Carnival’s Brand Ambassador Defends Fleet Captains

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Carnival Cruise Line’s Brand Ambassador John Heald has responded to a variety of comments questioning itinerary changes and port cancellations. He has reminded guests that appearances can be deceiving and that only the ships’ masters have all the necessary information to make a safe, informed decision about visiting a port of call.

It is perfectly understandable that cruise guests will be disappointed when a ship must miss a port of call, particularly a unique destination on what may be a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list sailing.

“Yesterday I had a torrent of negatives from people who had been on a cruise last year, missed the ports they had hoped to have visited. They were marque ports and I understand the frustration and disappointment, I really do,” Heald said.

John Heald
John Heald

When travelers choose a cruise for a port of call, they are undoubtedly looking forward to specific things at that destination, such as historic sites, natural beauty, or unique activities. Some travelers may prefer new ports of call rather than alternatives they may have already visited on previous cruises.

“What I do not understand, what I never did and never will is when people say ‘There was no storm. The Captain could have easily gone into port. Carnival knew that they were never going,'” Heald said.

Unfortunately, many disappointed cruise guests tend to blame to ship’s crew or officers if an itinerary has to change. However, guests rarely have all available information necessary to fully understand the decision.

“You do not know more than them. You do not have the data from our Fleet Operations Center,” Heald explained. “You are sitting on Lido nibbling on a Guy’s Burger. Saying they are ‘full of BS’ is not only disrespectful but also absolute nonsense.”

Appearances can always be deceiving. What may appear to be a beautiful day in the tropics could actually have wind coming from exactly the wrong direction that might make navigating alongside a dock too hazardous. Similarly, winds could make gangways unstable or impede water shuttle operations on an otherwise sunny and lovely day.

Cruise ship captains have to take many factors into account, including winds, currents, tides, harbor depth, dock condition, pilot support, and more. The ship’s thruster performance, the availability of tugs, port construction, and other operational needs can also influence whether or not it will be possible to visit a port of call.

This does not mean, however, that guests shouldn’t be disappointed if they must miss a port of call. That disappointment is understandable. However, it is never acceptable to take that disappointment out on the ship’s officers or crew.

Carnival Venezia Joins the Fleet
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

“Trust our Captains. Be upset. Be disappointed. Vent at me,” Heald said. “But please do not disrespect these brilliant men (and soon to be women) who have the responsibility to keep the ship and every guest and every crew member on board out of danger.”

The safety of the passengers, crew members, ship, and port community are always at the forefront of all decisions for itinerary changes. While cruise lines work hard to maintain original itineraries, safety is always the top priority.

Why Might a Cruise Itinerary Change?

It should be noted that Carnival Cruise Line – and all major cruise lines – has the right to change a scheduled itinerary at any time, for any reason. Carnival’s cruise ticket contract, section 8(d) clearly reads:

“Carnival may change the duration and/or itinerary of the cruise at any time.”

A long list of possible reasons for such changes includes security, hurricanes, tornadoes, strikes, civil unrest, public health emergencies, quarantines, and more.

Carnival Cruise Line Hurricane
Two Carnival Cruise Line Ships (Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive)

With the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season just days away from its official start date of June 1, storms may well be impacting various Caribbean, Bermuda, or Mexico cruises in the coming weeks. Even if a storm isn’t directly impacting a port of call, the route of the storm or damage from a previous storm impact can also cause itinerary adjustments.

Read Also: Busy 2024 Hurricane Season Expected – What It Means for Cruises

Because cruise lines plan itineraries roughly two years in advance, it isn’t possible to predict what routes or ports of call may be possible on exact dates. All cruise travelers should remain flexible with their itinerary expectations at all times, and enjoy the hard work of the ship’s crew members to ensure an amazing voyage, no matter where a ship is able to sail.

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