Letters to Carnival
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Vera Cruz Letters to Carnival 

Editor's Note: The SSQQ passengers on the 2001 cruise were extremely disappointed with Carnival's decision to dock us at Vera Cruz instead of the promised Cancun and Cozumel.  We understood why we were diverted, but we didn't understand why Carnival did nothing to compensate us for the lost venues on a future trip. 

I personally wrote 3 letters to Carnival asking them to give a simple reduction in price on the next SSQQ cruise for people affected by the hurricane. They refused to help. 

Carnival's unwillingness to cooperate resulted directly in the loss of SSQQ business in 2002 as we switched to the Royal Caribbean cruise line. To make things ironic, at the last moment Carnival offered everything I had asked for in the first place - a 15% reduction in price. But it was too late - I had already committed to RCCL.

Below are 24 letters from SSQQ passengers letting Carnival know how they felt about their treatment.  Did Carnival listen?  No. 

And these guys have MBAs??  What about common sense and the willingness to do the right thing without being forced to?


Rick Archer
October 2001

01. If not already too late, here is my response on the cruise.
I had planned on snorkeling or diving to view the sunken airplane off the coast in Cozumel by the La Ceiba hotel. I had not been back to Cozumel for 10 years and I was ready to relive the experiences of the food and drinks in the wonderful restaurants and bars and playing in the beautiful clear blue water. Viewing the coral and marine life in the waters of Chankanaab Laguna is something you can not see in Galveston. The beaches were too dirty in Vera Cruz that we spent most of our time in port on the ship instead of in the water. If we had not discovered a Carlos n Charles, the visit in Vera Cruz would have been a bust. For the people that had never been to Cozumel, they missed a fun relaxing experience.
Anne Hatch

02. Rick,

I was seriously looking forward to spending time in Cozumel to snorkel and to tour the city. I have never been there. This was the destination that influenced my decision to go on the cruise. I would have also liked to spend time in Cancun to tour the ruins and enjoy the history of this area.
I am hopeful we can make some kind of arrangement with Carnival to make a return to these destinations at a discount.
Al Secor

03. Carnival Cruise Lines,

I understand that the weather dictated our change in itinerary. However, the diving and snorkeling in Cozumel was what I was paying for. The cruise was just an enjoyable way to get there. I would not expect a full refund because I don't believe Carnival Cruise lines should take the entire loss for a weather problem. But the passengers should not take the entire loss either. There must be a compromise so that we can share the loss. I would consider another cruise next year if our group could get some kind of break or concessions to make up for a disappointing vacation.

Steven A. Bahnsen

04. To Carnival Cruise Lines:
I was a member of the SSQQ cruise group that was diverted by Carnival Cruise Lines from Calica/Cozumel to Vera Cruz due to Tropical Storm Chantal. I understand that safety must come first and I appreciate the efforts made by the captain and crew to see that we were never in danger, but the alternative destination of Vera Cruz was much less appealing than the promised locations. I realize that the options available were limited, but a $20 credit on a cruise that cost approximately $600 was viewed by many of my fellow passengers as an insult. Refunding three percent of our money is not consistent with Carnival's reputation as a company that values its customers and goes to great lengths to keep them happy. 
Although I enjoyed the stop in Vera Cruz more than most due to the river rafting excursion, I would like to see some concessions offered since the overall quality of this destination was much lower than what we had contracted. 
If Carnival will make reasonable concessions, I am willing to commit to the same cruise, or a similar one as chosen by SSQQ, next year as long as it does not fall during my busy period at work (approximately August 28 through September 20). This goodwill gesture by your company will dramatically increase the number of repeat bookings that Carnival will receive from those of us who sailed on this cruise and increase interest from the friends and family with whom we discuss our vacation.
Carol Armand

05. Hey Rick,

Here's my 2 cents on Carnival's choice of Vera Cruz as a port of call:

Personally, I think it was a poor choice.

1) It may have been the absolute safest choice, but just how much risk would have been taken by going east? Let me give you an example: You drive a Maxima. Certainly a safe car by anybody's standards. However, it's not as safe as a Volvo. But you don't drive a Volvo. Why? Because the Maxima provide a level of safety that you are comfortable with. So would having gone to an eastern Caribbean port. The storm was no real threat. With a maximum wind speed of 45 mph, and no favorable conditions to strengthen it, the odds of it making it across the Yucatan (which no storm in history has succeeded in doing), and then 600 miles across the gulf, were a million to one. Furthermore, what if it had come across the peninsula and headed due north to the Texas Gulf Coast, or Northwest to the mid to upper Mexican Coast. Where would we have gone then? I imagine the risk was somewhat less, but how much really? Not much I believe. Furthermore, there never was even a question of true safety, only comfort. As you know, we were on a 1000 ft, 47,000 ton boat. Now, I wouldn't ride it through a category 3 hurricane, but a 50 mph tropical depression or storm? Sure. I'd do it without concern for my safety.

2) If I was an executive with Carnival, I would never take 1500 people some place that I didn't know anything about. I think if I felt like I had to take them there, I would have flown someone in advance there to make contacts and activity arrangements, etc. The cruise personnel were lost when it came to what Vera Cruz was all about. I'm just glad I wasn't in one of those persons position. I would have put dozens of my stateside employees on the phone, night and day, calling every Mexico contact that they had in order to get every piece of information that they could, and get it to the people in charge of running my $1 million a trip cruise ship. I don't believe they did this. They left it to the shipboard personnel to do this, and that put them a very awkward position.

What did I have planned to do in Cozumel?

1) Well, for one, I had dive trips already planned. I mean really planned and confirmed with people that I've known for years. I did dive in Vera Cruz, but you saw the water. Diving there was like diving in port of Houston. I wouldn't even have dove in Vera Cruz if I didn't have several hours to kill in Cozumel.

2) I had confirmed plans to see my old friend Pablo, his wife Mane, and their son Pablo Jr.

3) I had confirmed plans to see my friend Polo, and his family.

4) See my friends Jose, Jorge, Lena, and her new baby

5) Most importantly, I had a date for Monday night with my friend Carolina (pronounced Caroleena). She wasn't very happy at all about me not coming. Apparently the last time I saw her left her with a very favorable impression of America.

What did I have planned for Cancun?

1) See Carolina again. I guess my personal cultural exchange program was good for the international relations of both our countries. :) hehe

As you can see, not making it to Cozumel was a great personal loss to me, not to mention affecting the diplomatic relations of two great countries. In the interest of World diplomacy, I'm still going to have to schedule another trip there this summer.

Thanks, Rich Bevis

06. Hi Rick,

Thank you for getting together our dissatisfaction letters to forward to Anne and on to Carnival.
Ray and I, like most, were disappointed in the choice of ports for our cruise. We had planned to go snorkeling, shopping and dining out at some nice places in Cozumel and/or Cancun. Vera Cruz was far inferior from the ports that we had planned to go to. I felt like we were a guinea pig for Carnival as they had not previous docked in Vera Cruz and we were sent to a port that had not been researched by the cruise lines. Where would we have gone had Vera Cruz not had a dock? We were disappointed in Carnival's choice of ports and had expected at least a comparable port. Going to Vera Cruz was like planning to go to Galveston and ending up at Surfside. The shopping was poor, cheap souvenirs everywhere, but nothing really to buy. There were no good bargains and we would have found the same stuff in the market in San Antonio and wouldn't have had to argue about the exchange rate. We had planned to go to the beach in the afternoon, but heard horror stories about those when we got back from out archeological tour. That was also a big disappointment when you had planned to lounge on a beautiful beach only to find there were none. We are also disappointed in that we had paid for two ports and only docked at one. I am sure that the cruise line saved money on that. The ship probably had one of their more profitable cruises as we were all on board on extra day spending money for drinks, souvenirs and gambling. That adds up to a tremendous amount of money for the cruise line. We feel that a mere $20 credit was almost an insult and certainly did not make up for the disappointment in their choice of ports and our not getting much out of our vacation. I don't think I would have signed up for a cruise to Vera Cruz.
We, personally, would prefer some sort of refund instead of a "deal" on another cruise. We would not ever book another cruise in the summer to go into the Gulf. Does Carnival go to Alaska?
Janet Meyer

07. Rick, here's my protest...
In general, I enjoyed the cruise very much. I have traveled quite a bit, and am pretty hard to please. In fact, I have often been asked for help by people planning vacations (both friends and strangers who had heard of my travels). After my first cruise, on another moderately-priced cruise line which shall remain nameless, I have frequently steered people away from cruising in general and away from that cruise line in particular. Since my experience with Carnival, my general recommendation will change.
Currently I would recommend Carnival, and the Celebration in particular, but with reservations. I would be forced to mention the change in itinerary, and that I did not feel I got what I paid for because of it. Vera Cruz simply is not ready for a cruise ship, and possibly never will be. I was lucky - I chose to go on the rafting tour, which was very enjoyable. Still, I was very disappointed at not being able to snorkel. Even worse, the shopping in Vera Cruz was terrible. I wasn't even able to buy the Mexican throw I was asked to buy for a friend, and certainly couldn't find any of the more elaborate items I wished to buy for my friends and myself. T-shirts are not my idea of souvenirs, but that was all I was able to find worth purchasing.
I was especially disappointed at the loss of a second day in port. 24 hours in Vera Cruz in no way compares to a long day in Cozumel and a second day in Cancun. Both planned stops are well developed tourist areas ready to handle large crowds of tourists with various interests. Stopping only in 1 port, a port undeveloped and not prepared for cruise ship passengers, is not equivalent. I do understand the necessity for the change, and appreciate the effort to still provide an enjoyable cruising experience. However I did not get what I paid for and I believe compensation is a reasonable expectation.
Sherry Hansen

08. August 29, 2001


Thanks so much for your efforts and those of Anne Adams to arrange the cruise and onboard activities for the SSQQ group. The trip turned out to be a mixed bag but I tried to make the best of it nevertheless. The up side is that I enjoyed being on a cruise and enjoyed our group. The down side is that I doubt that I will ever cruise on a Carnival ship again. If I do it will be with much lower expectations than I had when I boarded the Celebration August 18.
My first cruise was last October on a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship. I told Jim and other of our cruise companions about that experience, encouraging them to join this (Carnival) trip. Little did I know that the experiences would be comparable to flying first class or taking a Greyhound bus. I earnestly tried not to compare the two experiences but to accept and enjoy the Celebration for what it offered. Sometimes that worked; other times, not. My biggest complaints are detailed below.
NOISE: I could have lived without being "upgraded" two decks because I didn't get one single night's sleep and was totally exhausted when we disembarked. My room was directly below the main galley. Every night from about midnight until about 4 a.m., the galley crew made horrendous noise-banging, clanging, dropping metal things. At times it sounded like they were dragging heavy metal sheets across a concrete floor. The first night I overlooked it. Every other night I called the purser's office after which it got quieter, but I was amazed that although I complained every night (around 2 or 3 a.m.), each successive night the racket persisted until I complained again. The morning of disembarkation, an envelope was slipped under our door. It was from the purser-15% off our next cruise. Jim thought this was great. I told him that although I can appreciate the gesture, it amounts to absolutely nothing if I never plan to cruise Carnival again. A refund of some sort would have been more in line. (The Norwegian ship was very soundproof. I didn't even hear people talking in the hallway outside the cabin.)
BAR STAFF: In general, the bar staff was downright rude. The first night out, we sat at the casino bar to order a drink. There were no other customers at the bar and when the female bartender finally found time to come over, she just stood in front of us and looked at us with a blank expression. She didn't ask "Can I help you?" She didn't ask "What would you like?" Nothing-just a blank stare. I experienced this attitude at each inside/club bar. One evening in the "Islands" bar, the 3 other people in my party ordered drinks, I asked for water-3 times! I was on my way to go to another bar to get my water and bring it back, but Jim ordered my water (a 4th time) and finally it was delivered. The bar staff at the Wheelhouse and the pool bars were much friendlier. However, late one afternoon, I was sitting at the pool bar and a fellow cruiser came and asked the bartenders if they could turn the music on. They said they were cleaning up to close the bar. The passenger asked if they could just put the music on until they close, and the reply was "No." Even the woman who took bar orders in the Vista dining room seemed to have an attitude-she wasn't rude, but she wasn't friendly either. I don't think she smiled at all.
FOOD: Except for breakfast, the food in the Vista dining room was excellent every night. (The breakfast seemed to come from the Wheelhouse buffet; nothing special. Scrambled eggs were extremely dry.) But the Wheelhouse buffet was a huge disappointment; this is one area where I found it difficult not to compare to the Norwegian cruise I was on last fall. On the Norwegian cruise, I spent most of my time at the buffet restaurant because the food was excellent. From 6 a.m. until midnight, it was almost always open. The food was changed every 3 or 4 hours: fresh breakfast buffet, then maybe fresh breads, lunch meats and salads, then a fresh Mexican food buffet, then a fresh seafood/shellfish buffet, etc. Between meal times, they'd lay out fresh fruit and pastries. I guess the operative word there was "fresh." The food at the Celebration's Wheelhouse was adequate, but I didn't feel like much of it was necessarily fresh. And it was mostly fried or otherwise very heavy (read: unhealthy). In fact, I overheard one person comment to another that there's not much "healthy" food in the Wheelhouse. And if you didn't grab a plate during the designated serving times, you had to settle for pizza.

Considering that we had only one day ashore, we were stuck onboard with staff who were, for the most part, rude and not service-oriented, poor food, and lack of sleep. Not my idea of the ideal vacation. I heard that the staff was disappointed because they weren't going to have their 2 days off (days the passengers would have been ashore in Cancun or Cozumel). Well, we passengers were disappointed, too, that we wouldn't have the two ports of call we'd paid for, but for me that disappointment was only exacerbated by being stuck onboard with that noise, lack of sleep, rude staff, and poor buffet food and hours of service.
The pursers were responsive to my complaints about the noise. The food in the Vista restaurant was very good. The rum drinks of the day were very tasty; I even bought the cocktail recipe book. The room steward, the food service staff in the Vista restaurant, the casino cashiers, and, for the most part, the bartenders at the pool and Wheelhouse bars all were excellent. But those things and one port of call were not worth the price of the cruise.
Thank you, Rick, for passing our opinions along to the Carnival home office.
Marlane Kayfes

09. Last February I took exactly the same cruise (Celebration) to Cozumel and Cancun... We did make it to Cozumel and had a marvelous time.. However, we were all disappointed as when we arrived to Cancun the following day, the ship couldn't dock as there was another ship there that had some engine problems and apparently there was no other place for our ship... so we had to turn around and spend another day in Cozumel... So I missed going to Cancun!!!!!
Now, guess what? This time I was doubly disappointed for not going either to Cozumel or Cancun... The things I was looking forward to doing were mainly to go scuba diving and snorkeling... We did rent the snorkeling gear at Vera Cruz , but after taking a cab ride for 45 minutes we were told not to go there as the beaches were so murky and smelly... we were completely disappointed and we had to turn back, take another 45 minute-ride looking for any "blue" water.. but couldn't find..
I would also have loved to have taken a horse-back riding tour of the city in Cancun which would have ended on the beach.. that was part of a tour I had wanted to sign up for.
I think the captain made the right decision... I'd rather be safe than sorry... However, I really think that we must be compensated somehow for the disappointed we had at Vera Cruz... it was a waste of time and money.
Mona G. Nashed
Rice University

10. Hi Rick,
I can't really write a complaint letter about the cruise because I had a blast. I was one of the rafters and that was the most awesome adventure I have been on. The country side was beautiful, small mountains, rock walls, water falls. The river was a 3 in some places but mostly a 2 in difficulty for rafting, which was great for our group. The river was canopied with mango trees and the this wonderfully fragrant flower that our guide called an orchid. The water was the perfect temperature so when we all decided to splash each other it felt wonderful!!! The water was clear to the bottom of the river and looked like you could drink it but we were advised that if you fell in, close your mouth. I got separated from the SSQQ group and was put in a raft with people that turned out to be good friends with my first cousin and her husband. (small world!!) We laughed and sang (good thing that was recorded) down the river. It was so wonderful my roommates said I was glowing all day. I can't complain about Vera Cruz, I had a wonderful time!!!!
Hope to see you August 31st.
Carole Cook

11. To whom it may concern: 
My name is Steve Polfus, I was on the celebration August 18 for the trip to Cozumel/ Cancun. I was traveling with my friends from SSQQ. I had hoped to see the beaches and blue water, and go snorkeling. I have never seen this before nor have I ever been on a cruse before. I enjoyed the cruse so much I will go again next year with the group. I never felt sick even though I have been in the past, when I was fishing off shore. I thank the captain and his crew for taking excellent care of me and making my trip very memorable. 
Sincerely, Steve Polfus

12. Rick,

Every year for the last several years Gay and I have gone to Cozumel for our anniversary (August 23) and had plans to go this year as well. Our original plan was to go the week of August 25- Sept 1. we normally stay at the Paradicus Hotel which is all inclusive (food as well as booze) We can stay for 7 days including airfare for under $1000.00 for the two of us. From the Hotel we plan our dive trips, horseback riding, snorkeling, swimming with the dolphins and shopping in town. We often take the ferry over to Cancun for other activities.
This year the cruise looked so inviting with the large party group we decided to forgo our stay at the hotel and join the party. I know that you have gotten big groups together before for adventures and will continue in the future and we wanted to be a part or the fun and activities. After all, we would still be going to our favorite Island and knowing it as well as we do, we could almost be tour guides.
I ended up spending about a third more for the five day cruise than I would have flying to Cozumel for 7 days, but I did enjoy the participation with the large group and would consider another cruise next year depending.....................
When we were told that we would be going to Vera Cruz I didnt mind because we had never been there before. I was shocked and amazed upon arrival at the filth and smell of the city. It is not set up to accommodate American tourists and we should not have been Carnival's test rats. I appreciate the concern for my safety, but before the trip I visited Carnival's web site and It clearly stated that the cruise line always studies alternative routes and destinations for days in advance in case of storms.On the ship we were told that they were trying to decide where to go as if this was a first time a change of plan ever happened! If Vera Cruz has ever been an option then someone from this cruise line should have checked it out first! Since there was no pier surely someone could have flown there to see if it was a city worthy of bringing passengers. I was terribly disappointed in the city. No tee-shirts were even in English so the only ones you could purchase simply said Vera Cruz While we made a hit with the town , the town did not make a hit with us.
This single (1) port did not and could not compare with the two (2) ports that we were supposed to visit. This trip was not equivalent in value to what we expected and were promised.
Carnival has a reputation for Excellence in "delivering the goods." to their customers and I am sure they will make good on our loss. They know that they will regain our business if they are fair to us.
Thanks for letting me vent!
M.G. Anseman

13. Hi Rick, 
It was really fun to go on the cruise with the group you got together! It was great to run into people we knew everywhere and to make lots of new friends. Thanks for the opportunity. 
Think your approach in appealing to Carnival is ideal; I had planned to ask them for a discounted rate on another cruise but know you are right in that there will be power in going to them as a group plus I'd like to go on another cruise with a group from SSQQ. Which brings me to my anecdote. A day or two into the cruise, my friend Sandy happily commented to me "A lot of these people dance!" To which I replied, "Well, we are with a group whose common bond is a connection to SSQQ!" We both had a good laugh when it hit her that it shouldn't be such a shock to find dancers in the bunch. 
Now I'll close and compose a separate note for you to copy from for Carnival. 
Thanks for all your help and guidance, Rick! 

14. Dear Carnival, 
For weeks, I'd looked forward to my first cruise, never having been to either Cancun or Cozumel. After talking to a friend who'd been to Cozumel, I packed my snorkel gear and was ready for the most scenic snorkeling I'd ever done, but, alas, there was no place for us to snorkel in Vera Cruz. While in Cancun, I was planning to take the Tulum-Xel-Ha Tour in order to learn more about the Mayans and then enjoy the beauty that another friend had experienced at Xel-Ha. 
The Carnival folks on board were quite friendly and did their best to keep us entertained and we appreciate the fact that our safety was foremost. Nonetheless, Vera Cruz was the pits. The tour guide who led us on the city tour was very friendly and, the bus comfortable; there was just nothing beautiful to see. In the afternoon, a friend and I walked a few blocks to where we'd been told there would be some shopping opportunities and we were greeted by a horrendous stench. So our shopping expedition was short-lived. 
I would very much like to have the opportunity to take the Celebration cruise to Cancun and Cozumel next year, at a greatly discounted rate, since we were so very disappointed in not getting to our scheduled destinations this year. Thanks for your consideration in helping us to have the fun that we'd planned to have this year on another Carnival cruise during 2002! 
Joan Recht 

15. Hi Rick,

Some thoughts about the cruise:

I enjoyed the cruise overall, due largely to the fun (and large) group of fellow SSQQ'ers. I'm looking forward to a bunch of us getting together again for another trip of some sort. I have to say I was really disappointed with our alternate destination, but at the same time I understand the decision Carnival made to avoid Cozumel/Cancun. I don't think I'd want to travel with a captain that knowingly put his ship and passengers in danger or discomfort. And I can't really knock the residents of Vera Cruz either, they tried their best to be hospitable with what they had. But I had my heart set on beautiful beaches with sparkling clear water, snorkeling all day in Cozumel and scuba diving at Calica/Cancun. The beaches and water at Vera Cruz just didn't allow for that kind of activity. In fact, it took some effort to even get to a beach - no shore tours were available for this. The fact that this was my first cruise and first real vacation in years just added to the disappointment. Hopefully our next group trip will work out better.
James (Jim) Colby 

16. Rick, let me just state for the record that I am a Safety Professional in the Oil and Gas Industry. I have spent a great deal of time on offshore platforms and vessels. Safety for us is paramount.
I have also traveled to Vera Cruz on business several times and told some of the SSQQ group what to expect in Vera Cruz. Unfortunately, I was correct. To say that we were very disappointed in the decision to go to Vera Cruz is an understatement.
Because of the nature of my business, my wife and I have not had a vacation in three (3) years. The last vacation was a cruise on Princess through the Inside Passage from Vancouver to Anchorage and we celebrated our anniversary during that trip. We hoped for a wonderful vacation and to celebrate our anniversary on another fabulous cruise. This cruise was to a location that we have never visited. We were looking forward to the snorkeling, sailing to a lovely beach and shopping. Vera Cruz, as every one is aware, allowed none of these things.
I know how rumors start and I am in the process of confirming with business associates in Vera Cruz of the rumor that Vera Cruz was aware of the Celebration making a port of call on Thursday, prior to our sailing on Saturday.
if you need any additional information let us know. When the rumor is either confirmed or not, I will let you and the travel agent know.
Regards and live the adventure,
Jack and Nancy Thompson

17. Hi Rick!

I would like to comment on our cruise to Cancun/Cozumel. I really enjoyed the cruise ship, Celebration, and the entire staff on the cruise itself. As to entering a shipping port -- Vera Cruz -- versus Cancun and Cozumel -- well, that's another story. I realize the safety of all the people on the ship was of utmost importance and the Captain chose this port as a precaution to hide from the storm Chantal. And of course, my life is more important than going forward head-on into any storm's path. 

BUT -- Vera Cruz is a port city, and a port city is a port city! We might as well have anchored in the Houston Ship Channel, as the smell and atmosphere would have been the same. 

I had never been on a cruise nor to Cozumel or Cancun and was really looking forward to it. Pat and I had planned on going on the submarine underwater tour and the beach/jeep tour in Cozumel. In Cancun, we had planned to go to the beach where the sand was white and the water was clear blue, do a little shopping and maybe take one of the tours. We would get to see two really pretty tourist oriented cities versus a city striving to be a tourist attraction (Vera Cruz). Well, so much for planning!! 

The $20 credit given to passengers on the cruise wasn't enough to compensate for port fees. We were to be anchored in two separate ports -- not one. Is this suppose to be a test of intelligence or what?? This trip was a money making deal for the cruise line. Even the slot machines were not paying off to compensate us for such a bad port of call.

To sum up Vera Cruz -- 

(1) Smells like stinkie poo, 

(2) Taxi driver couldn't understand English and I ended up in the Mexican "tourist" area (i.e. American products and stores, such as Sears!!) 

(3) the south side of the city which was a long way from the cruise ship; 

(4) spent 7-1/2 hours walking 'cause I was afraid to get in another taxi cab -- no wonder where I would end up;

(5) couldn't take a bus, because they couldn't tell me which way they were going

(6) ended up at the cruise ship totally exhausted from heat, bad directions and trying to get the point across to a Mexican merchant how many items I wanted to purchase and correct price to pay in American money versus Mexican money. 

The tour Pat and I took on the City of Vera Cruz had some nice spots to see, ending at the Plaza Acuario. However, the very first stop was at the prison, fort and castle built in the 1500's. Very hot and nasty!! Just what I wanted to see -- a place where they housed criminals anywhere from 50 to 250 in a very small area, with no ventilation but one small window, and when a prisoner died, the body was tossed in a body room where it was later feed to sharks!! Quite a lovely place to see!!! I guess that must have been really entertaining to the police and/or soldiers -- after all -- what else could they do! Place bets on how fast the sharks could eat one body -- really nice place to visit -- Historical - yes -- my cup of tea -- no. 

The cruise ship was more of a tourist attraction for the Mexican tourists and citizens of Vera Cruz than the city of Vera Cruz was to the passengers on the cruise. 

AND -- we didn't miss the rain!! Not only did it rain during the day around lunch (1:00 - 2:00 p.m.), it also came a huge down pour that evening! Anyone caught out it the rain unprepared for such a down pour???

I really think all of the passengers should be compensated much more than they were given for not being able to have the vacation they had planned months in advance and being able to go to resort cities instead of a shipping port. 

My overall synopsis of the cruise -- ship and staff made the trip great -- shows were entertaining -- food great -- more food -- wonderful -- more food -- it took me two days to get my stomach back in order so that it would stop asking for FOOD!! All hands on deck were extremely nice. The whole working staff on the Celebration
made the trip as entertaining and unique as possible. 

Well -- so much for a short note -- not quite as brief as I wanted to be!! Here's to the Blues Cruise and maybe I will get to see Cancun and Cozumel one day!

Helen Fowler

18. Rick,

I and several others had planned on going on the beginning scuba diving excursion, the Dolphin encounter, and the Fiesta party boat in Cozumel. In Cancun/Calica, we were planning on doing one of the snorkeling tours on the reef beaches, and ending our fun with some of the nightlife the city has to offer. We got nothing close to that in Vera Cruz as there were only 4 excursions offered. From the people I talked to only the Whitewater rafting amounted to any fun and adventure, the two city tours were okay but nothing special, and the snorkeling offered was a total disaster as there was none to be had. I completely agree with Carnival's decision to divert from Cozumel/Cancun because of the storm and in the interest of everyone's safety, but I am very disappointed that they were not aware of Vera Cruz's shortcomings as a host port of call. Why not try Tampico too, and how about New Orleans. New Orleans by itself is a hell of a lot better than Vera Cruz will ever be!

On Monday morning from the Vera Cruz dock, nine of us set off for the snorkeling beach at Antone Lisardo. It is approximately a 30 mile taxi ride out of Vera Cruz, and we took three taxi's at a cost of $30 per taxi for the round trip to the beach and back to the ship. Simply put, we never even made it to the beach because the lead taxi got there first and circled back to inform us the beach was in bad shape and closed. Disappointed, we turned around and made our way to Hotel Mocambo, another beach on the list, but not one noted for any snorkeling possibilities. When we arrived at Mocambo beach and looked around, all we found was dirty black water and a trash laden beach. Other people from the ship that had made the mistake of paying for a table, chairs, and umbrella at this beach told us not to waste our money here. We immediately jumped back into the taxi's and headed back for the ship. We gave the Vera Cruz beaches one last chance on the way back as we stopped along the boardwalk area (a couple miles from the ship) to survey the beach behind the boardwalk, the results however were the same, dirty water and a trashy beach. Dejected, we went back to the ship to clean up, rest, eat, and figure out what was left available for us snorklers to enjoy. Sadly, the only things left were shopping the trinket shops on the main road leading from the dock and going to Carlos/Charlie's restaurant/bar. Most of us decided to only shop a little in the afternoon heat and left Carlos/Charlie's for others to explore. So for us snorkelers, Vera Cruz was a complete bust!!

I think that before we sailed, Carnival should have had alternate port plans in place with extensive information about the port cities because the threat of a storm at this time of year is very high. I am also disappointed in that we only made one port of call when we were promised two, and I would guess that Carnival's associated port and docking fees were nowhere near as high with Vera Cruz as they are with Cozumel/Cancun. The main attraction on this cruise for everyone I talked to was going to Cozumel/Cancun and enjoying the excursions available, not stopping at a third rate port or riding around the gulf on the Celebration for 4 of 5 days.

As far as the boat, services, and trip are concerned, they were first rate in my opinion. The food was unbelievable in taste, preparation, and presentation. The dining room service I personally received was of a very high caliber, and I was completely satisfied with the waiters and their service. The room was great, and the room stewards did a great job too, as the room was always clean and the bed prepared before I made it back to go to sleep. Everyone working on the Celebration was very friendly, and I received no bad service at any time aboard. Everything I needed while aboard the boat was available from plenty of towels for the pool areas to late snacking at the pizzeria as well as plenty of shipboard activities and professional entertainment to take in. The comedians and the juggler were especially good! The casino relieved me of some of my excess money but was fun nonetheless. The pool areas were well maintained with lots of lounge chairs for tanning, and the main pool slide was a big hit with a lot of our group. The drinks of the day helped me forget about Vera Cruz! The Islands in the Sky and Endless Summer lounges provided adequate dance floors for the majority of our dance group, and the performing acts (Jim and Loana at Endless Summer/Eclipse at Islands) in those venues even played songs catering to our styles of dance. Being able to dance some was a big saving grace on this cruise for me and some of the others from our group. It did not however make up for not going to a decent port!

I would grade the cruise overall a B; boat - A+, Vera Cruz - D. I would be interested in a future cruise, if I were convinced that Carnival was concerned enough about the loss of ports and fun excursions on this cruise to make some concession in addressing that outstanding issue. Otherwise, I don't know if I'll consider going again by boat. See you at the studio.

Best Regards,
Randy Winfrey, C.E.M. 

19. Dear Rick, Have already contested my Visa charge for cruise because they didn't deliver as advertized, & sent written letter to carnival customer service (cc Ann Adams) that I booked the trip primarily for the sun/salt water swimming/snorkeling in Cancun area, always great for psoriasis. Though enjoyed the ship, didn't get what I'd signed up for. Asked for 50% refund, coupon for another free 5 day cruise, or companion free coupon.

On Lido deck, it evolved in the pool that more & more adults wouldn't just enter the pool, we had to come down the slide. So it was always interesting when a lady in bikini came in...would she hold her bottom suit, top suit, nose, or earrings. Almost inviariable, the earrings. Splash on! 
Cordially, Don Chevalier.

20. Hi, Rick 
I had a great time on the cruise. I did the archaeological tour in Vera Cruz and thought it was great. My only disappointment was that I didn't get the opportunity to do two shore excursions. Not being the athletic type, I would not have participated in snorkeling, etc. But I'm sure I could have found two things to do onshore. 
The second day at sea on the trip back was a little boring. If I didn't know better, I'd think half the passengers had left the ship. The pool area was half empty, as was the Wheelhouse, Promenade deck, etc. The only place that was busy was the casino. 
I thought the shows were good except the Broadway show went on too long. Especially enjoyed Larry's 10 stupidest questions asked by cruise passengers at the end of the last show.
I don't really have any great stories to share. 
See you around the studio. 
Pat Roberts

21. First of all I enjoyed the cruise...Didn't care for Vera Cruz at all but I suppose we had to be somewhere...I'm not a beach person so beaches don't enter into the picture...I would have enjoyed some lively "bars" of which there were most likely quite a few in Cancun...All in all just being with people I like went a long way in making this venture a pleasant one...That and the fact that I actually won a couple of hundred in the casino....My two small complaints would be 1) the absence of a proper dance floor and 2) the cost of beer...All things considered I would most likely go again...
J. Jones

22. I appreciate the fact that Carnival was protecting our safety by detouring to Vera Cruz; however, I think their information on shore excursions was sadly lacking. I had planned to dive and/or snorkel at both Cozumel and Cancun. No information (in spite of repeated requests) was provided re. SCUBA diving at Vera Cruz. A group of people did find a dive shop and do their own thing but the rest of us didn't get the information in time to join them. The information on snorkeling was abysmally wrong. After spending a horrific hour (and a lot of money) in a taxi with a maniacal driver, we had gone to, and returned from, a beach too dirty to enjoy and water too murky for snorkeling or swimming. This beach made Galveston look pristine! We went to the beach described as clean and found dirty sand, reeking of dead fish and feces. The waiters there at the hotel bid sharply to watch our belongings if we bought drinks and tipped them well. Swimming, even if we had dared to enter the water, was out of the question because of rock jetties and a bad riptide. We left promptly and spent the rest of the time on the ship or within walking distance of it. 
The baggage handlers damaged my suitcase and destroyed my printer. I won't say this was the worst vacation I've had but it certainly wasn't the best. Backpacking in the mountains in a snow storm was more fun. 
Sharon Blifford

23. Persons on this cruise should be warned of the thin walls in the rooms. After returning from the tour of "beautiful" Vera Cruz, I presented my roommate with a tasteful bit of pottery. This particular piece of pottery she found to be quite funny and she made a remark about how I was even more thoughtful than her sister. While waiting to go into the dining room, Janet and Ray asked me what I had bought in Vera Cruz and what was so funny. Apparently, they could hear quite clearly when Sharon and I would start laughing. I was suprised, especially since I had heard nothing from them. They had been prewarned. I tried to keep it down from then on (except for not being able to not say "Goodnight, JohnBoy that night). I had a great and relaxing time, thanks fellow cruisers. 

Lindy Triplett

24. Dear Anne, I'm surprised that Rick didn't keep you updated with a blow by blow description of the trip. Vera Cruz makes Galveston look like the French Riviera.

Carnival had no idea about what to do when we got there. We were the first ship to dock at the as yet unfinished port. We were given 3 options to go to a beach for swimming/snorkeling. They were each more terrible than the previous choice. We were given in writing what the cab fares should be and still the driver tried to rip us off. 

I heard that the white water raft trip and the dive trip went well.

The snorkelers should have gone on the dive boat. We probably would have done much better.

The town is dirt poor and just dirty. I would have liked a real Mexican dinner. There are a lot of dishes native to that area, but nobody knew where to go and I did not trust the cab drivers. It's a town that could benefit from some wealthy entrepreneurs to give it a face lift. It is NOT a good cruise ship destination. They did put on a beautiful folk dance show for us and set off fireworks. They did the best they could with very little resources and very little notice. We were the biggest thing to hit there since the invasion of 1914.

I don't know what the port charges were for Vera Cruz but I expect Carnival will be refunding some of that money back to us.
I have no interest in a ski trip. I moved away from the snow for good reason, but I hope we do another cruise next year. I also strongly suggest we go when the studio is closed and just before hurricane season starts. It was an expensive gamble (at least for me as I popped for 2 tickets) and we lost.

Also, what is the hierarchy of cruise ships? I could be interested in going out of Miami on a newer and/or classier ship. Carnival was OK, but I wouldn't be excited about another trip on it. Also, we were told that next year the Jubilee will also sail from Galveston and it is the 1 year older sister ship to the Celebration which is definitely showing her age.

For me it was a total bummer. I really wanted to treat my aunt to a nice vacation. She came all the way from Philadelphia for her first cruise.

Maureen Brunetti


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