Carnival Cruise Line just increased its automatic gratuities on drinks (both alcohol and non-alcohol) from 15% to 18%.

Automatic gratuities result in money being deducted directly from the guest’s accounts.

A Carnival employee sent a copy of a letter from Richard Morse, Carnival’s Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, explaining that from the the 3% increase, 1.5% will go to the Carnival server and the remaining 1.5% will go into a pool to fund Carnival expenses including the costs of  uniforms and return airline tickets for crew members.

This development was first reported in an article by the popular Crew-Center website. When I posted this information on our Cruise Law News’ Facebook page, this is how cruise passengers reacted:

  • Greedy bastards! So WE are paying their increased salary, not the rich cruise lines! 😡 
  • They should be paying for benefits and employees uniforms, etc., not us!
  • Raise prices. Tips should be part of fare.
  • Next we will have to pay for the fuel you nickel and dime us guests more and more every year to pay for all your new ships you keep building.
  • Total and utter rip-off.
  • CEO will get how many million $$$$$$$ bonus for increasing profit??
  • . . . so where is that increase going ? uniforms and return ticket lol….

The letter (image above), dated November 29, 2018, sent to all beverage positions is itemized below:

“We are pleased to announce effective on sailings starting on or after December 1st, the automatic gratuity added to the guests’ check for all beverage sales and a la carte dining outlets will increase from 15% to 18%. In addition the extra tip line will remain on all the guests’ checks. This enables our guests to add any additional extra gratuity they deem appropriate. This increase will reflect your first paycheck of December 2018.

From this 3% increase, 1.5% will go to server and remaining 1.5% will go into the ASP pool. As you know the ASP pool funds employee compensation and benefit programs that you receive; including bar level pay, itinerary stipend pay, as well as free uniform and return airline tickets.

Our Bartenders and Bar Waiters lead the cruise industry in compensation. This is a result on everyone’s hard work and efforts to increase overall bar sales as well as the success of the Working Smarter program. As we look forward to 2019, we expect this trend to continue and this will ensure that Carnival Cruise Line remains the employer of choice.

As you know the Beverage Team plays a vital role in creating Fun Memorable Vacations for our guests. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your Positive Attitude and for the Pride you show in our company.”

It is rather amazing to watch a cruise line, incorporated in Panama where it registers its cruise ships in order to avoid U.S. income taxes, requiring its U.S. guests, who pay their taxes, to pay gratuities which are going to pay for the crew employees’ uniforms and airline tickets!

Automatic gratuities is an issue involving all of the major cruise lines.  Whereas the luxury lines like Azamara, Crystal, Seabourn, Regent and SeaDream do not charge automatic gratuities, the mass lines like Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean do. We have written about this issue many times, including Royal Caribbean, NCL and Carnival.

November 2, 2018 Update: We received the following statement from Carnival:

“We have increased the bar gratuity to 18% which is in line with the industry and hotel and restaurants on land.  Those funds are shared across all crew members who support the beverage operations, including those our guests may not see but are working to stock, clean and run equipment and support tasks.  A very small portion of the gratuity pool funds items that crew members normally cover beyond what the company pays for in travel and uniform costs.

Our crew appreciate everything our guests do for them. They work very hard and understand the policies in place. The salary Carnival pays them and the gratuities our guests give allows our crew to provide a better for life for themselves and their family.  And they are also supportive of how we administer the pool portion of the gratuity which fully and exclusively benefits our shipboard employees.”

November 4, 2018 Update: Carnival’s website claims that: “It is customary for our guests to extend gratuities to the shipboard staff in appreciation for their hard work and exceptional service. 100% of your gratuities are distributed to the crew who you interact with, such as your stateroom attendants, dining, bar and culinary services staff, as well as others who work behind the scenes to enhance your overall cruise experience.”

This appears to be false considering that Carnival is using half of the increase in the drink gratuities to pay for things like uniform and travel costs. It also appears questionable whether customers can remove pre-paid gratuities on drink packages.

The Sun newspaper reported on the gratuity increase today.

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A cruise passenger is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl during an eastern Caribbean  cruise, according to a newspaper in West Virginia where the young man resides.

U.S. Federal prosecutors reportedly filed a motion for a guilty plea hearing in U.S. District Court in Charleston, West Virginia yesterday. Judge Joseph Goodwin scheduled the motion for hearing on Monday, July 16 at 10 a.m.

If convicted, Mr. Morrison faces up to 15 years in prison. The newspaper articles state that he is being prosecuted via a criminal information rather than a grand jury indictment, “which usually indicates a suspect plans to enter a guilty plea.”

According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Joshua Morrison, of Kenova, West Virginia, who was 18 years old a the time of the cruise and is now age Alleged Sexual Assault Cruise 21, is accused of coercing a girl from Utah, then just age 12 years old, into performing sexual acts while the two were on a cruise aboard the Carnival Conquest. The alleged crime reportedly occurred during the cruise on January 8, 2016, when he was 18 years old.

According to the criminal complaint, Morrison reportedly instructed the young girl to perform oral sex on him and eventually forced her into having intercourse. The girl reported suffered physical injuries as a result of the encounter.

The newspaper states that the child was able to remember the first name and first initial of the last name of the suspect, and that he was from West Virginia. The girl’s mother reported the alleged crime to authorities about a year after it occurred. The newspaper states that:

“The criminal complaint states the suspect was aware of the girl’s age, even telling her he had experience with women below the age of consent. The alleged assault took place in a bathroom aboard the ship. After the incident, Morrison told the girl not to tell anyone, because he could go to jail. He also threatened the victim that he would find her if she did alert the authorities . . ”

The criminal complaint (see below) filed in federal court in West Virginia alleges that Mr. Morrison violated 18 U.S.C. 2243(2) involving sexual abuse of a minor, and was verified by a FBI agent. The crime occurred on the Carnival cruise ship on the last night of the six day cruise. The incident occurred in the men’s bathroom located below the teen club on the cruise ship.

According to the complaint, Mr. Morrison pressured the child who said “no” or “I don’t know” when he asked her to have sex. Mr. Morrison told the girl that she was not the first 12 year old that he had sex with. She “felt pressured to do something with him and did not feel like she would be able to leave the restroom without engaging in sexual activity . . . ”  But he reportedly blamed the child to the FBI agent, saying: “it was her idea and I was stupid enough to go along with it. . . she did not look that much younger, but the braces gave it away . . . she was just a little kid . . .”

Like many child victims, she told her mother about the incident only after the cruise (about a year after it occurred), after first disclosing the sexual abuse to a church official. The mother then notified the FBI.

Last summer, NBC aired a special on sexual assaults on cruise ships. Approximately one-third of sexual crimes during cruises are committed against children. The crimes are perpetrated by both crew members and other passengers alike. Parents should be on heightened alert for pedophiles and perverts during cruises and should not assume that their children are safe because they are on a cruise ship.

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July 16, 2018 Update: Man pleads guilty to sexual abuse in cruise ship incident. “Morrison admitted that the sexual abuse took place on board a cruise ship in international waters on or about midnight on Jan. 9, 2016. He admitted that he was 18 years old at the time, the minor was 12 years old at the time, and he knew the minor’s age.”


Photo credit: Busted newspaper.

USA v Morrison by James Walker on Scribd

Turks and CaicosThe U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 89-year-old man suffering from a stroke from a Carnival cruise ship on Monday.

The Carnival Vista was heading from Miami to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, sailing around the north-eastern corner of Cuba, when the Carnival cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard for medical assistance. The Carnival ship had left Miami on Sunday and was sailing near the western waters of the lower Bahamian islands.

At around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, the Carnival Vista contacted the Coast Guard which reportedly dispatched  a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from the Coast Guard station in Clearwater, Florida. The Carnival ship was approximately 138 miles west of Great Inagua, Bahamas.

The man, suffering from chest pains and accompanied by a nurse, was taken to Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on the island of Providenciales in the western Turks and Caicos. He arrived around around 6:45 p.m. at the hospital. His medical condition is currently unknown.

Video credit: Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS) via U.S. Coast Guard District 7.

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Cruise Medevac Turks and Caicos

Carnival GloryA 8 year-old girl died Saturday morning after falling from a deck in an interior atrium to a lower deck on the Carnival Glory

A representative of Miami Fire-Rescue Department said the child fell "about two stories" inside the Carnival cruise ship around 8:15 a.m. after the ship had returned from a cruise in the Caribbean and Mexico and had docked at the port of Miami. Photos taken after the accident posted online show the atrium lobby with railings and glass panels around the interior decks. 

The child apparently went over the rails while the family was in the process of using the atrium elevator to disembark from the ship. 

A passenger (a retired emergency medical technician) reportedly performed CPR on the girl, until the ship doctor arrived.  Fire-Rescue paramedics then transported her to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in "extremely critical condition." 

A Miami-Dade police detective later reported the child had died. Police indicated that they would work with the cruise line "to determine the details surrounding this incident," according to Local News 10 in Miami. 

This is not the first time that a child was fallen from an upper deck on a cruise ship. Six weeks ago, a 3-year-old girl fell from the balcony of the Carnival Breeze which was heading back to Galveston, Texas. The child survived the fall.  Several years ago, a one-year-old child crawled through an 12th floor railing and fell to the pool deck below on the Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas

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October 17, 2017 Update: 

Miami Herald: Girl, 8, got on ‘tippy toes’ to peer over cruise ship railing, then fell to her death.

Photo credit: Mark Dennis CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia.; video credit: Local News 10 Miami. 

 

 

Reader's Digest Poll Most Trusted Brand Reader’s Digest has again selected Carnival Cruise Line as the "most trusted cruise line" in the world. 

As the popular cruise blog Cruise Fever writes: "The Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand Survey is an independent, online survey conducted in partnership with Ipsos Connect. This year’s survey polled 5,500 Americans nationwide who were asked to rate products they trust across 40 different categories in areas such as quality, value and reliability."

This is the third consecutive year that Carnival Cruise Line has been voted as the most trusted cruise line.

The cruise brand has come a long way since the Carnival "Poop Cruise" debacle.

The Reader’s Digest poll also named McDonald’s as the most trusted fast food and Walmart as the most trusted mass merchandiser.  

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Photo credit: Reader’s Digest

NBC reports that this weekend, a Coast Guard helicopter crew medevaced a 48-year-old passenger from the Carnival Dream cruise ship near Louisiana. 

The woman was reportedly suffering from kidney problems and was unconscious with high blood sugar levels.

A Coast Guard helicopter flew from New Orleans for the rescue. 

The helicopter crew safely hoisted the passenger and flew her to Ochsner Baptist Medical Center for medical treatment..

She is reportedly now in stable condition in a New Orleans hospital.
 

Carnival released a statement this morning that Gerry Cahill will retire as the CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines at the end of next month. 

Mr. Cahill, age 63, has been with Carnival for 20 years. He joined Carnival Corporation in 1994 as vice president – finance. In January 1998, he was promoted to senior vice president – finance and chief financial officer. In 2007, Mr. Cahill became the CEO of Carnival Corporation’s largest cruise brand, Carnival Cruise Lines. 

Mr. Cahill guided Carnival Cruise Lines during its expansion. He introduced a new class of cruise ship (the Dream class), which included the Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic and CarnivalGerry Cahill Carnival Retires Breeze. He appears to have a likeable, easy-going personality. 

Mr. Cahill was often on the proverbial hotspot during the last several years. He had to respond when the Carnival Splendor lost power in 2010 and had to be towed into San Diego. He also was at the helm of the cruise line during the disastrous PR debacle when the Carnival Triumph suffered an engine room fire and had to be towed across the Gulf of Mexico.

The incident was covered by CNN extensively. Carnival’s brand recognition suffered dramatically as it became know as the "poop cruise" line. 

Mr. Cahill also caught the wrath of Senator Jay Rockefeller who conducted a series of cruise safety hearings last year and this year following the Costa Concordia disaster. Rockefeller voiced his disapproval of the short prepared statement that Mr. Cahill read at the 2013 hearing (photo, second from right). 

In what seemed like a vote of no confidence for Mr. Cahill, Carnival invited former Carnival Cruise Line president Bob Dickinson back as a "special consultant" to Carnival Cruise Line in June 2013.

In all fairness to Mr. Cahill, Micky Arison was missing in action when the Splendor and Triumph went adrift and Carnival’s reputation began to sink following the Concordia debacle. Mr. Cahill took a lot of heat for cruise line issues outside of his responsibility. 

He will retire on November 30th. Carnival has not announced his replacement yet. 

 

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Last month, the Sun Sentinel reported that Carnival’s earnings "continue to be hurt by a series of embarrassing mishaps and softened demand for certain cruises that has kept fares low." The world’s largest cruise operator reported a 30 percent drop in third-quarter profits.

Critics have attributed Carnival’s woes to damage to its namesake cruise line’s "Fun Ship" image after several cruise ships caught fire and/or lost power at sea. The most serious incidents involved loss of propulsion and power to the Carnival Splendor and the Carnival Triumph, stranding many thousands of passengers under unsanitary and unpleasant conditions.

Carnival Donald Arnold - Micky ArisonThis summer Micky Arison stepped down as Carnival CEO and a businessman, Arnold Donald, formerly of chemical giant Monsanto, stepped in as the new cruise CEO to try and right the ship. In June, Forbes magazine published an article about Mr. Arnold. The magazine quoted him saying the following about Carnival: "Here’s what success looks like. Our employees feel very confident in the future of the company. They legitimately feel like winners . . .

But Forbes didn’t share the CEO’s gushing enthusiasm. In order to be successful, Forbes cautioned, "Donald has to cut costs." 

Yesterday I wrote that Carnival embarked on a major cost-cutting campaign by freezing all of the retirement benefits for the crew members working for Carnival Cruise Lines. There are some 24 Carnival Cruise Line cruise ships with over 20,000 crew members working aboard the ships.  Cutting an average of just $5,000 per crew member may result in a savings of $100,000,000 over the next few years.

But at what cost in loss of morale? I doubt that the affected crew members "feel very confident in the future of the company" now, considering the comments to our article yesterday:

A comment from a crew member:  ". . . This is terribly disadvantageous and unfair if not outright discriminatory to the more than 6,000 Filipino crew members who have been working hard for Carnival Cruise Lines all these years. This retirement benefit is so important and is the very reason crew members chose to stay with Carnival for at least 10 years . . ." 

A comment from a former crew member:  "I retired from Carnival 4 years ago in order to pursue a university education. At that point I was at cross roads whether to stay or go. I am glad I choose go."

A tweet by a cruise fan: "This will trickle down 2 to me the passenger & not in a good way. Carnival could become the Self Serve Cruise Ships."

You can read other comments here or on our Facebook page.

As of publishing this article, Carnival still describes its "Fun Ship Retirement Plan" as providing a "lump-sum benefit upon team members’ retirement from Carnival, provided they have at least 10 years of continuous service . . . The longer a team member is employed beyond the initial 10-year period, the faster the benefits increase. Simply put, the longer you stay with Carnival, the larger your benefit payment will be upon your retirement."

But that’s no longer true. 

Carnival announced over the last two years that it is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in its ships in technology, equipment and safety systems to avoid a repeat of the Splendor and Triumph mishaps and the Concordia disaster.  But it is taking money out of its loyal crew members to do so. It’s no different that robbing Peter to pay Paul.      

There’s not much the crew can do. The last time Carnival crew members went on strike for protesting low wages and the cruise line’s withholding of their tips, they were all terminated, sent back to India, and blackballed from ever working on the cruise industry.

Do Carnival crew members feel like the "winners" Mr. Arnold described this summer? Should the crew feel confident in their future with Carnival?  

I suspect right now that the crew members feel like losers, cheated by the company which still promises on its website that ship employees will benefit by staying longer at Carnival.   

 

Photo Credit: Local10.com