from a variety of sailings departing between September 2013 and January 2014.

As a special reward to agents who have signed up for the line’s Travel Agent Rewards and Carnival Passport programs, as well as to encourage new enrollees, travel agents enrolled in these programs can submit their cruise request on September 11, 2013, one day prior to the promotion launch.

During our Carnival Conversations events, we heard from agents that one of the best ways for them to sell the Carnival product would be to simply experience a cruise just as their clients would,” said J R, Carnival’s vice president of worldwide sales.

We wanted to give agents the opportunity to sail on the ‘Fun Ships’ with their friends and family while also rewarding and encouraging participation in our Carnival Passport and Travel Agent Rewards programs by offering early access to this exciting new promotion for members.”

Travel agents may view available cruises and request their preferred sailing by visiting Upon receiving a booking confirmation number, travel agents then call Carnival at 1-800-xxxxx, to secure their reservation.

Cabin space is limited and will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. As part of the terms and conditions of the program, travel agents may receive one complimentary cruise and bring up to three guests in their stateroom depending on availability. A non-refundable $50 deposit for first and second guests is required, which will be converted to an onboard credit upon boarding.

As part of the Carnival Conversations travel agent outreach program, Carnival recently extended its Interline rate program to travel agents and introduced last-minute travel agent rates. These initiatives were implemented in an effort to provide travel agents with a variety of discounted sailing opportunities to experience the Fun Ship product.

Additional information on the Travel Agent Complimentary Cruise Promotion is available at



I was sitting on the couch in the TV room when Marla walked in to discuss the offer.  She said there was a free cruise being offered to Travel Agents. 

The moment I heard the word 'Carnival', my guard went up.  I asked why would Carnival give away a free cruise.  Marla said that after all the bad publicity, perhaps Carnival was ready to make amends with the Travel Agents, a vital link to their customer base.

It is not well-known, but Carnival's problems have created vast headaches for travel agents as well.  Every time something goes wrong, the travel agent is expected to be there to pick up the pieces.  The customer will naturally have one hundred questions and one hundred complaints for the travel agent to hear about.  Over the past year, Carnival's problems have created untold misery for everyone who has tried to support their product. If a travel agent had good will towards Carnival, they could put the company's problems in a better light.

The sad thing is that most travel agents are feeling pretty beat up when it comes to Carnival.  For years Carnival has been reducing commissions while looking for ways to actually bypass the travel agents.  So far they haven't had much luck.  All those Internet promotions and direct email sales pitches have failed to eliminate the travel agent's role. 

As for the free cruise offer, I shrugged my shoulders.  I said something to the effect of "I'll believe it when I see it."

Marla was cautious as well, but said it wouldn't hurt to at least check it out.  Maybe the offer was on the level.  Since the travel agents have a big say in which cruise line to pick for group and individual sailings, it wouldn't hurt to do something to get the agents back in Carnival's corner.  

I was deeply skeptical, but I said if Marla wanted to do this, be my guest.

So what happened?


Marla was supposed to log on at 11 am.  This was a simultaneous event... Agents across the country were told to log in simultaneously.  Noon EDT, 11 CDT, 10 MDT, 9 PDT

Marla actually logged on ahead of time around 10:15 am CDT.  She wanted to see if the site would open early.  No such luck.

Since her connection was already made, Marla was on the site at 1 second after 11:00 when it opened.  She took a minute to scan her choices.  At 11:01 she made her first pick.

Her first choice was already gone.  So she went to her second choice.
Her second choice was gone.
Her third choice was gone.
Her fourth choice was gone.

Out of morbid curiosity, Marla kept clicking.  Within two minutes after logging on, Marla discovered that all 12 sailing options were no longer available. 

When Marla told me the results, she was very irritated.  As for me, I was actually surprised.  I have a very low opinion of Carnival, but I still couldn't believe Carnival would pull a stunt like this.  I could not figure out the slightest advantage for Carnival.  Why would they do something that might irritate valuable support people like travel agents?

I told Marla there was bound to be a follow-up.  Let me know when it comes in.


Sure enough, Marla received a follow-up email the following day.

Dear Valued Fun Planners,

Thank you so much for your support today with our Travel Agent Complimentary Cruise Experience Promotion.

It was an astounding success!

We sold out in 45 minutes - faster than the Rolling Stones in Madison Square Garden.

There were thousands of visits to our Travel Agent Rewards Program and Carnival Passport Program today - all thanks to you.

For those of you who are confirmed on the complimentary sailings - congratulations and we look forward to seeing you onboard soon! For those of you who did not get in before the sellout, watch for other exciting travel agent events and promotions in the future. For those of you who had planned on joining us tomorrow, we are sold out but check with us again soon for other great and exciting opportunities.

We appreciate all you do. We look forward to seeing you somewhere soon.

Warm regards,

"We sold out in 45 minutes!" - That statement was a complete lie.  

Not only was that statement a lie, I am fairly certain every travel agent who participated came to the same conclusion.  They weren't fooled by Carnival's empty claim that the event was "an astounding success!"

As far as Marla was concerned, the entire experience had turned into an insult.

It still didn't make sense to me.  I tried to analyze how the company benefitted from this sham.  What did they hope to accomplish by setting all those travel agents up only to pull the football out from under them.  If the idea was to create good will, they failed miserably.

On the off chance that perhaps two, three, maybe even twelve agents actually did receive a free cruise or even twenty-four (note there was no verification of how many people actually got a trip), those "thousands of visits" they bragged about were likely agents who got the same results Marla did.  So let's be generous and pretend two agents got a free cruise on each of the twelve ships.

Let's say "thousands" means two thousand.  I am being generous; it could be three thousand.

24 happy travel agents, 1,976 pissed-off travel agents who felt jerked around.

Tell me how this generates good will.

Judging from the frown on Marla's face, I think her reaction speaks for the entire group.  Every single travel agent left this experience feeling set up.  This cheap Carnival stunt ended up alienating an entire legion of professionals.   


 Part Four:  September 2013  Carnival's Free Cruise Promotion
 Part Three:  March 2013  The Continuing Problems of Carnival
 Part Two:  February 2012  Triumph Headaches Examined
 Part One:  October 2012  Storm Clouds over the Magic

Part Three: Carnival's Continuing Tale of Woe

MARCH 2013

Rick Archer's Note:  This is the third article I wrote.  After the Triumph incident, I was ready to simply leave Carnival alone and let it stew in its own self-created morass.  But when the stories piled up one after another, my morbid curiosity took over and I had to take a closer look.

Written by Rick Archer
March 2013


Since the Triumph article I wrote last month, there have been three more very serious problems with Carnival regarding the Dream, the Legend, and the Elation.  Things are so bad for Carnival that the jokes have been flying fast and furious...

"My new punishment threat for my 12 year old daughter:  Do your chores or I'll send you on a Carnival Cruise!"

I consider it impossible that one cruise line could have so many problems in such a brief amount of time. I decided it was time to take yet a third look at the continuing problems of Carnival.  Before we begin, I will share a rumor.  I spoke to a man who said that Carnival used to hire to independent inspectors to review their ships.  However, in a cost-cutting move, Carnival decided to hire its own people to do the inspection. 

I do not know if this rumor is correct, but if true, it makes sense.  Carnival's corporate culture appears to suppress criticism and initiative.   Perhaps the in-house inspectors told the brass what the brass wanted to hear rather than what the serious problems were and what needed to be done. If this is the case, it would explain all these recent problems.

This is just one man's opinion and I don't know a thing about this man.  So take it with a grain of salt.

Now let's begin with a review of Carnival's recent problems.

March 2013:  Triumph, Dream, Legend, Elation

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Los Angeles Times
March 15, 2013, 10:11 a.m.

HOUSTON -- Another Carnival cruise ship has faltered, the third in a week for the troubled fleet that drew national attention last month when the Carnival Triumph broke down in the Gulf of Mexico, stranding more than 4,200 passengers who had to be towed back to shore.

The nation’s largest cruise company announced Friday that the Carnival Legend was unable to sail at optimal speed off the coast of Honduras, bringing an early end to the seven-day Caribbean cruise for 2,500 passengers and 930 crew members who set sail from Florida last Sunday.

“Carnival Legend is experiencing a technical issue with one of the ship’s Azipod units that is affecting the vessel’s sailing speed. The ship's safety systems and hotel services are all functioning normally,” Carnival officials said in a statement emailed to the Los Angeles Times. The Azipod units are used to propel and steer the ship.

The vessel made its scheduled call Thursday in Mahogany Bay, Roatan, in addition to visiting Cozumel and Costa Maya earlier in the week. Because of the reduced sailing speed, Carnival officials canceled the Legend’s scheduled visit to Grand Cayman on Friday so the ship could immediately return to port in Tampa, Fla., according to the statement.

Guests on the Legend will receive a $100-per-person credit, a refund on pre-purchased shore excursions for Grand Cayman and half off a future Carnival cruise, the statement said.

About 1,500 miles away in St. Maarten on Friday, passengers on the Carnival Dream were being flown home after their cruise from Port Canaveral, Fla., stalled at port with a generator problem Wednesday. Conditions seemed a far cry from the Triumph: St. Maarten airport officials tweeted photos of the welcome committee greeting passengers at the airport, while others said they were taking it easy and enjoying the island.

Carnival officials said the Dream never lost power, but admitted there where problems with elevators and toilets Wednesday after some passengers complained, posting comments online.

Late Thursday, Carnival flew Grammy-winning singer Jon Secada to the Dream to perform for stranded passengers. Passengers will receive a refund for the last three days of the voyage and half off a future cruise.

The Carnival Elation also ran into problems last weekend with its Azipod units and had to be escorted back to port by a tugboat as it began its voyage from New Orleans last Saturday, Carnival officials said. In a statement, they said the Elation had “a minor issue with the steering function of one of its two Azipod units,” that both units were operational but “the steering function of one has been temporarily taken offline until it can be repaired. The ship is designed to be able to steer with only one Azipod unit, they said.

"In the interest of extreme caution, we requested that a tugboat remain alongside the ship as it maneuvered away from the dock and into the river in New Orleans," the statement said, stressing that the ship was not being towed. "The tugboat trailed the ship down the Mississippi for good measure, although it was not needed. The ship's full itinerary is expected to operate normally."

The latest problems are a reminder of the drama that played out last month, when the Carnival Triumph was crippled by an engine fire in the Gulf of Mexico during a four-day cruise, stranding 3,141 passengers and 1,086 crew for five days during which many complained about power outages, broken toilets and food shortages.

In its earnings release Friday, the Miami-based company said advance bookings for 2013 are behind the same point a year earlier. Carnival stock closed Thursday at $35.73, up less than 1%.

Due to the continuing problems with Carnival Cruise Line, recently new cruise lines have opened up to exploit Carnival's vulnerability.

For example, the new Mississippi Belle Cruise Line is certain their product is superior to anything Carnival is putting out these days.

All jokes aside, Carnival has been back in the news with yet another problem on board the Legend

The major headaches for Carnival started in November 2010 with a fire on the Carnival Splendor that left the giant ship stranded at sea amid huge national headlines.

Last year there was the ridiculous Costa Concordia problem which killed over 30 innocent passengers. Costa Cruise Lines, by the way, is a Carnival subsidiary. 

Now in 2013 Carnival has had 4 consecutive major problems in the short span of only three months - Triumph, Dream, Legend, Elation

The question we have to ask is how does this happen Again and Again?

Are Carnival's woes bad luck or the company's fault?  One has to wonder. 

Recently I came across another Carnival story I never heard before that absolutely blow my mind.  Read for yourself. 

Lawsuit: Carnival Cruise Lines Strip Searches Girl Looking For Pot

Posted on April 4, 2012 by
Jim Walker of Walker & O'Neill Maritime Lawyers

"Please remove your tampon, I have a job to do."

I have heard some weird and outrageous cruise ship stories over the years, but if this one is true it takes the cake.

A lawsuit filed last month (March 2012) alleges that Carnival cruise employees suspected that a 17 year old girl on the Carnival Sensation possessed marijuana after she returned to the cruise ship after going ashore in Nassau. The lawsuit alleges that the girl had returned with her mother and a friend when a Carnival security officer found a bag of pot on the floor of the elevator that the group was riding on.

Accompanied by a female crew member and a male assistant housekeeping manager, the security officer entered the cabin of the girl and her friend, also a minor. The security officer allegedly made no effort to locate the child's mother or advise the children of their rights, and then threatened and intimidated the girl into a confession that the weed in the bag was hers.

The three crew members then searched the girls' cabin, and found no contraband or illegal substances. Undaunted, the three crew members alleged "threatened, coerced, and required J.G. to remove her panties, lift her dress to her waist and expose her nakedness to all agents in the cabin." Then things got especially weird. The lawsuit alleges:

•41. J.G. was forcefully escorted to the restroom wherein all Defendant Agents were permitted to watch her urinate before returning her to the main area of the cabin.

•42. Without cause, the DEFENDANT AGENTS threatened, coerced and required J.G. to remove a tampon and her genital cavity was inspected visually by the female currently known only as LETICIA.

•43. This strip and cavity search took place in the plain view of male Security Officer TRAPA and male assistant housekeeping manager YUZON

No additional pot was found, but the girl and her mother were reportedly escorted off of the ship where the Bahamian police placed the girl in a cell with adults where the child was allegedly assaulted. The lawsuit alleges that after the girl was released, she and her mom had to locate their own accommodations and travel arrangements home.

The girl's lawyer sued on grounds of negligence, fraud, intentional infliction of severe emotional distress and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

This type of lawsuit comes at the wrong time for Carnival which is still suffering from the fall-out of the Costa Concordia disaster and the Costa Allegra cruise ship fire.

There are two sides of every story, and I can't wait to hear Carnival's side. I hope it's not "we can't comment on matters in litigation but rest assured the safety and security of our guests are our highest priorities."

I asked Carnival for a comment and will publish it as soon as I receive it.

Jim Walker

April 4, 2012 Update: Here's Carnival's response in its entirety:

Carnival does not typically comment on pending litigation, but feels compelled to do so given the far-fetched claims made in this lawsuit. The claim that the plaintiff was strip searched is patently false, and obviously made in retaliation for the cruise line having disembarked the plaintiff and her mother part-way through the voyage in Nassau where the plaintiff was taken into custody by the Bahamian police.


March 2013 Update: In fairness to Carnival, this lawsuit did go to trial and was ruled in favor of Carnival.

Mase and DeFabio Successfully Defend Carnival Against Alleged Sexual Assault Lawsuit

The Mase Lara Eversole team is extremely pleased to report our latest result in the case of J.G. vs. Carnival Cruise Lines. On Monday, March 19th 2013, after five days of trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Carnival Cruise Lines in a case that involved an allegation of sexual assault by a former 17-year-old passenger who claimed that she was strip searched by Carnival employees. The defense verdict was attained by Curtis Mase and Lauren DeFabio in this highly publicized case. The verdict followed a blistering cross-examination by Mr. Mase, during which the Plaintiff retracted her prior testimony and repeatedly admitted she had lied about her allegations. These types of claims are rarely brought to trial. Through tenacious attention to detail and relentless attack of the Plaintiff’s claims and credibility, Mase Lara Eversole was able to achieve not only a defense verdict, but has also filed a motion for sanctions based on the Plaintiff’s pursuit of a frivolous claim and repeated lying.  (source)

Rick's Note:  Mr. Walker, a lawyer who specializes in legal issues in the cruise industry, is obviously no friend of Carnival.  He recently added more scathing comments.

Carnival Cruise Line's Reputation Circles the Drain

Posted on March 17, 2013 by Jim Walker

One of the interesting things about social media is that there are numerous services which track "what's tending now." Certain applications can also track words or phrases which are dominating the news.

I like to use TweetDeck as well as Monitter to follow trends involving the cruise industry.

"Carnival cruise" has been trending all week at a frantic pace. And the news is not good.

The cumulative effect of the recent cruise ship fires, power failures and images of passengers on disabled cruise ships complaining about toilets over-flowing has turned Carnival's reputation into a joke.

Carnival's "fun ships" have been ridiculed on Saturday Night Live, David Letterman & Jay Leno, and featured in MAD Magazine.

Consider some of the comments which are twirling on Twitter right now...

Packing for my Carnival cruise: tent, sleeping bag for deck, iodine pills, generator, Cipro.

We all lose if CBS doesn't film the next Survivor aboard a Carnival Cruise Ship

Maybe we should shut down Abu Ghraib prison and send the terrorists on a Carnival Cruise.

This is Obama's chance to shut down Guantanamo and outsource the prisoners to Carnival.  Nothing else could possibly frighten potential terrorists more into thinking twice.

I wouldn't go on a Carnival cruise right now even if it were free

One of the secrets to Carnival Cruise’s unsinkable business model: free Coast Guard rescues

They have so many cruise commercials because Carnival is just sinking

Even with the 50% discount from Carnival it will be difficult to go on that cruise line again

Carnival cruise boats are shit LOL dont know why ppl go on them...

Decisions. Decisions. Trying to decide whether to take a Carnival Cruise or just stay at home and shit my pants

If its a carnival trip, there's a 96.13% chance something will go wrong and you'll get a free cruise out of it... Have fun!


Mr. Walker brought up another good point.  In this next article, he explained in a very dark way exactly why Carnival is the largest cruise company in the world.... it is the cheapest in every possible sense of the word.

I remember an old joke. As the engines roared into action, two astronauts were about to be launched into space atop a giant rocket.  One looked to the other and said, "How does it feel knowing every component of this rocket was built by the lowest bidder?"

As Mr. Walker made extremely clear, when it comes to Cruise Lines, you get what you pay for.

What Have the Carnival Cruises from Hell Taught the U.S. Public?
Hey, This is a Great Time to Get a Cheap Cruise!

Posted on March 24, 2013 by Jim Walker

I have written around 1,500 articles about the cruise industry on this blog.

I've covered the issues which are important to me, like the negative environmental impact caused by cruise ships which dump raw sewage into the water and belch toxic high-sulfur smoke into the air. Like the exploitation of vulnerable citizens of India and the Caribbean islands who work over over 360 hours to earn less than $600 a month. Like the fact that cruise lines avoid all U.S. federal taxes, U.S. wage and labor laws, and U.S. safety regulations by incorporating their companies and registering their ships overseas in countries like Panama, Liberia and the Bahamas.

But do Americans really care about these issues?

An article the other day from the Plain Dealer struck a strange chord with me. The article was entitled Cruise Industry's Recent Troubles Could Mean Bargains on the Horizon. The newspaper writes that although the cruise industry is floundering again with images of stranded ships with over-flowing toilets, cruise lines will "fight back by throwing money at the image problem, lowering their prices until customers start buying again."

The newspaper's bottom line is that the recent spate of pseudo disasters may be a good thing for consumers - "this may be the time to find a bargain."

Americans love bargains. They want affordable and fun vacations. That's what Carnival offers.

Americans don't want to think about 400,000,000 people in India living below the poverty line many of whom are easily exploitable on cruise ships. Or the burning of toxic bunker fuel. Or the fouling of the waters in Alaska with a billion gallons of cruise ship waste water. Or the cruise line's non-payment of U.S. taxes.

Americans want to enjoy a cheap vacation on a "fun ship." The cruise lines provide that. If fair treatment of Indian crew members, clean air and water, and the payment of taxes by the cruise lines will make cruising more expensive, most cruisers will choose the cheaper cruise.

Today I saw a tweet by the IrixGuy on Twitter. Seems like a nice fellow. His YouTube video (below) explains why you should continue to cruise on Carnival. His basic points:

1. Carnival is "great"

2. Carnival cruises have the "best prices" and

3. With all of the "disasters" and negative press, this is a "really good time to get a really good deal."

I suppose that's basically what most cruisers want, right?



You of course noted that Mr. Walker spoke up about the continuing exploitation of the low-paid cruise staff, yes?

I would like to point out Mr. Walker said that the cruise crew from the Triumph debacle received absolutely nothing in compensation.  Nothing.

I have an issue of my own I would like to point out.  During the Triumph problem, it really bothered me that those passengers were not only forced to suffer on that ship for days on end, they were delayed getting home for five days. 

Not only did Carnival waste four days of their lives, I bet a lot of those passengers were docked extra sick leave and vacation time from their jobs.  Talk about adding insult to injury!

In case you have forgotten, the Triumph was already a crippled ship even before the fire created the massive problems.

From Wikipedia:

Two weeks prior to the engine room fire casualty at sea, the Carnival Triumph experienced propulsion issues that caused it to be five hours late returning to its Galveston home port on January 28, 2013, delayed the ship's departure for its next cruise from 2:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. that night, and resulted in the elimination of a scheduled stop in Cozumel because of the ship's diminished cruising speed.

While in port, a Port State Control (PSC) vessel inspection by the Texas City, Texas, U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit was conducted, resulting in a finding that there was "a short in the high voltage connection box of one of the ships generators causing damage to cables within the connection box", a deficiency under 50AC SOLAS 2009 Ch 1 Reg 11.[23] A directive with a compliance due date of February 27, 2013 was issued following the inspection, requiring that "the condition of the ship and its equipment shall be maintained to conform with the regulations to ensure that the ship in all respects will remain fit to proceed to sea without danger to the ship or persons on board."

The Coast Guard Marine Information Safety and Law Enforcement System showed that this deficiency remained unresolved at the time of the subsequent fire and loss of power while at sea on February 10.

This was the fourth engine room fire on a Carnival-owned ship resulting in a loss of power, the others being the Tropicale in 1999, the Carnival Splendor in 2010, and the Costa Allegra, owned by a Carnival subsidiary, in 2012.

In other words, Carnival was taking a chance to begin with... and got burned.  Literally.  Figuratively.

As a way to refresh your memory, read this:

"A Carnival cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew is stranded in the Gulf of Mexico about 150 miles from the port of Progreso after an engine room fire broke out this morning, representatives for the cruise line said.

The fire was extinguished aboard the Carnival Triumph this morning and no injuries were reported. The ship, however, lost power and is relying on a back-up generator as it drifts 477 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas, Carnival said in a statement.

The vessel is currently without propulsion and the ship is operating on emergency generator power, according to a statement from Carnival. The ship’s technical crew has determined the vessel will need to be towed to port. A tugboat is en route to the ship’s location and will tow the vessel to Progreso, Mexico, which is the closest port to the ship.

The ship is expected to arrive in Progreso Wednesday afternoon and guests will be flown from there back to the United States, Carnival said.

The Carnival Triumph departed Galveston on Thursday with 3,143 guests and 1,086 crew on board for a Mexican cruise and was due to return to the port on Monday."

Think about it. Those people were 150 miles from safety and comfort.  Send them over there and let them get on with their lives.  It wasn't their fault a crippled ship was allowed to sail and became even more crippled. 

Carnival's actions reveal that it could care less about the passengers' time and comfort.  For example, the first report said the passengers would be taken to Progreso and flown home.  But that's not what happened, is it? 

Carnival changed its mind for a variety of reasons and forced those people to suffer on board the ship for four god-forsaken days. 

Carnival said the cost of putting the passengers in a hotel and flying them home would have been too expensive.  Oh Really??  Well, they put the passengers in a hotel in Mobile, Alabama, on a Thursday night then flew them home on Friday.  So what's the difference?  Why not send them to Progreso in the first place?

And why couldn't Carnival have just put those people on another cruise ship and taken them to Progreso or home to Galveston?   Why wasn't the comfort of the paying loyal customers more important than what was convenient for the company?? 

Carnival says they spared nothing in making the best of the situation, but their actions leave them very open to criticism.  For example, read this:

"Many people questioned why Carnival didn't transfer the passengers to another ship and the simple answer was they didn't want to risk the safety of the passengers and crew. They were extremely uncomfortable but weren't in imminent danger. The weather had drastically changed overnight with seas reaching up to 10 feet with 30 knot winds. The risk of injury greatly increased with the deteriorating weather conditions, so the decision to keep the passengers onboard and safe was prudent and responsible."

I suppose any excuse is as good as another.  No one can argue with these people.  You are their captive.  Once you are on their ship, you are at their mercy. 

I found an article on the Internet about Carnival's "small print"

"Carnival can leave you in the lurch (as long as it’s on dry land). Carnival’s contract, for instance, provides that if your voyage is “is hindered or prevented” for various reasons which the contract lists, or for “any other cause whatsoever,” you and your baggage “may be landed at the port of embarkation or at any port or place at which the Vessel may call, at which time the responsibility of Carnival shall cease and this contract shall be deemed to have been fully performed.”

The cruise was supposed to end on Monday morning. The accident occurred on a Sunday.  Send the passengers to Progreso and they are home Monday no worse for wear with a story of how Carnival made the best of a bad situation.  But that's not what happened, was it?

The ordeal didn't end till Thursday night. Most people returned to Houston on Friday.  As a result of Carnival's deep concern for their "safety", these people were held captive for three extra days of suffering (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) plus their entire Friday was blown traveling back to Houston.  That's four lost days of their lives thanks to Carnival's 'concern for their safety'.

I say Carnival did what was convenient for them.  I bet the lawyers said it wasn't worth the risk to bother getting those people to another ship.  Since Carnival had the legal right to keep these people captive, that's what they did.

I was already sensitive about Carnival's tendency to do what is most convenient for the company when a similar issue caught my eye.  This next blurb is why I re-opened my research into Carnival's behavior. 

When I heard news of the problems aboard the Carnival Legend, one particular item caught my eye.

(CNN) -- The latest in a series of beleaguered Carnival cruises made its way back to Tampa early Sunday, capping a harrowing week for passengers aboard several troubled ships.

The Carnival Legend arrived in port hours ahead of schedule Sunday morning after propulsion system problems hampered its sailing speed.  The company had to cancel a scheduled stop on Grand Cayman during the trip because of the technical difficulty.  [
Rick's note: in other words, the ship arrived ahead of time because they completely skipped a port]

But Carnival Cruise Lines said the Legend is still scheduled to head out for its next voyage on time Sunday afternoon while technicians continue working on the repairs.

"On its next voyage, the ship is expected to operate its normal itinerary with the exception of one port -- Grand Cayman -- which is being replaced by Costa Maya."

This line struck me as very odd:  "On its next voyage, the ship is expected to operate its normal itinerary with the exception of one port -- Grand Cayman -- which is being replaced by Costa Maya."  That made absolutely no sense.

There is nothing wrong with Costa Maya, but it is not a particularly glamorous place to visit.  In 2006 I wrote a story about Costa Maya that described this village as a place that existed strictly to be a cruise destination. Costa Maya is not even a city!  It is a little Indian village in the middle of nowhere.  Back when we visited, Costa Maya was little more than a pier, two bars, a real estate office and a tee shirt shop.  I concluded my story by saying, "If they build it, cruise ships will come..."

Grand Cayman on the other hand is a delightful place to visit.  For example, I have written extensively about the joys of walking along Seven Mile Beach in Cayman. 

In my mind, trading Cayman for Costa Maya is a very bad trade.  Cayman is the place where millionaires build their dream homes.  Costa Maya is a place where the villagers still use straw for roofs.  I asked Marla why they would do this.  She suggested Costa Maya must be much closer. 

I told Marla that was nonsense.  So we went to Google Earth to have a look.  Sure enough, Georgetown, the capital of Grand Cayman, and Costa Maya are the exact same distance from Tampa.  What in the world are they trying to accomplish by switching ports? 

I shrugged my shoulders.  As always, Carnival does whatever is convenient for Carnival.  They don't care that they substituted a port that is totally undesirable for one that people actually wanted to visit.

Looking at the two Google Earth pictures, we see that the ship would be forced to make one turn to head to Cayman. Marla giggled as she suggested that perhaps the ship had lost a steering wheel and could only go straight.

Swapping Cayman for Costa Maya makes absolutely no sense.  On the surface, a lot of things Carnival does makes no sense.  I am not an investigative reporter. I have no idea what Carnival's "true reasons" are for the port switch.  But the one thing I do know is that whatever Carnival does, it always seems like it is the passenger and the crew who suffer the most.

Triumph, Legend, Dream, Elation -  Every one of these incidents reinforce the perception that Carnival in its cost-cutting fervor is willing to take chances by ignoring maintenance.  And then when things go wrong, Carnival abuses and neglects its passengers by taking the cheapest remedies possible.

When you go out to sea on Carnival, you are putting your comfort and safety into the hands of the lowest bidder.

Rick Archer
April 2013

 Part Four:  September 2013  Carnival's Free Cruise Promotion
 Part Three:  March 2013  The Continuing Problems of Carnival
 Part Two:  February 2012  Triumph Headaches Examined
 Part One:  October 2012  Storm Clouds over the Magic

Part Two:
Triumph Headaches Examined


Rick Archer's Note: This is the second article I wrote about Carnival headaches.  It shows how Marla saw the writing on wall way ahead of time.   It takes a look at Carnival's performance record and explains why Marla abandoned Carnival for Royal Caribbean long before the disastrous Triumph event. 

Written by Rick Archer
February 2013

Rick’s Note:  At this point, Marla and I have organized 25 cruises for over 2,000 passengers.  Marla and I each have a role.  She takes care of the money and all the many details; I take care of the promotion end of it.

Marla has a strict code for her role – tell the truth.  After all, if Marla is going to handle people’s money, it certainly helps if her clients believe she is good for her word.  That strategy has worked like a charm.  Thanks to 12 years and 25 trips without a single issue, people trust Marla implicitly.  They give Marla their credit card number without a second thought. Even more impressive, the women even give Marla their true age.  Now that is trust!

As the publicist, I have a similar code.  When I write about our trips, I tell the truth.  My attitude has always been that my word is important.  I prefer that people trust me too. 

That said, when it comes to writing, I have a lot of leeway.  I can conveniently ignore things if I wish, but I prefer not to.   Of course I try to put things in the best possible light, but most people will agree I am remarkably candid… maybe even too candid.

Over the years, I have written about both the good and bad regarding our many cruise trips. 

Here is a certainty in life: every cruise trip is bound to have something go wrong for someone.  There is no such thing as a perfect trip. 

So the question for me is how to handle the story when things do go wrong.  Do I ignore the problem or do I discuss the problem?  

I have always felt that people prefer to know I am telling the truth when I relate anecdotes and events from each trip.  Sure I tell a tall tale every now and then in fun, but on the serious issues I am a straight shooter. After all, people are counting on Marla and me to help them have the smoothest, safest trip possible.  For me to accomplish this, I feel the need to share the full picture.   To me, this means reporting both the good and the bad. 

Last year Marla encountered unexpected customer service problems with Carnival regarding the October 2012 Magic cruise.  Carnival has always been the most difficult cruise line to deal with, but last year they took a turn for the worse that left her totally baffled.  

For those of you who are new to my Newsletter and don’t know the story, the major headache concerned Carnival’s obstinate refusal to give our group of 180 customers a decent dance floor for our late night dancing. 

Considering we had sailed on Carnival for the previous five years and had a perfect track record, we could not understand why our group was now being forbidden to use any of the five perfectly acceptable dance floors at Midnight of all times.  

Why was it okay for five years but no longer?  None of it made any sense.

I wrote a lengthy article about the problems:  Storm Clouds above the Magic  (note: this article is listed on this same page down below)

Here is a snippet:

“This is a story about an organization that seems to have lost its way.   You will read about decisions from its employees that will leave you shaking your head at their seeming total abandonment of common sense.”

Unfortunately, there are always going to be people who do not like reports of conflict regarding their expensive vacations.  They paid good money in order to have fun and don’t wish to hear the slightest discouraging word. 

For example, one of our Magic customers took deep umbrage at my report.

“I find much of the talk about the upcoming Magic cruise disheartening.

I came to the pre-cruise party to find out all the nuances about the cruise. I am in very high spirits awaiting this trip. However, I sat through what felt like an endless denigration of the company doing the cruise.

In my mind, while there have been numerous bumps in the road with this trip, I choose to concentrate on all the positives. You and Marla have put 180+ people on this trip. That is a tremendous accomplishment and I tip my hat to both of you for your efforts.

But now our trip has been nicknamed the "Black Magic Cruise" and I think that is very poor. I realize that Carnival might not be as accommodating as you and Marla would like, however, putting such a negative on this trip will ultimately cost both Carnival and SSQQ travel future business.

We can overcome any issues we will encounter on this trip!!!!!

I want to do my business with upbeat people who work with only the best. Based on the words I heard at the party and the subsequent issues of your newsletter, I am expecting nothing but a crew that has no intention of making my trip special. Carnival comes off being uncaring and exceptionally rude. If that is indeed true, you only are cutting your nose off to spite your face by making it the main focus of your notes.

I think you and Marla deserve a great deal of credit for the work you do and I am in awe of all your efforts. Please don't make your hard work seem as though it can be obliterated by Carnival. We will make this a trip that we will always remember. If we have to dance in a swimming pool we will do so with gust and frivolity unseen before.

If Carnival leaves our friends with a bad taste in their mouth then so be it. But having that bad taste positioned before we board is only a recipe for bad things.”

My response was as follows:

“Sorry, but I don't play the game of smiley face.  I call it like I see it and I don't sweep stuff under the carpet.

I did not wish to see our group blind-sided.  Our group was going to find out eventually.  Better to tell the whole story upfront than to allow rumors to start.

These Carnival people have been strangely uncooperative.  I don't understand what their true mindset is.  Their position is truly baffling to me.

Moreover it is highly unlikely any of us will ever meet the individual responsible for this ridiculous position. 

You have to also understand that there is an excellent chance someone from Carnival would try to spin this PR mess back on my wife.  A woman tried that exact trick yesterday. 

By educating our group to the issues ahead of time, I think our people will be quite clear who is responsible for any problems.  They also can see that Marla did everything in her power to ask nicely. 

In addition, since our people know ahead of time that one of our favorite traditions has been discontinued, they can adjust their expectations accordingly.  

I have asked our group to be polite and to not take out their disappointment on any individuals. 

As for me, I will speak to the people in control privately, but whatever they tell me to do, I will do it.   RA”


The Blame Game

I would like to share an experience.  In February 2004 Marla organized a delightful cruise trip to visit Mardi Gras.  We would have our very own RCCL Rhapsody cruise ship to use as a floating hotel. 

As we sailed towards New Orleans, the captain informed us of some very bad news.  There had been a collision in the Mississippi River near New Orleans between a fishing boat and a tugboat.  Several men had died in the accident.  Unfortunately, their bodies had not yet been recovered.  The missing bodies were somewhere in the river.  The Coast Guard had closed the Mississippi River to all traffic until the bodies were found.

This meant our cruise ship could not dock in New Orleans.  We would have to dock at Gulfport, Mississippi.  We would be forced to take an hour’s bus ride into New Orleans in order to visit Mardi Gras.

There was a lot of grumbling, so the Captain agreed to meet with the disgruntled passengers.  I watched in horror as some of the passengers had an absolute fit.  They demanded all kinds of compensation for their loss – free cruise, free booze, $500 on board credit, and so on.  The anger displayed, the rudeness towards the Captain, the raised voices and the vicious words were hard for me to tolerate.

No one seemed to keep in mind that neither the Captain nor the cruise line had done anything wrong.  It was just bad luck that this accident happened when it did.  The cruise line had federal orders to obey.  The cruise line didn’t owe these disgruntled passengers a single penny in compensation.

But no one seemed to understand this.  They acted as if the cruise line was responsible.  To see the unbridled hostility and the viciousness of these people was eye-opening to say the least. 

So here was my problem for the 2012 Cruise.  Carnival was not backing down.  They expected 180 people to dance in an ugly conference room covered with industrial carpet instead of the 5 perfectly acceptable wood dance floors that were all available at midnight.   The utter senselessness of this position was certain to make some of our guests very angry.  

So how was I supposed to deal with the problem?   Should I warn people in advance or should I let them find out the hard way once they were on board? 

Naturally the first person they would consider blaming would be Marla.  Why didn’t she do her job right?  The one thing I did not want to see was any sort of repeat of the misdirected ugliness I had witnessed on the Mardi Gras trip.  I did not wish for that to happen to Marla who was helpless and did not deserve any hostility.  So I chose to explain the problem IN ADVANCE.

Considering how some people lose their temper when they have been drinking, I wanted to avoid any unpleasant surprises.  If Carnival continued to insist we could not dance on a certain floor, the last thing I wanted was open defiance and rebellion from our passengers.  Therefore I felt the best thing to do was to warn people in advance. 

The third problem was my concern that Carnival would somehow blame Marla for the “misunderstanding”.  This was a very realistic possibility considering some of the self-serving, backside-covering emails that had recently been sent to Marla.  

So this explains why I told everyone the entire story.  It was better to tell the truth and get it out in the open than to risk a potential bitter confrontation on board. 

As a reward for my candor, I received the email criticizing my behavior.

“But now our trip has been nicknamed the "Black Magic Cruise" and I think that is very poor. I realize that Carnival might not be as accommodating as you and Marla would like, however, putting such a negative on this trip will ultimately cost both Carnival and SSQQ travel future business.”

Well, no one likes bad news.  And yes, in retrospect, I was probably more negative than necessary.  But I remain convinced I did the right thing.  My experience is that AVOIDING BAD NEWS LEADS TO EVEN BIGGER PROBLEMS.


The Corporate Way of Doing Business

To be honest, Marla and I had no idea whether the Carnival people on board would stick to their guns or not.  As it turned out, they did back down and let us dance every night.  However, they did so in a cowardly way that relieved the Hotel Manager from any responsibility. 

Our trip liaison whispered that we could go ahead and dance at Midnight just as long as the Hotel Manager didn’t find out about it.  Oh please… I saw a different Carnival executive discretely watching us every night.  And I am supposed to believe the Hotel Manager didn’t know what was going on?

I was so taken by the Hotel Manager’s ploy that I realized that everyone at Carnival goes around afraid for their job… even the Hotel Manager. 

The behavior of the Hotel Manager was disturbing to see, especially since I had witnessed a similar attitude during our cruise the previous year from a completely different Hotel Manager.

I came to the conclusion that there are a lot of scared people who work for Carnival.  I believe the corporate culture at this organization suppresses frank and open discussion of problems.  I also believe that individual initiative is discouraged.  I have personally witnessed personnel who are reluctant to make any decision themselves on even the simplest things.  They act like they will walk the gangplank for the slightest mistake.  The catchphrase is always, “I will have to contact Miami and get back to you”. 

Here’s an example.  On one trip, my extension cord was confiscated by someone in baggage.  I need that extension cord for my dance classes and DJ role.  I went to the front desk to explain who I was and why I needed the extension cord back.  Their response?

“I will have to contact Miami and get back to you”. 

I shook my head in helpless despair.  By the time this kid gets back to me with an answer, it will be too late to matter. 

A couple weeks ago when the Triumph first experienced its problems, a friend emailed to ask if I knew about it.


“The Triumph is stranded in the gulf. It's the same ship for the ssqq trip in July.”

Rick’s Response:

“Just be glad you aren’t on that trip.”


“I am not smiling. Those people are really suffering. There's sewage dripping down the walls. Low food & water. Being towed to Alabama.

We've been lucky on our trips.”

Rick’s Response:

“It isn’t just ‘luck’.  I warned everyone in my newsletter before the October trip that Carnival was in trouble.  The attitudes of the people Marla came in contact with were destructive. 

Since then I have heard they are trying to do away with live bands and replace strictly with DJs as another cost-cutting measure.  It is like they are shooting themselves in the foot.  After a while, long waterslides don't substitute for all the lost amenities.

There is something very 'off' about this company.  I think they have a corporate culture that makes people afraid to say or do the right thing.  Rampant fear makes people afraid to act correctly.

Splendor, Costa Concordia, now Triumph.”


“You're right.  You totally called it.

I feel sorry for the staff as well as the passengers. It's not their fault but I'm sure the passengers are taking out their anger and frustration on the hapless workers.

At least nobody was hurt in the fire and it didn't sink.

I'm absolutely sure a lot of people with medical problems will have serious consequences.”


There’s an old saying.  Once is an incident.  Twice is a coincidence.  Three times is a pattern. 

In my book, the Carnival Splendor incident of 2010, the Costa Concordia incident of 2012, and now the Carnival Triumph incident of 2013 gives Carnival three strikes. 

But the problem is even deeper than one might imagine.  Here’s a review I found on the Internet. 

Costa Concordia, Jan. 13, 2012

The Costa Concordia, a sister ship to the Allegra, hit a reef and capsized off the coast of Italy, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead. Some 4,200 passengers and crew were on board when it capsized. It's believed the ship crashed because of a dangerous maneuver performed by the Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, who then left the ship in a lifeboat shortly after the "abandon ship" order was given.

Carnival Magic, Nov. 16, 2011

The Carnival Magic made an unexpected emergency stop at a Mexican port during its inaugural voyage so repairs could be made to its stern thrusters. In order to have enough time to complete the necessary repairs on the 3,690-passenger vessel, the ship’s scheduled visit to Costa Maya and one day at sea were replaced with an overnight call in Progresso, Mexico.

Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Imagination, July 26, 2011

The Carnival Imagination and the Carnival Fantasy collided in the port of Key West, Fla., and both boats sustained cosmetic damage. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were no injuries, pollution or structural damage because of the crash. The Carnival Fantasy was on a six-day cruise from Charleston, S.C., and the Carnival Imagination was on a four-day cruise from Miami.

Carnival Splendor, Nov. 8, 2010

A seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise on the Carnival Splendor was sidelined just off Punta San Jacinto, Mexico, because a fire broke out in the engine room, knocking out power to both propulsion and hotel systems. The ship had 3,299 guests and 1,167 crewmembers on board. It arrived in San Diego five days later.

Carnival Fascination, June 30, 2010

This 2,052-person vessel lost power because of a technical malfunction and was left adrift in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida for several hours. The Fascination sailed out of Jacksonville and was at the end of a five-day voyage before sputtering without power. Once things were running again, the ship headed to Jacksonville without incident.


And let us not forget the Triumph itself had widely reported problems with its thrusters even before the recent incident.  Marla had been tracking thruster problems on the Triumph for several months now.  Whether the thruster problems were related to the fire is unknown, but what I do know is that Carnival decided not to take the ship out of commission to solve its thruster problem.   Instead they tried to fix it on the fly. 

Carnival Triumph Affected by Propulsion Problem, January 28, 2013


Less than a week after Carnival Destiny was forced to alter its itinerary due to thruster difficulties, Carnival Triumph's schedule has also been changed because of similar propulsion problems.


 "Carnival Triumph is experiencing a problem with its propulsion system that is affecting its cruising speed," Vance Gulliksen, a Carnival Cruise Lines spokesman, told Cruise Critic. "All other safety systems and hotel services are functioning normally."

It is just my opinion, but I believe all these issues are caused by negligence and poor corporate judgment.  And what might cause poor judgment?

I contend that people at Carnival are afraid to speak up.   That is what my gut tells me.  When executives make decisions based on the rose-colored reports of rubber stamp yes-men, then blind spots develop which lead to negligence.


Watching Your Back

I am going to conclude by saying that Marla takes her leadership role seriously.  And she has the history to prove it. 

In the instance of the Triumph headache, Marla was way ahead of the curve. 

Please note that Marla switched her 2013 dance cruise to the Mariner long before these problems with Triumph.  In other words, Marla saw the writing on the wall before everyone else.

Marla’s distrust of Carnival was so deep that she switched her dance cruise to Royal Caribbean even though it meant abandoning our long tradition of September dance cruises.  Marla knew this would hurt our business in the short run, but did it anyway because she was convinced Carnival was in serious trouble.  Obviously she made the right call.

Marla made this decision based on her experience dealing with Carnival’s bizarre inability to put their customer’s needs before their own needs. 

Once she began working with different cruise lines, the effect was immediate! 

When Marla booked passage with Royal Caribbean’s Mariner, she was given late night dancing privileges instantly without a fuss. When Marla booked the Celebrity Solstice for our Hawaii trip, she was given late night dancing privileges instantly without a fuss.

Only Carnival representatives can’t seem to figure it out.  They need to call Miami. 

My friend says we are ‘lucky’ that things like the Triumph problems haven’t gone wrong on our trips.  That is not completely true.  We have encountered all sorts of problems just like everyone else over the years.   The Mississippi River problem is a simple example.

The difference is that when there is something we can do about the problem, we will.   Some of you will remember Marla got everyone practically a free cruise for those affected by our “Rita Rhapsody” problem back in 2005.

That said, it is true that most of our trips are totally devoid of hassles.  And why is that? 

Because Marla has so much experience that she anticipates practically every problem ahead of time and handles it ahead of time.   The lady is a pro.  Most people don’t even realize all the things Marla does because she fixes things without fanfare. 

Marla will always have your back covered.  You can count on it. 


 Part Four:  September 2013  Carnival's Free Cruise Promotion
 Part Three:  March 2013  The Continuing Problems of Carnival
 Part Two:  February 2012  Triumph Headaches Examined
 Part One:  October 2012  Storm Clouds over the Magic



Rick Archer's Note: This is the first article I wrote.  It explains the problems that first alerted us to serious issues within the Carnival organization.  This article was written just prior to the October 2012 Magic Cruise.

I wrote it because Carnival was being very stubborn and I was worried they might try to blame Marla for the dancing issues over which she had no control.

Story written by Rick Archer
October 2012


In mid-October, 183 people in our group plan to set to sail on the 2012 Black Magic cruise.  There are ominous dark clouds hovering over our trip before our departure.

This is a story about an organization that seems to have lost its way.   You will read about decisions from its employees that will leave you shaking your head at their seeming total abandonment of common sense.

Since I prefer to avoid the nosy tentacles of Google, I will call this organization the “Safari” cruise line.  Assume any names I use have been altered.  In addition, I will change the names of the dance venues as well. 



As I have documented time and time again, Social Dancing is the tie that binds us all on each journey.  If you think dancing is fun back here at home, it is even more fun on a cruise trip. 

Dancing is not only the perfect activity for the singles to chase each other silly, it can be used to cheer up a couple beaten down by the unending chores of raising families and keeping jobs.

Dancing is the perfect community activity as well.  This picture says it all.  Here Marla dances with her friend Jim while I dance with Denise in the background.

Partner dancing allows guests to spend a fun moment together with countless members of the group.  What more pleasant way to socialize than to share a dance with as many of the different guests as possible?

The cruise industry is well aware of the importance of dance.  Every cruise ship I have ever been on has at least two, sometimes even three or four areas that can be used for dance. 

On the "Safari Concord", the ship replaced by the Safari Black MAGIC, there were seven areas.  Besides the main lounge used for Formal dance events such as the Captains Reception or theme activities wrapped around dancing such as a Hoedown, a Sock Hop or a Salsa night, the Lobby featured Ballroom music during the evening.  This is typical.  Many ships have a dance floor in the main lobby where a small three piece band plays Ballroom music throughout the evening. 

In addition to the Disco, the Concord had three separate smaller rooms with dance floors as well.  In addition, next to the Casino, there was yet another dance area featuring a Western band or a Rock ’n Roll band.  While the Concord had no floor even remotely as good as the Wrapsody floor we had been accustomed to, by and large our dancing on the Concord was quite satisfactory.

When Marla and I visited the MAGIC a year ago, we scouted for replacement dance floors.  We discovered at least five areas.


The first dance venue will be called theLobby” since this dance floor is located next to a gigantic bar in the area where you first enter the ship. The Front Desk is nearby.



The second dance venue is thePiazza”.  It is located right in the middle of everything on Deck 5.  

There is a fairly large dance floor and a stage for a band.  I imagine much of the ship’s evening dance entertainment will be held here. The Piazza has more space for dancing than any other location because it has no walls.  Since the Piazza is located near several walkways, these nearby surfaces can be used for overflow dancing. 


The third venue will be called “The Fancy Lounge”.  This is their ritzy location. The Fancy Lounge has a stage for a band and features the most attractive dance floor.  It also has the most seating. 

Unlike the Piazza which is out in the open for the world to see as passengers walk past, The Fancy Lounge is an enclosed area with doors for privacy. 

It is my understanding that the Fancy Lounge is used for much of every evening by comedians.

This would be the ideal location for our Late Night Dancing, but it has been mysteriously declared off limits.



  The fourth dance
  venue is “The Disco”.

  I don’t know much
  about it since this
was covered
  with chairs when I
  made my initial walk
through the ship.

  It seemed attractive


Our fifth dance venue is the most mysterious.  It features an attractive circular dance floor and ultra-privacy. 

Considering we typically have about 25 to 30 people at our Late Night dancing, this floor would be perfect for our needs, but it too has been declared off-limits. 

Why?  Because this room is reserved for teenagers. 

We will refer to it as the “Teen Club”. 

The Black MAGIC contends that even if there are no teenagers using the room, adults are not allowed in there… even after Midnight.



Our Late Night Dancing is a ten year tradition that is currently threatened by the Safari obstinacy.  In order to understand the issue, some background is in order.

This is Gary and Betty Richardson.  Gary created Late Night Dancing ten years ago on our 2002 "Wrapsody" Cruise.  

Dancing is Gary’s passion.  He can and will dance all night long if you let him.  I truly admire his enthusiasm. 

On the 2002 trip, Gary was especially frustrated on his cruise trip because there were not enough opportunities to dance.  This drove him nuts because the Wrapsody possessed a terrific dance floor.  In fact, as we would learn through experience, the Wrapsody had the best dance floor of any ship we would ever travel on.  Except what good is a dance floor if you can’t use it?

The first problem Gary ran into was that the dance floor was always too crowded to let loose.  Gary resented being forced to dodge people who barely knew how to dance.  A lot of people more or less just stood on the floor blocking the flow while Gary and everyone else tried in vain to Western dance in a circle.

Another problem was that the band didn’t know how to play dance music at the right speed.  Too many fast Polkas had Gary fuming. 

The final problem was the sponsored dance events like the Sock Hop would be filled with hula hoop contests where we were all forced to watch instead of being allowed to use the floor for our own purposes.  Western Night was devoted to line dancing instead of partner dancing. 

Desperate to dance, Gary found a solution.  One night after the band quit playing, Gary brought his boom box onto the Wrapsody dance floor.  Since it was after midnight, Gary and his friends finally had this wonderful dance floor all to themselves.  Now this amazing floor could finally be put to good use!  They could move around the circle without interruption.

However, they had one last hurdle to face.  The security guards looked at Gary’s group with great suspicion.  Should they allow these dancers to be alone in this room without permission and without supervision?   Would Gary’s music wake up any guests?

As it turned out, the boom box was so small the dancers themselves could barely hear the music, much less any guests sleeping on other floors.  So this problem was a non-issue. 

The security guards decided Gary and the rest were basically harmless, so they shrugged their shoulders and left.  Gary’s Late Night group went to nearly 2 am. 

Naturally they got up so late the next morning they missed breakfast in the dining room.  No problem – the buffet room stayed open all morning long just for that problem.  So Gary and Friends basically time-shifted for the rest of the trip.  They danced into the wee hours and slept through the morning till 10 am or so.  This arrangement worked like a charm.  Gary returned home with a big smile on his face.  He was hooked on cruising!

This event marked the start of our Late Night Dance Tradition.  On every dance cruise for the past ten years, Late Night Dancing has been a popular feature.  On this year’s trip, Gary will be back to his favorite role of supervising the Late Night dancing… assuming we have Late Night dancing.

You see, despite eight months of arguing with Safari Management, we still don’t have permission to do our late night dance anywhere except in a carpeted conference room.  

Who wants to spend an entire week dancing on a carpet?   Now you see the problem.



As far as our group is concerned, the Wrapsody offered the finest dance experience at sea imaginable.  The personnel on the ship warmed up to us and greeted our return for five straight trips.  Then one day we learned that our favorite ship was leaving us.

To our dismay, the Wrapsody was taken out of service from Galveston in 2007 and moved to another location.  "Rojal Corabbean" chose to withdraw from the Galveston market from May through October because the sailings were highly unprofitable.  Rojal Corabbean was forced to discount the cruises to under $500 per person.  They had hoped that there would be enough onboard revenue to cover the loss, but that was not the case.   They moved the ship to a more lucrative location.

We switched to the Safari Concord for the past five years. 

When it came to dancing, the Concord was a step down from the Wrapsody, but it was adequate for our needs.  In fact, the dancers who had no experience with the Wrapsody were perfectly content with the Concord.

The Concord had a very attractive lounge that we used for Late Night Dancing.  It was originally a Cigar Bar, but as attitudes about smoking changed, the smoking aspect was phased out.

Typically the room was used for trivia by day and karaoke by night.  Our group was allowed to use this room starting at Midnight.  The room featured an attractive circular wood floor.  You can see part of it in the picture. The floor was perfect for use on sophisticated dances like West Coast Swing.

In order to allow our Western Twostep and Polka to travel, we would move chairs out of the way and dance on the perimeter of the room.  The carpet posed a problem, so the men rarely double-turned the ladies.  This arrangement worked out fine.

We enjoyed our time spent in this lounge.

The best dance floor on the Concord was its Lobby.  Every night a Filipino duo would take the stage and sing popular songs best used for Ballroom dancing throughout the evening after dinner.

We would spend our time dancing East and West Coast Swing, Cha Cha, and Waltz.  As you can see, there wasn't much room to 'travel' our Western dancing, but we didn't mind.  The group thoroughly enjoyed our time dancing in this attractive area.

In 2010, we were assigned to the Cigar Bar for our late night dancing, but spent little time there. Instead, the moment the Filipino duo called it a night, we would plug our equipment into their power outlets and just keep dancing in the Lobby.

Although we did this without permission, no one seemed to care.  Incidentally, although you can't see it, the ship's Front Desk was located 20 feet away in the left corner of the picture.  That desk is manned 24 hours a day. If we did something out of line like playing our music too loud, you would assume they would say something.  Nope.  No one ever said a word.

On last year's trip, September 2011, we were again assigned to use the Cigar Bar for Late Night Dancing.  That is when I met Gertrude, our ship liaison.  She seemed very tense at first.

Gertrude did something I had never seen before.  She actually sat and watched our Late Night Dancing for two hours on the first night.  She sat there in a dark spot and never said a word. I never found out whether she was suspicious or mesmerized.  As the trip progressed, Gertrude let down her guard and warmed up to us.  I think we gained her trust.

On the fifth night of the trip, we were told we could not use the Cigar Bar for Late Night.  As we discovered, the ship's crew wanted the room for a Late Night Party of their own.

So we went down to the Lobby.  To our dismay, we ran into two security guards who refused to let us do Late Night dancing in the Lobby.  They were under orders from the Hotel Manager on the Concord who claimed our music would wake the guests. 

This claim was fairly absurd since we had used the exact same Lobby for all our Late Night dancing on the 2010 trip.  Not one guest had complained that entire trip

So what was the difference between 2010 and 2011?  In 2010, we didn’t bother to ask permission.  We just plugged in our music after the band quit in the Lobby at Midnight, danced to our heart’s content and no one ever said a word. 

Our mistake in 2011 was to actually ask for permission.   Bad move.  Permission denied. 

After security was called to prevent our dancing, fortunately Gertrude stepped in to save the day.  Gertrude was able to intercede with the hotel manager and persuade him our music would not be loud.  She told the Hotel Manager she would stick around to make sure.

Gertrude's heart was in the right place.  She was more helpful than any ship liaison we have ever had.

However, I was shaken by the attitude of the hotel manager. 

This incident was my first clue that the upper management of Safari was not terribly accommodating when it came to our desire to dance into the wee hours of the morning.  At the time, I wondered if this problem would come up again when we switched to the MAGIC in 2012.  It turned out my fear was correct.

Something I did not put in my article about the 2011 incident was that I think Gertrude took a real risk by backing us.  She never opened up to me, but judging by the look on her face, I believe she was severely reprimanded for having the nerve to go to bat for us.

That made me angry.  No one likes bullies, especially hotel managers who push people like Gertrude around.  Gertrude should have received a compliment for trying to do the right thing for the passengers.  Instead I think she got punished. 

Next year it would be our turn.  And that brings us up to 2012.




As you might gather, this story revolves around a basic Safari Policy not to allow "sound" in a public area. I see their point. Otherwise any person with a boom box could play their music.

Based on our 2011 experience, we know Safari is more than willing to be serious about this policy.  I was confronted by two security officers who were not about to let me set my music up.

However, for the past 5 years, Safari has at least been willing to let us use a private room.  On the MAGIC, there are two areas that would serve our need for a dance floor and their need for no public noise.  One would be the Fancy Lounge.  The other would be the sound-proof Teen Club

Our story begins in March 2012 with an email from Marla.  The letter shows Marla attempting to reserve her dance venues.  

The letter is pretty boring, but it gives you an idea of all the different activities Marla coordinates behind the scenes.  


From: Marla
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 12:00 PM
To: whomever

A Warm Annual Hello from the SSQQ Travel Group!

I would like to request the following dates/times/venues on behalf of my group. We are scheduled on the MAGIC this year on the October 14th sailing for our annual cruise out of Galveston.

I know I am early, but my group is large and want to have my requests in now, so I can reserve the appropriate venues.

Josephine has handled my group requests for the past six years.  She has been excellent to work with and I would appreciate if she could continue to help me.

As a reminder, we are a social dance group located in Houston. I would like to secure dance venues as provided in the past.

We currently have 109 guests, but I am sure that number will grow to a much higher number before the ship sets sail. In 2010, we sailed with 190 guests. I anticipate a similar number for this trip.

Sunday, October 14th -- 7 - 8 pm -- 1 hour dance cocktail party in either the Fancy Lounge or Disco on Deck 5 or Teen Club on Deck 4  (I will be using points to cover a beverage only cocktail party)

Sunday, October 14th -- after-hours dancing in Fancy Lounge or Teen Club (whenever the live entertainment ends; it has been around midnight in the past)
My group usually dances for about 1 1/2 hours.

Monday, October 15th -- 10:00 am - noon -- 2 hour dance class in Disco or Teen Club (ice water for guests)

Monday, October 15th -- after-hours dancing in Fancy Lounge or Teen Club (whenever the live entertainment ends; it has been around midnight in the past)
My group usually dances for about 1 1/2 hours (ice water for guests)

Tuesday, October 16th-- after-hours dancing in Fancy Lounge or Teen Club (whenever the live entertainment ends; it has been around midnight in the past)
My group usually dances for about 1 1/2 hours. (ice water for guests)

Wednesday, October 17th -- after-hours dancing in Fancy Lounge or Teen Club (whenever the live entertainment ends; it has been around midnight in the past)
My group usually dances for about 1 1/2 hours (ice water for guests)

Thursday, October 18th -- after-hours dancing in Fancy Lounge or Teen Club (whenever the live entertainment ends; it has been around midnight in the past)
My group usually dances for about 1 1/2 hours

Friday, October 19th -- 10:00 am - noon -- 2 hour dance class in Disco or Teen Club (ice water for guests)

Friday, October 19th -- 7 - 8 pm -- 1 hour dance party in Fancy Lounge or Teen Club (ice water for guests)

Friday, October 19th -- after-hours dancing in Fancy Lounge or Teen Club (whenever the live entertainment ends; it has been around midnight in the past)
My group usually dances for about 1 1/2 hours

Saturday, October 20th - 10:00 am - noon -- Dance class in Disco or Teen Club (ice water for guests)

For the past 5 years, my group has used either Alfred's or the Atrium area for late night dancing on the Concord.  Since we have our own iPod, cables and music system, we need minimal assistance.   No need to use the ship's lounge system or a technician.  All we need is an outlet to plug our computer into.

To our chagrin, right from the start Marla’s request – in particular the issue of Late Night Dancing - ran into one obstacle after another.   The first bad omen came when Josephine, Marla’s long-time liaison, was mysteriously removed.  A new woman, Patricia, took over. 

April 2012

Patricia's Response to Marla's Request

From: Patricia
Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2012 5:28 PM
To: 'Marla'
Subject: RE: Preliminary group requirements chart (revised)

Good afternoon Marla:

Hope you are having a pleasant day.

The MAGIC's layout is different than the rest of the fleet. 

You have been given the Conference Room for your late night dancing because that is the only place available. 

The only lounge that has dance floor is the Fancy Lounge.

Therefore, I can give it to you 10 am - 12 pm or 1 pm on Monday and Friday since it is available at this time. 

Another group has the Fancy Lounge in the afternoons.

I see that Josephine blocked the Disco for you for your party 6 - 7 pm on Sunday and Dancing Class 10 am - 12 pm on Saturday.  The Disco has already been blocked by another group and it really doesn't have an actual dance floor.  It only has space for dancing.  It is not a disco like on the Concord. 

We are using our lounges for entertainment every night until late; therefore, the ship's management advises the only location available for late night events after midnight until 1:30 am is the Conference Room #1. 

We were also advised by ship's staff that Teen Club is not available. 

I will check with ship's staff if you could use dance floor in the Piazza or Lobby, but I believe and seem to recall there are passenger cabins nearby; therefore, Hotel Director advised that they will not allow late night events in these locations. 

I have a few questions:

1.         SSQQ stands for?
2.         Type of dancing group will be doing?
3.         Will all 112 guests be attending the dance lessons at one time?
4.         What kind of music will they be playing? 

They will not allow your DJ to play music in public area because there is no control over what he can say.


Marla's Response to Patricia's Letter

Marla was apoplectic with this response.  No one enjoys being told ‘no’ for perfectly reasonable requests, especially since these very same requests had been honored by Safari for the previous five years aboard the Concord.

However, Marla held it together and wrote a very pleasant letter back.

From: Marla
Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2012 8:33 PM
To: Patricia B
Subject: Re:  Preliminary group requirements chart (revised)

Good evening Patricia,

Thank you for looking into my requests.  I certainly appreciate whatever you can do to assist us in getting actual dance venues for our events.

1. SSQQ stands for Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick

2. We will be doing all kinds of partner dancing.  Swing, Ballroom, Western

3. There will probably be at least half of the guests in attendance at the events, except for the cocktail party, where I foresee almost everyone.

4. The DJ is my husband....I am confident that he will not say anything controversial.  I promise we will be respectful regarding content and the noise level.

The reason that my group continues to be so successful is because of the dancing. 

Please take a look at this picture

It will provide you w/a better understanding for who we are. 

The average age of my guests is probably 55+.  This picture shows our group in the Lobby area of the Concord dancing to the ship's entertainers during our 2009 trip.

Everyone in the picture is with my group.

As you can see, we are pretty harmless.  We just like to dance. 

We are not loud.  We are very respectful to all concerned.

If you would please express to the onboard staff of the MAGIC that we
have always been respectful of all guests and we will continue to be. 

My group seems to entertain the guests throughout the cruise with our dancing.


As for me, I am a home based agent and also the group leader for this cruise.

I was onboard the MAGIC for its Pre-Inaugural introduction for Travel Agents last November. 

I am confident that we will all have a great cruise!

Thank you again for your time!

Marla Archer


The Safari response.

From: Patricia
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2012 9:53 AM
To: 'Marla'
Subject: RE: Preliminary group requirements chart (revised)

Good morning Marla:  J

Thank you for the email.  I have verified with the ship's staff that they will not be able to dance in the Lobby or Fancy Lounge late night as to not disturb of the surrounding passenger cabins

There is no room to dance outside on deck aboard the MAGIC.

That is the reason why the Hotel Director recommended the Conference Room #1. 

Please advise if you want to bring a portable dance floor to be used in the conference room. 

We will need the size dimensions, name of rental company, and how they plan to deliver this floor onboard also by July 15th. 

Have a nice day.

Best Regards,
Group Event Planner



Marla was fit to be tied.  The MAGIC had more appropriate dance venues – FIVE – than any ship we had ever sailed on other than the Concord.   The Wrapsody had two dance venues.  Both the Wrapsody and the Concord were willing to accommodate us.  Why not the MAGIC?

The MAGIC would not allow us to use any of the rooms from Midnight to 2 am even though all five dance floors would be totally abandoned.  

The issue was quite basic – The Hotel Director ruled our music would be too loud... without even bothering to listen to the volume first.

When I heard that, I could not help but wonder if this Hotel Director was the same person who had caused us trouble on the Concord the previous year.  This Hotel Director was dismissing us before even listening to the sound level... just like the Hotel Director had the year before.

Was this a payback for Gertrude's intervention the previous year? 

I completely understand loud music is a reasonable concern, especially when people are trying to sleep.  However, every single one of these dance venues is separated from sleeping quarters by entire floors.

Our dance music is barely loud enough to be heard in the general area where we are dancing, much less an entire floor away.  We play our music loud enough for our group to hear and no louder.  In the large spaces where we dance, the sound dissipates quickly.

Take the Concord Lobby for example.  In 2010, we danced late night for the entire trip in the Concord Lobby without a single issue.  If our music was too loud, wouldn’t someone have confronted us?  Of course they would.  The Front Desk was located just 20 feet away. They had personnel there all night long.  But no one said a word!  Why not?  Because the music wasn't loud and we weren't bothering anyone. 

The 2010 experience should have been all the evidence necessary to show any reasonable person that our music is not a threat. In ten years of dance cruises, we have never fielded a single complaint about the noise level of our music.  Nevertheless, the Hotel Director was shutting us down even though we had a successful ten year track record, five of those years on a Safari ship. 


In particular, Marla was offended by the suggestion that she was expected to provide her own dance floor. 

How dare they expect us to pay for this out of our own pockets when the MAGIC had five perfectly good dance floors going to waste?

Nevertheless, Marla decided to check out rental rates for a dance floor.


Floor Size: 21’ x 21’ $1004.50 per day (before tax)

The cost for even a modest 400 square foot floor was prohibitive.  It would cost us $7,000 for the trip… before tax. 

Marla seethed.  Why were these people being so unreasonable? 

Marla was so frustrated that she began to lose all patience.  I didn’t blame her one bit.  Their position made no sense.

At this point, Marla tried to go over Patricia’s head, but didn’t get very far. 

From: Marla
Monday, April 30, 2012 12:27 PM
To: Safari Executive
Subject: Safari MAGIC 10-14-2012 SSQQ Group Booking  - Preliminary group requirements chart (revised)


Good Morning XXXXX,


I suppose it’s time to get you involved.   Thank you for offering to help!


I have forwarded you most of the communication between myself and the onboard staff, in addition to a copy of my original requests. It’s been a week and I still haven’t heard back from Patricia B, the supervisor.


At present, the only “dance venues” provided are for my Dance Classes on Monday and Friday based upon Patricia’s feedback. According to Patricia, all other events will be held in Conference Room 1.


Dancing is the bond that drives my group. We have been so successful in the past, due to both the group event and onboard coordinators assisting w/our needs.


A dance floor is crucial for my group events. A carpeted Conference Room, not so much.


There are several dance venues on MAGIC: The Fancy Lounge, the Disco, the Teen Club, The Piazza, and the Lobby.


I suggested using Teen Club for after hours because how many teens will be on board mid October?  In addition, don’t the teens have a curfew?


Patricia states that the hotel director says this will disturb the surrounding passengers.


It appears that the MAGIC Hotel Director must be the holdout.


What is he thinking?  Teen Club is on Deck 4. Decks 3 and 5 have no passengers.  Who exactly would we disturb?


Surely with all the dance venues onboard the ship, something is available. All we need is a dance floor.

I appreciate anything that you can do to help....I didn’t mean to write a book, but having a dance floor is paramount for our continued success.




Marla Archer


Unfortunately Marla’s very polite note fell on deaf ears.  She made little headway.

Then Marla managed to find another ally.  They exchanged several emails.  Marla began by explaining that the rental dance floor was out of the question and that the carpet would never work. West Coast Swing dancing would be out of the question and women would be unable to do double turns on a carpet.

Marla thought the problem must surely be related to some sort of misunderstanding.  She made it clear to this new person we did not expect to occupy any Lounge while it was being used by the ship.  We simply wanted to use the floor after the band or the comedian had finished up and left the stage.

Since we had portable dance equipment, we would simply turn on the music and dance as the guests filed out of the room.  Marla explained this was what we had been doing for the past ten years.  No one had ever given us any trouble before.

The ally replied that the Hotel Director was the problem.  He insisted that no lounges be made available after hours due to the noise issue.

Neither Marla nor I wanted to upset our guests with the news of this on-going problem, so we kept it a big secret.  But between us, we were pulling our hair out.



As Marla put it, "It is one thing to say 'no' when you have a problem.  It is another thing to say 'no' when you have ten years of evidence that the music has never been a problem." 

Marla's ally replied:

I am so sorry and I totally understand your frustration.  I wish I had a better answer for you and the power to make this happen for you.  But unfortunately I don't have that type of jurisdiction.  I am not allowed to email the Hotel Director regarding issues and requests like this.  It all has to go through our Group Event Planning Department and put on the final memo.

I am so sorry, Marla.  I hope you know that I appreciate all you are doing and have done to put this group on Safari.

This is one of those situations where it is out of my control and I have pushed back as hard as I can.

Marla replied to her ally that once the trip started, she fully expected a passenger revolt.  Marla predicted the people in our group would find a place to dance whether the Hotel Director liked it or not. 

It is one thing to go back and forth politely arguing via emails.  But try telling 180 guests to their face to go dance on a carpet.  Marla envisioned people laughing in scorn at anyone who tried to use authority to impose this unreasonable demand.  Once our guests learned they were expected to dance on carpet while other perfectly suitable venues went unused, they would likely go dance wherever they wished and see what developed. Let's see how long Safari stuck to their guns in this situation.

These people had been dancing Late Night for ten years without a single problem.

Expecting them to quit now for a lame excuse like 'too much noise' would only generate derision.  No one likes to be told to follow a rule based on bogus reasoning, especially not adults who know more about the situation than the people dictating to them.

The problem for Safari is that here in Texas, we know something about cows.  One of the very first lessons every Texan learns is that it doesn't do much good to close the barn door after the cows have left the building.

Every Texan knows that once you let cows out of the barn, they're gonna start dancing.

JUNE 2012 -

It was now June.  Marla had written three detailed letters asking Safari Management to help us and several discrete back-channel lettersBased on the back-channel responses, Marla realized there were definitely reasonable people in the Safari organization. 

However, since the Hotel Director appeared to rule his Kingdom with an iron fist, these people were powerless to help. Marla received plenty of sympathy, but no movement.

Sympathy wasn't going to cut it. Marla was full of despair.  Not one of her letters had accomplished a single thing.  Three months had passed - March, April, May - and she was still going nowhere with this issue.

Seeing how upset Marla was, in early June, I decided to take a go at it. 

I wrote a letter of my own.


From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, June 01, 2012 5:53 PM
To: a Safari executive
Subject: MAGIC 10-14-2012 SSQQ Group Booking 

My name is Rick Archer.  I am Marla Archer's husband and co-organizer of the SSQQ MAGIC Cruise trip scheduled for October. 

Here is our web site promoting this trip: MAGIC 2012

One quick look will show you that we run a well-organized operation.  We are a tight-knit group that enjoys traveling on your ships.

I am writing today to give you a warning - there is a train wreck currently scheduled to occur on the MAGIC sailing for October 14 unless someone makes a dance floor available to us from midnight to 2 am. 

This is not an unreasonable demand.  You know and I know the ship is largely deserted at those times.  Surely someone can find a dance floor for us, especially considering we have received this exact same privilege for the past five years aboard the Concord.

I am unable to prevent this train wreck.  I think my friends have the right to have one of your dance floors and I think someone in your organization is being stubborn and short-sighted.

So either that person needs to change their mind or someone else in your organization is going to have to help that person come to their senses.  If not, expect a train wreck.

By the time October rolls around, Marla's trip will be close to 200 people give or take.  The one common bond that unites these people is their love of dance. 

Not only do they wish to dance all evening long, they EXPECT to dance all night long.

And why do they expect to dance to the wee hours of each morning?  Because they have danced on Safari ships till the wee hours of the morning for the past 5 years. 

That's right; we have taken this same trip for five years in a row aboard the Concord.  On every single one of these trips, a dance floor has been made available to our group for late night dancing midnight - 2 am.

If this privilege is denied, you can expect a nightmare scenario of angry passengers.

I say this is unnecessary. 

Now what possible reason can anyone at Safari come up with to deny these guests the same privilege in 2012?

I have heard the objection that our music is too loud.  That is nonsense.  We do not play our music loud.  We have been doing this for five years and have received not a single complaint for our music.  It aggravates me that someone thinks they know more than I do about the noise factor.  For five years, we have not caused a problem.  We play the music loud enough for the people in our direct area to hear and no louder.

Who wants to take responsibility for alienating 200 guests who are currently loyal fans of Safari? 

Do you have any idea how much ill will can come out of this event if they are denied this simple privilege that they have come to expect? 

Every one of these people is connected via email, Facebook, and Twitter to practically every important person in the city of Houston in one way or another.  By geometric progression, every person in Houston who likes to cruise will eventually hear this story. 

Do you want the story of the 200 dancers who were denied the perfectly reasonable chance to use one of your dance floors on the MAGIC appearing in the Houston Chronicle?  You risk making your ship a laughingstock.

Because that is exactly what might happen if someone in your organization with common sense does not step in and avert this impending train wreck. 

Because when it happens, someone higher up will see that your people were warned well ahead of time and not one single person solved the problem until it became a gross embarrassment.

It is not our wish to make trouble.  I have told no one in my group of this impending problem.  Using email, Marla and I are trying to work behind the scenes. 

But at the same time it is our job to stand up for our passenger friends on this key issue. 

We will not back off.  This is a simple but important request.  Just give us a place in a deserted part of your ship and let us dance.  How difficult is that?

You understand we will be forced to book on another cruise line if this does not get handled to our satisfaction.  I am not trying to threaten, but rather make a business point.  Look at this from our point of view.  How will we ever be able to sell Safari in Galveston again if we have 200 bitter past guests to deal with?  

Therefore I contend it is in Safari's best interest to resolve this issue gracefully ahead of time to avert the train wreck.

Please find someone to solve this problem.  I am asking as nicely as I can.

Sincerely, Rick Archer




After this letter, a few improvements were made, but the Late Night issue was still not addressed.  Their attitude remained "Take the carpet room or go to bed".

Marla continued to try to work behind the scenes.  The issue that irritated Marla no end was the existence of the very attractive dance floor in the Teen Club that management refused to offer as a simple solution to our problem. This is from a June email.

I am not trying to be difficult.  For the past five years, Safari has provided an after-hours venue with a dance floor.  This is one of the reasons my group is so successful.

I am totally at a loss as to why we can't use the Teen Club after midnight.  This is a teen night club and we are sailing mid October. How many teens can be on board in the first place?  Aren't they supposed to be in school?  And don't the teens have a curfew?

There are so many dance floors on the MAGIC, certainly one could be made available.

If this issue is unable to be addressed using proper channels ahead of time, the only option left remaining is for me to let the group decide where to "hang out" for after-hours dancing.  As I said, all we need is a dance floor. 

Why a handful of teenagers takes precedence over our large group has me very baffled.

I very much appreciate all your efforts in attempting to handle this situation.

Marla received this message in return:

I hear you and I do understand what you are saying.  I have actually sent feedback to upper management along these same lines regarding your group…  It is very frustrating to me.  And I do know that it is not (soandso) fault.  She is having to do as she is told as well. 

Thanks for all you have been doing to sell the trip.

I LOVE groups and it is hard to see something like this happen to a very good, solid, loyal group.  That is why I am continuing to push. 

Thank you so much Marla and stay tuned!!!  J




It was July now. The next development involved our popular Welcome Aboard Party.  

As a cruise group grows, the cruise line rewards the travel agent with points.  Marla has a choice of converting her points into cash for herself or using the Points for her guests.  Marla has always chosen to return these Points to her passengers. 

Once the cruise group grows large enough, Marla uses her points to throw a popular event on the first night of our trip known as our Welcome Aboard Party.

Here the guests have a lounge, usually the Disco, all to themselves for an entire hour complete with our own dance music and free cocktails.  The energy is always very high.

People sign up for the cruises as far as six to eight months in advance.  The anticipation drives them nuts.  This party is their chance to celebrate the start of the trip and really cut loose.

breaking point for Marla came in mid-July.  Mysteriously, another new agent was assigned to her.  This was Number 3 if you are keeping count.  We had no idea how to interpret this revolving door of different representatives.  

Marla was immediately wary.  The problem with switching Cruise Reps is that all those details and all those promises and all those decisions were now back up in the air.  Marla knew she would be forced to spend hours catching this new person up to date.

In the previous month, we had been asked to "stay tuned".  Lot of good that did us.  Nothing happenedThe encouragement amounted to empty words.  The Late Night problem not only remained unsolved, the third travel rep drove Marla nuts with new problems and with misunderstandings over previous decisions.

One day I heard screaming in Marla's office.  When I entered her office, Marla was shaking with fury.  She had just received an email where the new agent had brought up the issue of renting the portable dance floor again.  It was pretty obvious Marla was reaching her wit's end.

Mind you, all of this was done by email.  Not once did Marla lose her temper in an email.  But the endless frustration of dealing with these people was getting to her.  The Late Night situation wasn't her only problem.  Marla had headaches on top of headaches plus Safari had initiated several changes that were not exactly "customer-friendly".

  •   Safari had decided any chance for upgrades was non-existent unless the passenger paid for it.

  •   Now all Guests had to be GOLD (5 trips minimum) or above to attend the Officers Reception.  Oh well, What difference did it
      make? This affair which had once been a huge dance event had been downgraded to the afternoon. Ho hum. 

  •   The ship's Captain Reception had once been free cocktails for all.  Now the guests could buy a cocktail for $1 off.  Gee, thanks.

  •   Safari did away with Future Cruise Certificates.  In the old days, a $100 deposit would get you $100 off your trip PLUS $100
      on-board credit. This excellent selling point was gone now.

  •   Single occupancy deposits used to be $250.  Now they were $500. 

  •   Marla was forced to reschedule our group photo with all three Travel Reps because she had to start over with each one.

  •   There were constant problems as each new travel rep changed times and locations. One day the new agent had decided to move
      all of Marla's dance workshops to 9 am due to some sort mysterious "entertainment conflict" the agent wouldn't explain.  Marla
      was furious. No one in our group would attend a workshop at that ridiculous hour.  Now Marla had another fight on her hands.

  •   The third travel rep kept forgetting to schedule our group photo.  Then she told the photo desk our group was 100 people.  That
      number was about half the size of our group. This would cause the photo shoot to be done at a location too small for us

  •   The third travel rep also told the bar manager our group was 100 people.  This meant that our Welcome Aboard Party would not
      have sufficient wait staff or enough people to make the drinks. As always, Marla had to email back and get her to do it right.

At this point in her career, Marla had dealt with a half-dozen different cruise lines.  Safari had always been the most difficult to deal with, especially when it came to booking her passengers.  Fortunately, due to Josephine, her talented long-time Group Events Planner, scheduling the events had not been any problem for the past five years.

However, once Marla lost Josephine, this trip had turned into a complete and utter nightmare. 

To Marla's utter dismay, suddenly things got even worse.

JULY 2012 -

A Note from the New Safari Cruise Representative

From: new Safari Person
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 2:10 PM
To: marla
Subject: MAGIC Increased Guest Counts

Good Afternoon Marla,

Hope you are having a great day!

I wanted to introduce myself as the new Group Event Planner for the MAGIC. It is a pleasure working with you.

After reviewing all the sailings with Patricia, we see that your guest counts have increased from the last time that Josephine had sent you a Preliminary Event's chart.

The venues blocked were based on the previous number of guests of 112.  

We see the group has grown to 168 guests. 

The venues blocked have a max capacity of 130 guests (Conference Room 1) and 150 guests (Disco).

Please be advised that in order to keep the guests in that time slot, this is the only venue available to do.

Below I provided a breakdown for every event for options, please be advised that some days cannot be altered.

10/14/2012  6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Welcome Aboard party in Disco
(maximum allowed: 150 guests)

·        No other available times and/or venues available due to size of your group

10/14/2012  11:30 pm - 1:30 am in Conference Room 1

·         No other available times and/or venues available due to size of group

10/15/2012 10:00 am - 12:00 pm Fancy Lounge

·         No other available times and/or venues available due to size of group

10/15/2012 11:30 pm - 1:30 am Conference Room 1

·         No other available times and/or venues available due to size of group

10/16/2012 11:30 pm - 1:30 am Conference Room 1

·         No other available times and/or venues available due to size of group

10/17/2012 12:00 am - 1:30 am Conference Room 1

·         This event cannot be moved elsewhere with the requested time.

·         Can only move early in the day during Port time in the Fancy Lounge

10/18/2012 11:30pm - 1:30 am Conference Room 1

·         No other available times and/or venues available due to size of group

10/19/2012 11:30pm - 1:30 am Conference Room 1

·         No other available times and/or venues available due to size of group

For the times that cannot be altered we can only suggest that a certain amount of guests go to the sessions on certain days and time.

This is your only way to keep the venue and times requested.

As advised previously through our other planners, date, time and venue is always subject to change due to the request of the group.

With the options provided, please confirm if you would like to make the changes.

Please contact me with any questions or concerns.

Hope you have a great weekend!



The new agent's email upset Marla terribly.  The implication was that Marla was somehow to blame for allowing her group to grow too large.  Since when is signing up more guests "wrong"?

Marla hung her head.  This was ridiculous.  On a ship that holds 3,700 passengers, Marla had just been criticized for letting her group get too big.

Shame on Marla.  How could Marla have possibly been so short-sighted? 

Marla contemplated the implications of what the email said - "we can only suggest that a certain amount of guests go to the sessions."

We have had large groups in the past. I asked Marla how this problem had been handled before.  Marla said, "Well, we have never had this problem before because our group has always automatically gotten the largest lounge on the ship."

I asked Marla what the largest lounge was on this ship.  Marla replied, "The Fancy Lounge can easily hold our group. But the agent said she had already given this lounge to another group."

"How large is that group?"

Marla replied, "We are by far the largest with 168. The next largest is a group of Czech Polka dancers from Ennis, Texas, with around 110-120."

"So why can't this agent simply swap rooms?"

Marla shrugged her shoulders.  She had no answer. 

Other cruise lines would have had the sense to move the largest group on the ship to the largest room on the ship such as the Fancy Lounge shown on the right. 

Not Safari.  Safari had a better idea.

Safari insisted Marla limit her party to 150 guests.

Since our group would eventually reach 183, just which of our 33 overflow guests were we supposed to eliminate??

Marla went as pale as ghost.  Were they serious?

Marla immediately began to wonder how if the Travel Rep was just covering her backside with this letter or if Safari was actually serious about enforcing these
space restrictions.  If this Travel Rep was complaining about 168 people fitting into a room that is supposed to hold 150, what would happen if Marla's group grew even larger? 

From this point out, every time Marla sold a new cabin, her anxiety increased that something terrible might actually take place at the Welcome Aboard Party and ruin the event for everyone.  Marla had a catastrophic fantasy.

What if the MAGIC management were sticklers for this rule?  Would they actually be crazy enough to put a security guard at the door with a head counter in his hand? Would he inform the last 30 people to arrive that they would have to wait outside till some of the other 150 guests decided to leave the “Welcome Aboard” Party?

You are a guest with the SSQQ Travel Group?  I am sorry, but due to space regulations, you will have to remain in line outside the door until some of the guests leave the party.  We apologize for the inconvenience, but the fault is with your travel agent.  Mrs. Archer has allowed your group to become too large for this room.  If you don't wish to wait, you can proceed on to the dining room."

Since everything else had gone wrong working with these people, Marla was hit with an overwhelming sense of frustration. 

How exactly would a guest react if he or she was blocked at the door and informed they were one of the excluded 30 people?  Would they be content to stand in the hallway watching their friends through the door as they danced and partied?   Would they be content to let us ask the waiters to bring cocktails out into the hallway to share with them

Marla's guess was these people would be outraged at the insult of being forced to stand in the hall to wait for this party.  In her heart, Marla didn't believe Safari would be that stupid.  But at the same time, why did the agent make such a point about it out?

There was no earthly reason why space should be a problem for her hard-earned party, but now she had one more thing to worry about.  Marla was fed up.  This was the last straw.



Surely you remember the classic Rodney Dangerfield “I don’t get no respect” shtick? 

“I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent a piece of my finger to my father.  He said he wanted more proof.” 

By the time she was through, Marla would eventually put 183 people on board, a truly phenomenal total.  You would assume that someone in the Safari organization might actually throw her a compliment or show some appreciation, yes? 

Not Safari.  Right from the start, they showed no respect. 

Getting put on notice for the crime of building her group was the final insult.  Marla looked at me and I looked at Marla.  How does this company stay in business treating people like this?  Are they out of their minds? 

Marla did a little math.  Based on her projections, this year’s MAGIC group had placed $175,000 in Safari pockets.   All Marla had to show for her hard work was the nerve of some complete stranger to chew her out for letting her group grow too big.  Not only did the agent make the imbecilic suggestion that Marla limit the attendance of her guests, she had the gall to conclude her asinine letter with Hope you have a Great Weekend!

Actually Marla had a miserable weekend.  I tried to tell Marla that Safari wouldn't dream of pulling a stunt like that, but Marla could not shake the fear.  Marla worried for days about what Safari was capable of.



It is now October as I write.  The trip is a week away.  A review of this story shows this fight started all the way back in March.  April-May-June-July-August-September have all come and gone without a compromise. 

Safari never budged an inch.  Not only do we worry constantly that Safari might actually limit attendance at our Welcome Aboard party, the issue of the Late Night Dancing has still not been resolved.  We are headed for a showdown.

The first question that has to be asked is whether the fight is worth it or not.  I mean, we are talking about dancing at 1 in morning.  How important can that be?

The number that sticks in my head is “25”.  We typically average about 25 people per night for Late Night dancing.  If it was a big day like our trip to Atlantis, maybe we get 10 that night.  But if it was a day at sea, maybe we get 50. 

Lots of people will go to a late night show that gets out close to Midnight.  Some of our group will want to go to bed, but there are quite a few who are in the mood to go dance.  They dance and laugh and flirt and chat.

Often these dancers get hungry, so they go have pizza at 2 am.  As they eat, they sit out on the deck with the ocean breeze, the moon and the stars in brilliant displayThey laugh and tell stories from previous cruise trips.  As they talk with their friends after a night of great dancing, they all feel close to each other. 

No one says it out loud, but in the back of their minds, they know this is what they came on for.  Late Night dancing plays an integral role in this experience.
So yes, our Late Night program is important enough to fight for.

A cruise ship is basically a floating hotel.  Like any hotel, not only are we paying for our room, we are paying for the right to use the ship's facilities for the week.  One would assume the
ship understands this concept.  Our group of dancers have paid a lot of money based on the expectation of being allowed to use their facilities the same way we have in the past. 

We are essentially "renting" their facilities for the week.  All we ask of the ship is to just get out of the way.  Is that asking too much? The ship barely has to lift a finger. We ask nothing of the ship other than ice water. 

If we promise these people we will keep our music down, what is so difficult about allowing us to use a deserted dance floor at 1 am in the morning?   Just go to bed and don’t worry about us.  We aren't big drinkers, we don't have fights, we don't throw things and we are never out of control.  We are grown adults who have demonstrated time and again that we are trustworthy. 

After five years of doing this on Safari ships... and documenting it on the Internet with pictures and stories, Safari should know by now we won’t hurt their ship or do anything dangerous.

As it stands, we have been told to go dance on a carpeted floor in a conference room at Midnight while five perfectly good dance floors remain off limits.

If we do as they suggest, five perfectly good dance floors will stay completely empty at 1 am in the morning while our women risk breaking an ankle trying to spin on a carpeted floor.  This will give an entire new meaning to the phrase “cut a rug”.  If our women hurt themselves, no doubt Safari will point to the emails recommending we bring a portable dance floor.

As it stands, there is one final option available to us to avoid a confrontation.  When we get on board, Marla and I will track down the Cruise Director for a meeting.  Let’s see what the cruise director has to sayMaybe we will get someone nice like Gertrude who will offer to supervise our music and give us a chance to show we can keep our promise to hold the volume down.

On the other hand, maybe we will get some who decides to take the Hotel Director's hard line.  I don't envy this person one bit.  It is always much easier to talk tough in an email than it is in person. I am actually a little amused wondering how they will defend their ridiculous position to my face. 

Let’s see if this person has the nerve to remind Marla that this entire problem is all her fault. 

  •   Why didn’t she rent that $7,000 dance floor?  

  •   Why was she so ignorant to let her group get too large? 

  •   Why is she being so disrespectful of the right of the other passengers to get a good night’s sleep? 

  •   Why does she expect a bunch of teenagers to give up their vacation for her? 

  •   Don't these kids have just as much right to have fun at 1 am as her group does?

Well, I have a few counter-arguments. 

  •   Why was it permissible to dance Late Night on the Concord for five straight years, but not the MAGIC?

  •   What's wrong with the 5 perfectly acceptable dance floors that we aren’t allowed to use? 

  •   Why should we have to rent a $7,000 dance floor when we are already paying for the use of the ship's facilities?

  •   If noise is such an issue, why doesn't the ship have a portable dance floor of its own?

  •   Regarding our Welcome Aboard Party, why doesn’t the largest group on your ship get the best venue?

  •   If you are worried that our group is too large, why not show us the proper respect of giving us your largest lounge? 

  •   If you are worried about sound, Teen rooms are overwhelmingly sound-proof.  Put us in there.

  •   And what makes you decide our music is too loud before you have even listened?   


Hopefully Safari will offer an acceptable compromise.  If they don’t, I will invite the person to come explain the Safari position to our entire group.  Let’s see how well that goes.

I warned Safari six months ago that there was a train wreck headed their way.  Let’s see if they finally come to their senses when 183 people ask why a sound-proof teen club is unavailable or why they can’t dance in a deserted Lobby or in the Fancy Lounge with doors that can be closed to keep the sound down.

I don’t know how this story will play out, but it could get interesting.  

Woo Woo… do I hear a train whistle blowing in the distance?



In order to understand my final point, please take another look at the Conference Room aboard the MAGIC.  It is important you see this place with your own eyes. This is what MAGIC thinks is an acceptable place for us to dance.  They understand the room lacks ambience and that carpet might cause us trouble.  So why not solve all your problems with a $7,000 portable floor? 

I reply that 183 people - 163 from Houston and 20 more from Galveston - have signed up for this trip with the expectation that they will be allowed to dance BASED ON THE FACT THAT THE CONCORD ALLOWED THEM THIS PRIVILEGE FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS.

Thanks to Marla's attention to detail, we now know that the likely explanation behind the ongoing lack of cooperation is that there are other dancers on board. 

There are 30 square dancers who wish to have a place to dance. 

There are 120 Polka dancers.  These people are attending the 45th anniversary of their favorite Polka band which just happens to be on board.  We wish them well and hope to make friends.

That said, we also understand that the presence of these other groups creates a great demand for all dance space.  Now many of the mysteries surrounding this trip become clear.  For example, we are likely being stuck in the Disco because the Polka Band will be on the stage in the Fancy Lounge at the same time as we are having our Welcome Aboard Party.  I don't know this for a fact, but it makes sense.

The presence of these dancers has affected our group in other ways as well.  We have consistently been given the worst time slots and the worst rooms for our dance workshops.  Only after considerable arguing did Marla get our times and our room restored back to where they were in the beginning when Josephine was involved.

That said, I expect the place where the presence of the other two groups will affect us the most is during the evening hours.  Historically, few outsiders join us on the floor during the evening when the bands are playing because our group of talented dancers intimidates the heck out of them.  Since they content themselves with watching, we always have the dance floors to ourselves.

On this trip, however, it is likely the competition for space on the dance floor will be fierce.  I expect the most crowded evening dance floors we have ever encountered.  Oh well, if that's the way it is, we will find a way to cope with it.

The best way to cope with the crowded conditions is to let us have our Late Night Dancing.  Give us a floor to ourselves when everyone else goes to bed and we will have our very own Midnight jam sessions.  Everyone will be happy.


There's only one problem.  The Hotel Director has forbidden letting our group have any reasonable place to dance.  Our music is too loud.  He refuses to budge.  This practically guarantees a confrontation.

Unless cooler minds prevail ahead of time, I expect a certain amount of drama will take place at the stroke of Midnight.

There are two factors to consider.  First of all, not only is the Teen Room a perfectly acceptable option for us, I doubt there will even be kids in there.

For the past five years, I have taken a dance cruise trip aboard the Safari ConcordEach trip was taken in the Fall. My previous experience allows me to say with confidence that, during the school year, the Teen Club is typically used by at most 10 kids during the day and none late at night.

I repeat: In the past, the Teen Lounge on the Concord has been completely deserted at Midnight. Therefore, come Midnight on the MAGIC, I imagine the room will either be empty or there will be at most a handful of kids.   


Now here is the question….

You are a businessman. A situation has come up where someone is going to be upset no matter what you decide.

You understand that in business sometimes you have to make tough choices. There will be times when you simply will not be able to please everyone. 

So it all comes down to judgment and common sense.  The main criterion is usually the bottom line. 

Which choice gives your company its best shot at staying in business? 

Tonight y
ou have 183 upset customers who feel they have been disrespected

You know for a fact these guests have recently pumped $175,000 into the Safari bank account.  To say ‘no’ means alienating these customers so much that you risk losing these customers permanently.  Do you really want this account to move to another cruise line? 

No, of course not.  In cruise parlance, that is a double loss.  You lose the account; your competitor grows stronger.

On the other hand, if you give into them, you fear their music may upset sleeping passengers.  You definitely don't want that to happen.  That could cost you your job.

However, you have another option.

Your company has deliberately sound-proofed the Teen room so these noisy little rascals won't disturb anyone. 

So you review the facts.  On the one hand, you see that these 183 guests have been loyal to Safari for the past five years. 

On the other hand, there are maybe four kids hanging out in the Teen Club.  These kids need to be in bed or perhaps they could be persuaded to play foosball and Pac-Man somewhere else. You could probably buy them off with a few free tokens.

It is now the Midnight Hour, the cruise equivalent of High Noon.

It is time for your decision.

Do you tell 183 people paying $175,000 to go dance on a carpet because these 4 kids need this room to themselves?  

If so, you might just be Safari management material.


As you have surely already guessed, Marla gave up on Safari back in August when the cruise agent chewed her out for letting her group get too large.  From the start, the company not only consistently turned its back on Marla, now she was being insulted for doing her job! 

Marla and I asked ourselves over and over what could possibly be the mind-set of these people.  But we never figured it out.

We had been completely satisfied with the Concord.  Too bad it had to leave town.  Despite the loss, we saw no reason to back away from our Fall dance cruise program with Safari.  The MAGIC seemed a more than adequate replacement. 

Then came this year's problems with the MAGIC policies.  Talk about a game changer!  Marla decided enough was enough.  Thanks to Safari’s total lack of respect, it was time to switch loyalties.  We jumped ship and never looked back.  The fact that we have published this story before the trip should be an indication we are not headed back to Safari unless we are forced to.

When Marla contacted rojal corabbean about an April 2013 dance cruise on the Mariner, she was greeted warmly.  Not only were all dance classes, parties, and after-hours dancing approved automatically, the agent was so pleased to get her account that he voluntarily offered many additional perks that will be passed on to our group. 

As it turned out, the people at Cellebraty also treated Marla professionally when she booked our 2013 Hawaii Cruise.  Marla got everything that she asked for approved without a hitch.  

The difference in attitude was so dramatic that Marla was actually taken aback.  It had been so long since a cruise line had attempted to cooperate that Marla had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. 


Marla Archer

I have one final comment to make.

In addition to all the problems Safari sent her way, Marla takes a lot of abuse that none of you ever know about.  Sometimes Marla gets placed in situations where she too has to make decisions and someone is going to be upset no matter what she does. 

Here is a simple example.  Several people on this trip have privacy issues that they pointedly asked Marla to respect. Then one day, a person asked for the full name and room number of every person on this MAGIC tripMarla chose not to hand that information over. 

This person lost their temper and called Marla a disrespectful name.

Stunned, Marla explained that what this person did not know is that Marla would not release this information because she had promised to guard people’s privacy.

Yes, the person apologized, but it still stung.  People simply do not realize Marla works under constraints they may not be aware of.

This incident was just the tip of the iceberg.  You cannot begin to imagine the number of people who changed their minds which created more work.  Switching roommates, switching types of cabins, cancellations, you name it.  Moreover, there were times when the whining about which table people were assigned to sit at or why didn’t they get a free cabin upgrade this year raged out of control like an unchecked forest fire.

I agree people have a right to ask for what they want, but far too often they step way over the invisible line.  I cannot believe how certain people treat my wife with so little respect considering how hard she works and how hard she tries on their behalf.  

Marla is successful for several reasons.  In addition to being scrupulously honest and meticulously thorough, she cares about her passengers in a way that far transcends any commission she receives.  Marla is the exact opposite of the Safari mentality.

However Marla is far too modest to point this out.  Fortunately that doesn’t stop me from telling you that this woman knocks herself out on a daily basis trying to please her customers.  

It doesn't matter that Marla is my wife.  I have never seen another person try as hard as Marla does to do a good job.  Despite all the problems she has faced this year, if anything, my respect for her has grown.  Marla has pulled this trip together despite an overwhelming lack of cooperation from the people who should be trying to help.

Marla nearly lost her mind fighting these thick-headed bureaucrats for the past seven months.  She argued tooth and nail for one reason – Marla was determined to spare no effort to get the best possible cruise experience for her guests.

But this year something is just not right through no fault of her own.  So I have a very big favor to ask.  No matter how weird things turn out with the MAGIC staff next week on our trip, I want you to back Marla 100%.  

I am hoping things will end well. I am sure there are some reasonable people who work on that ship.  Surely they will ease up once they meet us in person.

But there is also a realistic possibility that things may end badly.  That hotel director hasn’t been very cooperative so far and he is the one who holds the power.  Whatever happens, don't lose your temper. I will do the arguing for you.  If you want to help, then stick around and film any confrontations.

Whatever the outcome, don’t blame Marla.  After all the crap she has been through dealing with this company, Marla deserves your complete support and understanding.  

Marla is your leader; please stand by her.

 Part Four:  September 2013  Carnival's Free Cruise Promotion
 Part Three:  March 2013  The Continuing Problems of Carnival
 Part Two:  February 2012  Triumph Headaches Examined
 Part One:  October 2012  Storm Clouds over the Magic
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