Whiny Cruise Passengers Sue Carnival Cruises, Prove The Customer Is Usually Wrong

shutterstock_101180308Carnival cruise passengers of the infamous “poop cruise” of 2013 are now suing the cruise line for damages.

While I have been indoctrinated for years in the service industry to believe that the customer is always right, in this case, I side with the corporate giant. Carnival cruise passengers are being whiny and ridiculous.

Want proof? Sure, going on a poop cruise is never any fun, where an unexpected engine fire left the ship at sea for days without help. Sources describe the cruise gone wrong as:

It was the trip of a lifetime. That is, until they awoke to a fire alarm, smoke in their hallway and then days and days of misery. Human waste was actually piling up in bags just outside their door.

That sounds like a nightmare, but I’m not so quick to write the cruise line off altogether. First of all, I have cruised with my husband on this very ship out of Galveston, Texas, and we had the time of our lives. I might be singing a different tune if my cruise was dubbed the “poop cruise,” but I see this as one very terrible mistake in Carnival’s glorious history.

Whiny poop cruise passengers are milking it for all it is worth—as you would expect from today’s litigious society. If you can believe this, cruise passengers are suing Carnival Cruise Lines for $5000 a month for the rest of their lives to cover medical bills and mental anguish.

Um, what? What kind of medical bills could these customers possibly have from being exposed to human waste for a few days at sea? Customers were initially compensated with a full refund, a free future cruise, and an extra $500 per person.

But that’s not good enough for plaintiffs like Debra Oubre, 59, who would like to bleed Carnival for the rest of her life due to panic and anxiety attacks experienced on board, as well as a UTI. She describes the experience as:

“It was chaotic. People were in dire need of help,” said Oubre. “We were standing in line for food for five hours.”

Okay, yes, that sucks. I’ll give you that, Debbie. But I’m not going to stop defending Carnival in this case, partially related to the excellent experience that I had on their cruise line in Texas and also California.

The poop cruise sounds terrible (though the name is hilarious), and I’m glad I wasn’t on it. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. Carnival is an awesome and affordable cruise line, and I plan to take my kids on a family cruise out of Texas in the future—if these whiny douche bags don’t tank the company with their lawsuit.

(Image: NAN728/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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    • brebay

      Payment for the rest of your life? No. But damages are entirely appropriate here.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Sure, some damages, and I’m not a lawyer, but do they normally award payments for LIFE? That seems like a lot to ask.

      • brebay

        No, I think that’s insane but people file for it anyway. I hope she loses. I’m sure it was awful, but people have been through much worse and much longer. People hate lawyers, but this is their job, people need to hate on clients like this instead. People smoke and eat like crap and no one hates the doctors who perform the bypass!

      • Socks (I HATE TAXES) Crusty

        Damages can be awarded in any structured payment plan that court/jury finds appropriate. It’ll typically go into a trust fund, managed by a bank or someone that does crap like that.

        They could choose to award a lump sum as well.

      • Valerie

        Jesus, Socks. Are you a lawyer troll?

      • brebay

        either that or he just watches TV late at night…

      • Valerie

        It just sounded so fluid and automatic. But the TV thing makes more sense now that I think about it…

      • Brainspace

        “It’s my money, and I need it now!”
        Anyone else plagued by those commercials? That’s how I knew about structured payment plans.

      • pixie

        From what I can tell, there’s not a lot of those commercials on Canadian channels, but the channels that are broadcast out of the states are filled with them.
        “DID YOU HAVE [insert medical treatment/whatever here]?!?! IF SO, YOU MAY QUALIFY FOR COMPENSATION ON FAULTY PRODUCTS THAT ARE KNOWN TO CAUSE [insert something dramatic]. IF YOU THINK YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM THIS, CALL OUR NUMBER NOW SO YOU CAN GET YOUR MONEY!!”

        Though we do have radio ads for lawyers that help with “personal injury” claims and getting out of traffic tickets (sometimes, those are needed, but they’re abused the hell out of)

      • keelhaulrose

        I think the only case in where someone gets damages for life is if they suffer an injury that afflicts them for life, but often it’s still in lump-sum at the start.

        Like, if you get hit by a taxi driver and your back breaks, they pay for the care you’re going to need for the rest of your life.

      • Tinyfaeri

        Yeah, if ever there was a valid reason for being awarded $ for pain and suffering, this would be it.

      • Justin_Igger

        This is merely a bunch of ni99ers at yet another attempt at the ni99er lotto.

    • brebay

      And I’ll agree with you that it’s affordable, but compared to Disney, Norwegian and Princess, I thought it was pretty nasty. I don’t know what ship we were on though, I’m glad you had a good time!

      • Bethany Ramos

        I was on the same one that went out of Texas (I’m pretty sure it was the same ship, same port); we also did a nicer cruise out of Long Beach. YES, the Texas boat is a little older and crappier, which is why it is so freaking cheap. That seems to be what people are looking for in that area of Texas… Minus the poop cruise. ;)

    • chickadee

      Heh….Carnival is one of the cruise lines with a high rate of customer complaints and dissatisfaction. I know a lot of people who have enjoyed cruising with them, but I also know a lot ego have had bad cruises and no satisfaction after they complained.

      I think the additional lawsuits are far over the top, but Carnival took an unsafe vessel out to sea. Sucks to be them.

    • Guest

      Carnival has had a long history of ruined cruises, most of which have not made it to mainstream media outlets. The “poop cruise” was just one that became publicized. Damages are entirely appropriate here, but unfortunately, Carnival also has a long history of awarding nothing more than vouchers for future cruise experiences. I know this as an unfortunate passenger on a 2003 cruise out of New Orleans that could not return to the New Orleans port because the river level rose too high to allow the ship to return to port because it needed to pass under power lines. The ship went into Mississippi port instead, along the way missing its channel and almost colliding with a barge at 1 in the morning … I was on the lowest deck and everything slid. Every glass item not tied down crashed, passengers on almost every upper deck started the evacuation process, and once the ship was finally brought into port, we all were kicked out of our rooms (and bathrooms) and made to sit for hours in the public portions of the ship (stairwells, etc) until we were brought off the ship. We waited just as long for a single meal, and many passengers remained on the boat for over 20 hours -with only a few bathrooms available and only one meal of hamburgers. Doing a little research after that experience brought up dozens of similar cruises. Carnvial is NOT an awesome line.

      • chickadee

        Carnival is (I *think*) the line with the highest customer dissatisfaction. People argue that it’s because passengers expect to much from a bargain cruise, but the complaints from friends and acquaintances are about non-working plumbing and bathrooms that smell like sewage, not “I didn’t like the food.”

      • brebay

        Yeah, there are tons of Carnival horror stories. Disney was twice the price, but treated us like kings. The 3rd day (of a 3-day cruise) the storm in the Bahamas was so bad, we couldn’t go into port and had to stay on the ship (though they had plenty to do.) Weather is never really grounds for a refund, and we didn’t ask, but a couple weeks later we got a $1200 voucher and a letter explaining why they err on the side of safety in deciding whether to dock in stormy weather. The cruise itself was only about $1800, so $1200 for a 1-day weather related issue was pretty awesome, especially since it’s not something you could sue for and win, and we hadn’t even complained!

    • jane

      If I had been on that ship (especially with my kids) you can bet your ass that I would sue. The fact that you had a different voyage on the same boat and had a good time would not pause me for a fraction of a second; it’s irrelevant to anyone who had been floating out at sea with no food or sanitation for days. A refund plus $500? (because, really, who was on that boat is going to sail that line again?) is an insult for what those people went through. However, $5000/month for life? That’s ridiculous. It’ll be up to the courts to determine what’s fair, but I definitely think that fair lies somewhere north of what Carnival is offering and somewhere south of what some of the plaintiffs are asking for. And, trusting in our legal system, that’s probably what’ll happen in this case.

      • ScienceGeek

        Our cruise ship was delayed at port for a couple of days by a cyclone. For that, and for having to skip two ports, we were compensated $125 each. According to the staff, if we’d been delayed another day, or missed another port, they’d have had to refund us the entire trip or given us a free one.
        Yet Carnival thinks $500 and a trip nobody in their right mind would take is a suitable apology for a week of feces and no food? That’s a medical nightmare just waiting to happen. Hell, the cyclone made the seas incredibly rough coming out of port, so half the ship had seasickness and that’s when I learnt that a) being pregnant on the high seas is a bad idea, but there is a difference between morning sickness and seasickness, b) ships can’t handle hundreds of people puking at once, c) You can actually be so desperate you’ll vomit in a toilet somebody else has already clogged with their vomit and d) cleaning staff on ships can never be paid enough. To be honest, toilets filled with human waste and a five hour wait for food would have damn near killed me.
        I agree, Carnival deserve to be sued and $5K a month is insane, but their idea of suitable compensation is insulting.

    • JLH1986

      While I think they are over top, I wouldn’t be so hasty as to dismiss mental anguish. If someone had a fear of germs or another fear and then had to walk by bags of feces. They very likely would have some serious issues upon returning. A typical counselor (meaning not a dr., not a psychologist) charges at least $100/hr. Psychiatrists and Psychologists (depending on the area) can charge significantly more. Health Insurance doesn’t cover unlimited mental health visits. Further being exposed to feces (even in bags) is a health issue. Do I think every passenger deserves $5k a month for the rest of their lives? no. That’s absurd and silly and beyond reason. Do I think that some compensation should be made for passengers who truly had a freak out upon return? That should be explored. I work for attorneys, I know how litigious people can be, and I’m not saying every passenger has serious issues now, but I’m sure some do and their anxiety and fears deserve to be treated.

    • pixie

      I don’t really see what else they could have done. They refunded the cruise, gave a credit for a free cruise in the future, and gave an extra $500 per person. UTI’s are pretty easy to pick up, like if you stay in a wet bathing suit for extended periods of time or spend a lot of time in a hot tub. It was a shitty situation (pun totally intended), but a lot of the cruise line employees would have also have been woken up in the middle of the night and been subjected to the same living conditions. If they were running on minimum power, it’s understandable why the food line would have been so long.

      Sometimes things happen even when mechanics have gone over the engines and everything very thoroughly. Planes lose power, ships get engine fires, car engines break. I don’t know this cruise line, but unless they knowingly took an unsafe vessel out to sea, I really don’t see it as necessary to sue them. Especially not for $5000 a month for life. Hell, that’s probably more than what their employees get paid.

      • Bethany Ramos

        CARNIVAL IS IN DEEP SHIT NOW.

      • pixie

        Totally new meaning to “shit happens”.

      • brebay

        If you got food poisoning at a restaurant and they tried to settle with you for a free dinner in the same seat, you wouldn’t want it. And I think $500 is shit.

      • pixie

        Ehh, it depends. If I’d been there before with no problem, I might be willing to take the offer.
        And, ok, $500 might be shit, but how many people were on that cruise, plus all the refunds, compared to how much money they make annually, how much extra did they pay their employees who were on that ship? Maybe they looked at the numbers and that’s what they thought was what they could afford without losing too much money? I wouldn’t disagree that the $500 could/should be more, but I’m also trying to think of other factors that could have led to the decision.

      • brebay

        That’s what insurance is for.

      • pixie

        Right, durrrr. My stupid is showing today. I really should have thought about insurance. I will just go crawl into a corner now.
        (I’m not being snarky towards you, I actually have no idea why that didn’t cross my mind)

      • brebay

        No worries, if any of us were at our best, we’d be doing what we were supposed to be doing instead of having fun on here ;) I seriously should have given up Mommyish for lent. I always think I’ll pop in for a minute…never works out that way, then I wonder why I don’t get enough sleep.

      • pixie

        Yeah, spending a ton of time on Mommyish when I really should be working on my thesis proposal or the two final papers I have to do for my classes definitely has its consequences.

        At least I finally caught up on my work so I’m not SO far behind. :)

    • brebay

      Get your shit together, Disqus.

    • elle

      I definitely think damages are appropriate though some of these do seem over the top. But Carnivals offer is laughable. I am curious as to how it affects a lawsuit when they are headquartered in the Bahamas. Any lawyers on here available to chime in? Where’s Carin when you need her?

      • brebay

        Very often the contracts have forum selection clauses which tells you that you must litigate in a particular jurisdiction (one favorable to the carrier) or arbitration clauses that require you to do that instead of suing. This is all in the “contract” on the back of your ticket. Also, Carnival is technically a foreign company (specifically done for liability purposes) so you have jurisdictional issues with getting them into US courts. It can be done, but it’s troublesome and expensive.

      • elle

        Thanks! That’s *kinda* what I thought it was like but wasn’t sure.

      • brebay

        I’m a lowly 2L, not a lawyer yet, so don’t take that to the bank!

      • Véronique Houde

        They’re not headquartered in the Bahamas. Their ships are mostly registered in Panama, and some in the Bahamas so that they can avoid work policies and too many taxes. They are actually headquartered in Miami.

      • elle

        Ah, thanks for the clarification on that. I knew basically all cruise lines are involved in sketchy practices to avoid regulations but I must have gotten confused with the headquarters/registering. The things you learn. Ok that was legit not meant to come off as snarky, I really do appreciate the clarification/insight.

    • SA

      I think they probably deserve some type of compensation. Many probably missed work, etc causing costs beyond what they were compensated and the whole thing was gross. But you do have to open yourself to risks when you travel. You may get into a plane crash, your plane may be delayed, a hurricane could render your hotel uninhabitable. $5000 a month is beyond ridiculous…that is $60k a year…I don’t think ‘poop’ cruise puts you on the disabled list.

      • Bethany Ramos

        I would take a poop cruise for one year if someone paid me 60 K.

      • SA

        Seriously! Instead, I make less than that and deal with the ladies room at work that someone clogs/overflows every other day. Poop-cruise me please!

    • brebay

      The free cruise is hilarious to me. It’s like inviting you back the scene of the car wreck for a picnic.

      • OhHeyDelilah

        A friend of mine got food poisoning from eating undercooked chicken. They compensated him with a voucher for a free meal. WTF?

      • brebay

        Ha! I know a few people who would have taken that deal too…

    • jordana

      Hahahah poop cruise!!!!!! 5k a month is pretty ridiculous if you ask me. It sounds like their compensation was pretty fair. Some people will do anything for money, though, which makes it harder for people who really need the help of civil court.

    • Véronique Houde

      Having worked for Carnival, I would encourage anyone NOT to cruise with them again. The prices are so low because 10 years ago, they ordered a shitload of mega ships to be built in order to compete with Royal, and when the economy was high. Then the economy crashed, people stopped wanting to travel as much, and Carnival had to lower their prices, just to fill up their ships. When you get onboard, the amount of pressure there is for employees to sell sell sell, work work work, and not complain is enormous, and getting worse every year.

      When I worked there, I was working 10 hour days every day except for embarkation day, which I got a bit more time to get shit done (like go buy shampoo). Employees are working even more now, and when you protest, you are told that you signed a contract to work 80 hours a week without overtime so stop complaining. Housekeeping and waiting staff have it even worse. It’s horrible exploitation at its best.

      There are so many companies that treat their staff better. They’re more expensive, but remember that that money goes to pay the staff to bend over backwards to serve you so you can relax.

      As for this incident, I don’t believe that Carnival did anything so wrong in that they do maintain their ships really well (they have no choice really because of laws and such). I agree that the compensation was a joke, but people are asking too much. And if you think that it was bad for the guests, imagine the employees, who room in windowless rooms beneath sea level and had to continue serving the passengers while having no more food and water than anyone else. Since the elevators weren’t working, they had the staff carry handicapped and older guests up and down the steps (which the boat is like 15 stories high). They had to work around the clock. They had to keep a smile on their face and get yelled at for stuff that wasn’t their fault. Can they sue?? Nope. They were given a few days off, and then were put back on the ship to clean it up and continue on.

      • pixie

        I always feel bad for the staff in situations that suck. They’re not hoarding all the good stuff and purposely making the lives of everyone else miserable. In fact, they usually have to force a smile on their face even though nearly everyone is yelling at them and they really just want to curl up and cry.

    • Paul White

      There’s gotta be a middle ground between “oh, have a cruise that you may not have the PTO to take” and “5k a month FOR LIFE!”.

      • Valerie

        I had to laugh at this because that was my first thought. That my company would be like “sure, we’ll give you another week off”. NOT.

    • AlbinoWino

      I just get really sick of the sense of entitlement when it comes to lawsuits sometimes. They certainly serve a legitimate purpose but people need to realize that sometimes there is pain and suffering in life without a payout. We have become a society of scammers in a lot of ways. When my brother was murdered our family and other families received a settlement and it seemed more than fair. Other families went on to sue various other entities but ultimately my family figured we were better off moving on with our lives. I simply don’t buy the fact that these people will suffer lifelong anguish for being on a bad cruise and being stuck. It sounds awful but sometimes you need to just move on and not be angry that things didn’t work out the way you wanted. You can’t undo what done so why dwell on that one shitty time? Sure, you spent your hard earned money to go on a cruise for relaxation and things went badly wrong. I have had some shitty vacations of my own but I guess I am more of someone who laughs it off after the fact and figures it makes a good story to tell. I guess the difference is that my bad vacations were often caused by horrific weather or travel delays or a malfunctioning vehicle or having my stuff stolen. There was no one to sue and I simply recognized that things don’t always go your way. Welcome to life.

      • Bethany Ramos

        So sorry for your loss. You make a great point.

    • keelhaulrose

      While I realize that what the passengers have to go through sucks, I do think they’re lacking some perspective on life. There are people who live in areas with a lot of feces around, not just have to make it through three days on a shitty ship. The conditions on that ship were probably equal to some of the places they sailed past.
      You get sick, your medical should be covered, but poop shouldn’t be justification for someone being taken care of for life.

      • Tinyfaeri

        I don’t think they should be taken care of for life, but they are due damages. They paid a lot of money for a vacation, and were instead stuck at sea with no opportunity to walk away from the shit piling up outside their doors in hallways that don’t have great ventilation, many of which have no windows or balconies out of the rooms. And the engine fire was due to taking an unsafe ship out to sea. You’re basically telling people who went through something horrible that at least they don’t have cancer, because there are other people out there who may have it worse (though are probably not stranded in the middle of the ocean in those conditions).

      • keelhaulrose

        They should get some money back, and, as I said, any medical expenses. That said the attitude that brings this sort of thing is that “something in my life sucks, and I’m owed for dealing with it”. There should not be the sense of entitlement that a really bad event should be compensated with buckets of cash, especially for life.
        Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you plan a trip to Disney. Three days into your week a hurricane hits Florida, and the rest of your trip is spent inside avoiding the elements. Does Disney owe you for the ruined portion of your trip? Common sense says no, they can’t control the weather, but there are people that day yes.
        Let’s say I’m driving to Disney and my Grand Caravan has a massive breakdown, and I have to use the vacation money to get it fixed and I have to spend three days in the roach motel in some town too small for a McDonalds even. The attitude of these passengers is that Dodge owes me for what I already spent on my ruined vacation because the vehicle broke down and ruined the vacation and I had to stay in some really crappy conditions.
        This is the type of attitude that leads people to sue photographers for the whole cost of the wedding because the photos sucked. Of course they’re due whatever they paid for the photos, but if the rest of the wedding was nice they should be happy they got to marry the person they love, surrounded by family and friends, and had a good time while doing so.
        Spending a lot of money does not guarantee anything. You could buy a new, $85k Mercedes and it could break down two weeks later. If it happens you’re due the repair, any money you had to spend on transport to temporarily replace it, and perhaps a little for your inconvenience, but you’re not due thousands in mental anguish because the only loaner car the dealership had left was a bare-bones Kia with power nothing, and you were forced to take it because you needed a car that second.
        And yes, they should be happy that they only had to live like that for a couple days, because there are people who live it every day. The bottom line is they have the money to spend on a nice vacation (and lawyers fees), the time to take such a vacation, and most likely people they love to spend that time with. There’s a LOT of people who don’t have that. Sometimes life isn’t perfect, at times it really, really sucks, but they should count their blessings, not the dollar signs for what they should get for a few days of bad conditions.

      • Tinyfaeri

        None of your examples are comparable to being stranded on a shit-filled boat in the middle of the ocean that was running out of food and clean water, and that’s not even getting to what they paid for what was supposed to be a fun vacation. No, life isn’t perfect, but what those people went through is not the same as it raining a lot on their vacation or their favorite ride being broken. They had no option to leave except swim – that alone is traumatic, never mind the sanitation and food problems. Again, I don’t think they should be set for life, but I do think they are due some compensation.

      • keelhaulrose

        All I’m saying is that if being stuck somewhere shit filled with little food and bad water for a few days is worth thousands of dollars the world owes a lot of people a lot of money. Yes, it was supposed to be a fun vacation, but any number of things could have ruined it. It’s a risk you take on vacation. Life is not a guarantee, and even if the boat never broke something else could have wrecked the trip. They shouldn’t have to pay for the trip, but calling what they went through “mental anguish” shows how little mental anguish they’ve gone through in their lives. My last vacation was to visit my father in law. The day before we arrived he slipped into a coma, and the day after we got there he died in front of us. I’d take three days on the shit ship over that any time.

      • Tinyfaeri

        Right. The “at least they don’t have cancer” shtick. Look, I’m sorry for you and your family, and I’m sorry for people who have to live in terrible conditions all over the world. It doesn’t make what those people went through any better for them, or any less terrible. Like with anything, it’s all relative and someone else always, always, always has it worse. That does not mean they are not due compensation for what happened to them. At this point, you and I are going to have to agree to disagree.

      • Vikky

        Logic fail.
        Natural disaster=/=gross negligence.
        Carnival deserves to be sued for crazy amounts of damages because they sent that ship out there when they knew something was wrong and ALL that bad stuff happened as a result.
        Crazy damages are rewarded to punish the company: because companies try to make money, and we as.a.society want sh!t-cruises to be such a $$$ loss for them that this never happens to anyone again.

      • keelhaulrose

        People buy crap every day for lots of money, and companies knowingly put out shit that has a lot of problems because they know enough people will buy their products that the net is greater than the cost of paying out for situations like this. It’s why consumers are idiotic for buying a first-run electronic device, because they first run ALWAYS has the most bugs, but you see people lining up for the latest iWhatever because they want to take the risk.
        Same in this situation. Carnival is the cheapest cruise line for a reason. Shit like this keeps happening on their boats. And yet they’re still in business because people are willing to bet the savings between a Carnival cruise and a more expensive cruise that their boat isn’t going to be the one where shit goes down. Despite this happening on so many Carnival cruises people still get on them. Caveat emptor. They’re not going to have to pay a lifetime benefit, and they’re going to keep skimping on shit because people want to go on a cruise and they’re willing to risk Carnival because it’s cheaper.

      • Courtney Lynn

        I was thinking the same thing. There are some places where people don’t have much choice but to be exposed to human waste, places that have NO indoor plumbing.

      • ScienceGeek

        Except the people living in those areas don’t pay thousands of dollars to live there after being told it will be a holiday.
        Carnival knew the ship was not in any condition to sail. Their customers had a reasonable expectation that they would not be forced to live in third world conditions. How other people are forced to live is completely irrelevant to this case.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      I think what they received was fair. Asking for $60,000 per year for life is ridiculous. This is basically for her high priced therapist which she probably already had before the cruise.

    • staferny

      I have a friend who works in the civil court and some of the stories she has about what people sue over is just ridiculous. I’m amazed at what people feel like they’re ‘owed’ when something doesn’t go their way, I think that the compensation from Carnival was fair, and if they are the cheapest cruise line out there, well, you get what you pay for.

    • Véronique Houde

      Fun Carnival Facts:

      Guess how much a waiter is paid a month by Carnival?
      I think it comes out to 40$ a month – next to nothing really. They live off of their tips 100%, which means that when passengers choose to opt out of tipping, the staff works for free.

      Guess which department makes the most money for Carnival?
      You might think it would be the bar or the casino, but no. It is the photography department! YET, although photographers are considered “staff” (middle of the totem pole between crew, staff and officers), they are the least paid (when I was there it was 1000$ a month), and to get ANY bonus at all, they have to sell a certain amount of pictures – a number that is so ridiculously impossible to sell that they barely ever get bonuses. They often work 12 hours a day and have to harass guests to take as many pictures as possible.

      How much does it cost to feed people aboard a ship?
      When I was working for Carnival about 5 years ago, 8$ of the price of your cruise was allotted to feeding a guest, and 1$ was allotted to feeding the staff.

      The racism onboard is unbelievable. More and more, people from Westernized countries quit very fast. Which means that they hire mostly Eastern Europeans and Philipinnos. While they pay for the plane tickets of most staff and officers, crew must pay for their own plane tickets to and from home. In the case of my department (Camp Carnival).

      I think I remember cooks being paid 400$ a month. Garbage disposal workers get paid something like 150$ a month. You never see them in the crew bar because they have to send all of their money home to their families. The only place you will ever see them is in the crew mess and at crew bingo. And for some strange reason, they always win bingo. I think that shit is staged man.

      You also do not get a paid vacation. Vacation is 6-8 weeks long (sometimes less because they need to have you back), and you must save up during you 6-9 month contract (sometimes longer – I’ve known many people stay onboard for 10 months at a time).

      Most crew and staff barely have time to visit the ports when they have time off. And when they do, it’s mostly to run errands and eat normal food.

      When I was working at Camp Carnival, we started selling build-a-bear type bears in order to make the money that Carnival no longer wanted to give the department to buy important stuff (such as video games, toys, movies, arts and craft materials, strollers, etc). Carnival cut our department’s funding because they argued that we were a non profit-generating department, and the money invested in the department was basically being thrown in the garbage. Therefore, on top of the hours we had to work with screaming kids (with no ratios) – from 6 am to 3 am every single day, we had to work during lunch hours and afternoon breaks to sell these fucking bears. We made 0 commission on them, and had to use questionable tactics to increase sales. The worse was setting up the activity intentionally before the end of free activities, and showing all of the kids the bears that they could make, and encouraging them to ask their parents to pay for one.

      Most of the crew, you will never see because they are not allowed in guest areas outside of work hours. If they work in crew areas, they will only see the actual ship on orientation day on their very first day of work, and during boat drills if they have duties up above. Whereas staff and officers are encouraged to go out outside of work shifts and socialize with the guests.

      Officers, staff and crew have different dining rooms. Officers can eat where they want (and have a formal dining room with proper napkins and fancy cheeses and a nice espresso machine go fuck them), staff can eat in the crew and staff mess (where they have both waiters and a buffet-style service area), and crew are only allowed in the Crew mess (where they have to serve themselves and clean up after their meals). Crew must use communal bathrooms (they share showers and toilets and only have sinks in their rooms) and stay on the very lower decks under the surface of the water. Staff have tiny bathrooms in their rooms, and have housekeeping to clean up their rooms. Officers stay on the nice floors, get their own rooms with couches and carpeting and nice portraits and are treated like kings (if you haven’t noticed yet).

      Fun fact: employees call passengers Cones. We called them cones because they tend to just stand there, in the middle of the way, and we had to run around them in order to get to where we were meant to be. Coning implies having sex with a passenger (an offence that can get you fired. And yes, I once coned. In my own cabin. My friends and I managed to sneak a few cute guys down to the crew deck and got them drunk and then coned them. Funny story!) It is the challenge of many (mostly male) employees to cone the most guests as possible per contract. Italian officers are notorious for getting away with this!

      Almost all officers are married at home, and have at least one girlfriend onboard the ship, and cheat on both the wife and the girlfriend. Once a contract, the wife is allowed to come onboard for a few weeks (from a week to 2 months depending on how high you are in the hierarchy) and everyone must play “hide the girlfriend from the wife” because they all KNOW that their husbands are having affairs.

      • Bethany Ramos

        You need to write a book!! But seriously, this is TERRIBLE for employees.

      • Véronique Houde

        My friends and I used to joke around that we wanted to have our own reality TV show while onboard. In our heads, it was called Tides of Our Lives. And our stories were MUCH better than The Hills and the Real Housewives. If you want real drama, cage 1500 people from different countries up together for 6 months and make them work, eat sleep and party together. And then sit back with a bag of popcorn. LOL.

      • rrlo

        I never cruised with Carnival. And now I never will!

      • lin

        Wow! We’re thinking about going on our first cruise next year. Carnival was one I was thinking about – we don’t have a lot of money and it is family-friendly. I think I will do my research for a better cruise line!

      • Véronique Houde

        TBH most cruise lines have similar problems – the fact is that a cruise line would not be able to run a profit if they actually treated their employees like they would if they registered the ship in the US. As it stands, with the costs of fuel and the fact that cruise lines have to have these mega ships with all of these extras, they barely run a profit right now. That’s why there is so much pressure to buy once you’re on board – if you’ve never been on a cruise, you’ll be surprised to see how much they push you to buy. Everywhere you turn, someone will be offering you something and it gets to be really exhausting.

        Some cruise lines do pay their employees more, and have them work less hours though. My tip is to spend a bit more on the price of the ticket. You will probably end up spending less on board. If you do go for a “discount” cruise, expect to spend at least twice as much as the cruise ticket cost you – between the shore excursions, the alcohol, the food extras, the souvenirs, the pictures, the casino, the kids activities…. And if you go on a more expensive cruise, the sales tactics are less in your face and harassing.

      • Véronique Houde

        The advantage with Carnival is Camp Carnival activities – compared to other cruise lines (even Disney), they are pretty high quality. Free play time is rare, the activities are varied (from sports, to science, to arts and crafts, etc), and they run activities all day, and then offer babysitting at night. They are also the only cruise line that accept kids that are still in diapers (services start at 2 years old but they accept babies during port hours and for babysitting).

        HOWEVER, the girls at CC are burnt out. Most of my friends have already quit after having been treated horribly. They work too much, and barely get time off. Of course, some ships are better than others, some bosses are better managers than others. Ships with less kids on them have counsellors with better energy levels. But still, you would probably notice them being there almost all day. There are no ratios, so if 100 kids show up, you have to accept the 100 kids, and there might only be 3 counsellors there to take care of them all.

      • SarahJesness

        If you turned your experiences into a TV comedy I would watch the hell out of it.

      • Kelly

        I’m not even going to read the whole novel you wrote because one of your first facts is wrong. Passengers cannot opt out of tipping when cruising with Carnival. There is a fee added to the cruise for minimum tips that you have to pay when you pay for your cruise.

      • Véronique Houde

        Well then perhaps that is a new change because for a looooong time you could opt out or readjust the tipping to what you want. The purser’s office automatically charges tips, and then you can go and adjust them to the level you want, because gratuities are never obligatory.

      • Sundaydrive00

        That has got to be a lot of embellishing going on in that post. I worked for a cruise line as a waiter about 6 years ago. You know how much I made a month? $2,000. There is no way that Carnival pays their employes so much less then other lines.

        They also paid for everyone’s plane ticket to and from the ship unless you left before your contract was up or were fired, which happened a lot.

        No, you don’t get paid vacation. But I knew a lot of people who just went on unemployment during their 5 week break. It wasn’t the same amount they were making on the ship, but it was VERY VERY easy to save up money while living on the ship. You didn’t have food expenses, you didn’t have rent to pay, you didn’t have electric/gas/water bills. I remember I cashed my first check I got (which was only a partial pay period) since direct deposit hadn’t gone through yet and my bank wasn’t located at any of the ports. I lived off of that cash for my entire contract and still had money left over.

        And while most crew aren’t allowed in passenger areas, I don’t think anyone would have wanted to even go in those areas if we could. Being on the wait staff, we dealt with the passengers for 80+ hours a week

      • Véronique Houde

        There are no lies in what I have said. Like I mentioned to someone else, other cruise lines have better policies in place for the staff. But yes, at Carnival, waiters get paid almost solely on their tips. Of course, they can make a lot of money just with the tips, and most of the time, they made more than I did, but still. It was the injustice of almost having only tip money that was wrong.

        And the paying your plane ticket, like I said, depended on the department you were in (hence the racism). I had to pay my first ticket and then they paid the others. Housekeeping and waitressing staff had to pay their own way. It’s just the way that it was for them.

        And we didn’t get paid by checks. We got paid cash in envelopes every week.

        The injustice with not being allowed to go in guest areas has to do with the fact that staff and officers could go whenever they wanted (some in uniforms and others in their own clothes), yet crew were never allowed unless they were on work duty. It’s racist in that there are no crew that come from westernized countries. Crew are hired out of asia, eastern europe, the Caribbean and South America. Their positions are the ones that are paid the least, and they have the least amount of rights. Perhaps they make enough money to support their families because of a good exchange rate, but still they worked as hard as we did – yet they didn’t have staff waiting on them, they didn’t have their own bathrooms and showers, they didn’t have service in their dining rooms, and they couldn’t go and have fun in the disco and dance with their friends. And some didn’t even make enough money to be able to pay a 1$ beer in the crew bar.

      • Sundaydrive00

        The injustice of only having tip money? Thats just how it is being a server. When I worked in restaurants in the US I was paid maybe $10 a month by the restaurant after taxes. But that doesn’t mean I only made $10 a month. You made it seem as if some of the wait staff only made $40 all together. You’re saying you made up to 2,000 a month and some made more then you? I would hardly call that injustice. I know I made more a month then I did at any restaurant I worked at. Granted I worked twice as many hours, but you get used to that.

        I just don’t see how one company and another can be that different. Why work for Carnival when you can work for another line that always pays for airfare (no matter your job), where each cabin has its own bathroom (shower, toilet, sink) and allowed access to crew bar?

        Service in the dinning room? In crew mess? Why would they have servers in crew mess? And who would be doing the serving? I would have hated to get off from work and then have one of my co workers wait on me in order to get food. I was perfectly fine with the buffet style arrangement for the crew. Like really? You thought their should be servers in crew mess? Weird…

        I don’t really get the big deal of not being allowed in the passenger area. Its not racist. I’m a white American and never went into crew areas when I was off the clock. I didn’t go work for a cruise line for the passenger amenities, and I don’t think anyone else I worked with thought they would be hanging out at the passenger pools or going to the passenger bars during their off time. Again weird that you would think that as in injustice. The crew aren’t the ones paying thousands of dollars for a vacation.

        And Carnival paid you in cash? I find that hard to believe…

      • Véronique Houde

        1- I’m not complaining that people make more than me. I was explaining how salaries worked on carnival so that people understood what happened when they opted out of their tips (because it made their vacation more expensive than they thought it would be and they cut out all unnecessary expenses. That shit happens a lot. And I mentioned the salaries of other people onboard, who can get as little as 400$ a month (some people make even less).
        2- Why do these people just not change companies? 1 reason being is that, in Eastern Europe and Asia, you have to pay your placement agency to get you a job on a ship. It’s expensive. The entire process of changing companies is expensive. And a lot of employees work for Carnival because of the pension program (which activates after 10 years). Let’s say they realize three years in that they would be better off somewhere else, they’re losing three years of hard-earned seniority and will have to go back to the bottom of the totem pole (to assistant waiter – same for housekeeping, and they’re not willing to do that).
        3- Never once did I claim the racism to be towards me. It’s towards them. I really feel like calling you a name at this point because really, I don’t understand how you could read my message upside down that way. I’m not complaining that I got staff to clean after me and serve me – I’m questioning why not everyone gets the same treatment? The fact that you’re an American working as a waitress leads me to question whether you were working for a large cruise line because the fact is that the large cruise lines with big boats DON’T hire crew from Westernized countries. They only post staff positions there, and they post the crew positions in the Third World Countries. There is implicit racism in the fact that they assume that people from third world countries can only do crew jobs (which is unfair and untrue) and then give them less salary, less privileges on board, and basically is implying that they must work without being seen. The only people to be seen are the people who “look” like the clients.
        4- People who serve in the staff and officer messes, and who start out cleaning crew cabins are New Hires. Either they need to practice their English, learn the food culture, learn the service culture, etc. It’s the bottom of the totem pole. Never did I say that even the crew should have servers – the point I’m raising is that there is once again a difference between hierarchal positions on board. Why? Why do people from Canada and the US and Australia and Western Europe “get” the have waiters and not people from the Philippines? What did we do different except be born somewhere else? We’re more important so we get to shit in our own toilet bowls.
        5- So, you didn’t want to hang out in crew areas. Doesn’t mean no one else did. I used to have a blast in the disco with my friends – I worked with KIDS all day and going out and dancing was awesome and fun and felt good. But we had friends who couldn’t come with us because of their positions and that wash’t fair either. Someone working in the galleys couldn’t get their hair cut in the spa either – they had to go to the crew barber down in the bellows of the ship. Yet, I could. Heck, I could get a massage, use the nice fancy gym, go anywhere I wanted in the spa. But they had to use the stinky crew gym in the crew bar that was half broken. Why? Telling someone “you’re not important enough to be allowed to even WALK on deck because you work in the crew areas and if you are seen just BEING somewhere you’re not supposed to be or you’ll be fired – oh but see that white chick right there? She can go and have a coffee dressed in her own clothes, no problem!” can’t feel right to anyone with a brain.
        6- You can choose not to believe me about paying cash. You can choose not to believe anything I say. Google it and it’ll be easy to find. Now run along to your American sheltered life where you don’t have to think about this anymore. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for you to stop and think about what the cruise experience can be for different cultures.

      • Sundaydrive00

        Nope, I worked for one of the major cruise lines. I just find it hard to believe that the way people are treated between one cruise line and another are so completely different. Not really sure why that makes me a b*tch… or that I live a sheltered American life… Because I had a vastly different experience then you seemed to have with a different cruise line?

        There are real horrors in this world, sorry that I don’t think a server making their living off of tips or not getting to go to the spa is one of them. But that doesn’t make me sheltered.

        Or is it that I took a job that allowed me to travel and live in a place I had never been before that makes me sheltered? Again, your thinking is just very weird sometimes…

        I’m not saying it was all sunshine in rainbows. Yeah the job sucked a lot of the times, but overall I’m glad to have experienced it.

      • Véronique Houde

        And in canada, we can’t go on unemployment if we haven’t declared our jobs in international water. The money you make on the ocean is cash, tax free – there is no unemployment when you get home.

      • Véronique Houde

        Oh, and if you were interested. I got paid 1200$ a month, plus babysitting, which could vary between 80$ per month and 800$. It depended on how busy the ship was and how many parents wanted to use the babysitting service.

    • Ellie

      You sound like you’ve been body snatched by the Carnival Cruise mothership.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      $500 and a free cruise is not good enough. A lifetime of payments is ludicrous. People took personal time off work to go. I think a few thousand per customer would be more appropriate. Then they could afford a really great vacation to make up for the one that sent stress levels through the roof.

    • Amanda

      The amount of money being asked for is way over the top but I do think they are entitled to ANY medical expenses, in addition to a full refund and maybe a few thousand a piece in pain and suffering too. Because that whole “future” cruise bit not compensation – I doubt any of these people are going on future cruises.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      $5k a month for life??? LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL

    • Mikster

      “Customers were initially compensated with a full refund, a free future cruise, and an extra $500 per person.” That’s MORE than enough. Greed is so unattractive.

    • JJ

      Here I was thinking that I could get through life working now I know I just need to go on my own version of Carnival poop cruise for 2014 and I can demand they pay me for the rest of my life every month. I realize it was extremely gross, uncomfortable and beyond stressful to be on that ship when it happened but it was a freak accident. Why do you need $5000 every month for life because you smelled some nasty poop and were really hungry until you were rescued? some of these people need to go live in actual third world countries where guess what? Some people live like that everyday on land in extreme poverty and starving. Some people wake up in places everyday where there is actual fece’s around them, no food for them, over crowding and the air certainly doesn’t smell too fresh. I agree the passengers are due damages but its more then a little excessive to want money for the rest of your life over this one particular event. You weren’t paralysed for life, you didn’t suffer severe brain damage, end up in a coma or lose your family over it. It was a rare, freak event that was scary but I seriously doubt that all of the people on that cruise asking for $5000 a month are so scarred that everyone of them is now unable to work or function in society any more. I sympathize with the people because it seriously sucks to be in that situation but don’t be a total greedy pig over it either. No wonder we live in such a sue happy world now.

    • Blahblah

      This is why I don’t go near people. I’m afraid of the Poopacalypse. I once brought home noro virus from work. I couldn’t even drag myself to the bathroom and had to lay miserably in puke until someone came and rescued me. It was horrendous.

      Seriously though, five thousand a *month* is pretty darn extreme.