Fool me once, shame on you – Fool me twice, shame on me…
Our last cruise on the Carnival Destiny was not good in the casino. Besides being delegated to “poor relative status” with the Players Club, we also lost quite a bit of money playing games there. Since we maintained our faith in the Players Club, despite the disaster with our club entitlements, we continued to play in the casino on the second leg of the back to back on the Destiny. By doing that, we passed the threshold for club entitlements on our next cruise.
Fast forward to our cruise on the Valor, a mere three weeks later, where we had high hopes that our treatment on the Destiny was an isolated incident. As I have done before, I called the Carnival Players Club to inquire about our Players Club gifts. As I explained the problems I had encountered on the Destiny, the apologies and promises spewed my way. “There will be no further problems,” the man said, and he informed me that this was not how the Players Club operated or treated their guests. Gullible as I am, I accepted this, responded with the proper customary etiquette, and then answered his questions regarding my upcoming cruise on the Valor. We were to get the “deluxe Bon Voyage package,” which we had always received up until the last cruise, and $100. The gifts would be in our stateroom upon arrival, and I was to see the casino host for the $100. The promises sounded familiar, and I tried not to dwell on what happened to me on the Destiny. Creeping into my consciousness, were prior complaints of similar problems I had heard from other cruisers, who now boycott the casino on Carnival ships, for the same reasons. Before hanging up, I requested that the man, who identified himself as Michael Bayona, Lead Carnival VIP coordinator, send me an email confirming our conversation. On the Destiny, I was told if I possessed such an email, there would be no problem, in other words, the fault was mine for not getting it in writing.
Could it happen again, despite the previous article I had written on the subject? Did the 300 plus responses I had to the article claiming identical problems with the Players Club, have any significance? Would I walk on the Valor, and in fact, be met with the same “poor relative status” as before? I wanted to believe that it was an isolated incident that would not be repeated; unfortunately my trust was a little premature. When we boarded the Carnival Valor, we did notice that the Bon Voyage package was not in our cabin. By nightfall, we knew that it would not be delivered, and like the Destiny, we were being forgotten. I wasn’t ready to find out that the promises I had been given by the Players Club, were in fact, empty promises. My mind wondered back to all those other people, the ones who had told me horror stories before the Destiny, and the 300 comments telling me never to trust the Players Club, that I received after writing the last article 3 weeks ago. I decided that the truth could wait until tomorrow, it was a 6 day cruise; why not feel special one more night before the enviable slap in the face of “poor relative status.”
I finally mustered up the courage to go down to the casino, figuring all will be well, and I could spend the evening being entertained in the casino. All was not well, and ironically the casino hosts I talked to, both studied at the “appease the guest, school of casino hosting,” the same school attended by the hosts on the Destiny. The same conversation, “don’t worry, all is well, I will send off and email and it will all be fixed by tomorrow,” occurred in this casino as well. While my name was on the “all important list,” what I was to receive was not listed. This time, I had the solution, the email confirmation sent to me by the Lead Carnival VIP coordinator, certainly that would fix everything, right? On the Destiny, it was my fault that I did not have this important proof; I had been told this would have immediately solved the problem. Well, the email didn’t immediately solve the problem on the Valor, as both casino hosts assured me that “all is well, and everything will be fine, but we still needed to send an email to the Players Club for confirmation.” I was then asked if I wanted a free drink, no thank you, spending the evening playing in the casino as I had planned, suddenly was not appealing.
So, let’s see, this is a vacation, and I am constantly told on the ship that I should relax and have fun, leave my worries at home. Why then, have I spent time on 2 different ships, not even 3 weeks apart, debating whether I am a valued guest on the ship or not? Obviously, I am not very valued in the casino, certainly I do not feel welcome enough that I would want to spend one more cent gambling there anymore. While Carnival cruises are overall wonderful vacations, they are teaching me that they really do not want me spending money on their casino.
It is becoming a “three strikes, you’re out,” issue for me.
Strike 1 - On the Carnival Magic transatlantic cruise, seat saving in the casino for friends left machines sit vacant while the people using the machines were elsewhere. The “in the bathroom” excuse meant that the casino employees sided with the seat savers and we walked out of the casino on day 4 of a 16 day cruise after the slot machines we wanted to play sat vacant, while their friends saved them. We never went back to the casino on the Magic, despite having earned 1500 points and free drinks for the rest of the cruise if we were in the casino.
Strike 2 - The Carnival Destiny back to back had me debating the gifts we were promised for 4 of the 5 days on the first cruise, finally allotting me the $75 promised after 4 frustrating days. Viewing this as an isolated event, I did use the casino extensively on the second 4 day part of our back to back cruise on the Destiny.
Strike 3 - The Carnival Valor, where again, the promised gifts never arrived and the $100 promised is now in limbo, awaiting emails. On the Destiny, we found out that the Players Club didn’t answer “important emails” for days at a time. It really seems like this will be the final chapter for us in the future in any casino on a Carnival ship. A nice relaxing time aboard a Carnival Fun Ship should never include the unfulfilled promises that are definitely occurring with their Carnival Players Club. Once upon a time, we spent very little in the casino; we knew nothing of the perks awarded to people who gambled for hours in the casino. It seems to me, that the more money, and time we spend in the casinos on Carnival ships, the more empty promises we are given. If I didn’t gamble enough to be given casino perks, I would never spend another frustrating day, or days in some cases, waiting for “royal” emails that would validate the promises I had been given.
I absolutely hate conflict in my life, especially on vacation, and the last 3 cruises we have been on, all have involved poor treatment in the casino. Three strikes and you’re out……someone really smart must have said that, and chances are, they were a former member of the Carnival Players Club at sea. For me, the Carnival Valor is the final chapter. I shall retain my “poor relative status” on Carnival ships forever, and never again will I have to spend another frustrating day being patted on the head by casino hosts and told; “all will be well, I just have to send an email….check back tomorrow”
Copyright February 27, 2012 Rita Alexandrea