Carnival Cruise Lines has banned my family for life after we refused to accept responsibility for damage to the edge of a dresser that was already present when we boarded. Our family, including a 4 year old were detained for 2 hours after the other passengers had disembarked.
This process was bizarre to say the least. The situation reminded me of a call to a technical help line where the rep does not know what to do if you have a problem thats not on the script. The staff only offered us two options, we either accepted responsibility for the damage or we were banned for life. They simply had no way of dealing with the third possibility, that we were innocent.
My wife visited the cabin to speak with the cleaner who made the accusation. He noticed an empty bottle of Bud Lite then accused us of using the edge of the dresser to open the bottles. She pointed out a few things to him, the Bud Lite was purchased on the boat where they remove the bottle tops before serving the beer, there were no removed bottle tops in the room and Bud Lite has twist off caps!”
Despite this we still had the two choices, either accept responsibility for the damage or accept a life ban from Carnival.
As we had been detained against our will for 2 hours with 4 and 8 year old children and by this time there was no way we would ever be sailing Carnival again, we of course accepted the life ban.
We then had to sign a document which in no way reflected the situation. At no time were there any raised voices from either side, we just accepted the fact that they lacked the ability to do anything other than what was on their script. The document we signed looked like it was designed to cover every eventuality in a life ban, in other words, we were forced to sign the same document for refusing to accept blame for damage to the edge of a dresser in our cabin as we would have done if we had assaulted someone or caused a major security incident.
We explained to them that we have cruised six times in the last five years and this was our third cruise with Carnival, all without incident.
After we arrived home we found a photograph taken on the first day that clearly shows the damage already there. As it was a carnival boat, we put it down to wear and tear. However, with hindsight we should have treated the cabin like a rental car by documenting all scuff marks.
We will release a full press release this week and post the story to our blog. We will also be advising all of our customers to be very careful when they take possession of their cabin on any Carnival boat. They should take photographs of the whole cabin, report any damage they see and have the staff sign off to say they will not hold them responsible at the end of the cruise.
My family and I were on the Carnival Freedom boat from August 15th to August 23rd 2009.
Click here for the photograph showing damage to the dresser was present on August 15th which was day one of the cruise. Incidentally, Carnival staff said they reported the damage as soon as they had seen it, they reported the damage on August 23rd.
Click here for a copy of the document confirming our life ban.