Carnival Miracle, Mexican Riviera, Oct 13-19, 2013

Okay, so Carnival Cruise Line, in their bid to woo back the travel agent community, is giving away something like 10,000 cruises to travel agents.  During the first round I didn't bother to get in, because the only thing they had from Long Beach were 3 and 4 day Inspiration cruises.  Frankly...been there/done that, and the Fantasy class vessels all just need to be retired.

But in the 2nd round they had one 6 day Mex Riviera on the Carnival Miracle, so I gave it a shot, and YAY, ME!  I got it.  So, I'll be heading out Sunday and down to Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.

I am looking forward to it, overall, but I have to tell you, this very program is a perfect example of why many in the travel agent community have quit selling Carnival, or at least quit promoting it.  (I am in the second group - I will sell them, but I don't go out of my way to promote them).  You see, with most travel suppliers, like cruise lines, resorts and tour operators, there is always a way to get in touch with another human being, either by phone or by email, to get answers or resolve issues.

 This is true of all the other cruise lines, and even of the other brands under Carnival Corp/PLC.  But Carnival is so intent on being the biggest and cheapest, they completely refuse to communicate, person to person, with what should be their biggest sales force. 

There is one exception, and that would be John Heald, Carnivals Brand Ambassador and CD di tutti CD's.  He is most accessible and responsive.  Sadly, most of the issues Travel Agents deal with don't come under his purview.  

When this thing came up, I put in my request, and then sent, immediately, several emails to the address listed on the site.  I explained that, ideally, I would like a wheelchair accessible triple cabin, and in the alternative, any wheelchair accessible cabin.  My thinking was that I would take my mother and brother along with me.  And if we couldn't get all three of us in one stateroom, I would pay for a cabin for the 3rd person, or just leave mom at home. 

I do understand that 3/4 occupancy wheelchair cabins are scarce, and it's close to sailing.  But, see, I didn't hear a word back from them.  Ever.  So, finally, today, the 10th of October, 3 days before sailing, I was contacted to make the small payment (They always have enough staff for that), and was told I absolutely could not have a wheelchair accessible cabin, or any cabin other than what was assigned. 

Which again, wouldn't be so bad, but there are, to my certain knowledge, not 1 but 3 empty wheelchair accessible cabins on this ship, 3 days prior to sailing.  Yeah...THREE.  So, their effort to embrace the Travel Agent Community is falling a little short already. 

You see, had they contacted me a couple weeks ago, and just said, "No", I wouldn't be scrambling around today, making sure I had my house in order, so I could leave on Sunday.  I would have had everything in place.  It's the not knowing that's a problem.  It's the not communicating that's the problem. 

Sure, they will get some good P.R. out of this big giveaway, but they almost certainly will not get a lot of goodwill from TA's.  Which is their basic problem.  They really think looking good to the public is more important than getting the sales force excited about selling them.  And that's completely backwards. I know from running salesman.  It never mattered if what I was selling at the time was solid gold or solid crap -  if the sales force was excited, they could sell it.  Again, they think that customers having direct access to a Cruise Director to ask favors is more important than assigning an inside sales person to an agency until AFTER the agency reaches a certain level of sales.  Which is RIDICULOUS in this day and age.  Having just started a new agency, I can't tell you how often business development people reach out to me, from every supplier, trying to GET US to a certain level of sales.  And that's the person I would turn to right now with any other supplier.  Because, when all else fails, that's the one person that can, at the very least point you in the right direction.  And whose sole job is to keep you happy, productive and selling their company.  But Carnival doesn't think I am important enough.

Anyway, so, I'll be heading down to Long Beach on Sunday and check it out.  I have never been on the Carnival Miracle, but I have cruised on her sistership, the Spirit, and toured another sister, the Legend.  Both are miles away nicer ships than the Fantasy class.  I'll be posting, as I am wont to do, every morning whilst I am away, and I invite you all to join me for a vicarious cruise adventure!

TaTa Til Sunday!