Friday, November 18, 2016

In Cruise Limbo- Part 1

November 17, 2016
What a Nightmare

Chris and I are sailing on our 9th cruise in less than a month with the kids for a Christmas "Sail-abration" to the Caribbean. We have had this cruise booked for over 21 months. We found an incredible deal way back in the day and decided to go ahead and book this cruise not knowing if our 2 separate school calendars would match up or if we would be able to go at all. BUT... thus began our cruise booking fever!

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April 2015
When we booked this cruise it was a 5 day sailing out of Galveston on the Carnival Liberty sailing to Progresso and Cozumel, Mexico. We had not been on a 5 day cruise and again we scored an incredibly good deal so we were excited to book another cruise.

August 2015
Within 4 months of booking we got a notification from Carnival stating that our 5 day sailing would now be a 6 day sailing at no cost to us! SCORE! The itinerary was now changed to the ports of 1- Costa Maya, Mexico 2- Belize and 3- Cozumel, Mexico. Chris and I had never sailed to Costa Maya so we immediately were excited.

We sat on this booking for well over a year and as the final payment date came and went we were still ecstatic with joy for yet another cruise and an opportunity to once again sail with our kids. This would be our 2nd cruise with the kids but 1st without help, as we cruised on the #TriumphantThanksgiving on the Carnival Triumph in November 2015 with my parents and sister. The kids have been talking about this cruise for months and we were finalizing all the details leading up to the 5-6 weeks before the sailing.

Late October 2016- Carnival Liberty mechanical issues
On October 27th we noticed the Carnival Liberty making the local Houston news for arriving late into the Port of Galveston due to "ship issues". I looked it up and there was not a definite answer as to why the ship was not sailing at full speed but the previous 2 sailings (Oct- 22nd and Oct. 27th) both arrived late back into the port of Galveston . The October 27th sailing of the Liberty arrived back into Galveston at 6PM instead of the usual 7AM on October 31st. The Halloween sailing on the Liberty had embarkation times of 7-10PM and passengers boarded the ship thinking the cruise would still take place however, during the night mechanical crews discovered the Liberty had deeper issues that originally thought and the October 31st sailing was cancelled. Passengers were able to spend the night but asked to disembark by 10AM on November 1st.

Early November- More Liberty cruises cancelled and itineraries changed
Naturally this sparked some interest from me as I was wondering what could be wrong with the Liberty. Over the next few days Carnival Cruise Lines announced it would be shortening the remaining November cruises on the Liberty out of Galveston and offering compensation for passengers aboard these sailings. In fact, the school secretary at my school was scheduled on the November 5th sailing and was informed just hours before embarkation time (which was once again late embarkation times of 6-10PM)  that the cruise was in fact cancelled. This late cancellation notice is just unacceptable and disappointing for CCL. This was so disappointing because I have advocated for Carnival (and cruising in general) for YEARS with teachers and friends and I felt so bad for Mrs. Rachel.

November 11th (36 days prior to sailing)- Now it is PERSONAL 
I arrive at school on Friday, November 11th and go through my usual routine of checking emails and checking off my to-do list. I see an email from Carnival so I read through it and as I am reading I am saying "no no no". Of course Natalie is in my room and curious as to what is going on. The letter states that our cruise is still going to happen but will now be on the Carnival Valor instead of the Carnival Liberty.

Naturally I start to panic and called CCL to speak to a representative. At this point the decision was only a few hours old and all of the 3 people I talked to had NO IDEA what was going on. I was on hold for nearly and hour with a simple "don't worry Mrs. Davis, we will take care of it". I decided to let it go and TRY not to worry about it. Easier said that done... I had a cruise in 36 days and a separate booking on the Liberty for September 2017. 

I tried to not think about it over the weekend and started to compare the Valor and Liberty. These 2 are "sister ships" and are both in the Conquest class of ships. They are VERY similar and both have the new CCL Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades which include Guy's Burger Bar, Blue Iguana Cantina and Red Frog Rum Bar, all of which we LOVE. Chris and I sailed on the Carnival Conquest (a Conquest class ship) 2 times and LOVE the layout of this ship so we are excited to sail on the Valor in a few short weeks.

November 14th- Booking is GONE 
I see on Monday morning, as I am once again doing my morning routine, that our booking for the Carnival Liberty/ Valor is now COMPLETELY gone in the CCL My Cruise Manager system. In fact, BOTH bookings (December 2016 AND September 2017) are gone. Once again, I panic and call CCL. I did not receive an email stating they were going to closing the bookings and felt I needed (AND DESERVED) some answers. Keep in mind it is well past final payment date and this cruise is completely paid for and most of the details have been finalized. Once again, the CCL rep assured me that they were going to fix all of the issues and to not worry. But keep in mind they are correcting issues for 4K people PER SAILING PER SHIP (from now until April 2018). That is a LOT of issues to correct. However, after speaking to a manager of the resolutions department I was told that "all sailings on BOTH ships from December 15, 2016 through April 30, 2017 would get $50/ pp on-board credit AND 25% off a 2-5 day Carnival cruise in the future. This seemed like a generous compensation and I felt a little bit better about the whole situation. I do not feel we need or deserve compensation, as I just wanted it resolved, but I was happy they were in fact "taking care of us". 

Of course, y'all know me... I was still worried with anticipation and anxiety. I then noticed on our sailing specific Facebook (roll call) page that many passengers had now gotten a stateroom assignment for the Valor and we had not. Yep.. you guessed it! I called CCL again! I went through 4 different people before reaching a knowledgeable person and someone who understood my frustration. Again they told me to sit tight and let it all "pan out". However, this manager told me that no compensation would be given at this point BUT it was noted on my account that we had been upgraded to a 6J stateroom (of course, if CCL is locked out of the booking too then how did this get noted to my account?).  I did not know what that was so looked it up after the phone call and it is a "SCENIC OCEAN-VIEW" stateroom. The Carnival Valor only has 3 staterooms in this category that accommodate 4 passengers so this seems unpromising but it made me feel better that they are trying. She told me that the booking should "magically" reappear in My Cruise Manager program online by THE END OF THE MONTH (ARE YOU KIDDING ME)! She then called me back a few hours later telling me I may have to manually enter the booking number into the My Cruise Manager. At this point I am more confused, anxious and MADDER than ever!

This is a 4G interior cabin (what we booked back in April 2015)
We had this stateroom category when we sailed the Triumph in 2015.
IT IS TIGHT! Plus Chris and I developed bruises from bumping our heads on the bunk beds.
The kids... they LOVED the bunk beds (Luke did fall out though) 

These are both 6J Scenic Ocean-view cabins on Valor/ Freedom
LOTS more space and we have never sailed in an ocean-view, let alone a Floor-to-ceiling window style! I am trying to NOT get excited thinking we will get this cabin! 
November 18th- Now we sit and wait 
At this point my booking (along with hundreds of thousands of others), shore excursions, FunShop purchases, check-in times and every other detail is floating somewhere in cyberspace and I just have to trust that Carnival will take care of it all.

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I have no idea how this will turn out... but HE does! I am just going to give it to Him. I am hoping and praying it will all be resolved quickly and efficiently. We have saved up for this cruise and have been planning and talking about it with the kids for months and practically since we got off the Triumph nearly 1 year ago. 

But "don't worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own"- Matthew 6:34. 

For any of my followers who are also sailing on the Liberty/ Valor and are concerned about it all.. give it to Him! Thank you ALL for following along! I will keep you updated with the outcome! We set sail in 29 days and could not be more excited and more needing of a vacation! 

This 1st part rings true today... KEEP CALM and CRUISE ON! 

In ALL things...

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